Apple Music

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This September I’m going to try using Apple Music for my classes. In the past I have been using an ancient iPod that is so hard to add new music to! I think this will really be inspiring because I can search music and add them to playlists on the spot. I can add music without buying it, and I can introduce my littles to an even wider variety of music! I’m so excited to try it!

Have you used apple music or spotify (basically the same) in your classes? If you have how do you like it? If you haven’t, would you ever try it? I would love to hear! xo

p.s. the Inside Out soundtrack is fantastic!


Dance Teacher Summit 2015 Recap

IMG_0786Last week I presented at the Dance Teacher Summit in Long Beach, California! It was a blast, and I met so many new teachers and made some wonderful connections! The picture above is me, right before my sessions. I wore purple pants to feel powerful! I took a lot of photos and am excited to share them with you if you would like to see!

IMG_0772I loved the colors and the new design of the summit this year! So refreshing!

IMG_0799Room 102 was the room I did my sessions in!

IMG_0775My good friends, Suzanne and Jill who are the geniuses behind DanceStudioOwner.com.  :)

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IMG_0801These are photos from my sessions! I presented on toddler dance (ages 2-3) and partner dances (ages 4-5). In past years I have brought my students to participate in the demonstration, but this year since it was across the country I wasn’t able to bring them. I had the teachers be the students which I think also has value but it just wasn’t the same. Also, talking on a mic without my littles in front of me was so strange! Hopefully next year I will be able to bring them again!

It was so fun and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to share my knowledge of early childhood with other dance teachers.

IMG_0818I met tWitch and Allison! They designed a new costume brand called Tenth House. It’s elite stageware and it’s beautiful! If I taught older kids they would be wearing this stuff for sure. Check it out! Below is the fashion show where we get to see all of the costumes! Aren’t they amazing?

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IMG_0777At night we hung out around the water and the boats. It was a great 5 days! Next year the Dance Teacher Summit will be in two places! Back in NYC and in Long Beach! I hope to see you there! xo :)

Celebrating My 6 Year Blogoversary!

IMG_0052Hi Friends, How are you doing? I confess it’s been a while since I have written (again!) but with this being my 6th year celebration of writing this blog I am writing in celebration. The truth is, I have been trying to find a way to jump back in, but I have felt so far behind that jumping back in has felt daunting. Plus, I’m just still trying to find the work/life/writing balance. So hard! I know you all understand.

As I go back and read my other blogoversay posts, I feel so lucky to have this community! Thank you for reading and for being faithful readers! I have been doing some brainstorming and plan to set aside a few days a week just for writing and posting. I have lots to post and am excited about writing and sharing ideas again.

Here’s to 6 years! That’s a long time in blog years! As always thanks for reading and we will talk later this week! xoxo

p.s. speaking of work/life balance, this was a photo of me working on my celebration with baby in hand!

 

Dance Teacher Summit 2015

IMG_6462This summer I’m presenting for the 3rd time at the Dance Teacher Summit! I feel so grateful to be asked again especially since it’s in California this year. Are you planning on going? I would love to meet you in person!

I’m telling you about it because I am brainstorming some topics for sessions and I want your help! I’m thinking of doing something involving toddler dance, which I know is always in need of some inspiration. And… maybe something involving situations in the dance room? Ex: separation, “she’s not my friend” type stuff.

If you were to attend, what would you want to learn about within early childhood? It could be anything! If I end up picking an idea from the ones here, I will write up a post on all of it so you won’t miss out!

Looking forward to your ideas!
xo

 

 

September Workshop In North Carolina!

unnamed-1I’m linking up with Maia of Open Arts in North Carolina to offer a workshop for early childhood dance and movement teachers! I’m really excited about this! We would love to see you and meet you in person! Start off your year with some inspiration!

You can find more details here! Please pass it on to anyone you think might love this workshop! Also, if you are looking for something specific in a workshop please tell me in the comments so I can be sure to include it! :)

unnamedp.s. write us with any questions, we would be happy to hear from you! xo

 

Back In Action!

IMG_8568Hi Friends,

I know it’s been so long since I wrote and I have missed it. And you. After having my baby I went back to teaching a full schedule in 7 weeks. What I didn’t anticipate was that I needed a longer maternity leave from writing. I really missed it, but just couldn’t find time to sit down and write. Honestly, anytime I really sit down, I fall asleep! Ha!

I know a lot of you have your own children, plus teach hundred of children a week, so I know you understand.

I have lots to tell you about, and giveaways to post, plus I’m going to continue the Around The World Series! So here’s to a new beginning of writing. I hope you are still with me!

