Independent Dance Ambassadors – Keeping Kids safe and active with Dance!

In Colorado, Dance Exploration, LLC has served over 100 schools with our safe and educational after school dance, cheer and theater program. Each of our classes serve an average of 10 participants and 3 rounds of students. If we were able to expand our reach into 100 schools in each state nationwide with our Dance Ambassador program, we could bring a safe and educational after school option to children in 5,000 schools and potentially 150,000 additional children nationwide could be enriched by the opportunities our ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum provides.

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Why are after school programs important?

According to the Afterschool Alliance Fact Sheet 11.3 million kids are left unattended during after school hours (usually between the hours of 3 and 6p). Children are more likely to get into ‘trouble’ during these hours.

It’s been determined that children who do participate in after school programs have fewer absences, perform better, are better behaved and score higher on tests than students who do not participate in an after school activity. (Weissberg, R.P., et.al, 20 10)

There are 19.3 MILLION children who would participate in an afterschool program if one were provided to them! That’s 19.3 million children who could potentially benefit from a Dance Ambassador visiting their school with the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum!

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What are the Outcomes of After School Programs?

  • Improved attendance and engagement in learning
  • Improved test scores and grades
  • Students at the greatest risks received the greatest gains
  • Keep kids safe, active and on track
  • Help working families

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What are the Physical Activity Statistics for After School Hours? 

Based on a report conducted by America After 3 PM (Afterschool Alliance) 13,709 households completed a survey on their expectations of afterschool programs and if the programs were meeting these expectations.

  • 8 in 10 parents surveyed agreed that after school programs should keep the kids physically active.
  • 8 in 10 parents believed the programs should be fun for the kids.
  • 68% of parents will enroll their children in after school program based on how much physical activity it may provide
  • 2014 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth” by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance gave a “D-” which means most children are not receiving 60 minutes or more of physical activity 5 days per week
  • 84% of parents believe that After School programs should offer the opportunity for children to be physically active
  • The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that youth between the ages of 6-17 should exercise for 60 minutes daily.
  • 44% of school administrators have admitted to having to cut physical education activities int their schools to  make room for other academics during school hours
  • 1/3 (32%) of children are considered overweight or obese
  • Only 56% of parents realize that there are standards for after school programs that provide physical activity

Read the Source

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How Can Dance Exploration help or improve these statistics?

Providing a physically active and fun program to students
All Dance Exploration, LLC ‘Dance to Learn!’™ classes include physical activity! Classes inlcude a warm up section designed to warm up muscles with easy stretches, cardio and strength exercises. Across the floor and center activities get the children moving. Activities are designed to improve agility, balance, coordination, strength, mobility, and flexibility. Finally a choreography section (learning a dance to pre-set moves) can be challenging and fun! Our program is fun, dancing is fun! Upbeat music, learning new moves, dancing with props or in groups- our ‘Dance to Learn!™ Curriculum is designed for the whole child in mind. It’s not just teaching dance, it’s allowing children to express themselves through dance and movement! Encouraging creativity in designing and choreographing their own dance moves.

Providing more physical active hours in a day
Our programs are 45-60 minutes long! With the decrease in physically active hours offered to children in schools, they need as many hours of movement and activity as they can get!

Combating childhood obesity
Along with providing an hour of added activity to our students’ day, dance evolves around active and healthy individuals. We encourage our students to live more active lifestyles through a family engagement program. This gets parents moving at home with their children- adding more physical activity. If parents have healthier and more active lifestyles, so will their children.

Improving the awareness of Dance Standards
Like standards for afterschool programs, there are also state and national standards of dance education. Our 5 Methods of Dance™ follow these standards and we are train our Ambassadors on the national and state standards.

Now you know how adding Dance Ambassadors across the US can further enrich the lives of school children nationwide! Make a pledge today to help us get more kids active and dancing!

Pledge our Kickstarter Campaign

DANCE TO MOVE

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‘Dance to Learn!’™ Dance Ambassador Program

SLIDE SHOW 5The goal of the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Dance Ambassador program is to train and certify Dance Professionals in the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum. In development since 2009, Dance Exploration, LLC’s ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum has been taught to children in preschool and elementary schools across Colorado! When founded originally, it combined a ‘Recipe for Success’ which used the following ingredients to compose of the classes:

Dance Principles:
1 Part Warm Ups
1 Part Across/Around the Floor
1 Part Center Activity
1 Part Choreography

School Principles:
Combine any one or Combo:
Math/Numbers
Science
Reading/Writing
Spelling
History
Art

Development Skills:
Include any and all:
Cognitive Skills
Social Skills
Motor Skills
Language Skills

These combinations included a dance class that was designed to teach the whole child.

