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How to Choose a Dance Studio

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Whether you’ve been dancing for years, just beginning or thinking about signing your child up for dance, choosing a dance studio that’s right for you can be a bit intimidating. Doing a simple Google search for dance studios in your area will introduce you to several studios in your hometown, not to mention dozens more within driving distance. But how do you decide what is right for you? Before you select a studio, take these factors into consideration.

For the Tiny Dancers

If you have a little one just starting out, look for a class that encompasses multiple elements of dance, such as tap and ballet. This provides your budding dancer with a good foundation to help determine not just if they love dance, but what type of dance they love. Meet with teachers to get a good understanding of their experience with dance and children.

Competition, Pre-Professional or Recreational?

If you or your child are just starting out, a recreational school may be the right fit for you. Recreational schools still focus on technique and form, however, they are not as likely to enter into dance competitions. Classes offered may be less or shorter, since the primary goal here is to learn and have fun.

Competition schools, however, will accelerate your or your child’s training as synchronized and intense training is the goal. Keep in mind, competitions come with added costs of costumes, entry fees and travel.

Pre-professional schools are designed to prepare the dancer to enter university dance programs, as well as the professional world of dance upon graduation. Class attendance in pre-professional is usually by audition only. Pre-professional schools often require a more extensive time commitment.

Reputation

Sometimes, it is all about who you know, or who knows you. If you’ve chosen to go competition or pre-professional, check into the studio’s accreditations. Some studios are non-profit, have endowments, and participate in certain competitions. Find out if your goals and beliefs align with these organizations. Ask other parents or friends who are involved in the dance community. Even visiting a dancewear store, like DanceWear Corner, where you can ask about studios in the area, may help.

 

Drop In Classes

Many studios allow you to take a drop in class before registering, while others may offer introductory classes at the beginning of the year. This can give you a feel for the teachers, the space, allow you to talk to other students or parents, and see how the school functions.

 

Go with Your Gut

Trust your instincts. If a studio or teacher is not right for you, it’s okay to change class or studio mid-way through the year. Before you do, however, talk to your teacher to determine why it doesn’t feel right.

 

What are your thoughts? How have you decided to choose the dance studio you attend? Leave us a comment here or on social media.

Listen Up! Conversations on Dance Podcast is Everything You Need.

DanceWear Corner is pleased to partner with Conversations on Dance, a podcast with an insider access to the world of professional ballet dancers.

Conversations on Dance was created and is hosted by Miami City Ballet dancer, Rebecca King Ferraro and former Miami City Ballet dancer, Michael Sean Breeden. Each episode brings a unique and behind-the-scenes perspective into ballet, choreography, costuming, lighting and even the education of dancers nationwide. To date, Rebecca and Michael have hosted 42 episodes. While a handful of podcasts are information from Michael and Rebecca themselves, a majority include engaging guests such as principal ballet dancers, artistic directors, costume designers, dance critics, dance historians and educators from a variety of companies and theaters.

Born from pre-performance talks at the Miami City Ballet, Michael and Rebecca felt they could take these informative sessions to a broader audience. Rebecca states, “We developed the idea to make each episode a casual and light conversation on the different elements of the professional ballet world.” (4dancers.org) She is passionate about bringing audience and fellow dancers alike behind the scenes into the world of ballet through social media and the Conversations on Dance Podcast.

Michael, on the other hand, explores his inquisitive thirst for knowledge through the podcast. He explains, “If I can share [knowledge] and inspire someone in the way that I’ve so often felt inspired by the art, then I think the podcast will have done its job.” (4dancers.org) Additionally, he hopes the podcast can assist dancers in important decisions, such choosing summer intensives or college programs.

Between Rebecca’s passion and Michael’s desire to share knowledge, the Conversations for Dance podcast a must-listen for aspiring and experienced dancers as well as lovers of dance. Find the Conversations on Dance Podcast on iTunes, Google Play or directly on the Conversations on Dance Website.

Follow Conversations on Dance’s Rebecca and Michael on Instagram where they post updates and giveaways.

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Photos by Jon Taylor

The Art of Movement Intensive

The Art of Movement is a contemporary summer intensive boot-camp. Students are by invitation or audition. Only 120 are selected from all over the world to participate.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with some of their instructors to discuss the intensive as well as their philosophy of dance.

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Pictured left to right: Melanie Creek, Jennifer Parsley, Peter Merz, Sherri Metcalf, Israel Rodriquez, Katia Garza and Tyler Muhlenkamp

What is your choreographic process?

Sherri Metcalf–  Depending on the job but when I choreograph for a solo I learn about that dancer. I analyze their body and their strengths. I do a lot of research by watching them dance and through video footage of them dancing. I learn their personality and match them to music they would enjoy.

Israel Rodriquez–   I study and listen to the music. I story board a whole ballet, I know where every dancer will be and at what time. I can see it. I put my dancers based upon their ability on the stage.

 

What is your most memorable dance moment?

Israel Rodriquez–  When I danced Spartacus. It was the first time it had ever been choreographed in its entirety in the United States and I got to play Spartacus. I became that ballet!

