About Nichelle (owner/editor)

Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world.

A Dancer’s Top Secrets To Learning Choreography Quickly

Every dancer I know wants to be better and faster at remembering dance combinations and movement phrases. Some dancers are astonishingly good at it without really trying. – sigh – We all have our gifts.

If you aren’t one of the dancers with this particular gift, learning new choreography in dance class or auditions can be a frustrating experience. Here are 16 of our best secrets for improving your accuracy when you’ve got to get the movement down and make it stick right away. The first 12 include tricks to try in the moment and the final four are strategies that will help you get better in time.

With some work (we won’t pretend it’s always easy), you’ll look like one of the gifted… our present to you. 😉

Memory Game


Focus first

If you know you are going to be learning new choreography, warm-up your brain for the mental workout. Like a physical warm-up, the needs are different for everyone and every situation but try centering yourself with some deep breathing to improve your performance. You might also try focusing techniques like counting backward without letting your mind wander, visualizing an object or movement with full concentration for several minutes, or repeating a positive or inspiring word over and over to yourself.


Don’t bite off more than you can chew

We learn and memorize best when we “chunk” or break a long string of details (like a phone number or dance phrase) into sections. The choreography will probably be taught in chunks but if these seem more than you can handle, mentally break it into even smaller pieces for easier digestion.


Close enough, keep moving

Don’t get sucked into the nitty-gritty vortex before you’ve got the overall picture. You’ve got to focus on the big broad strokes of the movement like pathway, facings, or patterns first. Then, move on, working toward perfecting the trouble spots and the specifics like head focus, hand positioning, and intricate footwork.


Stop, look, instant replay

Particularly if there are several direction changes, it’s hard to watch and do at the same time. On the first demonstration, you can try simply watching only. Then, try the choreography on the next run-through. Or, if you keep missing something, stop for a second, watch the instructor very carefully and then see if you can replay it in your mind before running it again.


Slow down time

This one’s a bit of a mental trick. Try picturing the movement you’ve been given in slow motion. Even as you watch in real-time, imagine that it’s happening at a much slower speed – one that allows you to capture all of the details. Another option: If you can, take a few moments to yourself to slow down a step if it feels too fast and gradually work it back up to tempo.


Think simple

Even complex choreography can be mentally simplified. If the steps or weight transfers are a sticking point, talk yourself through it in simple terms like “right, left, right-and-left,” or reduce the movement to basic body parts – “arm, leg, hip, hip, elbow.”


Put it on a loop

Repetition is crucial but in addition to practicing full-out you can put the combination or your trouble spots on repeat in your head or by marking the movement when you’re on the sidelines. If you want to learn the choreography quickly, you have no time for a mental nap. Don’t miss an opportunity to practice by talking to your neighbor, getting distracted, or zoning out.


Go full out

Marking movement is helpful when you are waiting your turn or when you are focusing on watching to gather more information. At all other times, do the choreography full out. That’s the only way it’s really going to “stick”.


Make a mental map

Every combination has its peaks, valleys, pathways, and landmarks. Mentally map these places in the choreography and then just keep traveling the same route from one destination to the next.


Say it to yourself

Connect your movements to words, labels or keywords, lyrics, rhythms, or sounds. The instructor has probably already been doing some of this as he/she teaches the combination but make your own connections, too. Even when the external prompting stops, keep cuing yourself using your internal voice. If you tend to be an auditory learner, it may even help if you do this out loud (but quietly, so you won’t disturb others).


Use the power of touch

You are already relying a lot on your eyes, ears, and your kinesthetic/proprioceptive (body) senses when learning a combination but, for some people, touch can also be a powerful memory tool. Think about it – your teachers use touch all the time to direct and give you cues, and you remember this touch as you go forward on your own. Help yourself in the same way – before you start dancing, tap the leg you keep forgetting to step with or touch the shoulder you need to remember to turn toward.


Tear your eyes away

This is probably the most important tip because it’s essential but often overlooked by dancers, especially when their confidence is low (more on that in a second).

