Miss Zoe knows what it takes to be #PURPLE

IMG_7588What has been your favorite Dance Exploration School to Teach at? Why?
My favorite school to teach at is Crestmoor Early Learning Center. Not only are the group of girls adorable, but they are always keeping me on my toes 🙂
If you met someone on the street that never heard of Dance Exploration, what would you tell them about our company? I usually explain to people that Dance Exploration is an enrichment program that specializes in dance. I also tell people what makes us unique is that our goal is to get affordable dance into as many schools as possible so that as many children as possible can have the chance to learn the wonderful art. We also use dance as a fun learning tool by incorporating day to day/academic themes into our curriculum.
When you aren’t teaching and working with Dance Exploration, what are you doing? When I’m not working with Dance Exploration, I spend my own time practicing ballet, tap, and jazz as well as working as a Guest Experience Captain at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Which letter in the SPARKLE system is most beneficial to you? Why? (Systems, Pledges, Ambitions, Regiments, Knowledge, Leadership, Expressions) Ambitions, in my opinion, are the most beneficial to me because my goals are what keeps me motivated. My hopes and dreams are the reasons why I keep challenging myself to become a better teacher/dancer/person in general.

Miss Zoe is our current teacher of the month! She shows everyday how to be #PURPLE by sharing her Passion, Unique Talents, Reliability, Professionalism, Love of Kids and Educated knowledge of dance techniques and our ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum.


Teacher Tools: Inside Miss Jessica’s Teaching Bag!

We’ve had a blast teaching Frozen themed dance classes to the preschoolers around the Denver metro area for the month of January! Our stuffed Olaf visited each and every preschool this month and received warm hugs all around. The children have loved this theme, and can connect so easily with the story and the characters. Sadly, as the month of January comes to a close, so must we also put Olaf and his friends away for now, until next year…or at least until our Princess Fairy Tale Dance Camps happening this summer! It’s been a joy watching our dancers build their very own snowmen, put Olaf together in silly ways, collect ice for the city, visit the trolls to save Anna and dance their way through frozen obstacle courses to share an act of true love to unthaw a frozen heart. We will definitely be missing January!

It takes a lot of creativity and PROPS to put on a successful class with a theme as popular and well known as Frozen. The props that we choose must be beneficial not only to the instructor, but also to the kids and should add to the overall class not deter or distract. It should also make sense! The props should be based on the theme of the class and also serve a purpose.

For the first time, we are diving into our Dance Educators’ bags to see exactly what they need to put on an incredible ‘Dance to Learn!’™ class. We will start with our Director, Miss Jessica!


1) Elsa Bag
I saw these at Target. I bought three of them. Miss Meg is now the proud owner of one, which she won at our last Staff meeting. I still have the other one saved for groceries, or lunches, or if my current teaching bag fills up!

2) Frozen Matching Game
I also found this at Target. We used the cards to find partners when dancing with a friend. We also played a fun game of pick a card. Whoever was on the card, the kids had to dance out that character.

3) Frozen Books
For our Terpsichore Literacy Program™ we read some short, but fun, Frozen stories. Then we danced and moved out the stories. This month we read “Summer Blast” and “Warm Hugs!”

4) Paper Hands
I have not yet used these. I bought them for an across the floor exercise and have yet to figure out how to incorporate them. I have some fun ideas  on how to incorporate these, it’s now just a matter of implementing a fun, creative and educational dance combo that also compliments our theme.

5) Stuffed Olaf
Our guest of honor this month! Olaf was given to me for Christmas by Miss Nancy. He’s now traveled with me to each and every preschool. He’s seen almost the entire city of Denver in one short month!

6) Princess Card Games
I’m using these for our February theme. They have princesses printed on them. We’re creating some fun movement games with these. They are also a great way to help us find partners when dancing with a friend.

7) Stickers
As a dance teacher, you can’t ever have too many stickers. I have Frozen, Olaf, Princess and Bugs Bunny themed stickers. A little something for everyone.

8) Masking Tape and Spot Stickers
This is great for spatial awareness. Kids, especially preschoolers, have a very small concept space, so asking them to stagger a line is pretty useless and just wastes valuable class time. So I tell them where to stand! I put the masking tape on the floor and the stickers on top, so the dancers always know where their spot is. This improves their overall learning  since they have more room to dance in space and it creates a safe environment  as spatial issues are resolved by assigning a “spot.”

8) Hearts
I can’t say too much about these, as they are part of our February theme. Can you guess what our theme is about???

9) Snowman Parts
We built snowmen blindfolded to see how he would come out. Just like Olaf, our Snowman often times didn’t turn out quite “right.”

