Three Lessons Learned From The Dance Studio BodyPosi Challenge

We all know that with January comes a load of resolutions, goals, hope, and inspiration. And personally, I love the feeling of promise that hangs in the are during the month. But we also all know that goals don’t get met with hope and inspiration; they need action behind them, and that is where we can often get tripped up.

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That’s one of the reasons I created the Dance Studio BodyPosi Challenge, which took place earlier this month. I created the Challenge with a goal to give dancers and educators tools and actions to create more body positivity in their classes and studios.

Over 65 individuals participated in the Challenge, and I was blown away by the interest and support I heard from dance studios and teachers! Today I’m rounding up three major lessons I learned by running this Challenge, AND giving you even more actionable steps to take towards bringing body positivity into your dance lives.

  1. We Need More Self Love In Dance

Personally, I love the woo - I’ve always been a self development/improvement junkie, and that tends to lend itself to learning and talking about meditation, therapy, chakras, stones, etc. and I know that’s not everyone’s jam, so there was a part of me that thought people would find the concept of self love in dance too far out there. But, happily, I was wrong! Dance teachers told me that they wanted MORE meditations, MORE self love mantras, and were totally open to combining mantras with movement to reframe beliefs about our bodies and abilities. I hear you loud and clear and can’t wait to bring you more!

2. Ballet Especially Needs To Be Better

It's no surprise that many of you feel the most aesthetically demanding and, let’s just be honest here, unforgiving of dance techniques (ballet) needs a big dose of body positivity. Teachers told me they’re all for bringing body positivity into their own classrooms, and expressed a desire for it to be acknowledged that ballet specifically, still has issues with disordered eating and skewed body image. This is tricky, and has no easy answer, but by collectively realizing we can do better we’re already on our way!

3. We Should Do It Again!

I loved hearing that many of you want to try this again, or get in on the action if you didn’t before, so we absolutely will be doing another BodyPosi Challenge! Now’s your chance to join the movement towards holistic dance education! Sign up below, or pass this info on to a friend and I’ll be in touch!

Thank you so much to those of you who participated and got in touch with your feedback! I appreciate it, and YOU, so very much! If you did participate and haven’t yet taken the 2 min survey about your experience, please do so now - it’s a big help! Thank you!

January Book Report: Winter Dance

So here in upstate New York last weekend was Snomageddon. We got 20” of snow over the weekend and for this California girl that’s like, a looooooot of white stuff. And while I still have a bit of a fascination for living in a snow globe, it does make certain things a bummer: walking, driving, actually going pretty much anywhere unless you have the right gear. But one thing I think everyone can agree on is that snow days are the BEST days for curling up with a good book.

Enter this month’s Book Report! My Mom sent me this book in a care package a few weeks back and I just used it last week with my Creative Movement students; it was a total hit!

There are tons of elements and concepts for young dancers to explore in Bauer’s book, and the illustrations by Richard Jones are lovely.

My students loved hanging upside down like bats (just stretching, don’t worry, we didn’t actually hang upside down from anything), flying like geese, giving like turtles, spinning like snowflakes, and of course, dancing like foxes.

Do you use books in your creative movement classes? I’d love to hear what your favorites are for this time of the year! Keeping dancing and stay warm friends!

Two Tricks For Turning Boring Tasks Into Gold

You know those tasks that sit on your to-do list, gathering dust and neglect time after time? Yeah, we all have them and most likely we all wish some fairy godmother would come and do them for us. It might be your banking or taxes, inputting data into your computer, writing thank you notes… the list goes on.

Today I’m sharing two tricks for turning those boring tasks you hate into pure gold. Because unless you can outsource those tasks, they’ll still need to get done, and as that famous quote goes, ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’. So why not try something new this 2019 and get the results you really want!

turn boring tasks into gold
  1. Make a Ritual Around It

Rituals can be so helpful and powerful in setting us up for success and establishing new habits. Think about it- before performances we always have rehearsals to get ready, before center work we always do barre work. These are rituals, and they help get our minds, bodies and spirits aligned.

So if you absolutely cringe at the thought of paying your bills every month, turn it into a ritual you can enjoy. Light a candle, make your favorite snack, put on a favorite soundtrack, and get to it. You’ll experience less resistance if you surround yourself with things you love and start associating that task with other pleasurable things.

I used to hate anything to do with finances and checking my bank account, but I’ve now made a ritual around it; I get myself a cup of tea or coffee, light a candle, use my pretty pens and paper to take notes and put on some uplifting but relaxing music. I make it as easy as possible for myself to enjoy the process. I also use a lot of the next suggestion…

2. Try Using Mantras

You might be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about mantras. And while you might still think of them as being ‘woo’, they can be super powerful in re-wiring our thinking and making those unpleasant tasks more enjoyable.

