#FromTheSQJudgesChair – Keep It Fresh
October 25th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
Perhaps you’ve heard stories of dance teachers teaching for 20+ years, 5 days a week, rain or shine. It is truly amazing to be able to have a career in one’s passion for so long and have the energy to keep yourself inspired. However, keeping your teachings fresh and up to date can sometimes be a challenge. In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing ways to keep your classes fresh and inspiration ignited. A new artistic perspective can shake things up for your students and yourself to continue to have a successful year.
Learn A New Style
One of the best ways to challenge yourself as a teacher is to learn a new style. For instance, if you have been classically trained all your life, maybe it’s time to step out of the box and venture into a whole new genre. I was classically trained all my life and it wasn’t until I started learning Latin styles and techniques that I truly loved partnering. It taught me how to truly listen with my body and not my ears. It taught me how to anticipate and move with my partner rather than against him. Therefore, I was able better teach partnering in all genres. Venturing out into unchartered territories can give you the boost you need to reignite a teaching method.
Another example of a new style might be to explore dance fitness. Are you having trouble starting an adult program? Start with dance fitness. Adults are always looking for new and fun ways to workout without the boredom of a machine. Learning about dance fitness can also give way to new cardio exercises for your younger students. Perhaps your students could utilize better stamina for the competition season ahead and dance fitness is a great way to keep them in shape. By reaching out and learning a new technique for yourself it will, there in fact, turn around and enrich your students’ education in return.
Never Stop Learning
As a dancer, teacher, performer or choreographer we should never stop learning. We should never lose the need to learn. Even if you’ve been teaching for years and years, it is important to continue to educate yourself. Educating yourself keeps your mind sharp and allows for new ideas to flow freely. One of the best examples I can think of on how to educate yourself is to attend the Dance Teacher Summit. It gives a platform to experienced teachers to share a wealth of knowledge to the dance community. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their brand, awareness and savvy business practices for their studio. The teachers, seminars and connections are worth the trip. (They host the Summit in two locations, New York and Long Beach).
Another great example of expanding your education is to get a new certification. ABT offers an intensive teacher training certification that offers development in artistry and dancer health. There are also acrobatic dance certification programs offered throughout the United States that teach new spotting and drill techniques. Not only will a new certification brush up your knowledge and education but, you’ll have a shiny new item to add to your resume!
Invite Guest Artists
Finally, I always encourage studio owners to invite guest artists to teach a master class. Their students benefit in so many ways and it’s a great way to break up your regular class schedule. Not only is it great for the students but, if their regular teachers have an opportunity to watch a guest artist teach, it can spark new choreographic ideas, teaching approaches and student relationships. It is also a great way to cultivate a professional relationship with a guest artist and will excite the students for a return visit in the future.
There are so many ways to keep things fresh as a dance teacher/owner. You might have to put in a little more work but, the payoff will be worth it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for further education, certifications or seminars. Work your connections as well. Find ways to bring that education directly to your students and you’ll always stay ahead of the learning curve!
Marissa Staniec is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.
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