The Power of Choice

Every Wednesday and Friday night, I teach a class called 30/30. The class is split into two half-hour segments – 30 minutes of Ballet, 30 minutes of Tap. At the end of the hour, I announce that it’s time for “Miss Nadine’s favorite part of class.” Naturally, I announce this like a ringmaster at the circus. It’s quite exciting. My favorite part of class is “dancer’s choice.” The girls are allowed to pick their favorite tap step to do across the floor. I think it’s safe to say that this is their favorite part of class as well. Continue reading

Say the steps, learn the steps

There are Little Ballerina Dance Recitalsome teachers who have the magic skill of making students understand dance steps with just a moment of explanation. Such is not the case for me. Often, I find myself demonstrating the same step for the millionth time to a sea of blank faces and still feet. This sometimes works with the visual learners. When the music starts, their faces remain blank and their motionless feet are replaced with the randomness of Mexican jumping beans. Continue reading

Language of the little ones

dancersSome of you may be shocked to hear that teaching dance is not a skill that comes naturally to all.

Most people assume that all dance teachers are naturally perky, kid-loving, adult-size 5-year-olds, and I’ll tell you right now, those qualities certainly help. There are those of us who do indeed possess each and every one of those merits. These people have a steady stream of animal related analogies and creative discipline ideas pouring out of their mouths and were born with a natural ability to speak the language of the little ones.

You may be equally stunned to discover that it takes a special kind of person to master this skill of teaching creative coordination to children. Nevertheless, anyone can try. There are those of us who don’t possess these superhero qualities that allow a teacher to effortlessly turn a gaggle of 6-year olds into the twelve dancing princesses. To some individuals, learning to speak kid is like learning to speak Mandarin. It’s possible, but generally too difficult to even attempt.  These teachers can’t seem to wrap their minds around why this group of tiny people doesn’t understand that in first position, their heels are supposed to kiss. KISS. Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp? Why can’t they just put their feet in first position and stay there? I mean, seriously. It’s not that hard.

As you may have already guessed, I am an active member of the second group. I teach three classes a week (as of January), and I spend most of my time in class trying to figure out a balance between nice teacher and mean teacher. The goal is to teach them ballet, right? But we also want them to like it, right? Don’t we want them to like their teacher, too? All of these things at once? You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s a sticky situation, but I’m learning it as I go along and loving every other minute of it.

I kid. I really do love it. Teaching may be one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do, but it’s also the most rewarding. I promise there is really nothing more satisfying than seeing my kids up on stage during recital with pointed toes and smiling faces, doing things that I taught them to do.  So, I hope you will enjoy this blog dedicated to the somewhat organized chaos of teaching dance.  Here, I will talk about all the crazy things that happen around a dance studio, in and out of the classroom.