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This time Miss Laura L has written a guest blog!  We have the best staff!

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When asked to write a blog for the website – so many thoughts popped into my head – and I didn’t know where to start. I wear more than one hat at the studio – Teacher and Administrator and there is lot of me that goes into both parts of the Job.

For those that do not know me – Not only do I work at the dance studio 3 nights a week as well as Saturdays – I also have a full time job that I love and I bring into my teaching style. I am An Early Childhood Educator currently working in the Waterloo region district school board. I have more than 15 years’ experience as an ECE and this definitely influences my teaching style.

I have been a teacher at GRAD for many years, and before that I have danced as long as I can remember – Tap being my Favourite – no surprise there! When I was younger I never thought of dance being a career path I could see myself on, but I couldn’t be happier to bring my two interests together. If your child has had me as a teacher you know – I am fair, I have patience’s and more often than not a smile on my face ready to greet the children regardless of how the day went while at work. The first time a child masters “skipping” or a “step and a hop” (as we call it) as well as that “shuffle” that they have been working on, it makes me so happy and proud for them I could cry. The pictures I receive to hang on my fridge, the hugs that I get when class begins or ends – that’s the reason I do what I do.

I can remember every dance teacher I have had – from the age of 3 when I started dance until now. Even as a teacher, I am always learning and growing. I want to be that dance teacher they remember.

I typically teach the “baby ballet” to the “mini” levels and then the children move on and go to other levels and more teachers. But my hope is that they can take a part of what I have taught or instilled in them to help them grow into the best dancers they can be. When I see the children I have taught who are “all grown up” dancing on the stage – whither it be at recital, competition, or a special performance they are in, I get excited and feel proud for each and every one of them. (Especially those who screamed their way through classes or I had to hold in my arms and dance in flip flops with)

For my students past and present: I am proud of each one of you and the dancers you will be or the dancers you have become!

Love Miss Laura L

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Miss Carley – a teacher at the studio – has written a guest blog for us!

Thanks Miss Carley!!

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A dance teacher, something I have always wanted to be. From the age of 3 in my first dance class, up until the age of 18 in my last senior class, I had always looked up to and admired my instructors. They weren’t only viewed as a teacher, but they were looked at as a role model, a mentor, and a friend.. A dance teacher is a full time job, and a life style.

 

You see your dance teacher come into the studio with their venti soy-chai latte from Starbucks, 3 bags over their shoulder, and their dinner, at 3:30 PM. You see them set everything down, and begin to get everything ready for their first class of the evening.  They look collected, they look relaxed, and you may think that’s because we’ve slept all day prior to coming here for the evening. You think to yourself, “wow, must be nice…” This is where you’d be wrong. Working as a dance teacher is much more than the 3 hours of class time in the evening. What you don’t see, is the fact that we wake up early in the morning to go to the gym to make sure that we are able to keep up with our students for 6 hours a night, 7 nights a week, with no breaks in between classes.  You don’t see that we are up until 2 AM every night because we’re worried about Suzie picking up the choreography, or about what combination we are going to teach tomorrow. You don’t see the fact that we are working 24/7 editing music, planning choreography and formations, constantly sourcing out costumes and props, and emailing all of our dedicated parents and dance family updated schedules or dealing with conflicts. You don’t see the fact that we rarely get to have an actual dinner we’re living off protein bars and snacks that we can eat while we teach. You don’t see how little we see our loved ones and families because we leave for work when they get home. You also don’t see how much we love it. It’s a crazy life style to lead, and it is constantly hectic. It’s something we would never change. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. I love coming home from work covered in sparkles after a costume try on day. I love seeing my student’s hard work pay off and see them grow into beautiful dancers. I love being a role model and a friend to the amazing kids that I teach.  I love watching my students grow up and succeed in every aspect of their young lives. I love being able to share my talents and passion for this art form with others and inspire young minds. You see, I’m not just a dance teacher in that room. I’m a mentor, and educator, an artist, a music editor, a designer, a friend, and sometimes even a therapist. I’m playing a huge role in sculpting these young minds, building their confidence and creating strong independent individuals.  The career isn’t for anybody; some people are just made for it.

 

To all the fellow dance teachers like myself, thank you for everything that you do. Thank you for all the sleepless nights, all of the hours spent fighting with garage band, and all of those evenings where you’re dinner was an apple and a cold cup of coffee. You are the reason these students can hold their heads high. You are the ones that these kids are writing reports on in school, and you are the ones that they look up to and want to be like one day. To all dance parents and students, be sure to thank your teachers at the end of the day. Give them a hug, let them know how grateful you are, a single thank you can go a long way. Here’s to the wonderful world of dance, and all that is has to offer!

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March Break is coming up and for most, that means a break from Dance Class.  Will you miss it?  If you answered yet to that question (and we hope you all answered yes!)  then take a look at the list below to see what movies we recommend to keep you dancing until classes resume.

