Giving Thanks Giveaway: The Body Series

This giveaway is now closed.

Our second giveaway of the day comes from The Body Series.

TheBodySeries.com - Education is the key to injury preventionThe Body Series provides educational material to the dancer and dance teacher to maximize their technique while minimizing the potential for injury.

The BodySeries.com is a natural progression of Deborah Vogel’s teaching, coaching, and medical experience. Working in New York and running a free dancer’s clinic with Dr. Richard Bachrach gave her years of practical experience putting together injuries and concerns with inefficient movement patterns.

Deborah has danced from an early age and has taught dance at the college level since the late 1970’s. “I understand the dancer’s world, with it’s unique demands, from the inside,” Deborah says, “and my goal is to give dancers and dance teachers the tools and skills they need to create change.”

When Dance Advantage arose as a platform for my thoughts on dance and teaching, I knew I wanted to spread the word about The Body Series and I’m proud to be an affiliate as well. I am quite sure, if you’ve been following Dance Advantage for any reasonable length of time, you have seen The Body Series mentioned before. I have followed Deborah’s Dancing Smart newsletter for *gulp* years now (long before she shifted her anatomy and injury Q&A to her blog).

You can subscribe to her newsletter, too. It’s free! (Just scroll down the sidebar at thebodyseries.com and enter your name and email) Discovering her work, if you haven’t before, will make you a winner already!

What we’re giving away:

Deborah would like to give away the Essential Anatomy Multimedia Course (value $149) to ONE lucky Dance Advantage reader.

Essential Anatomy is the only multimedia anatomy course that talks you through an area of the body, animating it visually, with included stretches and strengtheners to better your range of motion as well as flexibility and strength. The course comes directly from Deborah’s 22 years of experience teaching a functional anatomy course.

Dancers and dance teachers don’t need to know the name of every muscle in the body. They DO need to understand the important relationship between muscles and the alignment of the body. This is an efficient way to learn important anatomical principles and it’s easy to understand. Essential Anatomy is being used by Cecchetti USA as the required anatomy component for teacher certification.

As part of my bachelor of arts degree in dance, I took a kinesiology course. Like Essential Anatomy, the class and my textbook by Sally Fitt took me on a tour of my body, and more importantly, my dancing body. It may have been the most significant class of my college career, improving my dancing and my teaching with an affect like rippling waves; I’m still riding them. I haven’t made it through all 10 units (hours of material) on this 2-CD set but watching it is clearly accessing the essentials of Deborah’s college course right there on your computer. I picture, and I hope you can too, teachers and even students gathering to watch, learn, and discuss. The animations and video clips, plus conditioning and teaching tips make Essential Anatomy an invaluable resource for teachers and studios and it’s not nearly as heavy as my textbook!

The video below is an excerpt from the Knee Unit of Essential Anatomy:

Knee Clip.mov

Watch this video on YouTube.

Essential Anatomy’s video files require Quicktime, which can be downloaded for free online.

Dance studios, teachers, and students will benefit from having this learning tool on hand!

Enter to win:

Place a comment at this post, answering the question: What is the dance correction, statement, or “teacher-ism” you would most like explained anatomically?

The ever-popular “lift your leg from underneath?” Deband I — have both talked about that one.

Hold your arms from your back? Lift up? Get on top of your leg? We want to know!

This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada contestants and will close Sunday, November 14.

Best wishes! I hope you win.

College Bound – Your Career in Dance

Being a university dance alum myself, it is my desire to help new and future college students with their transition to studying dance in a university setting. I have already posted topics on this subject, however, if you are new to the blog you may not know about them so I thought I’d do a little re-post compiling the articles. Also, I’d like to provide you with resources for further investigation. Check out the links at the bottom of this article on Dance as a Career, Scholarships for Dancers, and more.