After you’ve been given the movement and absorbed as much detail as you can, EYES OFF! Take your eyes off the instructor and other dancers to break the brain-suck connection. In fact, wean yourself away from any visual cues and concentrate and rely instead on the internal ones you’re developing – your thoughts, how something feels, which chunk follows that chunk, where you are on your mental map and not where you are in the room, etc.

All of the next steps are about developing your skill and confidence before you need to call upon them to learn a dance combination quickly.

Ditch “Negative Nelly” or “Negative Nelson”

Negative self-talkletting fear and negativity rule, psyching yourself out, comparing yourself to others. If you’ve made a habit of these things in your daily life or dance classes, don’t think you’ll just be able to drop your pessimistic pal at the curb before your next class or audition. Keep inviting the negative along and it’ll start to show up even when you don’t want it, least expect it, or while you’re trying to learn that darn dance choreography.


Expand your dance vocabulary

Often the trouble with learning new things is just that they’re new. The more experience you have in a variety of dance forms, styles, teachers, choreographers, the less likely you’ll be surprised by the unfamiliar. So take dance classes on vacation, go to intensives, conventions and workshops, practice improvisation, see more dance, and find other ways to activate your brain and body.


Use every opportunity

Don’t waste the opportunity to regularly practice the skill of picking up combinations. It comes along every time you take class, whether memorizing a ballet exercise or taking on a new time step. It takes discipline. Challenge yourself to be faster and more accurate at learning the choreography than you were the last time.


Play memory games

The Add-On Game – This is the game where one dancer starts with a movement, then the next dancer builds onto that movement by adding another one. Each dancer in the circle or in the room quickly adds their own movements in turn. Everyone dances the sequence as it grows, forcing each dancer to try to remember what comes next.

Watch and Learn – Have your instructor or another dancer show you a new movement phrase in full, without stopping. Watch carefully (you can mini-mark the movement if you need to) and then see how much you can accurately recall and perform. It may not be much the first time. Then, have them repeat it the same way and make your attempt again. It’s a challenge but great practice, and you can keep challenging yourself with longer or more difficult combinations.

YouTube Roulette – As we learned in How I Help Students Pick Up Combinations Faster, video is a great memory tool. Randomly select dance videos on YouTube and challenge yourself to learn the choreography without a ton of pausing and rewinding. Since the video is likely shot from the front you can challenge yourself to learn things on the correct side, or reverse it by mirroring. Either way, you’ll get practice outside of class with this technique.

What’s Next? – This game is similar to Watch and Learn except the new choreography is shown in full 3 times in a row. After seeing it repeated, the choreography is performed once more but the dancer pauses and asks, “what’s next?” See if you remember it right. Some variations on this game: use dance videos to play this solitaire, or have the instructor give the combination using just dance terminology without demonstration (yikes!).


Do you have your own secrets and tricks to learn choreography faster? Share them in the comments!


Sunflowers” by Rich Brooks is licensed CC BY 2.0. Text, graphics, and coloration added.

How To Clean Practically Anything Dance-Related

“How do I clean my ____?”

How to Clean Practically AnythingDance-RelatedIt’s no secret that dance isn’t always glamorous but your dance stuff doesn’t need to be the dead giveaway. Because dance gear doesn’t always come with instructions for proper care, we’ve gathered tips and advice on cleaning practically everything dance-related. Now you can leave the “Dirty Dancing” to Patrick and Jennifer with these tips for making shoes, dancewear, costumes, floors, and more look good as new.


Cleaning Dance Shoes

We’ve already covered basic dance shoe care, including storage and repair but if your shoes could use some sprucing up, here are some detailed cleaning tips:

Leather Ballet Slippers

Leather ballet slippers can easily be spot cleaned. Sometimes just a soft, damp cloth will do.

For a deeper cleaning, use a mild detergent or dish soap. There are two ways to do this: 1) rub a drop of detergent onto the soiled shoe and then wipe it clean with a soft, dry cloth or toothbrush or 2) add a few drops of detergent into a cup of water and mix until sudsy, then apply to shoe with a soft cloth.

Leather cleaner can also be used but be sure to apply a conditioner to keep the leather supple. Other commonly-used methods include using melamine foam (more popularly known as a Mr. Clean eraser), or Windex (sprayed onto a paper towel or cloth, not directly on the shoes) to clean your leather slippers.