 

For younger Kids age 12 and under:

1.  Angelina Ballerina – Dancing on Ice

2.  Getting to the Nutcracker

3.  A Ballerina’s Tale

4.  Happy Feet

5.  First Position

 

 

For Anyone over Age 12

1.  Stomp the Yard

2.  Fame

3.  Centerstage

4.  Chicago

5.  Step Up

6.  Dirty Dancing

7.  Black Swan

8.  Billy Elliott

9.  You Got Served

10.  Footloose

 

Do you have a favourite dance movie we missed?  Let us know!

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A new dance year has begun and we are all so excited to be back at it for another year.

Costume books are arriving and so the creative juices of our staff are flowing.  While the recital is still 10 months away, the planning is already in full swing.

So what can you expect from getting a costume as a student of Grand River Academy of Dance? Well….a lot of sparkle and loads of style.

We start with measuring every dancer.

We collect a deposit of $45 which lets us know your dancer will be in the big show,

Next each costume is ordered in a standard size based on the measurements we take.  Once they have arrived (months from now) we try the costume on each child.  We choose costumes that are age appropriate and that fall below a dollar figure to keep costs down.

Any alternations that we see that are needed are done (Free of charge) and the costumes are packaged and sorted and ready for pick up.

We collect the balance owing on the costume which covers the cost, shipping, tax and any applicable duty charges since a lot of our costumes are from the U.S.

We assign a week right before photo day and dress rehearsal for the costumes to be picked up.

Once the costumes have been picked up they are yours to keep forever!

Costumes are a big part of the experience in working toward the show…..recital theme ideas are already brewing….it’s a surprise though….we spill the beans in the New Year.

 

 

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I spend too much time on Pinterest

I search for dance related stuff all the time.  The other day I searched for “ballet art” and this photo came up.

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Photo Credit: Harvey Edwards

 

 

This photo used to hang in the studio where I started ballet class waaaaaay back in 1981 (I think it still does).  I was always drawn to it…I always thought that I liked it cause the particular version of it had words around it including a date which happened to be my birthday.  I think now that I see it is shows a person who is so passionate and devoted to the art of dance that her shoes are so worn from practising every hour under the sun.

Finding this image again got me thinking about things that remind me of my ballet classes when I was a kid.

 

The idea of having a bag with your studio name and your name embroidered on it was not something that we did back then…but you could be sure that everyone in your class had a ballet box…mine was more like a shoe box shape but it looked similar to this.

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We did have uniforms though…and every ballerina in my studio wore a burgundy cap sleeve leotard and pink tights…no shorts, or lululemon yoga pants…just a leotard and tights…it looked exactly like this.

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We had a piano in the room and for many years our regular classes had a pianist…every week Mrs. Wilson would play…or Miss Tan would  play our music, my teacher would ask for a specific time signature and the music would start…there was a distinctive squeek in the pedals and a book of sheet music which was a yellowy orange colour with ballet music for children.  If ever the pianist wasn’t available we used records…there was that crackle of the needle on the vinyl.  Heaven forbid the record skipped when holding a devlopee.  The piano looked a lot like this…it was painted a light brown though.

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Here’s what the record player was like.

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It was a nice trip down memory lane.  It brought back a lot of fond memories of a place I spent a lot of my childhood.

To end this post…here you go…cuteness overload…my first rectial photo.  😉

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We are about to start a new dance season and with that comes a lot of questions from parents of budding dancers.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a dance studio for your child.

Does the Studio Maintain a Professional Space?

Dance is a very physical activity that involves a lot of jumping that can put stress on bones and joints. The best way to prevent injury is to choose a studio with a professional “floating floor” that is built to absorb the shock of jumping. Each of our studios has professional “sprung floors” that reduce the risk of injury and allow students to dance longer without getting tired. Our studio also boasts a clean organized space with full mirrors, sound systems and barres in each studio room.

Is the Studio Organized and Do They Communicate With Their Parents?

Studios should run efficiently and have systems in place to ensure every client’s registration and administration experience is a smooth one. We keep a very clean and organized office environment with four levels of administrative help to serve you. Our teachers are able to assist with most administrative concerns; we also have a receptionist at the desk on weekdays, and a full time administrator to meet your needs. Finally the owner can address any concerns not met by the other staff. In this way we strive to be accurate, efficient and courteous in all our administrative dealing with you the client. Parents should be aware of what is going on in their child’s studio. We make this easy by providing many methods of getting information to parents. First we send home newsletters several times a year that inform you of upcoming events and opportunities as well as several other information sheets. Second we post all the information on our website and on social media so it can be accessed any where any time. Third we send home email letters about specific events to those who have provided their email address to us. Fourth we review information in the classes to the students so they know what to expect. We also have an app that parents can download on their smart phone to keep all the information on our studio in the palm of their hands. Parents are also invited into the classes twice a year so that they can see how a regular class proceeds.

