Do you know about hashtags? Well, that’s a silly question, of course you do. I’m surprised my 5 year old students aren’t walking around saying “hashtag MissMaria” or “hashtag iloveballet,” Ha!

But seriously, I had the idea last week to use a hashtag for my celebration that is coming up in a few weeks. I came to the conclusion that I really want to gather the memories and using a hashtag is a great way to do it. I always miss so much behind the scenes and I feel like this is a way to get a good overview of what’s happening.

You just promote the hashtag at your show and then when someone posts a photo or an update about it, it will show in the feed on facebook when you search the hashtag! Like magic! :)

Oh, and that’s the other thing… hashtags aren’t just for twitter anymore! Facebook seems like the perfect place to gather the memories, don’t you think? I feel like it’s a much smaller scale and much more personal.

Would you consider using a hashtag at your show or performance this year? Have you ever used one? I will report back on how it goes, but I’m so excited about it!


Community Brainstorm: Easter Ideas!

photo contributed from Candace and The Dance Lab

From Candace Carriger of The Dance Lab 

Scrambled Egg Game for Creative Dance: Ages: 5-6 year old

Need: One dozen large plastic colored eggs
One dozen small plastic colored eggs
Two different colored sheets of paper
A basket, bag, or bucket

Preparations: On one colored sheet of paper, write down 12 spring animal names. On the other colored sheet of paper, write down 12 action words. Cut and fold each word. The animal names go inside the large plastic eggs. The action words go inside the small plastic eggs. (One word in each egg) Place all the eggs into your basket, bag, or bucket.

 Ready to play: Taking turns, choose one large egg and one small egg. Open the two eggs and unfold the papers to reveal the animal and action word Ex: bunnies crawling, birds flying, etc. (But remember, you don’t know what you might get, and sometimes it’s a silly combination, like bunnies flying or birds hopping). Then try out that animal move around the room.

Open another two eggs for the next scrambled egg dance. Continue until all dancers have a turn opening an egg. We call it the Scrambled Egg Game because the animals and the movements get all scrambled up (And all of our dancers do not celebrate Easter, so this is a way to include everyone) See what works best with your dancers. Create a variation for younger or older dancers Allow this idea to inspire your own version of this game. Make it your own and have fun!


From Jenn Eisenberg: 

A song from Guitar Bob: Bunny Rabbit Rock 

A poem: 
Bunny rabbit, bunny rabbit, hop up high.
Bunny rabbit, bunny rabbit, hop on by.
Caterpillar, caterpillar, creep down low.
Caterpillar, caterpillar, go, go Go!
- By Mary Quattlebaum

A Game: What Is In Your Easter Basket?

One at a time each dancer says “In my Easter Basket there is…” and they make a movement or shape. Then the next dancer says “In my easter basket there was a(their idea) … and repeat what the last dancer said. Go around the room, and by the time everyone has said what is in their easter basket you have a big big the basket! :)


From Cait Fraser: 

Easter Egg Hunt: We perform an “Easter Egg Hunt” dance, looking high and low (lots of levels), over and under movements. With an older class I might give them a specific type of movement to use while looking for their next “egg” (imaginary eggs of course.. the best kind!). We also talk about how heavy or how big their egg is they found, what color, we “roll” our eggs into the middle of the room or use partners/the whole class to lift the “biggest one”.

Pattern Bunny Hop: My 6 & 7 year olds enjoy talking about and creating patterns, so we make up simple jumping patterns to travel with, ie: 1 foot, 2 feet, 1 foot, 2 feet or right right left, right right left. Everyone’s bunny travels in a different pattern! With older kids, you could add in directional changes or longer patterns (2 hops quarter turn, 1 hop half turn).


Do you have any Easter ideas to share? We would love to hear!





Encouraging “Flexibility”


Do you use the word flexible in class? And I don’t mean flexible in the stretching your muscles kind of way. I mean flexible in the way that your dancers operate in class.

I have been trying to use the word lately and praising my littles for being flexible. I try to help them see that being flexible is important. It’s important because there are many times in life that they will need this skill/quality.