Maybe your resistance to responding to emails comes from feeling like you’re bad at technology. So if you reframe that belief, and tell yourself ‘learning technology comes easily to me’, you start breaking down that negative barrier your brain has put up and replacing that belief with a positive (and more effective) one.

Both of these tricks are all about making light of things that can feel heavy.

Will you be using either of these tactics this month? Let me know if you are, and make sure you check out the Different Drummer Dance online shop for more resources on organization and affirmations.

Join The Dance Studio BodyPosi Challenge!

The hope and inspiration of a new year is still swirling around, and I’m not ashamed at all to be harnessing that motivation into my latest project, the Dance Studio BodyPosi Challenge!

If you follow me at all on Instagram (which you should, because I post really fun/helpful stuff), you probably will have seen me talking a lot about this challenge, and I’m super excited to be stepping out on this adventure with over 50 dance teachers and studios from around the US!

The goal of this challenge is to give teachers tools and resources to bring body positivity (aka bodyposi) into their dance classrooms. Everyday, from Monday - Friday of next week I’ll be leading teachers in moving mantras, affirmations, conversations, and writing prompts to help get their students on track to loving themselves, their bodies, and their abilities a bit more, because when we teach dance with the mindset that our bodies are our friends and teammates rather than something to be trained into submission, we raise happier and healthier dancers - mind, body, and spirit.

There’s only one more day to sign up! So if you’re into the idea of bringing a bit more love and respect into your studio, I hope you’ll join us!

Of if you have questions you can e-mail me, and by all means, if you have a friend (or 2 or 3) who you think would be into joining our challenge, hit share below and let’s spread the body positivity love!

Backstage With Erin Pride of Dance Boss

I’ve been so blessed this year to meet so many amazing dance educators doing amazing things. As 2018 comes to a close and I get all dewey eyed reminiscing, as well as excited about the future and the quickly approaching New Year, I’m grateful to have some kick ass ladies in my circle. Erin Pride is one of those ladies. Erin and I connected earlier this year when I was on her podcast, Dance Boss (which you can listen to here). She’s a refreshing beacon of light for us dance educators, and the perfect way to finish off the Backstage Blog interview for 2018!

KC: What's your earliest memory of dance?

EP: A dress rehearsal when I was like 4 or 5, and I was with my mom...All the kids on stage  were scared and I was there like look at me...Always a ham...

KC: What's your background with dance? 

EP: I went to a performing arts High School, received my BFA in dance from Montclair State University, my Masters in Dance Education from NYU, and danced for Pilobolus Creative Services. 

KC: Was it love at first plie?

EP: Yes, I have always loved dance since I can remember. 

KC: How did you get into teaching?

EP: I kind of stumbled into teaching, my parents said get a job and the Dance Director Position at the high school I graduated from was available.  I gave it a try and fell in love. 

A student of Erin’s

A student of Erin’s

KC:What's your favorite thing about it?

EP: Creating work is defiantly my favorite part, and teaching composition. 

KC: Who are your dance heroes, and why?

EP: Defiantly the pioneers Loie Fuller, Ruth St. Denis, Isadora Duncan... I appreciate them for paving the way for modern dancers. 

KC: Tell us about your podcast, Dance Boss. 

EP: The Dance Boss Podcast, is for my fellow dancers educators, and dream catchers…Each week I  share insights, and inspiration on systemizing your dance classroom and improving student growth, I also share interviews with dance entrepreneurs who are crushing it with out of the box way to support the dance community.

KC: What's one of your goals in working with other dance educators? 

EP: Defiantly to empower them, to give them the tools to plan and systemize their classrooms/studio so they can have more time to actually enjoy their life. 

KC: What's one of your favorite funny or heart warming stories about dance?

EP: OMG my parents came with me and stood on line with me during my season 1 of SYTYCD call back... I was terrified, and cried when I didn't get the gig, but there they were supporting me, and encouraging me.  I love them so much and this memory is a testament to how supportive they have been throughout my entire journey. 

KC: Are there any cliches or preconceptions about dance you try to correct in your teaching?

EP: That curriculum is a one size fits all kind of tool.  People buy curriculum, it sits on their hard drive or it does not speak to their students needs and their values.  Curriculum must be tailored to fit the teachers/ studio owners vision/values, and the student demographic. And after it is created staff needs be trained and held accountable to deliver it. That is why I coach clients to help them create classroom structures and systems based on their students needs and their values. 

