Summer Moving, Happened So Fast

Summer moving, havin’ a bla-a-ast!

Summer?  In October?  Ok, its been a crazy last few months – but I finally have had some time to write about my summer adventures!  Hope you are all having a wonderful start to your school years – I’ve missed blogging and am happy to get back to it.

A little background – I have two studio locations, with the smaller location having one dance room. We are in a strip of businesses and we are currently the second-to-last unit from the end. The last unit on our end used to be rented by a Curves (workout for women), but the owner decided to move on and the space went up for lease last January.  It sat vacant for a few months and I looked at the space, did some calculations, negotiated the price and by June, we were in contract!

It may sound like I jumped in quickly, but in reality, I tried to make sure it was a smart decision, talked it over with just about everyone I could think of who could give me some perspective and triple-checked my break-even calculations.

So here is a super short tour of what we started with, and I apologize for the poor quality cellphone pictures:

That is standing in the front of the building, looking towards the back. The doorways back there lead to a utility closet (furnace / AC units) and bathroom.

And here is standing in the back by the bathroom and looking at the front.  Our existing space is to the right (“through” the purple wall). Windows look out onto the sidewalk and parking lot and there is an exterior door to the left.  Also strangely located air conditioner to the left and yellow ladder, which did not come with the space, much to my husband’s disappointment.

Here is a floorplan to help visualize. The new space is in purple:

So as you can see, the purple Curves space is a loooong room, but with a lot of potential!  And a lot of PURPLE.  Purple walls, purple trim, purple rug. What’s hard to see in the photos is that the ceilings are actually 10′ tall – which is awesome!
After brainstorming, our potential game-plan into turning this into a functional dance studio was this:
1) Divide the space and create a waiting area – one of the biggest struggles of our existing space was the waiting room was very narrow and small.  It was impossible for anyone with a stroller to enter and would be crazy when one class was leaving and another arriving.  I wanted to make the new waiting room a little bit deeper to help fix this problem.
 
2) Adding connecting doorways – we needed to connect the two spaces together, by joining the waiting rooms and in another spot.  In the waiting room, I wanted an open doorway to make the rooms feel very open and encourage overflow from the narrow waiting room into the larger one.
I also wanted to a door connecting the two studios, but <SPOILER ALERT> apparently the wall between the two studios was filled with bricks?!  My contractor found this to be annoying and confusing (as did I).   The only other place that had just sheetrock separating the two spaces was all the way in the back through the furnace closet.  Not ideal, but as Tim Gunn says, we made it work.

I know you are anxious for beautiful before and after photos, which I PROMISE will happen, but in another post!

2014 Song Selections

Because I’m a huge music / stats nerd, I like to share my song choices from each year.  It’s mostly for me to be able to look back and say “when did I use that song”? , but maybe someone will enjoy it too.

(Here’s 2013’s music list if you’re curious… and 2012… and 2011)

Our first half of our recital had a theme which was “dance inspired by literature or literary themes”, so you may notice that some of my songs are related to books.

Links open in iTunes, unless otherwise noted 🙂

TEENS

TWEENS

CHILDREN

“I’m Late” – white rabbit tap solo

Loved this one!

Can I get a show of hands for who used an “over popular” song this year and regretted it?  What was your favorite song to choreograph to this year?  Comment below.

Our “Frozen-Inspired” Dance Camp: Activities & Games

This post is part of our “Frozen-Inspired” Dance Camp Series.

Activities / Creative Movement

Melting & Freezing

We explored the movement qualities of melting and freezing by pretending to be Olaf melting in the summer or freezing with Elsa’s help.  We melted for 16 slooooooow counts, and froze again for 16 then repeated in 8 counts, 4 counts, 2 and 1!  We melted with a friend, froze into different shapes or poses, started on one leg, etc.  Lots of variations to be had with this one!

More Melting Inspiration from Maria’s Movers Blog

Journey to Elsa’s Castle

We pretended to be Anna and Kristoff making their journey to or from Elsa’s castle.  We did this by playing Going on a Bear Hunt, but we changed the words to “We’re going on a journey, we’re gonna go get Elsa, I’m not scared, I’m not scared”.  For the next part (“we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, I guess we’ll go… through it!”), we encountered :

  • Deep deep snow – big slow marches to lift our feet through the snow
  • A dark forest – tip toes
  • A cold frozen stream – skating
  • A big tall mountain – climbing actions
  • An icy staircase – careful climbing actions

Until we got to the castle and knocked on the door and found… MARSHMALLOW (the snow monster)!  Reverse all the actions as fast at you can to go back to Arrendale and climb into bed with the covers over our head.

