When Challenging Advanced Dancers Presents Challenges

Youth Dance Company

Heather works through the challenges of working with “advanced dancers” as she encourages high school company dancers, who feel pressure to perform and meet expectations, to move and think outside their comfort zones.

Setting Kids Free To Move and Play in the Classroom

When Young Children Hate School

“The Real Reason Why Children Fidget” is an article that has struck a chord with parents and teachers. Heather responds with her observations of middle-school dance class students and the movement patterns and organization she witnessed in other classrooms.

You Asked: Following Up on Great Questions

Stuent dancers leaping

Columnist, Heather Vaughan-Southard shares how to deal with dancers uncomfortable with their bodies and jazz isolations, plus answers more questions from readers on middle school dancers and visual aids in the classroom.

Helping Dance Students Enter the Whirlpool of Dance-Making

black and white photo of a whirlpool

How and where do dancers or choreographers enter the creative process? This K-12 educator uses imagery and conversation to help her middle school dance students understand and explore this question.

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.