Answers To Your Questions About College Dance /College Dance 101

How to Decide on A College

Topics Included:

  • What are your goals? (see also setting goals in dance)
  • The audition process.
  • Location, facilities, and campus life.
  • If you are concerned about grades…
  • Making the transition

 

What Freshman Dance Majors Need To Know Transitioning To College: What Freshman Dance Majors Need To Know is a college preparation guide for first-year students written specifically for dancers. It provides a snapshot of college life, essential information on what to expect in a dance program of study, and scores of tips and tricks for staying healthy and happy.

The E-book Helps You:

Own Your Education What college freshman can expect to encounter freshman year in terms of dance technique and training, as well as overall scholastics.

DANCE MAJORS 296x74Study Smarter, Not Harder

Stay Healthy

Manage Stress

Dance as a Career

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Find a Match

The Fast and Dirty College Dance Degree Code:

  • BFA: for students intending to pursue professional careers as dancers and choreographers. This tends to best prepare students for MFA study.
  • BA: for students that may intent to perform/choreograph but may prefer to teach and/or double major in another academic subject. This path may lead to MA work in multiple disciplines.
  • Dance Certification: for those intending to teach dance in the public schools. Without this distinction, you are NOT considered “Highly Qualified” to teach K-12 no matter what type of degree (including Masters!) you hold.
  • Minor: for students that want to keep their options open, and readily apply their dance education to other subjects. Many dance minors begin as dancers that are not ready to “give it up yet.” Or a minor in dance is a compromise with their parents who think they should major in a more sensible area of study.
  • Specialization: depending on the school, this may be equivalent to a minor or it may not.

If you would like to suggest additional resources for dance in higher education (particularly for areas outside the U.S., please post links or information in the comments.

A Dancer’s Guide: How to Decide on a College

The decision of where to attend college for dance should be influenced by what you’d like to do in your dance career.

How To Decide on a College Dance ProgramDo you want to be a performer in a modern dance company? On broadway? Do you want to teach?

  • If your goal is to perform with a professional company and make a living at it, the more rigorous the technique requirements at your school, the better.
  • If your goal is theatrical in nature, a program with a strong theatre/musical theatre program will be an asset (combined programs will require a smattering of theatre/production classes that will benefit you on this career path).
  • If you want to be a teacher or own your own studio, look for schools that offer more than one teaching course in the curriculum, or better still, look for one with a teaching/pedagogy track, and look into ways you can incorporate business or marketing classes into your coursework.

The College Dance Degree Code:

  • BFA: for students intending to pursue professional careers as dancers and choreographers. This tends to best prepare students for MFA study.
  • BA: for students that wants to perform/choreograph but may prefer to teach and/or double major in another academic subject. This path may lead to MA work in multiple disciplines.
  • Dance Certification: for those intending to teach dance in the public schools. Without this distinction, you are NOT considered “Highly Qualified” to teach K-12 no matter what type of degree (including Masters!) you hold.
  • Minor: for students that want to keep their options open, and readily apply their dance education to other subjects. Many dance minors begin as dancers that are not ready to “give it up yet.” Or a minor in dance is a compromise with their parents who think they should major in a more sensible area of study.
  • Specialization: depending on the school, this may be equivalent to a minor or it may not.

If you’re unsure which school can get you where you are going, I suggest trying to find out where alumni from the programs have ended up – get actual names if possible and see what they’re doing. It is a good indicator of where the program will lead you.

You may also want to read more in our College Dance 101 series.

What If I’m Not Sure Of My Goal?

If you’re unsure about what you really want to do, don’t stress.

Not all dancers are clear about their career goals. And even more common are dancers who think they know and shift their focus (often more than once) during college or throughout their dance career.

Look for a school that you feel sure will provide you with a solid dance education and training and in which you feel comfortable but challenged. Should you decide that your goals have changed and warrant leaving your school, know that transferring is an option. I myself was a transfer student, and succeeded in graduating “on time” regardless.

Making Choices About A College Dance Program

The audition process tells you a lot about what a particular school is looking for in prospective students and what you can expect from the program.