Do They Have a Professional Year End Show and How Much Are the Costumes?

Dance is a performing art and as such it is important to teach them performance technique and give them an opportunity to perform. This is why we have a year end show ever year and we run it as a professional theatre show in a real theatre to give the students the experience of being in a real show. Or shows all have full lighting and sound. We do a full dress and technical rehearsal ahead of time to ensure that the show goes off smoothly. Our costumes for the show are an important part in helping the students’ look and feel their best on stage. After a seamstress measures your child we order our costumes in standard sizes to save you money. We then have a seamstress alter your costumes for free. This ensures that your costume will cost reasonable amount. Some studios have costumes that range from $100-$300. We ask for a costume deposit early in the year of $45 then ask for the balance when you pick up you costume in early June. Costume balances range from $10-$40 with no Costume ever costing more the $85 total for regular classes.

Does the Studio Offer Good Technical Instruction?

Some studios offer dance classes that amount to little more then babysitting for an hour. We believe this is an unfortunate opportunity missed to teach the child solid and appropriate dance technique. Dance classes should be a good mix of fitness, technique and fun and students should have every opportunity to explore their own artistic ability. Our teachers are all professional members of many dance organizations (R.A.D., C.D.T.A., A.D.A.P.T., P.A.E.C, etc.) that ensure their members live up to professional codes of conduct and ability. Our studio also offers R.A.D. ballet exams to eligible students and even if you do not choose our studio we encourage you to choose one that has R.A.D. trained teachers. Competitive Dance has become part of the mainstream dance world and provides an opportunity to practice performance skills and to receive feedback on technique. We believe there must be a balance between the opportunities competitive dance offers and the realities of the professional dance world. That is why we keep our technique classes and competitive classes separate and do not coerce or force students to compete. Competitive dance is not necessarily a pre courser to a professional career; and as such must be put in perspective. To some studios competitive dance is the be all and end all of the dance training they offer. This does not provide quality dance instruction, as the focus switches from the student’s needs and abilities to winning at all costs. Whether the student is a recreational student, or a competitive student, a pre-schooler, or an adult, they will receive the same attention and quality instruction as all our students.

Hopefully that has given you something to think about. If you want more information about what we can offer to you and your dancer, give us a call or send us an email.

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Most Commonly Asked Question #1

How old does my child have to be to start dancing?

One of the many questions we get asked at GRAD is how old kids have to be to take a dance class. Studios have different answers for different reasons. Here are ours.

We start our dancers in Level 1 Ballet at the age of 3. If they are going to turn three before the end of the year that they start in, we will take them, providing they are fully toilet trained.

Dancers can then start taking Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Musical Theater and Hip Hop when they turn 5.

We want to give our little budding dancers the chance to learn the foundations of dance. The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Syllabus we follow allows the students to become aware of the positions of the body, demonstrate control, co-ordination and perform a sequence of steps to depict a story. They also learn how to take turns, patience, listening skills and they build their first friendships. For some of our Level 1 students this is their first experience in an organized activity before starting school.

Our Level 1 classes are also only 45 minutes in length. We feel this is the perfect amount of time for the attention span of a 3 or 4 year old.

Once they have these basic skills they can branch out into other forms of dance and explore dance and find their passion or what they enjoy the most.

If you want more info, you can call us…or better still come watch or try a class to see where your child will fit.

Yours in Dance,

Miss Laura

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I wanted to add a blog to GRAD’s website…

I decided to name it “Straight to the Pointe”.  There will be a few different bloggers on here including myself…so here is someback ground on me!

I started ballet when I was three….when I became a Dance teacher, I was still taking classes with the teacher I had when I was three…I modeled my classes after hers.  The way I explained things, the little sayings she had and the passion she had for dance I have carried with me in all I have done in dance. The deep respect I have for the art and the studio environment I learned from her.

Her dance studio was a place where I learned at a young age to overcome my shyness, where I spent time with my best friends, where I learned things about myself I didn’t know.

When I was eight I started taking Jazz.  That teacher was very different from my ballet teacher.  From her I learned not only a different form of dance from what I had been taught for the first five years of my dance career, but I learned how to laugh at myself and how to push myself to do things I never thought I could do.  I found in her and my ballet teacher, mentors and more importantly life long friends who mean a great deal to me.

After 20 years of learning from these women (and for the record, I continue to learn from them both) I took all the things I learned from them and started to impart that knowledge on my own students…

Being a dance teacher is more than showing a child how to spin, jump or string together a series of steps…it’s about all of that but also molding them into respectful, beautiful people who are graceful, strong and who appreciate movement, music and teamwork.

I want this blog to be not only about my experiences as a teacher and a dancer, but that of all the staff at GRAD.  This blog will have snippets form the minds of the staff, but also cool dance related things we come across on our travels through the dance world.

Maybe then our passion and love of dance will become infectious…not only in the classroom but here too.

Till the next post!!

Miss Laura