Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks for the Pilgrims




Every child in the United States learns about the pilgrims in school starting from when they make paper plate hand turkeys in their kindergarten class. If asked to conjure up an image of a pilgrim, most people would describe a person in black and white with that iconic buckle hat. But what were the pilgrims really all about?

The pilgrims came from England. They were looking for a better life free of religious persecution so they set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 headed to a brave new world: America. The ship carried 102 passengers and 26 crewmembers. One baby was born on board the ship during the 66-day journey.

Bad weather pushed the ship further north than they had intended to go and they landed on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. They arrived late into the season and spent the first winter on board the tiny ship. That winter was harsh and only about half of the pilgrims lived to see the spring.

However the pilgrims that did survive the winter built permanent settlements and ultimately flourished. Within the next 70 years, the settlement swelled to over 3,000 people and now more than 35 million people are direct descendants from the pilgrims that arrived here on the Mayflower. Fun fact: Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, and Franklin Roosevelt are among the Mayflower’s descendants.

Aside from the Mayflower, the pilgrims are most famous for the beginnings of what we now call Thanksgiving. That first Thanksgiving feast lasted for three days and they dined on foods like turkey, venison, clams, lobster, squash, strawberries, and grapes.


Maybe this year when we give our thanks, we can include the pilgrims. Without them, the history of The United States would not be the same!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

In Giving, We Receive



We live in a very consumerist world where people will get up at 4:00 in the morning to buy things a day after being thankful for what they already have. It’s a weird dichotomy that we live in, but I have found that a great way to mitigate that is by giving to other people – giving our time, our money, our attention, our thanks.

You never know what another person is going through and no matter what you’re going through, there is someone out there that has it worse. Even if you don’t have money, you can give your time. If you don’t have time, you can give a compliment. A rock thrown into a pond will have ripples that spread outwards. 

It was Francis of Assisi that said, “For it is in giving that we receive,” and I have found this to be a true statement in my life. If you give generously, people will remember. When you find yourself in a tough spot, it’s likely you will find a whole team behind you ready to pitch in to help you out. 

Not only does giving make the person you’re helping feel good, but it makes you feel good too! In fact, science shows that giving can improve your health, even if you have a chronic disease. 

If you want to start giving, but you don’t know where to begin, start small. Say the compliment that comes to mind or offer an earnest ear to someone that needs one. See where it takes you.



Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Importance of Ballet Attire



Although some may think that proper ballet attire is merely traditional, there are actually many practical reasons that ballet instructors require a strict dress code. Ballet is widely accepted as  the foundation of all styles of dance, therefore the wearing of proper ballet attire should not be taken lightly. Wearing proper attire is not only beneficial for the dancer, but also a sign of respect for the instructor.

Ballet attire consists of a leotard, tights, ballet shoes, and for some, a ballet skirt, while the hair is to be up in a clean and secure bun. Most ballet instructors will require that the leotard is black and the tights and shoes pink. The idea behind the leotard and tights is that they are form fitting to show body lines easily and accurately. Body lines must be visible to the instructor so that he or she can correct each student's placement and ensure that technique is being practiced correctly. Baggy or loose clothing is a distraction from dancers' movements and can hide body placement and flexibility issues. The reason many instructors require their students to wear the designated colors pink and black is to provide a uniform look in class. Dancers can see their progress alongside that of their peers in an "apples to apples" comparison. 

Finally, dancers should wear their hair up in a bun for several reasons. Having the hair secure and off of the face eliminates distractions and creates a clean look. Securing the hair tightly ensures that the dancer will not need to touch or fix her hair during class, as the rigorous exercises of ballet could cause a more casual hairstyle to fall out. Finally, the bun is an excellent choice for ballet dancers, as it will not whip the dancer in the face like a ponytail would during turns and spotting exercises.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

After the First Dance Class



The First Dance Class Is Over. Now What?
So, your child had her first dance class. It was everything you had hoped for, and she is thrilled and won’t stop twirling around the living room. There are a ton of articles and blog posts out there that are all about first class jitters, but hardly anyone talks about what to expect once the first class is over. What happens next?

Each Class Builds on Itself
This means that sometimes a new technique, step, or move introduced in class can challenge your child, but that’s a good thing. Overcoming adversity and learning to persevere are two great life skills that your child will learn in class. The dance instructor has your child’s best interest at heart and wants to see her master the skills she needs to perform at her best during her first recital. 

Like All Classes, Dance Has its Ups and Downs
Even if your child lives and breathes dancing, sometimes they may have an off day. A bad day at school or a fight with a sibling can set any child off, leading to them wanting to skip dance class. If you encounter a day like this, encourage your child to try to go into class anyway, and more often than not they will be happy they did! Dance (and any form of physical exercise) is proven to elevate a person’s mood, and can be a great relief from life’s problems.

The First Recital

For many dancers, all the work that they’ve put in for the year leads to their big recital. Your child may be nervous, excited, or a combination of both. Recitals are an amazing way to help children face fears of speaking in public, as well as a way to help cope with stress. Many children who are nervous before they go on end up exhilarated once the performance is over, asking, “When can I do it again?” Be there to support your child, but also take a moment to enjoy the finish to a successful year!




Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Not All Dance Practice is Created Equal



Practice makes perfect.

The age-old saying often goes in one ear and out the other. It can be brought up in any number of situations, including art, math, golf, dance, you name it!

But is it true?

Studies Have Shown it Takes 10,000 Hours to Master a Skill.

Breaking it down, that’s about 90 minutes a day for 20 years that a student needs to study a skill to master it. There is an important distinction to be made here – it needs to be 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. That means that for someone to master dance, they must be using their practice time diligently to zero in on problem areas and eliminate them.

Practice Makes Permanent.

Repeating a physical motion creates something called ‘muscle memory.’ It can be very hard to unlearn a bad habit that has become muscle memory because it was practiced incorrectly. Deliberate, intentional dance practice can be hard to do alone.  A dancer can use the assistance of mirrors and video recordings of themselves, but there is no substitute to the trained eye of a dance instructor.

A dance teacher is an invaluable tool for new and even veteran dancers. Dance teachers have the training and skill needed to help a dancer practice deliberately and intentionally to blossom into the dancer they have the ability to become.


If you would like to see your child succeed in dance, giving them the gift of lessons with an experienced and knowledgeable dance instructor is one of the best ways you can help nurture their talent.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dance Companies 101



While there is a wide range of opportunities that a trained dancer has access to, many dancers dream of landing a spot in a professional dance company. What does being in a dance company entail though? There’s still a plethora of opportunities among dance companies and within a single dance company, for types of positions available.

Styles of Dance
While a ballet company might be the most recognizable to people that are not in the dance world, many may not realize that there are dance companies available for dancers who train in all styles! From contemporary to tap to hip hop, the sky is the limit when it comes to dance companies. No matter what style of dance you prefer or excel at, there are options of different dance companies for which you can audition. 

Job Opportunities
With a dance company, there are various employment opportunities available aside from being a dancer. While some smaller dance companies might employ only a few people that wear many hats, some of the positions you can expect to see in dance companies include:
• Artistic director
• Choreographer
• Rehearsal Director
• Stage Manager
• Producer
• Lighting and Costume Designers

In addition to the positions directly relating to performance, there are also more administrative positions that may be available, including the board of directors, general manager, education administrator, as well as marketing and finance managers.

The best way to choose to a dance company and position that suits your skills is to do some research online and ask your dance instructor or fellow students to see if they have any leads. The dance field is constantly growing, so be sure to continually explore your options!