Creative Movement based on Scenes or Characters from the Movie

We did a lot of creative movement / free dance, based on settings and characters from the movie.  We would first describe the scene / character, then talk about the movements the characters did (running, rolling, climbing, skating, etc) and then dance them using those movements.  Some of our favorite scenes:

Olaf In Summer – skipping, laying (sun-tanning), swaying, blowing dandelions, floating


Skating on Elsa’s pond – skating, twirling, sliding

Dancing like Marshmallow – “stompy”, angry, slow
They also enjoyed pretending to be at the coronation ball, dancing like the trolls, pretending to be a snow-swirl created by Elsa, and of course, being Elsa.


Games

In addition to the usual run of camp games (Freeze Dance, 4 corners, relay races, etc), we added a few or tailored them to better fit our theme:

Obstacle Course – We set up various obstacles around the room relating to the trip to Elsa’s castle.  We used cones to tip toe around like trees, a tunnel to go under, a gym mat to roll across, a “tightrope” (tape line on the floor) to walk on, ice puddles to jump over (little rugs)

Pin the Nose on Olaf – we had an Olaf-shaped posterboard and had the girls take turns being blind-folded and pinning their “nose” onto Olaf.  Since we had a large crew, we split them between three different groups so we could have three people going at the same time.

Our life-size Anna & Elsa was a
big hit for photos!

Red Light, Green Light, Frozen Variation Basic Red light/Greenlight rules – in our version instead of being a redlight/greenlight, the “It” person is Elsa – and freezes people when she turns around.  We used the terms “WINTER” for STOP and “SUMMER” for GO.  If anyone was caught moving when the “It” person said WINTER, they had to go back to the starting line.  First person to touch the “It” person gets to be “It” for the next round.

One other thing that we used during the week was this Life-size Anna & Elsa – we found this great life-size cardboard cutout from Amazon.  They have other characters, but I really liked the two girls together.  We used them for a backdrop in our pictures and the kids loved “holding their hand” and just seeing them in general.
What other games / activities can be adapted to fit a “Frozen” theme?  Are you sick of the music yet?  Will you use it in your classes next season? Comment below!

Our “Frozen-Inspired” Dance Camp: Crafts

frozencamp craft

“Do You Wanna Dye a T-Shirt?” (sung in the melody of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman”)

This is part of our “Frozen” (inspired) Dance Camp Series.

We spend about 30-40 minutes on crafts, but always have a back-up plan for those who lose interest fast (some of the 4 year olds are more interested in the process, than the final product) or who are very detailed (need to place every piece of grass just so).

Good ideas of back-up plans are coloring pages (link to free printable Frozen coloring pages) / activity sheets or clips from the movie, if you have a TV or screen.  I actually made a YouTube playlist of Frozen clips on our computer just in case, but we never had to use it.

Now… onto the crafts!

My Camp Director and I pulled a lot of the craft and activity ideas off of Pinterest, so I will try to credit our original inspiration when possible.

Continue reading

Our “Frozen-Inspired” Dance Camp

frozencampheader

 

Our most asked camp question since last December has been “Are you doing a Frozen Camp?”  So due to popular demand… a Frozen (inspired) Camp is what we did!

What works best for our studio is doing a half-day camp, where the students come 4 or 5 days a week from 9am-noon.

Each year we do a different theme and base the week’s lessons around that theme. We hold an impromptu little “show” on the last day of camp for family and friends.

We did the Frozen (inspired) Camp for our Princess age group (ages 4-7) at the end of June, and we actually had to close off registration a week prior because of the demand!  (For comparison, our July Princess Camp was half as full as the Frozen Camp was).

I’m going to break up the posts into a few different sections, and hopefully they will give you some ideas for your own camp.

1) Music (this post)
2) Crafts
3) Games & Activities 

General Camp Agenda

8:50-9:05am – Parent Drop-off and Student Sign-in
9:05-9:30am – Warm-up and “Get to know you” activities – I like doing the Name Game as an icebreaker
9:30-10:00am – Ballet Dance class (learning choreography / technique)
10:00-10:45am – Craft Time
10:45-11:00am – Snack Time
11:00-11:40am – Tap class (learning choreography / technique)
11:40-12:00pm – Games / Cool-down

Dance Camp Playlist

All links open in iTunes – the Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate

I know you will all be surprised when I tell you that the most used album during our Frozen-Inspired Camp was… the Frozen album. Shocking, I know! But we also used a few other non-Frozen songs during our camp so that we (the teachers) didn’t go crazy from having songs stuck our head all day!

