Careers To Consider: Teaching Americans to Love Dance in K-12

Where do you fit in dance education?

The dance world consists of many different scenes and contexts for learning. There are also a great many variations of philosophies, standards, and expectations.

IMAGE An empty classroom with desks and a chalkboard IMAGE

Photo courtesy isafmedia

If you think teaching in public classrooms may be right for you, read on…

The Generalist

Dance teachers everywhere need to be able to communicate well with their students and think fast on their feet. Teachers in the public school, however, tend to have more bodies and more learning styles in a single class.

The class dynamic reflects students with varied interests in the subject, varied experiences and skills levels within a single group, varied expectations of what a dance class should include, and then there are the social dynamics, otherwise known as the “drama”.

Public classrooms represent a cross-section of a community and not just those that are able or willing to pay for dance classes.

For these reasons, teaching in the public schools can be a great fit for [Read more…]

What To Do When It’s Clear A Career Isn’t In Your Future

A performance career is not for everyone, no matter how long you’ve planned for it.

But after you’ve come to this conclusion, what happens next? Jessica Shoop Williams has been there… and back again and, in today’s guest post, shares her advice with you.

Most great journeys begin with a goal in mind. For many young dancers that goal is the same, simply “I want to be a ballerina.”

IMAGE A young ballerina sits on a blue floor near a group of ballet slippers IMAGE

photo by bibols19

As they age and dance, exploring the art form, this dream becomes clearer and more specialized, and goals are created to help them attain this vision. Whether it is “I want to be on Broadway”, “I want to dance in music videos”, or “I want to be part of a ballet company”, as they continue their dance training many dancers decide that a dance career is ahead of them.

In preparation for that dance career there are an unlimited number of paths you can take, but almost all of them involve intensive training and great commitments of time, energy, and emotion. As the training stage comes closer to a “real dance career”, the vision of what it actually takes to make it in the dance world becomes clearer.

For many dancers this makes their career choice that much more real and exciting, but for others the clarity can be jarring.

Along with the amazing and personally fulfilling qualities a dance career may offer, there are certain negatives, too. Even if you grew up loving dance and fantasizing about the idea of a career in the field, things can change when you really start to process what this career would mean to you.

Such was my clarity of vision.

Like many serious dancers, by the time I was 11 years old I was dancing 5 nights a week and dutifully attending hours of rehearsals on the weekends. My dance friends and I all had the same goal and that’s why we trained the way we did at the best studio in our area.

I became an accomplished young dancer, scoring well in competition, surviving mock auditions just fine, and [Read more…]

Dance Training in New York vs. Los Angeles

A community college dance student in California, looking to continue with professional training in modern dance wrote me seeking some advice and opinions on programs in both Los Angeles and New York (both potential points of relocation for this student). In the student’s shortlist of possible programs were the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (LA), The Alvin Ailey School, Peridance, and Limon Institute (NYC).

IMAGE Artwork that juxtaposes two groups of graffiti artists from Los Angeles and New York City. IMAGE IMAGEMy first thought regarding the question was to wonder about the student’s ultimate goal. If I were to answer with questions of my own, I’d want to know,

“What would you ultimately like to do with your training?” and “What kind of dance career would you like to have?”

I’d ask because in my mind these two cities have different dance “personalities” and to my knowledge the programs, training, and careers to be found in each are quite different. However, born and raised in the Northeast, I admittedly know much more about New York and lack any real familiarity with L.A. Perhaps the differences were only in my mind!

So, I turned to Francisco Gella, a teacher and choreographer in the Southern California area who also has danced and been a part of the NYC professional dance community. Francisco generously responded in detail and has agreed to share his thoughts with readers as well.

Francisco’s reply:

It depends on what kind of dance, what sector of the business you want to pursue.

There are many different amazing programs in the southern California region [Read more…]