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!



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!


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! :) 



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.


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.


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.


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! 


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!

Teaching Dance In Germany

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! :) 



Meet Jessica Nitsch who teaches dance in Germany!

On your background…

I studied music, dance and theatre. My original plan of being a musical actress vanished quite fast when I started teaching “until I have a job in a theatre”. I discovered my passion in working with children and now this is already my third year as a dance teacher. I’m also teaching singing, acting and piano.

On teaching dance as a career…

Living by teaching alone would be possible if I’d do it full-time. I just started again slowly after pregnancy and birth of my first child, four afternoons a week. In Germany there is no need for a special degree to teach dance, as long as it is not a “professional” dance school – although you can study dance education. Everyone, who likes to and has a certain talent with the kids, can teach creative dance.

On teaching dance at every level and age…

My youngest children start with 2 1/2 years. It goes up to 15 years in my classes. I worked out my own curriculum, inspired by a few books and my own experiences of the last years. Happily lessons turn out to be much more relaxed now and I am able to improvise if something doesn’t work out as I thought it would.

On creating dance for early learners…

My kids have the possibility to take part in small recitals over the year. Once a year there is a huge production of a show, where they can perform in a big theatre in front of over 700 people – this is always a great excitement and a big motivation, even for the youngest. In their dances I try to include the movements, that they discovered in improvisation and leave some time and freedom to play.

On parents…

I try to speak to the parents before and after lessons and also during “drink and pee”-breaks. They are involved in creating costumes and looking for the little ones backstage during a performance. A toddler-parent-class would be nice, but since most parents (mothers as well as fathers) work quite long and just have few times it might be hard to get some participants.

On your dance educator community…

A dance educator community is nothing I discovered up to now, but that would propably be more, if I actually had studied it. There are a few books on the market, but I get most ideas and inspirations from english websites and blogs.

On Dance In Schools…

Dance in schools isn’t that common in Germany. Of course teachers try to get the kids moving to music some time, but it could be much more. I’m happy to teach in schools once in a while for workshops and activity weeks. That’s both fun for me and the kids.


On Dance in a private studio setting…

Taking dance classes is a very common hobby over here. There are many private dancing studios, but also registered associations, where the equipment might be a bit lower in quality and quantity – but therefore also more affordable.

On Boys in dance…

It’s unfortunately still not that common for boys to dance. I have had three all in all in the last three years, which integrated into the class full of girls without any problems. For me as a teacher there’s of course the task to give them the chance to be creative apart from fairy dust and unicorns ;)

On dance and tradition…

Germany has a long tradition of dancing, especially in certain regions. On different occasions you can see them being performed in public, often from clubs and for free. For “professional” and modern dance you often have to pay quite a lot.

On dance and language…

In ballet classes and also in my older jazz dance classes I’m using french terms. With the little ones I try to describe what we are doing or explain it in a little story. For example that we let a butterfly fly through our legs in Plié or let a ladybug goes under our heels in Relevé. This way they know why we are doing it and are always very creative with it.

On dance and technology…

In preparation of big shows I like to use videos to show the girls what they are doing. Often they don’t feel if they are really pointing their feet or stretching their arms. After looking at the video I ask them to say out loud, what they want to do better. It works fine!

On anything else you would like to share…

At first I started teaching “until I have a job on stage myself”, but very soon I discovered, that the passion for teaching is stronger than being always on stage myself (plus it’s more family-friendly). Every lesson is a challenge and gives so much to me. I’m very happy to do that job and be a part of the kid’s childhood and youth. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s wonderful!

What would you like to see in the future in dance education?

I’d like to see even more dancing beyond borders. No matter if girl or boy, big or small, what age ore size …


 Thank you Jessica! :) 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! 


IMG_7345Do you use a theme for your showing, performance, informance, recital? This will be my 4th year doing a celebration with my littles on the stage. The first year, I didn’t use a theme mostly because I was just testing out to see if putting two year olds on stage would even work.

The second year, the theme was friendship. Last year was seasons! And this year I think I am going to use the theme of animals. I have been researching music already and I am excited to use things like rubber ducky!

I have found that even though I loosely follow the themes, it helps me streamline the music and the ideas around creating the dances. I don’t really even let the theme be known. If parents ask I tell them but I don’t name the show beyond a celebration. I was just thinking that this may help some of you that are putting together a show, but not wanting to feel overwhelmed with a giant theme.

Since all of my students are under six, I can use preschool themes. If you have some older students, it may be more challenging to pick a theme that includes everyone.

What themes have you used in the past? Will you use a theme this year? I can’t wait to hear your creative ideas!