Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ski, Skate, and Snowboard at the Olympics

I have loved watching the olympics the last few weeks! One night, as I watched I thought maybe I could incorporate some of the sports and movements into my creative movement class! Last monday, we explored skiing, skating, and snowboarding! Here's what we did!

1) Skiing- I explained that it's a very straight type of movement. Arms swing and and knees really bent! Of course they wanted to do the fancy stuff (haha!) We went in straight pathways while making our bodies really straight. It's actually quite a challenge!

2)Next we did skating, the most fun! We stretched our arms, did jumps, and spins. Some of them even tried with a partner! I explained that skaters need to have really great balancing shapes, so they had fun practicing these. I loved seeing all of their ideas.

3) Last we tried snowboarding, which was a little difficult, but interesting. We did lots of bends in the knees and jumps with two feet off the ground at the same time. We also practiced glueing our feet to the floor and doing a surfing motion, moving our bodies forwards, backwards, and side to side without moving our feet. This is very silly but has a really great movement quality!

I tried to dissect the movement of each sport and put it into words that the young dancers would understand. I hope that when they watched the olympics this past week they could see the movements that we did in class in each sport. Even though the olympics are over today, I am thinking we might try this again tomorrow since they enjoyed it so much, and of course there is still so much snow in NYC!

What about you? Did you do any lessons about the olympics with your classes? I would love to hear!

Friday, February 26, 2010

10 Questions at 4dancers Today!

Have you checked out yet? Well, I am featured there today, but that is not the only reason you should check it out! It's an amazing blog for dancers, dance teachers, and anyone who is interested in dance. Dancer and Writer, Catherine offers great features and profiles, and posts little tidbits of advice, jobs, and reviews. Check it out if you haven't already! Do not wait another day! You will love it! :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hidden Treasure

I found this great CD on itunes yesterday. It's like a hidden treasure! I have been looking for music to help link all of the ballet vocabulary I have been teaching my 2-3 year olds like FOREVER!!! Bingo! There are 2 great songs on this CD that do just that! There's one that goes through locomotor movements such as marching and chasse, and it also adds in words like battement and saute. The other sings though a stage performance, "tip toe on the stage" then links the ballet movements together to make a dance.

I don't like to use these songs to initially teach the steps to the dancers, but I believe it's a great addition to my class and will hopefully become a favorite to the girls! :)

What about you? Do you use any songs to link your ballet steps together for your young dancers? I would love to hear!

(Wake Up and Wiggle, By: Melissa Barnett)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dinosaur Dance

Have you ever done a dinosaur dance? I did one today! I am fortunate to have a class of all boys in one of the clubs I teach at the preschool! It's great, because of course it's such a contrast from what I teach in ballet class with all girls. I love to hear the boys ideas- their imaginations go on for days, and can make up an entire story in about 3 minutes flat.

The boys loved the dinosaur dance, after all it was their idea! They asked me if we could do a dance about dinosaurs. I told them that I might even have a dinosaur song(amazing!) I found it, but first I wanted to make sure we talked about different kinds of dinosaurs and what their contrast was. Do they fly? Make the ground shake when they walk? What do they eat? How can we show little dinosaurs vs. giant ones. They loved it, and so did I! It's such a new way of moving and creating! Thanks to the boys for making my day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Think Spring- Shape up your week!

I always feel so anxious on Sunday nights thinking about all that I have to do in the week ahead. Do you?I had the idea to write about it and thought maybe that would make me feel better. Plus, I am really looking forward to spring, so I thought I would post a delightful picture to make you think about beautiful flowers. New York is supposed to get another snow storm this week. (yuck!) I hope it's not true. Time will tell.