Love,
Maria

p.s. My celebrations are in 30 days! Oh yeah, planning shows have been happily taking up my time as well! How are your celebrations coming along? Above is a photo of H on the JCC stage. I took all my littles to the stage to rehearse during there class time this past week. It was so much fun! :)

Teaching Dance In Finland

The Around The World project is inspired by a mothering around the world series that I really enjoyed reading. I thought it would be a wonderful idea to see how teaching dance varies around the world. Each month I will post an interview from a different country. I’m so excited to learn about the way dance is taught in other places. I hope you enjoy it! :) 

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Meet Jonna, a dance teacher who teaches mainly ballet and creative dance for children between 3 and 8 years old in Finland!

On your background…
I started my studies in 2003 in Turku University Of Applied Sciences. I studied in The Degree Program in Performing Arts and got my Bachelor’s degree after four years of study in 2007. I’m a Bachelor of Cultural Studies and my title is Dance Teacher (AMK) which gives me the qualification for posts or position in the public sector for which the qualification requirement is a first cycle degree (elementary school, junior high school and private dance schools and also conservatory which educates dancers).

After my graduation I immediately got position in one trust based nonprofit private scool and been teaching there since then (8 years now). During that time I’ve been away two times to be on maternity leave. My daughters are now 5 and 2 years old.

I teach creative dance for children from 3 years to 8 years old and after that “they” decide do they want to start taking ballet, jazz or contemporary dance or combination of those. I only teach creative dance and ballet at the moment so my ballet students are from 8 to adults. I have 12 groups and some of them study twice a week and youngest once a week. I have classes four times a week from 4pm untill 9 pm and in addition I do some “paper work” and other stuff to fullfil my calendar.

On teaching dance as a career…
I’m happy to say I make a sustainable living teaching dance but it’s not something to be taken for granted in our field. Two years ago dance teachers were on strike to achieve better working conditions and collective labor agreement. We got some improvements but still full time teaching positions are rare and many teachers are laid off in christmas and summer time.

In our dance school all the teachers must have at least bachelors degree but for example sports organizations and gymnastics organizations are also giving dance lessons and there teachers are often amateurs with no education in our field. Ministry of education and culture gives a license to those schools which have made a curriculum according to ministrys general curriculum on teaching basic cultural studies (including music, dance, visual arts etc.) In these licensed schools many teachers have a bachelors degree but itäs not compulsory.

Teaching dance and also other posts on cultural field are appreciated more and more but still many of them are very low paid. And still some of the parents may ask what do I do for a living even though I’ve told I teach “every night”.

On teaching dance at every level and age…
We (two of my colleagues) just started teaching dance for toddlers (1-2 year old with parent) this year and we are also trying “dance with baby” lessons. Sadly these lessons aren’t very popular. I believe parents are looking for free lessons for this age group. I’m also interested in toddler dance but I’m not teaching them at the moment.

In our school students are able to choose if they want to expand common curriculum to a wide one to be able to apply for profession. In our curriculum we have ballet classes from 1 to 8 and students are supposed to proceed from one to another after each year so that they are at the advanced level at the age of 15-17 depending on their starting age. Yet in our curriculum says the most important thing in common art education is to support students own individual growth as a person and a dancer, give them the sense of succeeding, create positive self image and introduce them to dance as an art form and get them interested in it.

We have sometimes had the opportunity to work with live musicians and some students have performed with students from the music conservatory.

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On creating dance for early learners…
When we start creating dances for christmas or summer shows I sometimes let students create their own movements phrases that we fit into the dance. Usually I give them instructions like “create a phrase of 2×8 where you jump, turn…etc.” I find that the dances become much more interesting that way and students feel they are involved.

In class situation students are allowed to make their own dances and give ideas every time more or less.

On parents…
I would like to involve parents more but usually they only bring their children to classes, see the open classes twice a year and then come see the shows in theatre before christmas and summer holiday.

We just did a survey on how parents experience their own role in our dance school activity and do they feel they have enough opportunities to be involved. We found out that they would like to communicate more with teachers but still face to face communication isn’t considered the most effective way but emails and information on the web page and social media is. I find that quite funny.

In my opinion open classes are the best place to show what we are doing with students and explain why we do it. I would like parents to ask more questions and bring up things they are thinking about what we are doing but most of them feel uncomfortable.

On your dance educator community…
In my school we have teacher meetings 3-4 times a semester and there we discuss about current issues concerning classes and also upcoming shows. Sometimes our employer provides classes about things we teachers are interested in at the moment. I also meet some of my colleagues in the free time just to catch up and to lighten each others burden.

In the city that I live in we also have classes once a week for professional dancers and dance teachers. We have yoga, ballet, jazz, contemporary etc.

I also belong to a ballet teachers association that gathers up few times a year.

