Teaching Tips

(Late) Summer Reading: 6 New Books to Add to Your List

Courtesy Jill Randall

Fall may be fast-approaching, but it's never too late to slip in a little summer reading—especially if it'll make you all the more prepared for the perhaps crazier-than-usual season ahead.

Here are six new releases to enrich your coming school year:

A Teaching Artist's Companion: How to Define and Develop Your Practice, by Daniel Levy

Reflective as well as practical, Levy shares his 30 years as a teaching artist in this dense volume that explores the intersection of our work and our identities as artists and educators. He frames teaching through the words "view" (our viewpoint, what we believe teaching can offer), "design" (how we craft our lessons and units) and "respond" (reflecting on what actually happens in the classroom and reflecting on artwork with our students). The final chapter offers key information about teaching-artist pay and frameworks from arts education programs around the country.

Middle School Matters, by Phyllis L. Fagell

Fagell is a middle school counselor; she really gets working with kids and talking with parents. For dance educators, this book is a valuable exploration into the world of middle school children—their priorities, their fears and the ways that we as adults in their lives can create safe environments in dance classes for risk-taking, group work and creative expression.

How to Land: Finding Ground in an Unstable World, by Ann Cooper Albright

As we navigate this time of pandemic and racism, Ann Cooper Albright's book is a guide for placing our dance work into the larger context of meaning-making and healing. Essays by the Oberlin College professor introduce the idea of movement concepts as metaphor for what we're experiencing in our everyday lives: falling, disorientation, suspension, gravity, resilience and connection.

The New Adolescence, by Christine Carter

As a parent, author and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, Carter brings a wealth of experience and research to the topic of adolescence. She unpacks the life of Gen Z adolescents and how we can offer support and structures, and watch out for anxiety and depression, plus foster face-to-face real-time experiences. In an age of constant stimulation and external validation, the dance class setting can offer focus, embodiment and internal understanding.

Perspectives on American Dance, edited by Jennifer Atkins, Sally R. Sommer and Tricia Henry Young

Originally published in 2018 and now in paperback, this two-volume set is the first anthology on dance in the U.S. in nearly 25 years. Edited by three Florida State University dance professors, book one, The Twentieth Century, contains 13 essays spotlighting a variety of dance styles, artists, concert dance and dance on film. Book two—The New Millennium—captures dance in all of its forms, whether live or on the internet, from pole dancing to flash mobs to sports victory dances.

A Revolution in Movement: Dancers, Painters, and the Image of Modern Mexico, by K. Mitchell Snow

A deep dive into the dance and visual art worlds of Mexico from the 1920s through the 1960s, this book explores ballet, modern and folk forms in post-revolution Mexico. The author details the shaping of a national identity through dance and highlights collaborations between artists like Diego Rivera and dancers of this time period.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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