Leather ballet slippers should NOT be cleaned in the washing machine. If your shoes are beyond spot cleaning, you can hand-wash them with a bit of mild detergent. It’s a good idea to wear the slippers while damp to allow them to mold to your foot.

Where you should NOT wear your slippers if you want to keep them clean. "ballet shoes" by Allie Holzman is licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

You should NOT wear your slippers here if you want to keep them clean. 

“ballet shoes” by Allie Holzman is licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

Keep in mind that water can make leather brittle so any method involving water should be used as little as possible clean your ballet slippers.


Canvas Ballet Slippers

Canvas ballet slippers can be cleaned in the washing machine. It’s best to wash them as you might other delicates: put them in a small lingerie bag and wash on cold, delicate cycle with a mild detergent. Don’t use fabric softener or bleach products.

DO NOT tumble your canvas ballet shoes in the dryer. Reshape them and lay them out on a towel to dry.

Washing canvas ballet slippers with this method may remove most dirt and grime but does not always restore the lovely pink or blush color of your shoes. For performance, many dancers dab either a matching foundation makeup or calamine lotion (which has a pink color) onto canvas slippers with a soft cloth, makeup sponge, or cotton ball to make them look like new on stage.


Pointe Shoes

What do the Wicked Witch of the West and pointe shoes have in common? Both can be destroyed by water. What a world, indeed!

Because of this fact and the generally short lifespan of a pointe shoe, most dancers just conceal dirty spots with foundation or calamine lotion before a performance. Students who do not go through shoes as quickly, may prefer to keep their pointe shoes clean and shiny by using pointe shoe covers during class.

All cleaning methods will dull the shine of pointe shoes but if that’s not a concern for you, there are a couple of ways to clean the satin. You may use dish detergent mixed into a small amount of water to spot clean a pointe shoe. Just be very careful not to saturate the shoe or you will risk breaking down the glue needed to help support the foot en pointe.

Another recommended cleaner is baking soda. Mix it with a bit of water until it forms a thick paste. Apply a small amount of the paste to spots and stains with a soft cloth or toothbrush and gently rub into the fabric with a circular motion. Allow the paste to dry overnight and wipe away the now chalky paste with a warm, damp (not wet) towel or washcloth – use a clean part of the towel for each spot to get all the chalky substance off the shoe. This will fade if not remove any marks on the pointe shoe but it will also dull the shine.


They'll never look this good again."new pair of pointes" by mararie is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

They’ll never look this good again.
“new pair of pointes” by mararie is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0


Tap/Jazz Shoe Scuff Marks

Surface grime and unsightly scuff marks can sometimes be removed from leather tap or jazz shoes by using baby wipes but most people swear by melamine foam for getting rid of marks from tap shoes and jazz shoes of any color. For stubborn scuffs, some apply pure acetone (nail polish remover) with a soft cloth, cotton ball, or Q-tip. Be sure not to rub too hard when using these methods as it’s possible to rub color from the shoe.

After cleaning the scuff, restore the shoe’s shine with a bit of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or a matching shoe polish.

As with leather ballet slippers, matching foundation can be applied to tan leather tap or jazz shoes to temporarily improve their look for performance.

Because cleaning jazz shoes in the washing machine isn’t an option, shoes can get pretty stinky over time. You can find some odor-eliminating options at getsmellout.com (Remember, use the sprays recommended via the link only on the inside of the shoe. Also, leaving shoes in the sun to dry can damage the color – try using a blow dryer on cool to dry instead.)


Cleaning Dancewear

Yes, almost all dancewear for class like leotards and tights can be thrown in the wash. These items will last much longer if they are washed in cold water and a mild detergent without bleach (don’t use fabric softener) on the hand-wash or delicate cycle. Putting them in a lingerie bag provides further protection from snags and from getting stretched out of shape.

I know for time’s sake, some dancers tumble dry their leotards on low heat. If you want your dancewear to last, though, it is best to lay it out to dry because heat gradually ruins the elasticity of stretch fabrics.