Songs We Used for Choreography

Songs We Used in Class (for creative movement, games, and technique)

What non-Frozen songs can you think of that would fit in well?

Summer Playlist Updates 2014

Hope you’re all having a great summer!

Need some refreshments for your class playlists? Look no further – here are a few tunes to change up your playlist.  I’m teaching mostly tap this summer, so my playlist tends to lean in that direction, but most of these songs could easily crossover into jazz / children’s hip hop / contemporary.

CHILDREN / TWEENS

Call It Whatever (Bella Thorne)

Really Don’t Care (Demi Lovato)

Dar Um Jeito/We Will Find A Way (Avicii / Santana) – FIFA World Cup theme, a really good upbeat song – the whole album “One Love, One Rhythm” actually has a lot of fun “world” music

Can You Do This (Aloe Blacc) –  I’ve been using this as part of an improv combination – on the chorus we trade 8’s in tap class

Classic (MKTO)

TEENS

Love Runs Out (One Republic) – its been all over the radio stations, but I love using this in tap class for warm-ups

Basically I (Robert DeLong) – good warm-up / across the floor song

On Top Of The World (Imagine Dragons) – a happy little song that makes me smile

Luck (American Authors)

Sing (Ed Sheeran)

Problem (Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea) – another Top 40 rounds out my summer playlist update

The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate.

8 Instagram Post Ideas For Your Dance Studio

Is your dance studio or company on Instagram?  Scared to take the leap? (dance pun intended) Here’s a few tips on how to get started and what to post.

Don’t worry about posting daily – in fact, if you post too many times a day, you may annoy your followers.  It seems like the sweet spot is once a day to a few times a week.  For my studio, I end up posting on average 3-4 times a week unless I’m running a contest or it’s a big event for the studio (recital or competition weekend, for example).

Ok, so now you’ve made an Instagram account… what do you post?

8 Instagram posts ideas for your dance studio or company

1. Your dancers:  The most obvious is to post images and videos of your students dancing!  Be sure to mix it up – some of the cute babies in class mixed in with your best students along with some great action shots from performances.

2. Behind the scenes:  Making costumes?  Folding programs?  Hanging the backdrop for the show?  My students and parents love to see the “behind the scenes” photos.

  

3. Class videos:  This is a great way to expose potential students to the different class types.  Post a short clip of your newest class offering to show students what that class might be like.

4. Hold a contest or photo challenge:  I like to hold contests during school breaks because it gives the kids something to do and keeps them thinking about dance.  Our most recent one was “Spring Break Photo Contest” and dancers had to post a photo of themselves dancing on Spring Break.  We got a lot of fun pictures back that we shared in-studio and on Facebook.  Make sure to use a hashtag for your contest (#ABCstudio).

  • Leap / Jump Contest – followers have to post their best leap or jump
  • Favorite Costume – post a photo of their favorite costume
  • First Year Dancing – any photos from their first year of dancing
  • Dance Everywhere – post a photo of them dancing in an unusual location

5. Dance education:  Post a photo of a famous dancer and have your followers guess who it is.  Share photos of famous ballets and dance companies.

6. Motivation & inspirational quotes:  I like to post these every so often.  I find a lot of them on Pinterest.  Instagram Etiquette Tip: If you borrow someone’s quote, play nice and credit them.

7.  Hashtags:  (Or should I say #hashtags)  Hashtags are a fun way to make your post accessible to more people and are good for when you’re looking for an idea to post something.  My favorite dance-related hashtags are:

  • #TutuTuesday – anything ballet!
  • #TiltTuesday – just what it sounds like
  • #TBT or #FBF – (Throwback Thursday & Flashback Friday) – post an older photo from months or years ago.  These posts usually get the most “likes” on our studio Instagram.
  • Make up your own! What about #musicmonday and post some songs from the upcoming performance?  Or #flexibilityfridays and showcase some tips on how to get more flexible.  Check out this great idea from Maria’s Movers on creating a hashtag for your performances.  Some more hashtag ideas from Dance Spirit.

8. Integrate your posts with Facebook and Twitter:  Instagram makes it easy to connect your account to your Twitter and Facebook accounts and you can share the same posts on all three social media sites at one time.

Have fun!

Further Reading: http://schoolempower.com/blog/posts/20…

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Do you use Instagram?  What tips can you share about posting photos and videos? What are your favorite photos to see?  What gets the most likes?