Sherri Metcalf-  As a little girl I went to Radio City music Hall and I said that I wanted to dance there. As an adult, it came true.

 

You have taught and worked with students and professionals, what can students learn from professionals?

Sherri Metcalf-   Etiquette. Professionnel dancers have aquired a sense of professionalism that students can learn and apply now. Not being late for class, being dressed properly for class. Be accountable for your attitude.

Israel Rodriquez Get past being a great dancer, your attitude is most important, it can take you far or leave you exactly where you are.

 

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What  makes a great dancer?

Sherri Metcalf-  Did I feel something. It’s sometimes not even the best technical dancers. It’s who performs and makes the audience feel something.

Israel Rodriquez–  Heart! Technically you can be great, but do you have heart?

 

If you could try a different style of dance, what would it be?

Israel Rodriquez–  Tap Dance. I love tap! But they would kick me out!

Sherri Metcalf-  Ballroom. I would love to learn the latin dances and partner.

Katia Garza-  Ballroom. I could do it as I get older and enjoy it.

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Three words to describe your class?

Israel Rodriquez-  Disciplined, fun, and spontaneous

Sherri Metcalf–  Discipline, safe, and creative

Katia Garza–  Fun, fast, and hard

 

What is a big role you would like to dance?

Katia Garza–  I have never danced Romeo and Juliet but I would love to dance Manon. It is a dramatic ballet and I love the acting and the complicated story. I would get to be a different character.

 

 

Have you noticed kids are getting better younger?

Katia Garza–  Kids have easier access to watch ballets or dancer and try at home. When I was little, you had to wait for the teacher to show us. Now, kids have it all in front of them to learn. My concern is dancers and younger and careers are being shorter. Push your body but don’t burn it so you can have a long a beautiful career.

Sherri Metcalf–  Kids used to be 15 doing 4 or 5 pirouettes and now they are 7 years old. My only worry is that kids will do too much too soon and they won’t have any goals as they will have achieved them all so early.

 

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 A what point do you consider yourself a successful dancer?

Katia Garza-  It’s not money, you won’t be rich! Success is making my body do what I want it to do correctly. When I manage to control my body to where I don’t have to think about my body on stage, it does what it is supposed to do and I just go out and perform.

 

In closing if you could tell young dancers one piece of advice what would it be?

Katia Garza–  Listen and apply. Don try to see only fast results. Absorb the information and apply the corrections.

Sherri Metcalf–  Tradition- Be present in class, remember your dance etiquette and breathe! You don’t have to be so intense and serious all the time

Israel Rodriquez–  Do not rush if you are injured. You won’t be able to dance better if you are rushing. Take your time, its better to wait a year, than ruin your career by pushing too soon.

To learn more about the Art of Movement Intensive Program Visit their website:  Art Of Movement

 

 

The Dancer Athlete Method: Part 3

Do you have “IT?”

At the sight of a dancer on stage, you pause in your tracks and may even find yourself having to catch your breath. Your skin fills with goosebumps or you get chills at the sight of them moving across the stage, or observing how they connect with the music or their audience – or both – through their body. Music seems to unfold by what seems like perfect choreography, on the perfect dancer, and you are left inspired.

The “IT” factor of a dancer means that there is something absolutely mesmerizing about their talent, their ability to captivate and ability to entertain their audience. So few are able to obtain the compliment. If you’re feeling as though this is not you… think again!

There are a few critical pieces to discovering your “IT” that can be immediately addressed in your performance product. Some individuals have a natural ability to present themselves in performance with ease, having everything in place and on point, while the majority of dancers just do not know how to reach their fullest potential. These dancers need more insight on how to steal the audience’s (or casting director’s or judges’) heart. Keep in mind that everyone has an “IT” factor in something that they do, it is simply a matter of understanding what that thing they do is, and how to maximize and highlight that thing.

First, confidence is a key factor to “IT.” When someone is unsure of themselves, it quickly becomes unfavorable body language and an audience feels like something is missing from the performance, but they cannot place what. Technique is a vital element as well. Without technique, movement will not be attractive and, in extreme cases, can be cringing to watch. A dancer could even become injured when not adhering to proper technique! Another major part of developing your “IT” is face. Face shows you have personality, ability to make eye contact with people in their seats, and understand your music and/or delivery of message. By skillfully applying these items to your work as a dancer you will find that your product on stage will be better.

In art, there is no correct or incorrect answer, and that is the beauty of being in a creative world. Artists’ “IT” factor is shown when they are skilled in craft, but also skilled in how to present it. There is right and righter when it comes to technique of course, but the message and ability to convey it or move with heart and genuine feeling is part of being human, organic, and makes the whole of the part of your “IT” factor.

You love dance; you love how it makes you feel. As you continue your education as a dancer, it is equally important to find and nurture what makes you shine using the “IT” within yourself.
Dancer Athlete Method was founded by dance educator and former professional dancer Krystina Alexis Nelson and Master Trainer Marie Merritt. For more about showmanship and enhancing your dance, contact us at
GetDAMethod@yahoo.com

 

To read previous posts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

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