Greying Tights

If you or your kids have been dancing for a while, you know how quickly pink tights start to look grungy and grey, especially around the heels and toes. According to one blogging dance mom, the absolute best way to wash dirty tights is with a bar of Dove soap. Scrub the soap directly into the stains – really lather them up. Then, rinse them thoroughly with cool water and hang to dry. Apparently, this method is no match even for red lipstick!

"Tutu Repairman" by Billie Grace Ward is licensed CC BY 4.0

“Tutu Repairman” by Billie Grace Ward is licensed CC BY 4.0


Cleaning Costumes

Costumes made from durable fabrics like cotton/polyester blends, polyester, nylon, etc. can usually withstand machine washing and low-heat tumble drying unless they are trimmed or embellished with sequins or stones. If they are, handwash them.

Handwash anything made from delicate fabrics like lycra, spandex, tulle, cotton, linen, or knits. Hang-dry delicates or lay them flat if they contain stretch fabrics. Make any need repairs to costumes prior to washing them so there is no further damage.

Use a reputable dry cleaner for anything made of fabrics like wool, leather, chiffon, velvet, rayon, or satin. Keep in mind, however, it’s not recommended that you dry-clean costumes with stone or sequins embellishments. In fact, it’s best to spot-clean whenever you can as fabrics are damaged over time by harsh dry-cleaning chemicals.

Some costumes with heavy embroidery should never be washed. Dancers should wear leotards, tights, or other undergarments if possible to reduce the amount of perspiration on the fabric. You can eliminate odor with sprays (make sure you test them on an inconspicuous spot first). The wardrobe departments of many dance companies will hand wash only the panty area of a ballet bodice and use fabric-refresher sprays on the armpits or anywhere the bodice touches the dancer’s skin. A 50/50 dilution of alcohol and water can kill bacteria and odor without damaging the garment.

Wrinkles aren’t really part of cleaning but they do come as a result of it sometimes. To iron wrinkled costumes, turn them inside out and use a cool setting with a towel between the iron and fabric. Steam anything that is too delicate for ironing like tutus. Many dancers rely on hot shower steam to get the wrinkles from their costumes.

Cleaning Marley Floors

Poly-vinyl-chloride (PVC), or marley flooring is often used in dance studios and for performance. Typically manufacturers supply very detailed instruction on the proper care and maintenance of these floors. If you want the floor to last, follow their instructions! The main points to remember for cleanliness and your dancers’ safety are as follows:

  • Keep street shoes off the dance floor — they bring in abrasive dirt and grime. Better still, have dancers wait to put on their shoes until they are in the studio to avoid bringing in debris from the lobby, dressing rooms, etc.
  • Dry mop or sweep the floor daily using a clean mop/broom. (Do not use anything that is oil-treated.)
  • Do not use household cleaners and avoid cleaners with acetone, alcohol, ammonia, or bleach.
  • Use a neutral pH cleaner only and, for very dirty floors, a degreaser.
  • Humidity makes the floor slippery. If this is a problem, use a dehumidifier overnight.
  • Deep clean your floor bi-monthly or quarterly (depending on your studio traffic). A commercial wet-vac or automatic scrubber is often recommended.


Scuff Marks

There are different kinds of scuff marks – rubber, metal, leather – when soles begin to disintegrate, they leave behind residue on your dance floor. Even dye from a shoe can leave a mark on your Marley floor that is tough to get rid of. The key to successfully removing all scuffs is to get to these marks as fast as possible. Therefore, your best defense may be a routine daily cleaning schedule so that problems are spotted right away.

There are products sold by dance floor manufacturers specifically for removing scuff marks from vinyl. Yes, they are expensive but keep some on hand for times when stubborn scuffs don’t come up with regular cleaning.

If tap dancers use your floor, have artificial chamois cloths handy to use on your dry mop (or swiffer). Lower-quality, aluminum compound taps break down and the shards stick to your Marley floor. The artificial chamois will help to clear this residue. A wet/dry shop vac may also be used.


Cleaning Mirrors

Glassless Mirrors

Many studios now use glassless mirrors because they are shatterfproof. To clean glassless mirror, first remove dust and debris from the surface of the mirror with dry compressed air. Finger marks or splashes can be wiped gently with window cleaner and a soft, non‐abrasive cloth (100% cotton or micro-fiber will do). Do not use paper towels and do not scrub the mirror surface in a circular motion.