KC: Is there one thing you think the dance community needs more of, less of, or to get better at?

EP: Mentors - dance educators need mentors...Everyone can not receive their BFA, MED, or MFA, so I believe mentorship would help give those  teachers tools to run effective classrooms.

KC: What's next for you and your businesses? Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?

EP: Yes, I am launching a 1 on 1 coaching service to help dance educators create lesson plans, assessments, benchmarks for their entire dance season, and I am also launching a professional development series for dance studio owners - helping them train their staff on their values, and curriculum implementation.

And now, just for funsies…

KC: Burritos or tacos?

EP: Tacos 

KC: Legwarmers or ballet skirts?

EP: Legwarmers 

KC: Disco balls or rainbows?

EP: Rainbows

KC: Center Stage or Flashdance?

EP: Flashdance 

KC: One word to describe yourself?

EP: Outgoing

Speaking of outgoing, you should definitely go out (see what I did there) and check out Erin’s website and podcast, then make sure and holla at us on Instagram (tag @diffdrumdance and @erinpride). Have a great week!

Winter Wonderland BrainDance!

Happy December! ‘Tis the season for all things winter: snowflakes, snowmen, hotchocolate… the list of wonders goes on and on! This is also an especially fun time of year to explore winter themes with your dance classes and young movers, which is where this month’s BrainDance comes in! Make sure you stay tuned for next week’s blog as well, where I’ll be reviewing my favorite holiday pick in kid’s lit! Happy Dancing!

Finding Help In Unexpected Places

As dance educators and studio owners, we wear a lot of hats. It can be overwhelming, even impossible at times to feel like we have the help and support we need.

We’re also guilty of trying to do too much on our own (I’m suuuuuper guilty of this). We are WonderWomen, but that doesn’t mean we should look for, or accept help.

I’ve found that sometimes help can come in the most unexpected of places - our students. One of my favorite ways to engage young students who might be feeling shy or uncertain about joining class is to make them my “helper”. I made a video about it a few weeks ago….

This works because we all like to feel useful, and it gives the child something actionable to do, which makes them feel more at ease, focused, and safe. It puts them back in control when they’re feeling out of control. It has the added benefit of helping me, and showing the other students ways in which they can be helpful. Usually when I do this, before I know it I’ve got a whole classroom full of helpers who I can give various tasks to, and who feel proud of their actions.

Where will you find help today? In a student, a parent, a random interaction on the street? I’d love to know where and how you found help, and how it made your day a little better!

Two Must Have Fall Songs For Creative Movement

If you’re a dance teacher who works with Littles, you know the power of a good song. Incorporating action songs and transition songs into your classes is a great way to keep kids engaged and focused, and is an excellent way to deliver instructions in a fun way.

Today I’m sharing two must have songs to work into your fall creative movement classes. This first one is one of my most watched videos over on my YouTube channel. I originally developed it as part of a BrainDance, but you can use it just about anywhere in your classes.

Additionally, you can nab these fun handouts in the Shop to send home with parents so the fun can continue at home, or share them with your employees!

This second song is a good one for exploring levels and actions. You can replace any of the words with various directions or actions, such as hop, jump, march. etc.

There you have it! If you enjoyed these videos I’d love for you to #1 subscribe to my YouTube channel, and #2, make sure you check out my online shop, where you can find more resources for your young dance classes! Happy Dancing!

September Book Report - Up In The Garden & Down In The Dirt

So it's been a little wet in upstate NY lately, but for this week's Book Report I'm channeling my Northern California roots, where September is hot, hot, hot, and many gardens are in their full glory.

Kate Messner's Up In the Garden and Down In The Dirt is a great book for any kid who loves to be outside and get messy (aka - ALL kids). It's also a great one for exploring ecosystems, and in dance class, levels, and size. That's just one of the reasons (one of the others being its gorgeous illustrations) that this book is also a recommended read in the Creative Dance Curriculum (which you can get a FREE download of here!)!

The Creative Dance Curriculum is broken down into 10 modules, each exploring a different dance concept. Additionally, each lesson plan includes a 'Kickstarter'; a book, poem, or short activity that helps dancers understand the concept they'll be exploring. 

Books like this one are some of my favorite to use with young dancers; they're so accessible, fun, and colorful, everyone can't help but enjoy them and get excited about learning!

Get the first Module in the Creative Dance Curriculum below, and then I'd love for you to join me at my Facebook Live conversation I'll be hosting on date, where you can hear me talk more about why I'm so in love with this program, and what, exactly, makes it unique, and valuable to you as a dance educator!

Happy reading, and happy dancing everyone! Hope you see you on Facebook at date!