Why, Discount Dance, Why?

It’s the first day of dance and your newest little toddler students enter the room in their new dancewear – hair pulled back, cute little leotards, pink tights and then you look down at their feet and you see:

Flimsy slipper
The super soft fake satin ballet “slippers” they unfortunately sell next to dancewear at Target and Walmart.  Every preschool teacher’s nightmare.  They fall off feet, cause dancers to trip and fall and are simply not suited for a dance class.
Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 10.36.27 PM
But they truly are annoying and I cringe every time I see a parent proudly whip them out of a dance bag… usually just a case of being mis-informed.
Then today I was shopping for some new ballet slippers for myself from Discount Dance and I see this:
 Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 10.43.52 PM
Let’s take a closer look…

AHHHHH!  Eh tu, Discount Dance?

I mean, I understand that Target and Walmart might not care if the bedroom slippers they are passing off as ballet shoes aren’t ACTUAL ballet slippers, but Discount Dance should have SOME shred of integrity when it comes to shoes that are listed under the “Ballet” category!  Whyyyyyy??

At least one of the reviewers (mind you, a 13-year old who has better sense then a dance catalog) wrote:

“I’m just going to quickly say if you are planning on buying these to wear them, don’t…Anyway, I actually made them in to a keychain!”

The only use for this shoe is as a decoration!

Ok… rant over.  I feel better now.

At least until the first day of class…

January Blog Challenge: Personal Dance Firsts

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Attention all dance bloggers, here is your January Blog Challenge – we're starting off with a fun, personal one.

Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to share a picture and story of one of your "dance firsts".  First class, first show, first shoes… whatever inspires you!

The Details

  1. Choose one picture that represents your dance first
  2. Share your story
  3. Include a link back to this post (Permalink: )
If you participate, leave a comment below with the link to your post so we can share in the fun!

UPDATED JAN. 29, 2012 – Here are all the participants so far:

And with that, here's my dance first…. 
My first dance performance!

Read more »

Teaching Tip: Spaghetti, Meatballs and Pancakes, Oh My!

This creative movement idea was inspired by this Fruit Tree post at Maria’s Movers and the comments from Zan (of Hullabaloo Danceshop).  Zan describes her “turnip dance” in the comments and I loved the idea so I’ve been trying it out with my Modern I / Creative Movement class (ages 8-10).  We have changed it to fit our needs and the kids have come up with different food names (since most of them have never eaten a turnip).  We tried to keep it to somewhat healthy foods.

Our food stretch goes like this (movements in parentheses):

Spaghetti, toast and… pizza?
Ok there’s no pizza stretch.. yet!

Flat as a pancake (lie on back)
Round like a meatball (contract and roll into ball on side)
Stretch like spaghetti (stretch long on side, keeping balance)
Flat as toast (lie on belly)
Up like a banana/mermaid (cobra or mermaid pose*)
Flat as toast
Stretch like spaghetti
Round like a meatball
Flat as a pancake (repeat other side)

The only trouble is they always say they’re hungry after we do this stretch!

*Some days we do cobra pose (leaving feet on the ground and using hands to push up to stretch back) and some days we do mermaid (lifting feet and kicking arms off ground balancing on belly) – also known as superman pose.

Happy dancing!

Candy Cane Prop

Just wanted to share a cute idea from my Kindergarten and 1st grade tap classes. I saw these lawn candy canes at Wal Mart and picked up a few for $1 each. They are the perfect size for pint-sized dancers to use as tap “canes” and fun for the holidays!

This year I had a hard time finding non-lighted ones, but Wal-Mart had some for 99 cents each. If you wait until after the holidays and find them even cheaper and keep them for next year.

It’s funny how creative kids are – within minutes of getting to use the candy canes, they had come up with 4 or 5 different ways of holding the cane I hadn’t even considered (including riding the cane like a horse, and putting two canes together to make a large heart).  One word of caution–these canes do look like candy so the first thing my kids started to do was pretend to lick the candy cane! I’m not sure younger students would be able to resist trying to lick the pretend candy… something to consider.

EDIT:  I left these in my car overnight and the cold temperatures made them brittle.  When I went to take them out of my car, a few of them shattered all over my trunk, leaving tiny bits of plastic.  I recommend keeping yours indoors or find a thicker, more pliable material.

For my Kindegarten class (all first-year dancers), I used the Peppermint Stick Strut from Rosemary Boross’ “Land of Sweet Taps” CD. The song includes instructions such as “Tap tap tap tap, together, clap”, so we modified them to mean “tap (your cane and foot to side), step together and tap cane in front”.  The Kindegartners has trouble remembering which end of the cane to hold onto, so we didn’t reverse our steps, but kept the cane ‘crook’ in our right hand for the whole combination.  Their favorite part was walking around the cane.

Lighted candy cane from Boscovs.. too many wires!

For my 1st graders, I used “Sleigh Ride” by Amy Grant.  It is a bit faster, but you can go half-tempo for harder steps.  They were able to switch hands and enjoyed making different shapes with the canes and their formations.

Click here to view the age 6-8 combo I created*
Suggested song: “Sleigh Ride” by Amy Grant Sleigh Ride - A Christmas Album 

*If you read the combo, a quick note about the “giddy up” part… my 1st graders have been flying through our tap syllabus this year and absolutely love cramprolls.  They can do them at a high speed, so during the giddy up part they are able to perform 3 quick cramprolls.  You can modify it to be little ponyjumps (like a pas de chat but parallel or whatever jumping step your class enjoys).

Here are some links to prop suggestions:

What props have you used this or in past holiday seasons?

On The Blogs: Choosing a Pre-School Program

Choosing a Dance Program for your Pre-School Boy

Just read this insightful article by Nichelle Strzepek on MySonCanDance blog. If you’re a parent looking for a dance program for your son, give this one a read. If you’re a studio owner wondering why you don’t have many boys, check this article to see what red flags your studio that could be sending to parents with boys. For example:

“2. A school without pink walls

A studio’s pink walls equivalent might be princess themes or anything that unnecessarily genderizes dance. Pink is a fine color and for the moment, pink is actually among my son’s favorite colors. However, a school that is “painting their walls pink” is either hoping to appeal to only one demographic or it has never really crossed their mind that a boy might enter the establishment as a student. Either way, it is reason enough for me to look elsewhere.

It may seem like a small thing but, for boys and young men, no pink walls can make all the difference. It is about feeling welcome and comfortable in an environment.”

There is also some good advice that is useful to any parent looking for a dance studio for their child:

“Look for a school whose older dancers move in a coordinated, pleasing fashion.”

Looking at a studio’s advanced dancers is very often a good indicator of how serious a school is or what their focus is on.

Either way, good article – read on!