"Mirror" by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed CC BY 2.0

“Mirror” by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed CC BY 2.0

Glass Mirrors

It’s no longer true that newspaper is the best way to clean glass mirrors because the inks used on newspaper have changed over the years. And, I’m sure you know paper towels are not the way to go unless you like all that lint left behind.

So what is the best method?

  • First, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad to spot-clean any sticky spots on the mirror like hairspray, or whatever was on your preschool students’ fingers before they came to class.
  • Next, mist vinegar and water or your favorite glass cleaner onto the surface of the mirror.
  • Then, use a folded flat weave microfiber cloth (it’s all about using the right tools) to wipe the mirror in a zig-zag pattern (sweep from left, down a little, go back from right, repeat) so that you don’t miss any of the mirror’s surface.
  • Use a dry part of the cloth and repeat this process on each section or panel of the mirror.


Mixed Materials

What about things made of a variety of materials? We recently received an email about how to clean spilled milkshake from a dance sneaker for example!

Our best advice for this kind of dance gear, whether you wear it, carry it, or stuff it in your dance bag, is to research the list of materials of which product is made. Online stores or the manufacturer’s website will often give a basic list in the description if you look carefully. In the case of the milkshake debacle, the sneakers are made of mesh, leather, and other materials, each of which needs to be cleaned in a slightly different way. Just throwing them in the wash and hoping for the best is a great way of ruining an expensive pair of shoes. In cases like this, Google is definitely your friend.


How about cleaning dances? 😉

Ha ha! We thought about adding that to this already long post but it really deserves its own feature.

As for the cleaning tips and advice we have included, we’ve done our best to compile information from experience and trusted sources but, as always, the information offered is for educational purposes only. This includes anything readers place in the comment section. We can’t be held responsible for any outcome of what you, the reader, decide to do with the information presented here.


What are YOUR best cleaning tips and tricks? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!


Things I Never Thought About Before Becoming A Dance Teacher

A few years shy of 40, I’ve been teaching dance classes since the “ripe” age of 15. That means, for over 20 years and more than half my life, I’ve worked as an instructor in more than a dozen different studios, institutions, and organizations.

If you had told me at the start that teaching dance is a challenging but rewarding way to make a living, that my students and their parents would keep me on my toes, I would have probably smiled politely and thought… “duh!”      Hey, I was 15.

But looking back, I’ve realized there are things I never thought to think about when I set out on this path. All sunshine and lollipops? No, but there are definitely rainbows.

I don’t claim these observations as universal dance teacher truths but, for better or worse, I want to be real for a second about some of the unexpected ups, down, pros, and cons I’ve discovered during a relatively long career of teaching dance. So, here goes…

I Never Thought…


That I’d miss being the pupil.

Students show up and work. They sweat hard, they dance hard and, as a dance teacher, at some point I started to miss being a student. Well, maybe not the self-doubt or insecurities… But to dance for myself or to dance and not be in charge? Bliss.


Photo by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0



That I’d spend so many hours (physically and mentally) on the job.

Class planning, choreographing, performances or competitions, and problem-solving everything from technical corrections to behavior take up hours of time outside of class. Then there’s the task of professional development and continuing education, the pseudo-celebrity of always running into people you know when off-duty, and the long/late hours working in the studio while everyone else is home for the day or out socializing. Plus, after talking with other dance teachers about their home lives I’ll mention that even if you’re prepared to wear your dance teacher hat almost constantly, friends or spouse or family may not always be. Something to think about.


That parent-wrangling would be such a massive part of what I do.

No matter how challenging or wonderful dance parents are, they require as much management, finesse, educating, care, and energy as my dance students. The moments when I’ve been unprepared or unable to embrace these facts have been the times when I felt most worn down or burnt-out by teaching dance.


That my students and their families would feel a certain ownership of me.