Dance departments that require an audition for program acceptance are usually looking for skillful dancers who will benefit from polishing and perfecting their technique for a professional career in performance or choreography

Those that require only a placement audition, which helps faculty decide in which technique levels you will begin your study provided you meet requirements for general acceptance to the university, or no audition at all expect to have varying levels of ability and experience within their classes. These programs are usually for those hoping to apply their dance education to careers outside of performance, which may or may not be dance related.

Either way, an college dance audition will typically include an opportunity for you to introduce yourself or interview with faculty and participation in one or more dance classes (usually both modern dance and ballet). Sometimes aspiring dance majors may send an audition video, however, visiting in person is beneficial for you if you can arrange it. Some schools will ask you to select a piece of choreography for an audition (either of your own making or set on you by another), but this is rarer.

Environment Is Key

A school’s location, facilities, campus life, and how you feel about these are important to consider.

If you are a small-town kid, the transition to a large, inner-city school can be quite a culture shock, and visa versa. (Not necessarily a bad thing.)

When visiting campuses, make sure that you are able to see the dance facilities, some classes in progress, and speak with faculty while getting a feel for the campus in general. Talk to other dance students if you can and trust your instincts.

While auditioning for college programs, I experienced both ends of the spectrum. I visited and auditioned at a college where faculty and students were aloof, eying me with a cool distance before auditioning for a school at which I was immediately greeted by a dancer within the department and treated with warmth by faculty members.

Both are excellent schools but School A was not for me. Some thrive in a competitive environment. I knew I needed to be where I felt encouraged and supported in order to succeed.

What if academics aren’t my thing?

If you are concerned about high school grades being a problem, it is important to know that you have time to improve. Grades are not all a college looks at for entrance, however, poor grades can result in required remedial classes (taken over the summer).

Right now, you may think that academic work is not as important (or interesting) as the work you do in dance class.

Keep in mind that in the professional world, most dancers are intellectual individuals that could do anything they want but choose dance.

Successful dancers are typically curious and want to learn and grow even in areas outside of dance. High school grades don’t always reflect your potential but it won’t hurt to, right now, to allow yourself to be curious and practice the kind of dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline that a major (and career) in dance will require of you while you work to bring up those grades!

Making the Transition

Dance in college is different from what most young dancers training in studios have experienced thus far.

Dancers are asked to think about dance academically, begin to see themselves as a dance artist, and explore the art of making/watching dance in the professional arena. Young dancers that come from competitive, sports-like, or (for lack of a better term) recreational environment sometimes have trouble adjusting to this.

I’d like to help dancers prepare and make the adjustment to college and find a rich experience in this new focus on dance in a university dance department.


What Freshman Dance Majors Need To Know Transitioning To College: What Freshman Dance Majors Need To Know is a college preparation guide for first-year students written specifically for dancers. It provides a snapshot of college life, essential information on what to expect in a dance program of study, and scores of tips and tricks for staying healthy and happy.

The E-book Helps You:

Own Your Education What college freshman can expect to encounter freshman year in terms of dance technique and training, as well as overall scholastics.

Study Smarter, Not Harder

Stay HealthyClick Here

Manage Stress

A Dancer’s Guide: Tips for College (Part III)

Student Library

This is the third installment in my Tips for College series. Please see Part I and Part II for more of my thoughts and advice on the college experience. This post will focus on academic classes both within and outside of a dance major, as well as general advice about life on campus.

Theory and Liberal Arts Classes

In addition to classes in which you further your education as a performer of dance (technique classes), as a dance major or minor, you will be required to expand your academic understanding of dance. This is done through theory classes like Dance History, Anatomy or Kinesiology, Music Theory for Dancers, Composition or Choreography, Teaching or Dance Pedagogy, etc. Some of these classes will provide hands-on learning similar to that of your technique classes and some may follow more traditional methods of study (i.e. attending lectures and studying texts). This area is where many promising students struggle, particularly if academics was not their strong suit in high school. I have found that dance faculty often have a more engaging approach than many professors within other realms or specialties, offering more opportunities to explore and discuss topics rather than just talking about them. However, in some subjects, a certain amount of memorization, reading, and writing is inevitable.

