Our Elf, Izzy

When I read Maria’s post asking her readers about their elves, I knew I had to share!

Our studio Elf on the Shelf, Izzy, has made a lot of friends at dance school!
First we got an official letter from Santa telling us why our elf was so special:
Like the Santa stationary?  I got it from here


Then Izzy lit up our dance studio with some lights, which put everyone in a festive mood!
Izzy showed off her split skills at the Split Wall.
She even signed her name!
And then got into the sticker supply….
Christmas colors of course…
And made herself a tutu out of tulle…
Izzy, I don’t think that’s what the measuring tapes are meant for!
I guess she decided the kids were behaving and decided to watch the parents in the waiting room instead… ūüôā
I don’t know what she’ll do next!

I enjoy sharing Izzy’s adventures on our studio Facebook page and Instagram so everyone can see what she’s been up to!

Do you have an Elf at your school or home?  Is he or she mischievous or well-behaved? Share in the comments!

Dance Deals: Wooden Nutcracker Ornament

Spotted this deal and wanted to share (full disclosure: I’m not getting paid for this, just sharing the good deal!):

Cute little wooden Nutcrackers!

DollarTree – Nutcracker Ornaments, 2 for $1

You have to buy a case of 48 units (so 96 ornaments), but if anyone has lots of little ones, might make a good gift for a good price!

They are 5″ tall, which is a pretty decent size.

In other news, yuck, I can’t believe I posted about Christmas ornaments in October. ¬†Shame on me!

Link Love: Olympic-Inspired Movement

Thanks to Teach Preschool’s post about the Olympic Blog Hop, I discovered a bunch of great Olympics-inspired movement posts for the little ones and had to share!

Move Like a Gymnast from Creative Family Fun – these activities might be fun to incorporate into a summer camp next year.

Pom Pom Games – These pom poms look fairly easy to make and would be a fun alternative to bean bags in the classroom.

Movement Games for Young Children – a few ideas and a great list of guidelines for creating your own movement game.

Ring-Based Movement Ideas – You could easily translate these ideas to non-Olympic rings by using some hoola hoops or rubber circles.

Olympic Family Fitness from The Iowa Farmer’s Wife¬†– a 15-minute fitness lesson for a 3-year old including warm-up, activity and cool down.

Cute London Bus Prop Idea – ok, so this one has nothing to do with movement, but the London bus they made from a cardboard box would be a cute prop!

Have you been watching the Olympics?  Will any Olympic inspired movement be making its way into your classrooms this year?

Reading List

I started titling this entry “Summer Reading List”, but then realized that it’s already August! ¬†Yikes! ¬†So I will call this my Late-Summer / Early-Fall reading list and hope I get through most of the books by the time the leaves start to fall.This is also my response to August’s Blog Challenge – what are you reading?

And p.s…. Happy National Book Lover’s Day! ¬†Total unplanned coincidence!

Dance Books

The Human Alphabet by Pilobolus¬†– can’t wait to use this one in creative movement class in the fall!

The Souls of Your Feet by Acia Gray Рa tap book!

Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit¬†– I have been meaning to read this book for ages…

Creative Dance for All Ages by Anne Green Gilbert Рthis was recommended to me by a colleague as a springboard for developing creative movement ideas

Business Books

The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte¬†– I started reading this the other day and so far it is a nice change of pace from usual business books – it’s like a breath of fresh air!

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon Рa nice little book that promises to be full of inspiration, if its anything like his blog

Quick word about my affiliate relationship with Amazon so we’re all clear: ¬†If you click the links above and end up purchasing a book, I get a teeny percentage of the sale. ¬†If you don’t want to do this, you can search for the book on another site or use Amazon without clicking the links. ¬†Yay freedom of choices!¬†

August Blog Challenge: What Are You Reading?

Happy August!

Wait. ¬†That should read: What? It’s August? ¬†What do you mean there’s only five weeks until classes start? Ack!

For me, August is the last chance for some time off from teaching (our summer classes only run until the end of July), which is when I do things like… go to the ballet, read dance books and catch up on SYTYCD. ¬† A.K.A. dance inspiration time!

So in honor of the inspiration that comes from the written word, and in honor of all the college students heading back in for a new year of reading and learning, August’s Blog challenge is to post about what you’re reading now, what you’ve read this summer or even just your favorite dance book, business book or children’s book.

Don’t have a blog? No problem! You can participate by leaving a comment below, tweeting @thedancebuzz or posting to our Facebook wall! ¬† Also follow my “Worth a Read” pinterest board, if you’re obsessed with Pinterest like I am¬†into that kind of thing.

I’ll post my summer reading list shortly and I look forward to reading yours!

This is Why Dance Matters

What Is This A Picture Of?

I posed the question “why does dance matter to you?” to the followers of¬†my other dance twitter account, @dancequote, and this is a visual representation of their responses. ¬†

What Is Why Dance Matters?

It is a movement to spread the word on why dance is a valuable artform and who it matters to.  Join the movement here: whydancematters.org

Read more about the un-scientific manner on how I created this after the jump.