Examples from my class:

If they are in a spot in a room and someone comes and stands right next to them, they have 2 choices. The first one being, complain about it to me and tell the other dancer to move away from them. The second choice being just to move to a new spot.

It’s also a big word I use with colors. If I don’t have the color they want, they have to be flexible in their choice and choose one that maybe isn’t their favorite but that they can tolerate just for a short time. This is semi forceable flexibility, but they seem to really understand that sometimes we can’t have what we want.

I think it’s a wonderful skill to develop, don’t you? I mean, it’s almost a must to be able to live in this world.

I was just curious if you use the word and if you find success in encouraging this skill? I would love to hear!

p.s. I think the entire world would be more flexible if the entire world was in dance class! Right? :)

Blast Off With Mikey’s Band








Have you heard of the album Blast Off With Mikey’s Band? I have to say I am a super big fan. I found it while looking for music for my dance celebration this year. Each song is thoughtfully put together, and is not to fast and not to slow.

My personal favorites are “When I Grow Up” and “Lucky Ladybug.”

If you are looking for a last minute song for performance, or just something new to incorporate into class, I highly recommend this one! :)

Have you found any new albums lately that you are in love with? (besides Frozen of course!;) I would love hear!

The Squiggle


Last week, I was feeling stuffy creatively. It’s still freezing in NYC and most of the time spring is what brings on my creative juices this time of year. I forced myself to do a brainstorm session, and something really exciting came out of it.

Have you ever used the book THE SQUIGGLE? It’s a really awesome book that lends itself to imagination and movement. I used this with ages 3 -5/ First I read the book and then I gave out the prop.

I bought some colorful string at the store and cut them into long strips. In class I gave each dancer a string (squiggle) and we explored some of the ideas that we saw in the book.


A bumpy wall.


A swirly pool.

A few other of my favorites from the book were tight rope, and the moon.

First we would make the idea with string on the floor, and then we would either make shapes like it or dance like it, or dance with it. For the moon, we would pick up the shape and dance with it. I put mine up high and they would dance under it. They loved it so much!

I made sure to encourage them that whatever their squiggle looked like was right. There was no wrong way and there is no one way to make a swirly pool. Just like in movement, yours doesn’t need to look like mine.

The next class, we used the squiggle to create our own ideas. Some ideas were butterflies, fireworks, pigs, and ducks. It was fun to see what their ideas were and it was challenging to make the squiggle look like these ideas!

With my older students, 5-6 year olds, we did a string dance! I partnered them up, one partner held one end of the string, and one held the other. Then we they improved together without letting go of the string. I gave them challenges, like a down low dance or slow motion. I would like to explore this idea more. I also wonder if eventually we could do a partner dance without the string, but still “connected” to their partner.

I hope this gives you a new idea to try with your students. Have you been feeling creative lately? Have you ever used the book, the squiggle? I would love to hear! xo



IMG_4942Have you heard of the Ban Bossy campaign? The Girl Scouts and Lean In have teamed up to create a campaign about calling girls bossy.

This is on their site:

“When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.”

I’m wondering what you think of the word bossy? After thinking about this for a while I came to conclusion that I don’t see girls who are leaders in my classroom as bossy. I don’t label them with that word, ever. After talking with a teacher friend, she said that when she was young she was called bossy all the time, and so she is easy to see that quality (if it is one).

It’s an interesting word. In my mind being a leader and being bossy are 2 different things. But maybe they aren’t? Our job as teachers who work with littles everyday is to foster their leadership skills, encourage them to speak up and out, and give them the space to do so.

I’m not sure if I have articulated what I feel about this clearly, but for someone like me who sees over 200 young girls a week, I think it’s important that we talk about this.

