Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tappy Day!

I still have a few hours to wish you all a Happy National Tap Dance Day! I taught ballet and movement all day today to the babies, but I was surely thinking about tap dance while I was doing it! Did you do anything to celebrate today? I hope you went to class or tappy hour! (haha)

On thursday I have parents day for my tap classes! I will be sure to tell them about National Tap Dance Day! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Step Lively

As the school year comes to a close and summer is on it's way, can you believe I am already thinking about classes for summer and fall? Please tell me you are too? Yesterday was registration for fall classes at the JCC and one of the new classes I am offering has been on my mind! It's called "Step Lively", an entire creative movement class with a live musician! She plays the Saxophone (the saxophone!), but I plan on incorporating all types of instruments! Think about doing a dance to the sound of a sax, amazing right? I can't wait to develop the curriculum!

Here is the description I wrote:

Join Miss Maria on a dance adventure with live music! Boys and girls will travel under water, through space, and around the jungle to explore each place through movement. Dancers will discover directions, body parts, levels from high to low and movement qualities such as fast and slow. The live music will add an element of surprise and will be used to make dances come alive!

If you live in NYC and are 3 years old come join Step Lively!

My dear readers, have you ever tried a class like this? Have you worked with a live musician? I think experimenting with different instruments adds a whole other level to exploring movement. Don't you?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thank You Notes

Next week and the week after I am bombarded with parents days and end of the year celebrations. Woohoo! I like to give the kids something on the last day to remember me by. Since I have SO many students, it would get expensive to buy something for all of them. This is what I came up with! Thank you notes for a great year! It's just something little, but I know it will mean a lot to them. I did one for movement and one for tap. I am still working on the ballet ones since those are a little more special to me. I will post them next week!

Do you make or give anything to your students at the end of the year? I am sure you all have amazing ideas!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This semester, circles have saved my life. I usually start my class in a circle, but many times I go back to a circle in the middle of the class. I feel that circles are a way to bring the class back together and calm the excitement. With my 3 year olds, we start in a line and I tell them to hold hands, and then I hold the hands of the dancers on each end to connect the circle. I tell them "it's magic!" I overheard one of them saying " Miss Maria thinks it's magic, but we are just really good at making circles!" (haha!)

In tap class, I find circles work well with challenging classes. I made their combination in a circle and it keeps them focused, rather than looking in the mirror, looking out the window or distracting each other. I have more control then when they are in a line or coming across the floor.

Do you find that circles work well for you?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Exploring the Garden

This week, in ballet and creative movement we are celebrating the garden! Growing as different types of flowers, caterpillars to butterflies, ants, worms, and birds! My 4 year olds loved the idea saying "I wish we could visit the real garden!"

We have been doing the caterpillar to butterfly dance for a while in ballet class and they love it! Just this week many of them told me they are growing butterflies in their classrooms. Woah! I didn't even know I was connecting to curriculum, but it makes me so happy that I am! How great is it for them to see it happening and also make a dance about it using their bodies?!

Do you have a lesson in dance class that the kids tell you they are exploring at school? I would love to hear!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Headshot- Now and Then

I thought I would post this just for fun! Last week I had a photo shoot with my friend Kiasa and she took a few headshots. Thank you Kiasa!

What do you think? I am thinking I look a little sleepy! ;)

And in the spirit of recital season, I thought I would post this picture that my mom sent me a few weeks ago. I remember this moment clearly! Popcorn machine! Yep, that was the dance. I loved it! Look how happy I was. I estimate I was around 5 years old here.

Do you have a favorite recital dance you can remember? Can you sing the song and do the dance? It is so fun to think back!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Little Helpers

Today in ballet, my 3 year olds became super helpful! It was all their idea. I am sure they get the idea from school. Every time we used a props or star spots, they offered to help me collect them! What a great idea, and a great lesson to incorporate into class. I will add it in from now on. I love when they come up with ideas that enrich the class! I love when they teach me things!

Now I must keep a rotating list of who collected what, when. I am happy to do it, all because they are happy to help!

Do you have little helpers? Star helpers, maybe? I would love to help, ... oh, I mean hear!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Table Cover Prop

Can a plastic table cover be a prop? Have you ever used them in dance class? I am thinking of trying it out but wanted to see if my fabulous readers have ever tried it? I remember going to a workshop with Ann Green Gilbert (total dance education guru) and she recommended cutting them into squares. She says they have a different feel and different look than a scarf and also make noise! I bet the kids would love them! Here's another idea! Use it in one piece to teach teamwork and explore different ways of moving underneath and around it! What do you think?

I would love to hear your ideas on plastic table cover props! (that sounds so silly to say) xo

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tap Combination

Check out this video of my tap dancers at Mark Morris. I have had a few of these students for 3 years of tap, a few of the others are teens and have just started this year. We have been working on an acapella phrase. I took my flip yesterday to video it and thought I would share it with you. At the end of the combination you will see our attempts at counter rhythm! (That's when everyone is doing a different step, but at the same time) So super fun to explore! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Asking Students for Help?

I need to tell you a story. I tried something today in class that worked! But, I need to know what you think...Here is the story:

I have about 5 boys in tap class and they are all around 9 years old. All great boys, but I have one boy who is a major disruption to the class. He makes noises, plays with the blinds, and gets really distracted very easily. I have tried to help him as much as I can, I have even had meetings with his mom to see what would be best for him. Somedays it seems that I alone cannot keep him under control. Today, he was making noises while I was listening to another students tap sounds, so I told one of the other boys that if he wanted to he could politely ask him to stop making the noise. He stopped! Another time later in the class, he couldn't stop his body from moving, so I asked the same student to politely (key word) ask him to get his body ready to start practicing our dance.

I am thinking maybe for this class I need a teachers helper? Someone that can help me keep everyone on track? What do you think? Have you ever used this tactic? It seemed to work today, but I don't know if it will continue to work or if it is even a good idea. Thoughts? I would love to hear!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I found a milkshakes song from the CD, Songs for Wiggleworms and it's so fantastic! We pour milk, we pour cream (stretches to the side), we stir it all up (spin), and then we shake it up! Of course, we all pick our flavors, including the flavor "pink chocolate" (haha) Doesn't that sound delicious?! I love when we can make a dance with just about anything!

Do you do any silly songs that your students just LOVE? What do you make dances about? I would love to hear?

P.S. Don't forget to enter the Coloring pages giveaway from DanceStudioOwner.com!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Calm, Quiet Bodies

In the last few weeks, I have incorporated "calm, quiet bodies" into all of my classes. It's amazing, what a difference this makes. What I started to realize is that it is just as important for children to learn how to make their bodies calm, as it is for them to learn different ways to move their bodies. I call it "calm, quiet body" (I say both calm and quiet because I found that some children respond more to one word then the other) and we usually practice this after a high energy dance. It works really well at the end of class if the students are transitioning to another activity or are on their way home. They seem to be able to demonstrate this in their bodies more in a freeze dance, which I believe is in response to music and a short window of time to be still. When I ask them to make their bodies calm and quiet, it seems to be a bigger challenge. But, challenges are good! They make us stronger, happier, and more confident. Exactly what I want my students to be!

Do you have a version of calm, quiet bodies? I would love to hear!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the Coloring Pages Giveaway! (you have until this Friday, May 7th)