Teaching Tips

Stock Up Your Shelf With These 6 New Books on Dance Education

Jill Randall

Whether you're in need of some wintertime inspiration or searching for new material for your classes, these six titles—ranging from personal stories, classroom materials, detailed essays and coursebooks—are worthy picks to add to your pedagogy bookshelf.

Dance Education Resources For the Classroom, by Lindsay Blackburne

Dance Education Resources for the Classroom lays flat on a wooden table. It is a black paperback book with white text and light purple squiggly lines

Jill Randall

Blackburne's book opens up her classroom to fellow middle school and high school teachers. Composed primarily of notes, assignments, forms and rubrics, the information is practical and applicable—you might end up using some of the forms yourself or allow the book to inspire your own material for your classroom. Blackburne emphasizes that written material is integral in teen classrooms, from syllabi to self-reflection forms.

Ballet Recipes: The Ingredients of Classical Ballet Technique, by Maricelle Peeters

Ballet Recipes lays flat on a wooden table. It is a white paperback book with an illustrated drawing featuring both cooking and ballet images, like a dancer doing a plie at barre in a pot of water

Jill Randall

Author Maricelle Peeters, a ballet and character-dance teacher from the Netherlands, first published Ballet Recipes in July 2018 in Dutch. Now available in English, this delightful and fresh take on ballet pedagogy describes the key "ingredients" of ballet classes, including themes, imagery and vocabulary.

Using playful text and sprinkled with illustrations, Peeters' book caters to the enthusiastic ballet student in grades 5 to 7. But Peeters' text is also a perfect offering for dance teachers to help distill key concepts and practice how to introduce ballet vocabulary—it almost reads like a script for educators. Part 1 of the book is one of its highlights, exploring the broad themes of posture, muscle tension, turnout, weight distribution, placement and lengthening/counterpull.

The ABC's of PreBallet: The Essential Ballet Building Block, by Dawn C. Crouch

The ABCs of preballet lays flat on a wooden table. It is a purple paperback book, with an image of 3 young girls wearing purple leotards and tutus

Jill Randall

Longtime dance educator Dawn C. Crouch's book includes personal essays on what she believes are the essential components of pre-ballet classes. As Crouch emphasizes, pre-ballet classes with 3- to 5-year-olds are some of the most rigorous to craft and teach, and are essential to the growth of your student enrollment and school program. Her essays convey her love of this age group, and cover a wide range of concepts, including class size, helpers, class rituals, physical awareness and class format.

Ethical Dilemmas in Dance Education: Case Studies on Humanizing Dance Pedagogy, edited by Doug Risner and Karen Schupp

Ethical Dilemmas in Dance Education lays flat on a wooden table. It has three images of dance of different styles, and large white text

Jill Randall

Best for seasoned dance teachers and graduate-level courses, Ethical Dilemmas in Dance Education uses fictionalized case studies to present scenarios that cover a wide range of dilemmas—those tricky moments and ethical binds we encounter as dance educators. Case studies in the book range from advocating for a student's IEP plan and participation, to a sexual harassment allegation in your class, to pedagogical concerns involving guest teachers.

The book is divided into four sections: "Early Childhood and Elementary Dance," "Middle School and High School Dance Education," "Dance Teacher Preparation and Postsecondary Dance Education" and "Community Dance," and includes reflection activities after each case study.

Dance Teaching Methods and Curriculum Design: Comprehensive K-12 Dance Education, Second Edition, by Gayle Kassing and Danielle Jay-Kirshenbaum

Dance Teaching Methods and Curriculum Design lays flat on a wooden table. It is a large book with large purple print, and an image of four middle school-aged girls in leotards and tights posing

Jill Randall

Dance Teaching Methods and Curriculum Design is a hefty 500-plus-page textbook, with additional online content—perfect for an undergraduate dance pedagogy course or for dance educators without formal training. The text covers everything from child development, class formats, teaching styles, and scaffolding learning for K–12 dance education classes, and includes a variety of unit-plan examples in various dance styles.

Dance Appreciation, by Dawn Davis Loring and Julie L. Pentz

Dance Appreciation stands up on a wooden table, against a beige wall. It is a black book with large white text, and features an image of a  man dancing with his back to the camera, wearing red headphones

Courtesy Human Kinetics

Useful in both high school and college-level courses, Dance Appreciation offers an introduction to dance productions and Western dance forms. Covering the history of ballet, modern, jazz, tap and hip hop, plus information on what happens behind the scenes to make dance productions come to life, the text offers digestible, bite-sized information for new students and audience members. Also included are additional dance forms from around the globe, photos and artist spotlights, vocabulary lists and reflection questions.

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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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@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

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"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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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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