On the role of dance in your lager community…
Some schools get funds from the government.

Especially in the summer time there are some interesting dance festivals where you can take dance courses and see great professional shows from all over the world (http://www.kuopiodancefestival.fi and http://www.fullmoondance.fi)

We have a National Ballet under Finnish National Opera and National Ballet also has its own dance school that gives dance education for all ages.

Ordinary people see dance through television in the shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With Stars etc. Sometimes movie theaters show live performances from Russia National Ballet.

I’m not quite sure how other people see professional dancers. Do they feel they are doing “real jobs” at all…?

On Dance In Schools…
Schools give very little dance education mostly depending on teachers own interests. We don’t have dance as it own in curriculum but it’s part of sport education and it’s taught by classroom teachers most of the time. In college (16-19 years old) we have this thing called “Vanhojen tanssit” which is quite similar to your prom.

On Dance in a private studio setting…
I consider dance as a common hobby after school or day care. Some schools offer weekend classes but they are not that popular. Dance is as popular as any sport especially for girls but more and more for boys also especially break dance and hip hop.

Dance classes are affordable for everybody in my opinion.

On dance and tradition…
We have this national dance Finnish Folk Dance called “tanhu” that I know very little about. But we have one school that educate “tanhu” teachers also. Clubs and discos are the “social gatherings” where people dance and it is also experienced in the theatre. Live performances are really affordable or sometimes even free.

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On dance and language…
I use traditional French ballet terms teaching ballet and also when teaching children because they are very interested in ballet. Contemporary dance vocabulary and creative dance terms are much more complicated and I use finnish terms that best describes the movement (jump, float, fly, twist, turn, fall etc.)

On dance and technology…
I don’t use videos in class situation but I do watch videos in the youtube for example to memorize old ballets or get ideas for modern dances. I use iPhone and speakers to play music in the class and I buy music from iTunes.

On anything else you would like to share?
I chose dance education as a career mainly because first I got carried away by ballet dancing and performing but during the years in University Of Applied Sciences I got more and more interested in teaching. I also have studied pedagogics in University level to become a classroom teacher but haven’t been able to fit studying, working, raising kids etc. all together so I’ve chosen dance teaching. If I started feeling I couldn’t dance anymore I propably would start studying pedagogics again.

I’m mostly interested in teaching young students but also ballet for teenagers. In creative classes I usually get my inspiration from seasons changing and holidays and festivities that are current. Now we are exploring space dances. 

What would you like to see in the future in dance education?
I would love to make dance education more available for everybody in public school system.

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Thank you Jonna! :)  If you teach dance to littles in another country, and would like to be featured in this series, please e-mail me using the contact form on the left of this page! 

Wands

image1-1In the past few weeks I have been using wands in class. I have never used them before, so this is first time ever! I know it’s hard to believe but I have always hesitated on using them because I wanted to avoid the whole “let’s dance like a princess thing.” But, I found these wands in the target dollar bin and thought I might be brave and try them out.

I gave each student 2 wands, put on some instrumental music and we explored together.

I asked them if they could have the wands follow each other, going in the same direction. Then we explored having them go in different directions. It made for very interesting movement! Then we held them close to our heart and practiced turning, leaping, and balancing. We also put them on the floor and leapt over them. So fun!

I also gave them time to dance just with the wand itself without me saying anything. One movement I saw was like a twirling baton, putting one hand on the wand, flipping it and then reaching with the other hand. I never thought of it, and will use it from now on! It takes so much coordination.

I used them with all of my age groups. As the dancers go up in age the movement gets more sophisticated and interesting. :)

Have you ever used wands in class? What are some unique ways you use them? I would love to hear!

Dance Recipes

IMG_7540Last week with my 5-6 year olds I tried a new dance making project. They loved it! Have you ever tried Dance Recipes? I wrote these a long time ago and had them laminated. I remembered them and thought February would be a great time to cook up some dances. :)

I split the class in 2 groups. I turned the recipes upside down and had each group pick one.

IMG_7541One group picked Flip Over Eggs, and one group picked Round Raisin Cookies.

IMG_7542I asked the students to read the recipe, and create movement to each of the action words. The action words are in every line and I numbered the recipe to make it easier to follow.

Next they were to create movement in order and memorize it! We shared them after, with each group showing there dance with twice. The second time we added music and they were able to give their dance a title if they wanted. It was so fun and what we noticed is that it engaged some students who aren’t normally fully engaged.

The recipes are fun to write. It can literally be a recipe for anything. I think that next week we may write a class recipe together and then create the dance in partners. It would be so interesting to see how each pair creates movement to the same recipe! :)

Have you ever tried dance recipes with your littles? I would love to hear!