Do you see any of your young dancers as bossy? Do you label them as so? Have you banned the word? I would love to hear your thoughts! xo


Community Brainstorm – St. Patrick’s Day Ideas

The Community Brainstorm Project is exploring the idea of bringing together dance teachers in this community and sharing a snapshot of thoughts on a specific topic. My hope is that we learn new & useful ideas, it sparks new conversations, or perhaps pushes us to investigate a topic that we have never thought about in our own teaching. I’m really excited about hearing from every single one of you. After all, the best way to learn is from each other! – Maria


From Edna Reinhart: 

Im married to an Irishman and get some of my ideas from him. I have no idea if they are true or not. Obviously music by Irish groups such as the Cheiftains is great. One of the favourites over the years is to talk about the giant Fin McCool. So, lots of giant steps. How many steps does it take to go from corner of room to corner of room? I tell them about the giant pot of porridge that Finn has for breakfast. It’s as big as the room. We are the sultanas swishing around in the giant pot of porridge. Finn McCool also leaps over huge river systems. Looking for four leaved clovers. There are lots of great Irish myths to take ideas from. Good luck. Have fun.


From Maia Writh: 

We turn into leprechauns and search for the pot of gold! jump and leap over the mini leprechaun houses (aka yoga blocks), pencil roll down the leprechaun road (yoga mat), hula with the mini leprechaun hoops (the small hoops – the kids love seeing how much harder it is to keep these lil hoops up – we also try spinning the hoop on just one arm or just one leg!), and finally we dance to the end of the rainbow (use rainbow streamers and skip around the entire room – or chasse – or gallop with younger toddlers) and I usually have shiny gold stickers (the pot of gold!) to give them at the end of the adventure. All to Irish Folk Music of course!


I posted this question on my facebook page and these teachers shared their ideas. Do you have ideas to add? How will you celebrate St. Patrick’s day today in class? 




Creating With Kids – Fostering Dreams Project

 A teacher wrote me about this project. I wanted to help spread the word because I think it’s a wonderful project spreading the love of dance to children who need it. Read more below! 

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“We are taking a group of 8-10  foster youth between ages 15-19yrs old who have always wanted to learn how to dance and give them 30 days of dance and life transformation. We have some of the top choreographers in the industry signed on to teach and mentor them. We will be documenting their journey and getting their life stories and explore the challenges and triumphs they encounter each day.  We will be documenting their journey before, during and after dance is introduced into their lives.”

“The final goal, is to to show the profound positive effects dance has on each of their lives, and for the youth to find their voice and self expression through the art of dance and moment. We will explore what new possibilities the youth now see for their future.”

“We’ll also be getting academic information to observe the effect the dance instruction has on that too. After the 30 days, the youth will choreograph and perform for the annul talent show at First Star to showcase their work through their own self expression. The youth will also be given scholarships to some of the top dance studios in LA. We have two studio’s signed on already Athletic Garage and Independent Dance Company.”  

“Foster youth have never been able to be legally be on camera, without their guardian approval and a court approved order. We teamed up with First Star program at UCLA founded by Peter Samuelson, who has been granted the first court order in United States history to ever be approved allowing foster youth to be filmed! This is now allowing us to share their story and the dance community will be the first to make this groundbreaking film.”

If this project speaks to you and you would like to contribute, visit their kickstarter and learn more about it! 


Have you ever been involved in a project that has brought dance to a community in need?  I would love to hear! 

Community Brainstorm – Prop Ideas

The Community Brainstorm Project is exploring the idea of bringing together dance teachers in this community and sharing a snapshot of thoughts on a specific topic. My hope is that we learn new & useful ideas, it sparks new conversations, or perhaps pushes us to investigate a topic that we have never thought about in our own teaching. I’m really excited about hearing from every single one of you. After all, the best way to learn is from each other! – Maria


From Natalia Johnson:

As you do Maria, I use masking tape for OMG ALOT. We enjoy making giant corn maizes and spider webs in the fall. We are careful to glissade through the corn maize so we don’t rustle the corn and wake the scarecrow. I pretend to sleep in the middle of the maize and if I see someone touch the lines I make a big scene flapping and squaking and carrying on as any obnoxious scarecrow would. Everyone laughs and we all go back to the beginning. Sometimes I have children who want to take turns as the bird brain. We tip toe around spider webs so we don’t get stuck. It’s really fun when someone volunteers to get stuck and we tip toe around them too. I play a freeze dance version also and its fun to watch them try to freeze without stepping and getting stuck. With masking tape I also create curvy, zig zag or straight pathways for trick or treating around the nieghborhood.