Classes outside of your major in a traditional liberal arts setting provide an opportunity for expanding your interests and knowledge as well. Some courses will be required because someone has decided that no college student should enter life without a basic understanding of say, algebraic equations or a second language. In other areas you may have quite a bit of choice as to what type of course you’d like to take to fulfill a particular requirement, so choose classes that truly interest you whenever possible. At some point in your college career, you may be one of the many nameless faces trying to stay awake in a lecture class auditorium or, if you are fortunate, you may be part of a lively discussion in a class of five. No matter what course you are taking and regardless of whether the class is in your major or not, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Tip #7: Develop a study and note-taking method that works for you. In a college setting there can be many additional distractions that you did not have at home so, even if you had a system in high school, you may find it needs some refinement. It is important to know yourself and be willing to experiment if what you’re doing isn’t working. If you know you need quiet in order to process information, for example, the library may be a better location for study than your dorm room. If discussion helps solidify concepts for you, join or create a study group. If highlighters, flashcards, or speaking out loud to yourself works – do what you need to, not what your friend does. Because in the end, while college is and should be a social experience, the “all play and no work” trap that many students fall into is a waste of money and a wasted opportunity to better oneself.

Tip #8: Be present in your classes. Join in when there is discussion, turn off your cell phone, sit up, and listen. You’ll be amazed at how much more you will absorb, lessening the amount of time you need to study or cram. There will be lots of other students sleeping, arriving late, skipping classes, complaining about the teacher’s thick accent while spending most of the class chatting with a friend in the back of the room, and in general making excuses for their poor performance. If you need help, ask for it from teachers or other students before you get really behind. If you hold yourself accountable for your education, you will have no need for excuses.

Tip #9: Embrace learning. You are fortunate to have the means and opportunity to be surrounded by knowledge, to have those who are specialists in their field around every corner, to be provided with resources and experiences that will serve you for years to come. This is a chance that comes pretty much just once during a typical lifetime. Don’t squander an opportunity of which so many around the world can only dream.

Tip #10: Take care of your instrument. It’s easy to stay up late for a variety of reasons and your body will adjust to less and less amounts of sleep. However, you will not be at your best without a decent amount of recuperation, particularly in very physical endeavors such as dance. Be kind to yourself and sleep. If you can sneak in naps, do it – just try not to oversleep and miss your next class! In addition, eat well and nutritiously. And, although it’s not my place to tell you to stay away from drugs, alcohol, or smoking, I do want to encourage you to be careful not to find yourself regularly abusing these substances. It will take a toll on your physical and mental performance so make wise choices in how you spend your “recreational” time at college so that you can be at your best.

I hope these tips have been helpful and will make your life as a dancer in a college setting a little easier.

Trying to decide on a college or determine if pursuing dance at a university is right for you? Check out this article.

A Dancer’s Guide: Tips for College (Part II)

Contact ImprovisationTips for College Part I dealt with what to expect in technique classes and performance rehearsals, as well as some tips for success in these areas. In continuation of the series, I will highlight two aspects of dance in higher education with which many incoming students have little experience.

Improvisation

Improvisation may be an entirely new concept for some of you (if we’re not counting the off-the-cuff choreography you’ve performed in front of your bedroom mirror). I count myself very lucky to have had early experience in creative dance and improvisation at my hometown studio. At the time, I did not realize it was a rarity. However, it was not long into my first year as a dance major that a professor introduced the concept of improvisational movement and began leading the class in some beginning exercises. I could feel tension among the students. Some were nervous to appear so vulnerable in front of their peers and instructor and others had no idea how to start or what to do. A few that had before been asked to move as they’d like in a dance studio class had perhaps had no guidance and had always used the moments to re-hash their favorite moves or try something they’d seen the older kids do. It seemed likely that this was not what the professor was looking for. Fear suddenly paralyzed some of the most talented dancers in the class. If you are an experienced improviser, your background will serve you well in the college environment. If you are in the other group, don’t panic! Improvisation, just like technique, takes practice to move comfortably and confidently. And you will get plenty of practice now that you are entering this new phase in your study of dance. So…

  • Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to just take a deep breath and go for it. You may feel like a fool, but the only people that looked foolish that day in my class were those that were too afraid or insecure to make the most of the opportunity. They giggled, marked their movement, or froze altogether rather than bravely being willing to appear awkward or even unsophisticated.

Modern Dance, Contemporary Concepts

Modern dance may be new to many of you as well. It is a very important part of many dance programs because it was within academic establishments that Modern techniques were developed and the art form found its foothold in America. Despite its prominence at universities, few dance studios offer Modern Dance techniques in their curriculum. Some of you may compete in (or witness) Modern at competitions. However, often only some of those that compete in this category are studying modern dance techniques and usually even less are utilizing the choreographic processes typical of Modern Dance. If you are one of the few, kudos to your dance school.

The art form of Modern Dance (and Contemporary dance forms in general) is more than just performing the techniques and steps with which it is associated. That is the “how” but Modern Dance also asks “why.” Without the process or investigation of this question, a dancer or choreographer is offering their interpretation of Modern Dance. In other words, a dance may look expressive or emotive, contain un-balletic poses or rolling on the floor, and be accompanied by unconventional music choices, but can lack the artistic intent of contemporary dance forms that you will be asked to explore in college and beyond. I believe I’m safe to assume that many of you will find what is expected of you in your study of Modern Dance (and perhaps other dance forms as well) in a university setting to be very different from your studio at home. There will be more emphasis on dancing with an understanding of how the body functions and how something feels (as opposed to how it looks), on working apart from or even against the music as you dance, on presenting abstract meaning or intent through movement, and on discovering ways of moving that are new or even unflattering. With all of that in mind…

  • Tip #6: Embrace the task at hand. Focus simply on the task your teacher, who is guiding you in your exploration, has charged. When you are uncertain or just learning, solving one problem at a time will keep you from getting wrapped up in trying to make something spectacular instead of discovering something spectacular. A direction as simple as “dance with one elbow attached to the ground” or “let your breath guide each movement” may seem silly at first and you may be tempted to think that you don’t need this exercise to be a good dancer. But, don’t think, just try it, because these silly little exercises will help you grow from someone who makes dance into someone who can express themselves through dance.

Filling in the Gaps

There may be a point during your college career that someone may imply that there have been gaps in your dance education and you are faced with breaking old habits or learning something in a different way. If or when this occurs, I encourage you to resist becoming indignant. Refer back to Part I and learn to trust your new instructors, letting go of any assumptions that you “already know how to do” whatever they are asking you to do. As a college instructor, it was often frustrating for me to see talented students holding on so tightly to what their teachers “back home” had told them that their progress in my class stalled. In fact, the students who improved most rapidly in my beginning level classes were those who had little to no dance experience because they held no preconceived notions and could absorb all that I offered them. I encountered students with 14 years or so of studio experience which had yielded many bad habits from repetition of poor technique. Unfortunately in some cases, these “experienced” students seemed unsatisfied with re-examining the basics after having been considered “advanced” dancers at home. It would have benefited these students to remember that even professionals consistently work to better understand and perform the basics of their technique.

I hope that my wording in this post has not made anyone feel that their instruction up to this point has not been worthwhile. While it is wonderful when dance schools for young students take steps to provide an understanding of the more creative or artistic side of dance (and as you may know, I highly encourage this), I realize that teaching students to execute dance is the primary function of a studio. You should not feel shortchanged if your school has provided you with a solid technical foundation and performance experience. You have plenty of time to dig deeper in your understanding of movement and to mature as an artist.

Read on to Part III