Continue reading

Creative Movement: Beating The Heat

Hot Sun
“Hot Sun” by Brian Gurrola

Summer is in full swing and it’s been hot hot hot where I live for the past two weeks! If it’s summer where you live, I’m sure you are feeling the heat. ¬†I feel badly for my city neighbors who have been suffering from super heated subways and sidewalks… ¬†Make sure you’re staying hydrated if it’s hot where you live!

Because of the heat, in creative movement summer class we’ve been channeling “cool thoughts”. ¬†Here are a few exercises you can do with your classes:

1) Snowy Day Dances.  

Maria explains it best in her blog entry with a ton of great creative movement ideas about snow, and using the book, “Snowy Day” (Maria’s Movers)

Snow Man

2) Build a Snow Man (or Woman) Рgroup exercise 

Split up into “Snow People” and “Builders/snow artists”. ¬† The Builders will create a snow person out of the Snow People by gently guiding and shaping each snow person into a shape to make one big snowman.

The first time we do this exercise, I assign each Builders a part, like “lower body”, “face”, “accessories”, to help them narrow down what they are creating. ¬†If your crew is really good at working together or you have a small class, then you might be able to skip the assignments and just let them create together.

Remind the Snow that their job is to hold their position, but cooperate if a new Builder would like to shape them differently.

Each of the Builders adds on the creation (stretching arms to create scarves, moving hands for buttons or even suggesting an expression for the Snow to make). Suddenly… Voila! you have a snow man! ¬†Switch the groups and tasks and repeat!¬†

I love this exercise for my youngest creative movement class (ages 7-10), as it is a great introduction to group work and partnering in a fun way. ¬†This is a very hands-on activity… we learn about communication, leadership and cooperation.¬†

My older kids get a kick out of it too and you can create some cool lifts (no pun intended) out of it.  With my older ones, I skip the assignments and just split them into groups of 3-5 and tell them they need to create a snow man or woman using their bodies.  Then we take turns showing our snow person and creating storylines about what the snow person does for a living, what he or she is doing at that very moment.  A lot of fun!

3) Ocean Dances 

Check out this page Ohia.com for a lot of great ocean-inspired creative movement exercises!

4) Storm Dance

Weather and nature is great for creative movement inspiration.  My 5 and 6 year olds enjoy being seeds that blow in the wind and then turn into flowers when the sun shines.  When we are flowers our roots are planted (either by sitting, kneeling or standing in one spot) and just our upper body moves.

Learn From The Way The Wild Flowers Grow. They Do Not Work Or SpinSometimes there is a big thunderstorm coming and our petals and leaves blow very fast (we sort of look like those inflatable tubes that wave all around).  Other times it rains and we drip and droop.  When the sun shines we stand up very tall and spread our leaves to catch all of the sunshine.

Other times we pretend we are clouds that float about the room.  Our clouds can be blown by the wind together to travel in one direction or sometimes we float in different directions. Have fun creating your own weather dances!

5) Other “Cool”Summer Movement Inspiration

– Ice melting and freezing: great for “freeze dance”
– Floating in a pool or stream: oh no! there’s a whirlpool!
– Making shapes that divers make (cannonball!)
– Blowing in the wind
РRain:  light rain, heavy rain, being a flower or plant in the rain
– Fishing: being fish, being on a boat, fishing, being the worm, seaweed
РFans:  slow fans, oscillating fans, big fans, small fans
– Making Lemonade: adding sugar, ice, lemons, mixing

Music Suggestion:  The David Sun Natural Sound Collection: Sounds of the Earth РStorm The David Sun Natural Sound Collection: Sounds of the Earth - Storm - Sounds of the Earth

How do you “stay cool” at dance class? ¬†Any summer movement ideas?

Yoga-Inspired Ab Exercises, Part 1

Looking to change up your abdominal exercises in class or at home?  Try these yoga-inspired moves that are sure to get your abs firing!

The Exercises

Here are a few exercises to add into your ab sequence during your jazz, modern or ballet warm-up. ¬†If you’re not sure how to do them, click on the name for a more detailed explanation from Yoga Journal.¬† All photos unless otherwise noted are from creative commons on Flickr.

Downward Facing Dog

Yoga basics.  Stretches the hamstrings and gets the blood flowing.  Keep the shoulders pressed down away from the ears.

Yoga- Down Dog
Downward facing dog – photo from Flickr.

Variation РDolphin Pose:  From downward dog, lower your elbows to the floor while keeping your heels pressed down.  To strengthen arms, you can slowly mover from dolphin to downward dog and back a few times.

Plank or Dolphin Plank

Begin in down-dog and move the shoulders over the palms and hold.  A variation is dolphin plank, which is done on the elbows.

Kumbhakasana (Plank pose)
Photo from Flickr.

Added challenge:  Lift up one leg a few inches off the ground.  Hold.  Switch legs.

Hatha Yoga Core Abs Video - Plank Pose
Dolphin pose with lifted foot, photo from Flickr.

What to watch for:  Make sure your students are keeping their abs tightened and not allowing their back to sway.  Students with arm or shoulder injuries should avoid this exercise.