Let's see, here is what's in my schedule this week. Tomorrow I have a really fun Olympics lesson planned for my creative movement classes. I will write about that tomorrow. Tuesday I start new ballet classes at the JCC and I am meeting a friend for dinner to talk about the life of a dance teacher. I always love gaining insight from someone who shares a similar life. Wednesday seems to be a normal day, with a little extra babysitting thrown in to support eating lunch daily. Thursday and Friday I start at a new school for City Ballet. I always love meeting new kids and teachers. They usually love to meet me too. Thursday I plan to take ballet class, an addition to my schedule that I hope will be routine every Thursday evening. I even got some new leo's and tights to feel more like a dancer/dance teacher! YAY! I also have a new gym membership that I hope to try out this week.

That seems to be the shape of the next 5 days! What does your week look like? Anything fun? Anything you are dreading? I would love to hear!

P.s. I started something new this weekend, reading for pleasure! I know it sounds so simple, but it makes me feel good and gives me an outlet besides thinking about dance all the time. (not that I don't LOVE to do that) I am reading The Happiness Project... I highly recommend it! I already see and think about things differently! :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Prop Shopping

I have been feeling a bit down today, I think I am sick of winter! Anyone else? While trying to pull myself out of the slump, I thought I would do some fun prop shopping! The props I use are really wonderful but I have been using them for a while and I think the kids are getting used to them. I thought if I could find something exciting and new, it might help put a smile on everyone's face!

The hoops above you can assemble together! Perfect for someone like me who carries all the props around! What creative props do you use?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Ballet Book

A few weeks ago, one of my students brought in this book that she bought at the bookstore. I loved that she brought it in to share with her friends at class. She left it and I keep forgetting to give it back to her, I promise I will give it back! While it has been in my possession, I have been deconstructing it. These students in the book are older than the dancers I teach in my ballet class, but I love the way it takes the dancer through a dance class. Stretching, the positions, the barre, and across the floor are all shown in the book.

It shows the importance of practice at home, getting ready for a recital, and it connects fairy tale stories children read before bedtime to ballet. (ex: Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake)
I would love to write a book like this someday. I have always wanted to write a children's book! Have you ever thought about writing a book about your expertise? Ahh, another goal to add to the list!

(Book by Jane Feldman)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leading the JCC Dance Department- Young Families

Hello my dear readers,

I am writing to fill you in on a new development in my dance career! I have been hired to lead the young families ballet classes at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan! I am so excited to begin this new journey! I am looking forward to building the program and becoming "the talk of the Upper West Side." If you know anyone or you are someone who lives in NYC and you have a little one, I would love to have you!

You can find the list of my new classes here!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Writing a Description of your Class

Have you ever tried to write a description of a class you have designed and teach? I have recently had to describe my classes in a paragraph or less. Not easy!!!! I thought I would share some ideas on how to write a successful description--

1) First I wrote down descriptive words (just words) that I might want to include.
2) I took the words from my curriculum- my goals of what I address in each class.
3) I then tried to build sentences with the descriptive words.
4) I constructed it in a way that someone was writing it about me and the class.
5) I had many drafts but finally got to something I was happy with.
6) Last I had a mom who has had her daughter in my class for over a year look at it. She offered great insight!

The challenge is to not sound to "dance teacher" and use words that someone that doesn't know about dance can understand. I also wanted it to sound interesting, leaving something to be desired. It's hard to describe in just a few words. What would you say about your class?

Here is the final description I ended up with:

Join Miss Maria for a ballet class that will inspire both girls and boys to dance. In this unique ballet class, dancers are introduced to ballet positions and techniques that will build a strong foundation for years to come. Dancers emerge into confident soloists, develop locomotor skills, and learn songs for appropriate stretching of the body. Miss Maria's approach is innovative and encouraging for young dancers with big imaginations. Each week this class travels on a new adventure and always offers a smile! Leotards, Tutus, and ballet slippers welcome!

What do you think? Do you have any tips on how to write an AMAZING description of a class you teach? I would love to hear!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ballet for Young People

This morning I got up bright and early to be at an event at the theatre for New York City Ballet. It's called Ballet for Young People. For as much of it as I could see they showed all level dancers- starting at age 8 all the way through the older dancers who are in School of American Ballet. They showed an audition so that kids coming to see the show could prepare and see what one is like. It was also interactive where the audience could stand up and do the positions with the dancers on stage.

