Educating Dancers

Be Quiet and Let Your Students Listen

A microphone at radio station by Allessandro Bonvini

When your opinions don’t hold sway with your students, consider using Heather’s approach and have your dancers listen their way in to the work of famous choreographers.

“I Hate Dance;” Finding Common Ground

Common Ground

The discovery of movement is a glorious thing. But what about students who don’t have an innate love for dance? Heather rethinks how she presents improvisation based on what we all have in common — bodies and the need to communicate.

Working the Numbers: Math Problem-Solving in Dance

Illustration by Daniel Ng

K-12 dance educator, Heather Vaughan Southard shares two very different ways she incorporates math and problem-solving into her dance education classes: dancing fractions and budgeting for a production.

Creating Classroom Choreography with Purpose

Cedar Lake Ballet in rehearsal for The Copier. Photo by David Poe.

There are three major strands through which we experience dance: Create, Perform, and Respond. Heather describes how she’s been addressing these with her K-12 dance elective students to create a window into their depth of knowledge and to cultivate expression.

Graphs and Charts in the Studio Classroom

Using Graphs & Charts to Reinforce Dance Concepts

Are you using visual aids like graphs and charts to reinforce concepts in your dance classes? After all, dancers are often visual learners. Here are five traditional academic aids which can be put to good use in the studio.

Blurred Lines: New Trends in Dance Training

Cedar Lake Contemporay Ballet by Listen Missy

It’s harder than ever to classify dance performance neatly into genres. As a result, our training methods deserve a new approach. Here is how educator, Heather Vaughan-Southard is rethinking tradition and empowering her students.

Class Dress Code: Function Over Fashion

Warning: Reflections in this mirror may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of 'beauty'.

There’s value in seeing a student’s form during class but, especially in public schools, there are benefits to allowing for comfort and individuality. Here’s how Heather talks about dance attire fashion and its function in her dance classes.

Your Words and Shaping Healthy Dancers


Our job is to teach, not to belittle, but dance carries a long tradition of judgements based upon body type and more. Heather discusses how to speak more effectively with students about health and commitment without the snark.

Revamp and Revise Using Evaluation Results


Heather offers questions and considerations to ponder as you look back at your dance program and curriculum and as you look forward to improving it and making a difference in the lives of your students next year.

Measuring Success: Data Driven Dance

A pile of measuring tape

Dance educator, Heather Vaughn Southard, encourages tests that go beyond pencil, paper, and even presentation as she outlines ways to assess program philosophy, performance goals, teaching methods, class achievement, and individual student growth.

Let’s Talk Arts Integration: Defining What You Do

Have you ever danced about the water cycle? Did you learn anything about dance? If not, then your science education was enhanced by dance not integrated with it. Heather gives examples of how dance might be integrated with other subjects and some tips on collaborating with another teacher.

Managing the Middle School “Shut Down”


Dance educator, Heather Vaughan-Southard uses exploration, choice, and personal responsibility to get beyond the walls her middle school students sometimes throw up. If you’ve experienced the emotional and academic ‘shut down’ typical of this age group, her findings will interest you. We’d also love to know your approach to reaching your tweens.