What is your dance teacher REALLY thinking? (Part 2)

We’re back with part two of our popular blog post, “What your dance teacher REALLY thinking?” We interviewed several dance instructors from all over the country to find out their stance on different issues that we all wish our students knew about us and why we do the things we do and then we compiled all of the answers! If you missed part one, click here to check it out! Up next we delve into the issue of students coming to class unprepared and what we do about it as instructors. Check out what our instructors had to say on the issue…

Right off the bat, when I start every piece, I stress the importance that I can set upwards to 50 dances a season and that it is not my responsibility to remember what we did three weeks ago in rehearsal. I am pretty fortunate that I don’t have a huge issue with dancers not remembering their choreography. My dancers and I are very open with each other. They normally tell me if they’re in a bad mood or just need to dance. It is very healthy relationship. I think that’s why I have so much success with teaching well-trained dancers. We have an understanding and mutual respect and expectation from each other. I want them to tell me if they are uninspired or had a crap day at school or if they’re going through some stuff. If someone has a bad attitude, I have NO problem excusing them from class. You do not have the liberty of disturbing the education in my classes, so you can go. Come back when you’re ready to work.

When a student comes in with a bad attitude, I realize stuff happens.  Not everyone is going to come into class bouncing off the walls and excited to be physically moving.  Maybe the attitude has nothing to do with dance class and they kid just needs a break.  If that is the case, I allow the student to have a break and just observe.  In my high school classes I allow students up to 3 observation days for personal use- no questions asked.  They have to write what we did in class, but they do not have to move.  I have come to find out later that sometimes these students take observation days because they were sad of a family member passing, they just got dumped, they found out a parent was going to be moving away, they failed the math test and now has to go to summer school, etc.  These small things that make kids have bad attitudes may seem small to us as adults, but they are monumental to them.  Once again, this shows how students need dance classrooms and studios to be safe places.
Ashlee McKinnon

If a student gives me attitude that I do not tolerate, I feel that they really should not be in class. I do understand that they have other commitments but no one is born a dancer and it requires genuine passion and full investment, if these two crucial components are not present, then I think that the person is not aware that the teacher needs to SEE  what the dancer is capable of and attitude or lack of preparation will only obstruct the teacher’s view of her student . As dance teachers, we all want winners and not whiners. I do understand that most times, bad attitude originates from the the parents but students should make that extra effort to leave it outside the studio. It is the same thing in pretty much any situation in life, if you are unprepared for let’s say a  job interview or show bad attitude you are not going to get the job.
Eleonora Fae Cauchi

I always say “you dance as good as you practice”. If I have a student that comes to class consistently unprepared, not ready, not dressed, haven’t been practicing, I asked them if this is something that they want. If it is then, they have to work for it.
Ami Dowden-Fant

If a student is repeatedly forgetting choreography, I will go through it 100 times if I have to.  I have a lot of patience for my tap dancers, it’s a lot to remember and difficult.  So, I understand the struggle.  However, if I make it vocal that you must have this memorized for the following week and it’s not accomplished, I have no problem moving kids around.  It’s just the nature of the beast!
-Kaeyln Gray

How you bring yourself into the dance space is a choice and a reflection of how much you want to be there. Negativity always weeds itself out. I completely ignore them honestly. They either come around or step it up to join the rest of us or there’s the door. My dancers are all there to train and be professionals. This doesn’t really happen to be honest; it would be really awkward to have one person like that in a huge group of happy hard working people.
Miranda Heitz


Thanks for reading! Check back soon for our next installment! If you have questions for our teachers, shoot us a message! Until then…

Who are our teachers? We interviewed teachers from all over the country (and even Europe). Find out more about them!

Miss Bree L. has been teaching dance for 14 years and is currently teaching at Aspirations Dance Company in Lombard, Illinois.

@Dancetchrprobs is an anonymous Twitter account (with over 6,500 followers) who dishes on all of the things that many dance teachers wish they could say but can only think. Follow them for some great humor and insight into the dance world today.

Jamie Wallace is the owner of Extreme Dance Arts in Saginaw, Michigan. You can find more information about her and her studio at http://www.extremedanceartssaginaw.com/home.html.

Kaelyn Gray has been teaching for 15 years and in addition to teaching at her home studio in Cincinnati, she is also busy creating and promoting her cutting edge tap dance tutorials that you can find online at http://www.tapdancetutorials.com.

Jen Timberlin has been teaching for 12 years and is currently the owner of Starstruck Performance Company in Auburn, Indiana. Find more about her studio at http://www.starstruckperformanceco.com.

Miranda Heitz has been teaching in all styles of dance for the past 18 years. She is currently instructing at Dance and Circus Arts of Tampa Bay and Florida West Ballet Company. She is also a guest artist with The Brandon Ballet Company in Brandon, Florida.

Ami Dowden-Fant is from Richmond, Virginia and is the Artistic Director of River City Dance & Performing Arts Theatre. Check out more at rcdance.org,

Maryjo Lipowski-Leatherbarrow has been teaching for 26 years and currently teaches at Dance Fusion, AZ Eutopia Fitness and Dance, AZ Conservatory of Dance and AZ Brick’s, all of Arizona.

Eleonora Fae Cauchi is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer currently residing in NYC. She also is busy running her dance studio, which is located in Gozo, a small island in Europe.

Ashlee McKinnon has been teaching dance for 7 years and is the HS Dance Teacher at Capital City PCS in Washington, DC.



How to: Basic Bridge Stretch with Advanced Variations

Want to work on your back flexibility? Check out some of Astound Dance Academy’s Company dancers as they lead you through some back flexibility variations. We hope you make some progress after working with these exercises!