They are sometimes surprised to find out I have a life outside the studio, or are insulted when I’m not available 24/7 and yes, on occasion someone has felt that paying me means ownership or control over my decisions and methods. The flip side of this is that I’ve also been treated like family on holidays, during the birth of my kids, and even in times of struggle. A dance teacher has a large, extended family and all the joys and troubles that go with it.


That I feel a certain ownership of my students.

In striving to be a great dance teacher, I’ve invested great time and emotion and energy into each student even when my interaction with him/her lasts only a short time. As a result, many students have left a lasting impression on my own life and I have felt their successes and failures deeply, at times needing to remind myself they are not my own. The losses are hard too. When a former student of mine suddenly passed away 2 years ago, I genuinely mourned her loss. We were no longer close in proximity or even relationship but she was one of mine for a time, and that’s all it takes.


That hourly pay can be risky business.

There are short-term and long-term periods during which dance teachers are sometimes unable to work. My children were born in summer and I had a partner with whom I could juggle schedules. Even had that not been the case, loss of my income would have been felt but not detrimental, again because my partner’s job covered our living expenses. But not every dance teacher is in that situation or able to secure salaried employment, and being out of work (and therefore out of pay) due to pregnancy, or illness, or injury, or to care for a child or family member are circumstances all dance teachers are likely to face at some point. “No work = no pay’ is a harsh reality of the work in both planned and unforeseen situations.


That there are drawbacks to never holding a full-time job.

Benefits like health insurance, sick days, pensions, and disability/injury compensation may not be offered to part-time workers. Dance teachers have more flexibility in some areas – bringing children to work or choosing their schedule for example – but in the wake of health or life-changes, I’ve witnessed teachers struggle to add or transition to occupations that offer benefits or stability. Even if you have a full-time teaching load, your hours may not be considered full-time by law or by future employers. A series of part-time jobs on a job application can have a negative impact on gaining employment outside of dance. And despite published recognition of what dancers bring to the table as employees, not all employers are willing to test the theory that dancers are some of the smartest and hardest workers on the planet. When the only credits on your resumé are dance-related, employers in other fields may consider it a leap of faith to offer you the job above candidates with more traditional work experience. With that being said, dancers often DO make great employees and they’re tenacious enough to keep going after what they want despite the obstacles.


That I would continually be scrutinized.

Dance is often seen as something purely recreational or just for children so, when you are young, there’s little resistance to the notion of pursuing it. When I went from being a 20-something to 30-someting, I started to encounter those of the opinion that teaching dance is an occupation people grow out (or age out) of. But a dance teacher’s age isn’t the only thing under a microscope. Anything/everything is subject to analysis and review – weight, muscle tone, hair, makeup, attire, body art, skin-color, relationships, family, past mistakes, and more. Unfounded or not, fair or not, the level of scrutiny can be a challenging aspect of the job.


Photo by is licensed CC BY 2.0 [text added]

Photo by Flavio is licensed CC BY 2.0 [text added]


That some people will never see the value of what I do.

Whether it’s a parent, a student, another teacher, friends or members of my own family, I’ve found there are those who will never understand why dance matters – the purpose or usefulness of dance – those who will fail to respect my contributions to a class or to the community, who will diminish my work because it doesn’t align with their own notions about what dance or teaching is all about.


That some days I want to be anywhere, doing anything else and some days I wouldn’t be caught dead being anywhere, or doing anything else.

The spectrum of feelings I’ve had toward something about which I am so passionate has sometimes been surprising even to me. Love affairs can be that way.


That I’d forever be revising myself and my methods.

I have yet to figure out the best way of doing anything. I’m continuously learning, tweaking, and striving to do better. I knew that learning is ongoing but I thought at some point I’d feel like I had everything down to a science and in some things that’s true but the refining process of teaching is never done, just like dancing itself.


That uncomfortable tasks and conversations would often fall to me.

From bodily function and body odor to offering critique and evaluation of a student’s progress, there have been topics I’ve had to address and both literal and figurative messes I’ve had to clean up that have made me uncomfortable, if for no other reason than they made someone else uncomfortable. Being a dance teacher is never easy… or dull!


That my work could be someone’s lifeline.

