Friday, April 30, 2010

Coloring Pages Giveaway!

My dear readers, today is my very first giveaway! (Happy Dance!) Courtesy of Suzanne Gerety of, I am offering 3 lucky winners a CD of Coloring pages! What are coloring pages you ask? They are lovely teaching tools to pass out to your students featuring different genres of dance. The CD includes 26 coloring pages that show the position or step, and then gives a description! (see below) It includes tap, ballet, and recital pictures for BOTH boys and girls! Isn't that fabulous?

To give you an honest review: I passed out first position to my 3 year old ballet dancers and here is what they said...

"I can do that position, see!"

"I can't wait to take it home and color it!"

"do you have more?"

"I think I will name her princess!" (haha)

These are a true testament on how lovely and educational these coloring pages are! Here is an example that I colored! I can't remember the last time I colored a picture! Bonus: Here is a link to download first position for free!

For a chance to win, please visit, (you will fall in love with all the helpful information on this site) and leave a comment below! 3 lucky winners will be chosen at random next Friday May 7th! I can not wait for you comments! Good Luck! :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Purple, (2nd to pink) the color that 3 year old little girls NEED to have! Yesterday, I taught an important lesson about using different colors. I usually allow the dancers to pick the colors that they want. If I run out of a certain color then they have to pick a color I have. I tell them that sometimes we don't always get the color we want. I find this works for me better than, "you get what you get, and you don't get upset." I always seem to have more upset children with that saying than just picking colors. So, I do it this way.

Yesterday I only had four purple ribbons, and they ALL wanted purple. Usually we can work it out, someone will share their purple and pick another color, but yesterday it was not the case. So we eliminated the purple. Then they wanted pink, the ribbons do not come in pink, so I said "what about red, it's close to pink" (haha) They looked at me like I was crazy!

It all worked out fine in the end, I told them we can still have the same amount of fun no matter what color we dance with. And we did, it was really supper fun! I am pretty sure they will forget about this lesson and want purple all over again next week, but at least I feel like I taught a life lesson with something as simple (big deal for them) as the color purple!

What about you? How do you handle colors? What works best for you? I would love to hear!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Animal Boogie

This week in my preschool classes I introduced this book, The Animal Boogie! It comes with a CD to dance to and does a really great job of introducing movement words such as shake, flap, leap, and swing. After we do the dance through the book, I ask the kids what their favorite animal was and if they can remember the word the animal moved too. It has a catchy tune too!

"shake, shake, boogie, woogie, oogie"

Barefoot Books has more books like this one, perhaps I will put them on my wish list! Have you tried this book in preschool? Have you tried any new books lately that the kids love?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


How many legs does an octopus have? 8 of course! Yesterday in creative movement we were dancing under the sea. We thought about all the animals we could be under the sea. Sharks, Lobsters, Mermaids, and Seahorse. I said "what about an octopus with 8 long legs?" One of the students said "But we only have 4 legs" Another had the idea, "we should find a partner and stand behind them, that will make 8 legs!" I was so excited that she thought of this. I told them all to find a partner, which could be tricky with 4 year olds, but they did it! How creative is this idea? She thought about how we could not be a TRUE octopus with 8 legs. We had to add 4 more limbs. I'm not sure I ever would of thought of this idea. Now I will forever use that idea when dancing under the sea! What about you?

Do your students ever surprise you or give you ideas to use in future classes?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why Dance Matters: Thoughts from a Students Mommy

The other day, I asked a mom of one of my ballet students why she thinks dance matters. I asked her why she signed her daughter up for dance? Why does she think it is important for her daughter to experience it? These are her thoughts-

"I enrolled my daughter in dance because I wanted her to learn poise, confidence, and discipline. I want her to experience many things in life and the opportunity to experience dance at such a young age is such an advantage. I love that she will have bragging rights about starting dance when she was 2 years old. I love that her ballet class teaches other things, not only ballet. I see her using what she learns in class in her daily life, and that is pretty special!"

Check out my other Why Dance Matters Interviews

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kindergarten Performance: A Story Ballet

One of my favorite things about being a teaching artist with New York City Ballet, is offering the students a chance to perform on stage for their family and friends. They get so excited and are so proud! I took a few pictures in between all the performances. I hope you enjoy!

The scenery...

We had narrators... (one of the 9 stories)


Animals... This was a lion, but there was every animal you could think of...

We also had pumpkins, princesses, flowers, seals and much more! I loved the K's stories this year. I love to be a part of their creative thinking and confidence building! Do you feel the same way about kids performances? What is your favorite part?

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Today was a very silly day! I taught science! Silly Science that is! It was so fun. I filled in for a teacher who had an emergency, but it turned out to be such a great experience. All the kids were 2 and so very talkative. The theme was bugs! We read The Hungry Caterpillar and then used magnifying glasses to search for bugs around the room. They were so cute looking through the glass! Even though it was science, you better believe I incorporated some movement into the lesson. We slept in our cocoon and then became beautiful butterflies, just like in the story. They wanted to do it over and over, before I knew it, I had to remind myself that it wasn't a movement class. It just shows how much little ones' imagination soar when they move their bodies.