In the winter I do a fun ice skating extravaganza with tape. I usually bring some fancy costume pieces (because of olympics this was REALLY fun last week.) We put on some swag and I play good old winter Vivaldi and I watch them dance all around. We ahhhhhhhhhhhh slip and all crash. We decide we would rather not do that anymore so we dance carefully as to not crash. I take this opportunity to introduce some partner work. We talk about moving holding both our partners hands. We work up to a nice chase around with our partner. We skip holding hands next to our partner and we always try to go backwards with everything on the ice. I LOVE watching the ice skaters do that awesome backwards around the rink thing with their arms out stretched? We re-create this quite nicely. Ice skaters dance low, medium, high. Slow and fast. Backwards, forwards, sideways. We talk about how a burre turn on the ice is a little different. They get to do the spin around they always are so eager to do (and don’t have to take tiny tip toes like I usually insist.) ; ) We talk about how ice skates are sharp and how they leave marks in the ice I look around and say oooo look heres a straight line and I lay down the tape….here’s a curvy one…..so on and so on. Then I challenge them to try to re skate their paths.

In the spring I have pretended we are busy new york taxi’s honking and splashing  about in the rain. We talk about how cars move fwd, bwd, in circles. I make a city road route. With all sorts of tape!!!!! Roads that connect and intersect roads that are lonely. Roads that drive parallel to each other. BACK_UP…. we pick the color of our car to begin the lesson we get to go to a car show and show off our cars moves one at a time in the center of the circle. I hand everyone fun bike horns I have. We honk instead of clap for the person in the center. I then hold up a green sign, yellow and red. We go through what these colors on the road mean. We decide two honks means EXCUSE ME. I had a little one say “ya if we just honk once that means MOVE and thats rude.” ha anyhow I explain the rules of the street paths I’ve make and tell them to watch out for the street lights that I will randomly hold up. If they run into someone on a road they must honk twice and walk around them carefully and keep on truckin’. EVERYBODY PUT YOUR CAR IN REVERSE> HA HA. It’s loads of fun.

In the summer I do many many fun things with tape. We go on enchanted walks with tape paths. We decide our tape is MUCH more reliable than silly bread crumbs. We set up a jousting tournament and obstacle courses using tape. We make life size treasure maps with tape. We plant flower gardens and make tape circles and grow flower pots. I mean really it goes on and on. I don’t know if tape is real original but it sure is fun.


From Christine Wellner:

Scarves are very versatile, of course, and The Magic Elevator game gets them thinking about how they can move in a certain way, using the scarf to enhance their specific movement choices. I’m not sure how I came up with this idea originally – perhaps I riffed on a suggestion I saw online – but it quickly became a class favorite. After distributing the scarves, I explain that its time to take a ride in the magic elevator. We gather in a tight clump and everyone presses an imaginary elevator button.

Then I say, “Going up!” (tippy toe in place) or “Going down!” (small marches while sinking in the upper body)…”And now the doors open and…..Suzy! What do we find on this floor?!?!” And the dancer chooses how the group exits the “elevator” and dances around the space. Could be anything/any place, and its so fun to hear what they choose, and how each little interprets the suggestion. But then the trick is to find a way to use the scarf to enhance whatever type of place/character/animal is called out….so if its the land of the unicorns, the scarves can be horns, across back as butterfly wings, around waist like a sarong if its a beach….so many possibilities all in one game. After dancing a bit, I call out, “Quickly! Let’s get back to the elevator!” and we gather up again.

The dancers love to each have a turn to share an idea with the group, and there is something fun about physically gathering in a clump, breaking apart to move freely and back again, plus the anticipation of what the next suggestion might be, all while using the scarves to add another dimension to their to movement and imagination.


What are your favorite props? Do you have ideas to share that you do with that prop? I would love to hear!