I remember that, as a kid, dance felt like my lifeline. Despite this, I don’t think I ever put much thought at the start into how dance might be a lifeline for my own students. I didn’t anticipate that someday my class would be the only place a student feels he belongs, or that my encouragement would be the most positive part of a student’s week, or what simply showing up could mean to a dance student experiencing uncertainty and chaos at home. No, I’m not a doctor or nurse but my work and efforts HAVE been that kind of lifeline, not because of who I am or the way I teach but because dance is powerful – dance matters, it makes a difference and I’ve been blessed enough to witness that.

That’s why, despite the ups and downs, pros and cons of spending half a life or more teaching dance, I feel privileged to be part of this work.


Yes, I know some veteran teachers have decades on this newbie so, if you want to add your own observations, we’d love to read them in the comments.

If you’re just starting out or still considering making a life as a dance teacher, I hope you’ve found my list insightful. If you have questions or thoughts, we want you to share those too!


We Know #WhyDanceMatters

A few years ago, I dreamed up a social media initiative called Why Dance Matters. It wasn’t the first time the question had been asked or answered in one way or another but, with the help of a handy hashtag (#whydancematters), I hosted a “virtual event” and the concept caught on. Soon people were sharing their thoughts on why dance matters to them, to their communities, and to the world.

The great thing about #whydancematters is that, because of its simplicity, it has a life outside of anything I do or have done with it. I wouldn’t dream of claiming responsibility for every time someone tweets or tags something with the phrase, but when I see dance lovers use the hashtag (with or without any knowledge of our 2010 experiment), it makes me smile every time.

This month we invited you to share Why Dance Matters in our Dance Circle. Topical submissions are included below, along with some other great examples of #whydancematters from around the web.


Why Do We Dance?




All In One Experience

“Performing in story ballets =Artistic expression + physical expression + dramatic expression + physical exercise…” AND MORE!




What Better Use Of Time?

Why Dance Matters

“A surprising insight from a 11 year old who just started dancing this year. So glad she found dance and proud she realizes it is a better use of her time!”




Generosity Of Self

“Are you just going to be stingy? Just keep yourself to yourself for the rest of your life? In case you fall? In case you fail? In case you make a fool of yourself? In case we see how imperfect you are? OR: are you going to choose to just be generous anyway? To just take up as much space as you actually take up? To be as big, as graceful, as long, as gorgeous, as enormous as you actually are?”

“How Generous Are You Willing To Be?” –Huffpo



New Yorkers For Dance

This YouTube channel is full of New Yorkers, including Misty Copeland, David Hallberg, Bill T. Jones “putting faces and voices to why dance matters.”

New Yorkers For Dance

Click the image to visit the DanceNYC Youtube channel



WDM at Sadler’s Wells





Tap World does what the rest of U.S. dance could and should do. It shows why dance matters to this society and to our world. It reaches past the official arbiters of what’s important about dance and instantly, solidly connects with the public. It moves people. Just like the best tap does.” — Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody




Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter

Tells the inspiring and unknown story of Martha Hill, a visionary who fought against great odds to make dance a legitimate art form in America. In a career spanning most of the 20th century, Hill became a behind the scenes leader of the field and the founding director of The Juilliard Dance Division. Stylistically weaving together over 90 years of archival footage, the film is a celebration of dance and an examination of the passion required to keep it alive.




“Dance allows us the chance to express and release all of the emotions that our bodies carry on a daily basis. It’s a safe and non-judgmental place for whatever we have felt during our day and whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, or fear, dance is always there to listen.” – Kendra Antosh, Dance Barn Instructor and Administrator

Posted by Dance Barn on Friday, July 31, 2015

B Dancewear Offers A Rainbow Of Dancewear Options

When you’re working with small costume budgets, as I do when I choreograph on college students, or needing to add something to that ‘almost perfect’ costume, as I’ve also been known to do, finding the right colors for costume pieces can be tricky.

It’s got to be scarlet red, not cherry red or burgundy red, to match that asymmetrical top you found at the overstock store. And only bronze dance trunks will go with that unique seafoam and bronze dance dress from the catalog… You’ve been there, right?

