Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Do you have twins in your dance class? Oh my goodness. This summer I have 2 sets of twins in my ballet class. It is quite the challenge for me because both sets are identical. It's hard for me to tell who's who without thinking really hard about it first and it's especially hard to tell who is who from the back! I will get the hang of it, hopefully next week I can call them out without thinking about it to much.

From what I have observed so far, twins like to stick together. Literally. Like glue. I try to say, "Miss Maria would love to see your very own dance" but it has not worked yet. I can imagine it's easy to get "stuck" to your sibling, especially if you look just like them. I can also imagine it's not easy to separate from them. I would just love the challenge of giving them some independence. Even though they are in the same class there has to be a way to separate them. Don't you think? At every new transition I always ask if one of them wants to come and sit by me. The answer, "I want to be with my sister."

Have you faced this challenge at all? I wonder if any of you fabulous teachers out there have any special tricks for getting twins to separate? Not separate like in another room, but separate as in "detach" from one another.

Oh, and if you have a trick to help with telling them apart, I would love to hear that too! Today I studied them closely and observed the detail of their features. That should help, right?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Egg Shakers

Usually before my ballet class starts families show up early. I try really hard to keep the dancers waiting outside the room. This way they don't get all wound up before I need to try to get them organized to start class. But this week, I had a 18-24 month ballet class (so much fun and a new experience for sure!). They just could not wait to come in and explore the room in their tiny pink tutus! So I let them in while we waited for everyone to show up. To give them something to do, I put out egg shakers. I turned on ballet music and we danced around the room with the shakers. Of course they put them in their mouth too (that's how they tell the shape of things when they are that little) but they absolutely loved them. I think I will continue to do this every week!

Do you let the students explore the room before class? Do you put something out for them to explore? Or do you let them in right when class starts? I would love to hear!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Teachers Learn Too...

This week was the beginning of my summer classes, which explains the lack of posts! (sad face) I haven't forgotten about you, I have just been busy educating and learning! After this week, I know I can solve problems, come up with ideas a split second before they come out of mouth, and remain professional even if the room gets chaotic. I learned a lot about myself this week, and I can't wait for a new week to start because I get to see the kids all over again. Do you ever have those weeks where you feel that you gained a tad more confidence in yourself as a teacher? Well, this was my week.

Speaking of Learning, I attended this really amazing event on Wednesday night called "Yoga on the Great Lawn" It was in Central Park in NYC. They invited 10,000 people on the lawn to take part in a free yoga class! They had music, and poetry, and even gave away free mats and bags. It was a great experience to be with all so many yogis. Unfortunately, right as the class was starting, it started to down pour and the Parks Department had to close the class for safety reasons. Maybe they will have one of these where you are? Just to be there was amazing and it made me feel good too!

(photo via Huffington Post)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seriously Silly Songs

Have you ever seen these books by Sandra Boynton? I love them. It's a book and CD pair and they are seriously silly! I use them in almost all of my movement classes with young ones. My favorite are Barnyard dance (animal dance) and Loud and Quiet (see below), it's great to teach opposites with!
My other favorite part about these books is that in the back the songs are written out so you can play them on the piano! My pianist loves (loves!) to play the Dinosaur Round. I teach levels as she plays!
I find the books a reason to be silly, and you all know little kids LOVE to be silly! What silly songs do you use? I would love to hear!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Pancake Flip

This summer I am teaching a few private tap classes! I love it! Yesterday was our first meeting since the semester ended and we reviewed all the steps we had been learning in class. One step I find really fun and challenging for 8 year olds, and especially boys is barrel turns. They always ask to practice them. Are you wondering what a pancake has to do with barrel turns? Me too, but the imagery just came to me! Let me explain....

Rap your toe behind you, I call this "toast it"
"Flip the pancake" to the back, keeping the same foot in the air (now your facing the back)
Step the same foot down as you turn back to the front "plate it"
Step your other foot down to face the front "syrup it"

So here's the step- "Toast it, Flip it, Plate it, Syrup it!"

It really does work, we were getting dizzy doing so many barrel turns yesterday! If you teach tap you should try it!

Do you have special imagery that you use while teaching a challenging tap step? I would love to hear!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The other day I was in target, and found these in the dollar section! Yahoooo! They have the neatest stuff in that section. Don't you think? I find a lot of stuff there! Anyway, I am planning summer classes today that will be in full swing next week. Here are some ideas I thought we could do with cones:

1) Make pathways to explore locomotor movements in. (ex: straight line, or curvey snake)
2) Leap over them, of course
3) Weaving (with a little prep and practice, I think 3 year olds could do it!)
4) Ice cream cones!
5) Funny shoes...
6) Microphones (I like to sing yeah... yeah... yeah!)
7) Very tall shape statues, use it as the base.

What about you? Do you use cones in your classes? I would love to hear your creative ideas!

Monday, June 14, 2010

House Of The Roses

Oh my goodness, I am inspired! About what? Go ahead, read on...

One of my good friends volunteers her time to House of the Roses. A description from their website explains that it is an "organization that offers homeless and at-risk children free weekly on-site dance workshops at partner outreach facilities, such as homeless shelters and community centers, throughout New York City."