Hands and Knee Balance

Begin on hands and knees.  Keeping abs tight stretch out opposite arm and leg.  You can make this a moving pose by bringing the knee and elbow in and out while still balancing.  The motion challenges the dancer to use their core to maintain balance.

Watch that students are keeping their hand and leg in line and are not tempted to work their extension by arching the back or kicking their leg higher than the hip.

Side Plank and Dip

Hold side plank position.  For added difficulty, raise and lower and raise hips slowly.  This position strengthens the arms and wrists as well as the abs.  My students found it very hard to balance in this position, especially once we added the dips. Some of them modified it by lowering to their elbow.  Make sure you keep the shoulder stacked over the elbow or wrist.  Also watch out for hyperextended elbows.

Ask A Yogi - 4
Added challenge:  Lift your top leg off the ground Рyou can do this just by a few inches or all the way until it is perpendicular to the bottom leg (like a side battement).

Plank Cross

From the plank position (on hands), lift the right leg and tuck the knee into touch the outside of the left elbow.

High Lunge

From down dog, step one leg through to a lunge.  Exhale and sweep the hands overhead.

Avoid arching the back or sticking the ribs out. ¬†The ribs should feel “drawn down into the torso”.

Crescent Lunge

Half Moon

From the lunge or Warrior III, rotate the body to face the side and reach one hand down to the floor. Smoothly push up into the half moon pose, stacking the hip bones on top of one another.

Half Moon

To deepen the pose, lift the lower hand off the floor and rest it on the supporting leg so that the student is balance only on the leg.

For a further challenge, raise the top arm perpendicular to the floor (as shown above). Imagine there’s a wall in front of you, and press the top hand actively into this pretend wall. Then, if balance is steady, slowly change the gaze up to the raised hand.

Another option is to perform small circles with the raised foot to challenge the balance.

Three-leg Down Dog

From downward dog, lift one leg so that it is parallel with the torso.  This is the three-leg Down Dog.

Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Tri-pod down dog

To work the abs, tuck the knee and bring the knee to the right elbow, shifting the body weight over the arms and hands.  Stretch the back out and up, the bring the knee to the left elbow, stretch it back out, and knee to the forehead.  Repeat 3-4x total and then repeat on the other leg.

Putting It All Together

5-minute Ab Sequence #1:   Hands and Knee Balance with knee tuck (4 per side),  Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Side Plank w/Dip (4 per side), Plank, Lunge, Half Moon, Lunge, Plank, Downward Dog, repeat Lunge, Half Moon, Lunge with other side.

5-minute Ab Sequence #2: Hand and Knee balance with knee tucks (7 per side), Down Dog (20 second hold), Plank Cross (4 per side), Down Dog to Three-Leg Down Dog with knee tuck (3 repetitions per side), Dolphin Plank w/small leg lift on each side (hold for 10 seconds each side).

Photo Guide and resource list for each sequence after the jump

Continue reading

Rock Star Camp Day 4: Bling Bling

Read more about our camp here!

Day #4 Set List

  • Warm-Up: ¬†Jazz warm-up and across the floor progressions
  • Class Time: ¬†Jazz class – learn dance #3
  • Craft Time: ¬†Sunglasses & Necklaces
  • Snack
  • Class Time: ¬†Tap class – learn dance #3
  • Fun Time: ¬†Relay Races
On Day 4, we learned our final dances to “We Built This City”¬†We Built This City - Now That's What I Call the 80s by Starship and Hannah Montana’s “Rock Star”Rock Star - Hannah Montana 2: Non-Stop Dance Party.Since we needed more time to practice our dances, we kept craft time shorter than the other days.

Craft #1:  Blinged-Out Sunnies
Supplies:  Cardstock or Folders, Gem Rhinestones, Glue, Paintbrushes

Teacher Prep:  Cut out glasses from cardstock.

Using glue and plastic gems, decorate glasses.

Continue reading

Dance Camp: Rock Star Theme

What a great week of camp at the studio!

Our studio offers two types of camp: 5-day “Dance Camp” for ages 6-10 and 4-day “Princess Camp” for ages 4-6. ¬†For both camps, the students come each day for three hours from 9am – noon and we dance and do arts and crafts. ¬†It’s a lot of fun and we’ve run both programs successfully for a few years (we’ve been doing Dance Camp for more than 10 years… Princess Camp we just started last year).¬†

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.

This year, the older kids’ camp theme was “Rock Stars”, which was a blast to plan and to do. I wanted to share our week with you and hopefully it will give you some ideas for your camp or even just some fun crafts to do at home this summer!

Our Rock Star Camp Schedule
Day 1:  Totally Tie-Dye
Day 2: ¬†Rockin’ Guitars
Day 3:  Glitter, Glitter, Everywhere!
Day 4:  Stars, Frames & Bling
Day 5:  Performance Day

This coming week, look for a new post every day with a breakdown of what we did, craft ideas and song suggestions for a rockin’ week of camp!

Do you have camp at your studio? ¬†What’s the format? ¬†Is it successful? ¬†Comment below!