Next week I think I will explore bugs with my creative movement classes! How would you move like a ladybug? How many different types of bugs do you think you could dance about? I am sure the kids could think of more than I could!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


One of my favorite words to explore in dance class with the young ones is the word sneak! Yesterday, we practiced sneaking across the floor. I asked the dancers where we could imagine being sneaky. They said "I think we could sneak into the kitchen and get a cookie!" "Maybe we could sneak in between the trees!" All great ideas! I also told them to imagine there was someone looking in the mirror or the window, and to try to sneak by without that person seeing them! So fun! We practiced sneaking a bunch of different ways. Backwards, down low, slow, quick, turns, bounce, and on and on!

Have you ever done the word sneak with your dancers? If your looking for something to bring a smile to you and your students faces, try this!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why Dance Matters: An interview with my Mom and Dad

Last week in celebration of the Why Dance Matters project I posted an interview with my 4 and 5 year old classes. Although the kids gave such sweet answers, this week I thought interviewing my mom and dad would be great insight into why dance matters so much! They have some great answers, so read on! I am so happy to open up this discussion, because I had no idea what they really thought! Now I do! I hope you enjoy!

A little background on my parents: My parents are both in the healthcare field. My mom has been a surgical nurse for over 30 years. My dad is a dialysis technician. They live in small town Corry, PA where I grew up. My dad loves the outdoors and his garden. My mom loves to ride her bike and is very crafty. They truly are the best, and I am so lucky to have them.

Mom says:

Why did you sign me up for dance?

You were shy and I thought it would help you with that.

Did you learn anything from having a daughter (and son) enrolled in dance?

You and your brother were always so excited and looked forward for every wednesday to come! You had such an opportunity which I never had growing up. I was so happy to be able to send you to dance, I don’t think my parents could have afforded to send me.

Do you think it's important for every child to experience dance?

I do, it gives them coordination, makes them feel excited, important and so proud to be a dancer!

Do you like to dance?

I like to dance but haven’t done it in a long time. I probably dance through you!

Dad says:

Why is dance important?

It’s an outlet so kids can express themselves.

Did you learn anything from enrolling me in dance?

I learned to listen to what you wanted to do and thats when I learned what you were thinking and that you had a mind of your own.

Well I don't see myself being anything else but a dance teacher, do you?

No, you love little kids and they make you smile! They are attracted to you like a magnet!

They both say:

Anything else you have to say about why dance matters?

Dance matters to us because you have inspired so many children's lives! After doing your summer programs, the moms still see us around town and the first thing they ask is how you are doing and when you are coming back? Its been 3 years since you were here! No matter where you go the moms and children love you and you love them back. We get a big smile on our faces because I know how happy it makes you and it makes us so proud to be your mom and dad!

Do you know why dance matters to your mom or dad? Have you ever talked to them about what they think about dance, and what it means to them? Please check out the Why Dance Matters project here for how you can join in on the movement!

(photos taken by my brother, Kevin Hanley)

(special thanks to mom and dad for taking the time to do the interview!)

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Great news! In addition to teaching ballet classes at the JCC this summer, I have been hired to teach at Dancewave in Brooklyn! I will be teaching creative modern (creative movement) to children ages 20 months-6 years old! I can't even wait! Check out the Dancewave website here! It's an amazing place, and I am happy to be teaching at a place where they are really doing wonderful things with dance education! To see my schedule at Dancewave, check my website!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Same spot, New spot

Do you ever notice that when your students come into the room they always sit or stand in the same spot? Well, I have window clingers, mirror touchers, piano players, and barre hangers all in my tap class. I noticed today that, they always seem to gravitate to the same spot in the room every week. I wonder if they feel safe there? When I think about when I take dance class, I usually stand in middle, that's where I feel safe. I thought about bringing them out of their comfort zone, so today I tried something new. Every time we moved to a new exercise, I had them find a new spot. I thought maybe this would enable them to see what other parts of the room are like, and maybe stand next to a new person too! It seems so silly, but I think it is a habbit to many of them, and I want them to be able to dance anywhere, not just in the same spot, in the same room every week.

Do you find your students like to do this? Do you think its good for them to be in the same spot every week? Or is it best to change it up? I would love to hear!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pink Dance Bus

Have you seen this? My mom saved me an article about this 10 year old girl, Amiya Alexander who started a dance studio on a bus! The bus travels to parks and schools in underprivileged communities in Detroit and it's suburbs. It's such a good idea. I wonder why no one has ever thought of it? I believe in what she is trying to do, and I think she is reaching many students who would never be exposed to dance with this creative idea! I do question if 10 year olds should have students of their own, however. Do you? You can browse her website here, and find out more information on this inspirational story!

What do you think? I would actually love to visit the dance bus myself! Anyone else?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Dance Matters: An Interview with 4 and 5 year olds!

Today is the beginning of Why Dance Matters! What a great event to spread awareness about dance! I know why dance matters, but I realized I had no idea what my students think about dance and why it matters to them. So in my creative movement classes of 4 and 5 year olds I decided to get inside those growing, happy, smart imaginations and see what they thought. Here is the play by play!

When asked, "why do you LOVE to come to dance class?"