It was so awesome to watch, and really amazing to be behind the scenes of everyday in the theatre. Things like, the costume shop, the crossover, lockers, and even just seeing the sets for Sleeping Beauty up close was amazing! I feel very lucky to be a part of such a great company and organization!

Did you do anything this weekend that made you excited about dance? I would love to hear!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Featured on Dance Advantage Today!

Have you checked out Dance Advantage yet? Today, Move. Create. Educate is featured! Dance Advantage is a great resource for dance teachers, parents, and students. It offers great advice and addresses many important issues for dancers. Check it out and subscribe, you will look forward to it showing up in your inbox!

Thank you Nichelle for the amazing write up! xo

Back-up Plan

Do you have a back-up plan? Well I learned the hard way a few days ago when my ipod completely stopped working.(Eeeekkkkk!) It was shuffling and wouldn't play in my speakers. Oh my goodness, what a mess! I got to the preschool and was so sad I couldn't use music for the kids. They of course were so sad too. I assured I would have music next week. They were happy with that. I was going to be out all day and had ballet class later on that day. I went to the apple store where they fixed it, but of course had to wipe out all my music. It's restored now, and all my music is back on.

For my ballet class, I used one of the amazing mom's music whose daughter is in the class. I put together a playlist really quick of the kids music she had. It worked fine, but of course I didn't have the usual music and that made for a different class. A few things I noticed:

1)The kids really love the songs we do every week. Repetition really does work. They know the words and LOVE them. If we don't do them, they can't understand why. I did a lot of singing A cappella. It was so fun! (haha)

2)Without repetition it throws everyone a little bit off. I found they were all a little off, including me! I tried really hard, but I understood.

3) It was good for me to develop something on the spot. I had to come up with some different things, adding to the curriculum in a very short time.

Lesson Learned!! Have a back-up plan! I wonder in this time of technology how it's even possible? Maybe a back-up CD? Then I have to carry around a cd player!?(haha, oh my) What are your back-up plans for your music? What do you do in the last second if something happens to your music and you have to make something up on the spot? I would love to hear!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


So today was Groundhogs Day! It snuck up on me this year, but when I woke up this morning I decided to develop a lesson I could do with the littles about shadows. It's hard to show without a sun/light to help but I am pretty sure the students understood what shadow is. They also talked about Groundhogs day in their classrooms so I thought I could support that lesson. I had the 3's stand behind each other and as they moved their shadow moved too. Similar to mirroring but not facing each other. It was a great start to a really fun lesson! I would love to add a book next year and maybe a song? Anyone have ideas to share? Did you do anything to celebrate groundhogs day? I would love to hear!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hula Hoops Hula Hoops

Hula Hoops! What a wonderful prop! Have you ever used them? I usually wait until the second half of the year to bring out the hoops because I need the kids to be great listeners to make it safe and the most fun! Today was the day! They LOVED it! Here are some ideas we did with the hoops for ages 4-6 across the two classes:

1) See how still we can be standing inside the hoop
2) Play DJ- Turn on and off the piano by stepping inside and outside the hoop. (so silly!)
3) Freeze dance- I give them specific words to dance around the hoops and a specific shape to make inside the hoop when the music stops. ex: sneak around the hoops- make a twisted shape inside.
4) Drive the bus! Make it the steering wheel.
5) Look in the mirror- (This is hilarious!)
6) Directions- Stand behind/in front of/on the side
7) Right and Left- Put your left hand in the hoop
8) Simon Says- I let the students say what Simon said, it reminded me of twister!
9) Hokey Pokey
10) Hula Hoop! (of course)

What about you? Do you do anything fun or special with the hoops? Do you turn them into anything fantastic? I would love to hear! The kids already asked me if we could do this again next week! I guess it was a big hit!