Tonight, I attended their end of the year performance! I had to rush home and write about how inspiring and amazing the show was. Each center performed a dance I am sure they have been rehearsing for a long, long time. Before each group shared their dance, there was a video of the kids showing their favorite dance move or explaining what they love about dance and House of the Roses. Let's just say, kids just say it exactly the way it is! The theme was World Tour and all the dances were inspired by stories, art, and movement from each place. There was a penguin dance, Bollywood, caveman, and hip hop from brazil! It was so exciting to watch the kids having a blast! They are all such great dancers!

One of my favorite parts of the show opened with all the dance company volunteers dancing on stage and their voices became the music. What does house of roses mean to them? The one that stood out to me and said it best was, "if you do something for free, it is truly your passion" (so true, right?)

Please visit their website and follow them on Twitter @HouseoftheRoses. You will then love them just as much as I do.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Maria's Movers Ballet

More photos from ballet class...

Ribbon Dancing...
Star hats...
My handy dandy spy glasses, looking for 1st position...
Our pretty ballerina dance, complete with roses and kisses

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Arabesque Love

I think that whenever these ballerinas hold flowers they will forever do an arabesque! Remember my post on using roses to teach arabesque? That's exactly what they are doing, and I didn't even prompt it, they just love to do them! This is a picture of our farewell class before summer. We had a really great class! Each of them wore their special tutus and we shared so many ideas and smiles. This picture just proves that I have the best job in the world!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hello and Goodbye Songs

I'm looking for exceptional"hello" and "goodbye" songs for movement and ballet class! Do you sing acapella in your classes or do you like to sing along with music? I will do either! Have any recommendations? I am teaching the smallest of age groups (starting at 18 months!) this summer, and it's important that I can sign one that I like and they will love too!

Please share your songs in the comments! I bet other readers would love new beginning and ending songs too! :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Creative Dance Music

Have you ever used these CD's from Eric Chappelle, Music for Creative Dance? I just ordered two of the volumes. I have a feeling I might need them this summer, since I will be teaching creative dance without a live pianist. Eeek! I think these CD's are fabulous, and always offer what I am looking for. I love them especially because, it's all instrumental and gives the students opportunity to see and feel the movement!

I also just ordered A Fantasy Garden Ballet Class I and II from Kimbo Educational. I was looking for some new music for ballet and this came highly recommended! I can't wait to start using it!

Have you found any great music lately? What is your favorite music to use?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pantomime: I Love To Dance

Today at New York City Ballet's Ballet for Young People I learned something amazing. One of the dancers in the company taught the audience pantomime! I learned a Pantomime for "I love to dance." Perfect, right? I am so excited because I was looking for something to "spice" up the reverence I teach to the littles. Actually, you could use this in every dance class.
Here is what it looks like:

Love (palms together out front)
Then place them on your heart...
To Dance (roll your arms, starting at your waist)
all the way over your head!
Optional: you can add bows or curtseys at the end to signify the end of class. I'm so excited to try it! I know the kids will just love it!

Do you practice pantomime with your students? I would love to hear!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Talent Show

This is a video of one of my first year tap students at his school talent show. I put together this little combination for him, we had a few practice sessions, and as you will see, he brought the house down! I was so proud of him! :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Have you ever been to the Apollo in Harlem, NYC? It was on my to do list, and last night I went to Amateur Night! It was a night dedicated to NYC public school teachers. A few of my friends from NYU auditioned their dance and it was selected! It was so amazing to witness.

If you have never been to amateur night, it is a little intense. The audience cheers if they like the performance, and boo's if they don't. If there are enough boo's then the "executioner" comes on stage and directs them off stage.

It was quite the scene. My friends left the stage with 10 seconds to go! (10 sec) They did a great job! I thought the idea to feature school teachers talents was brilliant. I hope they continue it every year!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ballet Celebrations

Today, I had two parents days during ballet class. It went pretty well, but I am learning the more I do parents days that they are such a challenge. I don't get nervous anymore, which I think is a good sign of growth but sometimes I feel like it's a lot of pressure. Sometimes I feel like it's so unpredictable, that it's scary. And sometimes I feel like I should just have fun. I did have a lot of fun, but with parents buzzing in the background and siblings crying on the side, it's hard to have full control as usual. The students get so distracted, and if you are 3, it's hard to focus to begin with. I tried many of my calming techniques, little quiet moments, mostly because I didn't want anyone to get hurt. I just couldn't seem to gain everyone's attention and engage them. I know I am not alone on this!

I would love to hear what you all do. If the kids are to little to be on a stage (2's and 3's) Do you have a parents day on the last day of class? Do you invite the parents in to see just a portion of the class? I prepped the students for the day, and no one freaked out (yay!), but I am thinking you can help me. I am sure my brilliant readers have creative ideas that I have never thought of!

Please share what you did this year for celebrations of dance. Did you have a parents day? A recital? A showing? Tell us the story of how it went, and if you learned anything from it. I can't wait to hear!

P.S. the photo are the pink carnations I gave the girls after class today. They are in the bag because it was a surprise and I was trying to be sneaky and make sure they didn't see them!