"it's fun, fun, fun!"

"it's good for our bodies"

"we get to see Miss Maria" (haha, funny!)

"I come because I like to pirouette and leap"

"I love to do Jamaican dance, it makes me happy"

"I get to see my friends"

"I like to make shapes at dance class and at school"

"jumping in hoops is like jumping in puddles, and I like doing that"

"I like to hear the music"

Can you believe they had all of that to say?! I mean, they always have a lot to say, but they were really focused and didn't seem phased by the interview! I am sure I missed some quotes because I was really trying to prompt them to get clear answers! I hope you enjoy reading the responses! Next week I will ask them another question about why dance matters!

P.S. join the facebook group of Why Dance Matters here. Or head over to Dance Advantage and read about how you can get involved here!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yoga Teacher Training

Good news! I am registered for the Karma Kids Yoga Teaching Training Program! I have been saving since last summer for the course, and I finally reached my goal and signed up! I am really excited to be able to learn techniques of integrating yoga into my creative movement classes. I will take the course in July, and will blog about the experiences, so you can see what it's all about! The course is offered other places besides NYC, so if you are interested check it out!

P.S. Have a great weekend! And for more reading, here are a few MCE posts you might have missed!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Potty Parade!

Yesterday in my 3 year old ballet class, I had a dilemma. Do you ever get a potty parade in your dance class? You know, when one little on has to go to the "potty" and then they all have to go? Haha! It was priceless. Truly like a parade! I had no idea if I should believe them or not. I was thinking in my head, what happens if they all pee on the floor? Do they all really have to go? I decided to let the one go that said she had to go first, but not before I got the rest of the class dancing and distracted, then I sorta scooted her out the door. The rest of them didn't ask after that. Phew, that was close!

I make sure to ask them every week to go before they come in, but there always seems to be one! Does this happen to you? Do you have any tricks about controlling the potty parade? I would love to hear your experiences!

(photo from

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

National Dance Education Conference

Good news dance educators! I just got an e-mail in my inbox today that it's time to register for the NDEO 2010 conference! I have been to 2 conferences in the past and I highly recommend it! It's a get together of dance teachers just like you, with creative, inspiring ideas to share. There is something to offer everyone, from Early Childhood, K-12, to Studio teachers, and University. If you have never been and are interested in hearing more about it, I would be happy to share some of my experiences with you. You can also check out the details here. I need to check with my job(s), since it's in October but I plan to be there! Will I see you there? I hope so! Now go register, hurry! (make sure you are a member first!)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Until Next Time...

I have been thinking a lot lately about the way I end my dance classes. For ballet, I sing a song or we do our reverence nice and slow. For creative movement, we become a bear or rabbit or dance our way out with a prop. For tap, we talk about what we are going to practice over the week. I wonder what other creative ways I can explore ending a dance class?

What about you? How do you end your class? Do you have something special you do? Say names, do solos? I would love to hear!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Red Rover

It's Friday! Our last lesson of the week is shared by Catherine Tully of 4dancers!

I would start on one side of the room, with the children on the other. Once I had one kid on my side, we’d just call out, “Red Rover, Red Rover, let (name) come over, and then I would add something for them to do on the way, such as the “princess walk”, or marching. I’d let the child who got called tell me who to call over next. It sounds so basic, but the kids absolutely loved it!

Isn't this a great lesson? It's easy to incorporate so many action/movement words into the game. What a great idea to fuse dance education and a game normally played at recess or in gym class! Thank you Catherine for sharing this great idea!

I hope you have found the lessons shared this week helpful and were able to gather some ideas for your own classrooms and students. That is the goal, afterall! Thank you to everyone who shared your ideas and Thank you to all my dear readers! xo

(picture via
asbjorn lonvig)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sharp Hands, Soft Hands

This lesson is shared by Tiffany Braniff of the popular blog Dancing Branflakes! Tiffany says this lesson was adapted from Royal Acadamy Dance Syllabus a long time ago!

Sharp Hands for 3-5 year olds
I have the children sit in a circle and pretend we are about to make a "witches brew." Then I ask, in my witch's voice, what witches wear. We put on our cloak, hat, and pointy nose and begin throwing things in the pot. We throw dragon eye balls, poisoned apples, and whatever gross and scary things we can think of. I make sure we throw them with "sharp hands" with stretched out fingers and palms. We make plopping or sizzling sounds depending on what's getting thrown in. The point is to get the kids to think about their hands and what they are doing. And at the end, we of course drink our poisoned brew then collapse to the ground.

Soft hands for 3-5 year olds
The opposite of sharp hands, we sit in a circle and pretend we are either princesses picking flowers in the ground or fairies picking stars from the sky. We have to do it with gentle fingers as to not crush the flowers or stars, depending on who you are that day. We put either the stars or the flowers back into our baskets for safe keeping. The girls love to tell me what color dress and tiara they are wearing. Then we all get up and pretend we are throwing the flowers onto the ground like flower girls and tossing the stars back into the sky so we can see them later.

Like sharp hands, this exercise helps students pay attention to their fingers and helps with fine motor skills.

Thank you for sharing this lesson with us Tiffany!