That’s a lot to carry around in one bag! Check into future blogs for more of our fabulous dance teacher’s and their teaching bags!

Teacher of the Month- Miss Zoe

Each month, Dance Exploration elects a Sparkling Teacher to showcase as our Teacher of the Month! These teachers exhibit great passion to their art, and strive to provide the best in quality dance classes for our students!

Our Teacher of the Month for October is Miss Zoe! Take a moment to read our interview with Miss Zoe:

1) How do you ensure that you Sparkle each day as a teacher?
I ensure that I Sparkle each day as a teacher by always looking for self improvement. Part of a career that sparkles is having ambitions and knowledge. Every day I look to achieve my goals and I love spending time on my own educating myself in teaching and dance.
2) What do you love about being a Dance Exploration teacher?
My favorite thing about being a Dance Exploration teacher is being able to provide kids a dance education by going around to different schools. I love that I can introduce dance into children’s lives and hopefully I can pass on my passion for dance to my students.
3) What is a fun activity you do each class that the kids love?
For my hip hop classes, most weeks I usually have them do a dance circle where each student gets to dance in the middle of it. Everyone loves it because they can show of their dance moves and add their own personality to it.
4) If you could give dance teachers a bit of advice for a smooth class, what would it be?
I think for a smooth class, it is very important to maintain a positive and calm attitude. I find that doing so will help create a better controlled environment.
Miss Zoe demonstrates a breakdance move at her Hip Hop class at High Plains Elementary.

Miss Zoe demonstrates a breakdance move at her Hip Hop class at High Plains Elementary.

Teacher Tip of the Week: Using Placement Markers for Classroom Management

Miss Jessica uses scarves during story time and warm ups so children have a spot to sit.

Miss Jessica uses scarves during story time and warm ups so children have a spot to sit.

We’ve all had those classes: Walk in, ready to teach and the kids are running around the room like crazy people! As a new teacher, we ask politely to listen and stop running. One, two…TEN times. Finally our pleading may result to screaming, frustration and unnecessary discipline. Here’s a simple, and easy trick to help children know their spots and where they need to be at all times during dance class.

In classes, especially preschool aged, it’s helpful to use “markers” or “spots” in class to help children know where to stand, sit, or be while waiting for instructions. For warm ups, this is as simple as a mat the kids can stand on. Across the floor, it can be differentiated between two points. “Today we are going to skip from the cat to the unicorn!” (we like using stuffed animals but you can also use cones, markers, hoola hoops, etc). When it’s time for choreography, using Masking Tape (which can easily be removed) with a sticker on it, will help kids stand in their correct places! Try this teacher Tip of the Week! Let us know how you liked it!

Dancers in our City of Edgewater classes, are spread out equally in a circle when they have a spot to stand on.  Photo: Deanna Trevizo

Dancers in our City of Edgewater classes, are spread out equally in a circle when they have a spot to stand on.
Photo: Deanna Trevizo

Kids Hip Hop 101

Written by Jessica Clayton

Hip Hop has been a very popular dance style in the past few years thanks to shows such as America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance. As a ballet dancer, Hip Hop has always been a foreign style to the classical lines that I have been taught my entire career. So you can imagine the sheer terror when I’ve had to sub a hip hop class or…gulp…teach a full session.

How do you make it work? Here are a couple tips and tricks to help you in the process.

Step 1:
Start your class with fun easy warm ups that include cardio (Jumping Jacks, Grape Vines, Jump Rope etc), stretching, and Isolations (moving one body part at a time).

Step 2: Teach simple basic Hip Hop Steps.
If you aren’t sure what the basics are, I would suggest taking a hip hop workshop in your area.
Some basics include: Kick Ball Changes, Rock Steps, Crip Walks, and more.

Step 3: Once the students have a general understanding of the basics you can expand on those. As Jeff in the video shows, you can change your rocks stops going to the front, back, or catching a wave like a surfer. Then expanding the move even more to be performed on one foot!

Step 4: Teach fun old school moves! Kids will love learning all the dance moves you did as a child! Coffee Grinders, Robot, etc. You can even start creating your own hip hop moves. A made up hip hop move the kids always love is called stir the soup! That’s where you put your hands above your head in two fists, circle them around your head, shimmy to the floor and jump up and do it again. Watch the video closely, you’ll see it performed in their dance!

Step 5: Don’t be afraid to challenge your students. Each week try a more advanced dance move. Maybe it’s togher isolations, popping, or a more advanced break dance move.

Step 6: At the end be sure to put all that they learned together in a fun dancing combo!

Enjoy the video!

Don’t forget to join us for our next dance teacher training coming up on 1/6/2012. We will be focusing on Ballroom Funk: Creating a Fun Child Friendly Ballroom Class!