That’s where I was when I first stumbled across BDancewear.com – looking for just the right color of something. I ended up not needing to purchase – we went in another direction – but I definitely filed the site in my mind because they offer nearly 40 types of dancewear basics in over 200 colors, in an array of fabrics.


Cyndi Marziani is the owner of B Dancewear and has only recently decided to take her years of costume creation experience to a national customer base with the help of her son. Having already been somewhat familiar with the company, I was happy to agree to review some products when they approached me.

Of all their products, I decided to take a look at the high-waisted dance shorts which are becoming very popular, the high-waisted palazzo pant (I am a modern dancer, after all), the dance tank top, and out of curiosity, the convertible dance dress.

Fabrics Galore

BDancewear Color SwatchesCyndi generously sent some of these items in a couple of different fabrics to compare, along with full color cards for each of the type of fabrics available, which include Lycra, Shiny Lycra, Cotton, Holographic, Velvet, and Mesh.

Fabric swatches are available to order from BDancewear.com free of charge. The full color cards I received can be sent to dance studios for free, but the delivery address must be the dance studio itself. If you plan to do much purchasing as a studio, I would definitely recommend having these on hand. It was very helpful to see the fabrics up close for color matching. The online color images are fairly true on my screen. (At least, I doubt you’ll see gold where I see blue!) But, of course, digital color will never be exact, tending to look a little darker than in reality.

If it’s important to have a good match, get swatches to compare before ordering. They’re free!

Dancewear Designs

As mentioned, I took a look at four different products. All were well made, felt substantial (not flimsy), and worked well in the fabrics chosen. Do consider the purpose your dancewear will serve before you order a particular fabric. For example, cotton can be perfectly breathable for class but is not always the sharpest look for the stage. I received the convertible dance dress in both cotton and lycra. The lycra would be perfect for a costume piece. The cotton, I’d be more likely to wear for practice or for a day at the beach.

I was pleased to find that the sizes available matched typical clothing sizes. This is especially important, I think, for adult dancers who are frequently disappointed that an adult medium in some dancewear fits more like a small or “junior” medium. Not to mention the items at BDancewear.com are offered up to Adult XXL. How often does that happen in the dancewear industry?

Here’s a little more detail on the four items I received:

High Waist Dance ShortsHigh-Waist Dance Shorts: I liked that these felt like shorts and not a boy-cut brief (which are offered, if that’s what you prefer). They’ve got a clean hem and the the roughly 5 1/2″ waist can be worn up (particularly on long torsos) or rolled down.

High Waisted Palazzo PantsHigh-Waisted Palazzo Pants: These are a nice wide-legged cut and the waist, as above, can be folded over. I found the standard normal length (which I believe you can see in this photo) a little long for my taste even though my leg length is usually average. It came to the floor which can be a hazard for barefoot dancers so I would probably want to hem them. There is an option to request more length on the website but perhaps less length could also be offered. Take your dancers’ measurements and check the sizing chart so that you’re prepared for any alterations that may need to be done.

Dance TankDance Tank Top: This is a dance staple. The dance tank had good coverage and wider straps, which is nice for comfort and modesty. Because these are costume-style fabrics, the tank didn’t quite have that ‘cozy’ feeling that some jersey knits do but it would look great on stage. I like that this dance tank comes to the hips and I was glad to see that the white, holographic tank I received was lined.

Covertible Dance Dress: Convertible Dance DressThe website says this dress can be worn at least 15 ways. I’m not sure I figured out what all 15 of them are but it’s definitely a versatile piece that would work well for costume variation among the dancers in a piece of choreography. I like the halter look and the possibility of just wearing it as a skirt. Keep in mind that the “bodice” portion is a single layer of fabric and is not likely to suffice on its own in terms of coverage or support for women with larger busts. Either way, a flesh leotard or bra top underneath is a practical addition.


B Dancewear is filling a common need in the dance industry with a line of quality products that gives dancers and choreographers options and versatility in their dancewear or costuming choices. Certainly check them out the next time you find yourself looking for just the right match.




Though B Dancewear is now an advertiser and does compensate this website for banner advertisement, Dance Advantage did not receive compensation for the publishing of this review, other than the products provided. The thoughts within are the author’s own words and opinions.