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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Teaching Tips
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.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

The day that your class of young dancers learns they're going on pointe can be just as exciting for you as it is for them. It's gratifying to be able to announce that their—and your—hard work has led them to this milestone moment. But what if there's one student who's not as ready as her peers? The one who's not yet strong enough physically or technically, or whose foot structure may make pointework extra-challenging or dangerous? Having to deliver disappointing news is never easy, but there are ways to make the conversation positive and motivating.

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Teaching Tips
Denise Wall with her assistant, Kieran Macdonald. Photo courtesy NUVO

An assistant is a teacher's secret weapon. They're an extension of the instructor's teaching style, a positive role model for students, and a key to maintaining class structure and order.

But the role requires much more than just being a great dancer. An effective assistant must be highly responsible and creative, possess organizational and leadership qualities, and be able to take disciplinary action if necessary.

"The assistant needs to be someone who's not selfish," says Denise Wall, co-owner of Denise Wall's Dance Energy in Virginia Beach, Virginia. "They need to be someone who pays attention and enjoys helping people."

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Teaching Tips

Bril Barrett. Photo by Annika Abel Photography, Courtesy Barrett

Chicago-based "taptivist" Bril Barrett counts himself among the many tap educators who grew up learning the same story: Tap dance is a combination of Irish and African dancing.

"If Master Juba is the first known tap dancer, how did the Irish create tap? That logic doesn't play," he says. "The real story is way more nuanced."

Many tap teachers want to provide a fuller and more accurate explanation of tap history to their students, especially with renewed national attention on supporting Black arts and culture.

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