5 METHODS OF DANCE

Since 2009 the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum has been developed and now includes the 5 Methods of Dance™ these methods include:

‘Dance to Learn!’™- teaching the child in a way that fosters creative thinking, problem solving and interacting in the world with dance and movement.

‘Dance to Accept!’™- teaching children about social and economic differences and how to embrace the unique talents and skills of others through dance and movement.

‘Dance to Discover!’™- helping children discover their world through dance principles. Discovery can be any concept that children would learn whether in school or just a life concept.

‘Dance to Express!’™- helping children find their individual passion. Many children have a hard time communicating or sharing their problems or thoughts, dance allows another avenue for this expression.

‘Dance to Move!’™- movement through dance can teach balance, coordination, flexibility, agility and strength. Dance also encourages and active and healthy lifestyle.

These five methods have been designed with the whole child in mind and are based on the different stages of childhood development: Cognition, language and speech development, social skills, and motor development. Our new recipe for success is the perfect combination to immprove Dance Education in schools.

According to the National Dance Education Organization 57% of children do NOT have access to dance training in schools! Of the 43% who do, only 7% of this training is offered by a teacher who is trained or specialized in dance!! (http://www.ndeo.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=893257&module_id=55774)

Think about that! Would you want your child to learn how to drive by a person who doesn’t have a driver’s license of their own? Would you want your child to learn how to tumble and flip by a person who never trained in gymnastics? What about trusting a person who didn’t train in proper ballet technique before teaching your child how to dance in pointe shoes? Dance in all forms takes years to develop proper technique and training! Just like professional football players train for years, so do our dancers and dance teachers! Why do more schools not entrust the teaching of dance to dance professionals? It’s clearly a topic that requires more education, as well as more dance professionals who are open and willing to enter the schools to provide that education!

With the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Dance Ambassador program, our Ambassadors will receive a teaching certification on the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ curriculum and the 5 Methods that formulate that Curriculum. They will be authorized to teach the Curriculum for three years to children in schools in their state of residence! Our Dance Ambassador program is not made available to dance studios where dance is already taught on a professional level by dance professionals. This program is designed specifically for school children who don’t have access to or cannot afford professional dance education. With the Dance Ambassador program, we can also ensure that the dance training provided to children in our schools also includes all the benefits that dance provides by including the 5 Methods of Dance designed specifically around the stages of childhood development!

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With the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum website, our Dance Ambassadors will also receive a three year dance curriculum subscription to continued education and development in the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum to ensure that children can continue to receive the best in dance education!

Can you help us improve the statistics for the quality of dance education provided to our youth in schools nationwide? Make a pledge today and help us on our mission!

Learn how to apply to become a ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Independent Dance Ambassador!

Miss Meg #Sparkles!

It’s no surprise Miss Meg is the teacher of the month this month! She’s sassy, spunky and Sparkly! She knows how to captivate a room, and teaches really fun dances to boot!
We asked her a couple questions about teaching and working with Dance Exploration.
In the #PURPLE acronym which letter means the most to you and why? (Passionate, Uniquely Talented, Reliable, Professional, Love Kids, Educated)?
For the acronym #PURPLE the letter that means the most to me is Passionate. I feel that dance is a huge part of who I am as an individual. I am extremely passionate when the music starts to play and the world fades away, and all that is left is a complete sense of self. I hope that in my career as a dance teacher that I can build this self confidence in my students so that they become just as passionate as I am about dance.
What’s your favorite teaching memory with Dance Exploration? Why?
My favorite teaching memory with Dance Exploration is when my students preformed at the Nuggets Game back in November. Not only was it super cool to be behind the scenes at the Pepsi center and on the court with over 100 people watching. But it was so fulfilling to see the girls faces light up when they preformed in front of that big of an audience. The little ones were mesmerized by the jumbo-trons, but still confident enough to hit all their choreography! I look forward to doing more events like that in the future.
If you could share one tip for other dance teachers, what would it be?
My tip for dance teachers is to be the type of teacher that your students need. That means putting aside things that happened outside dance class, and coming in to class prepared to be energetic and optimistic about the class. Moreover, this can sometimes mean putting away your love for the students and desire for them to like you, in order to be firm in demanding their respect. All in all, a good dance teacher can always read their students needs and adjust their curriculum and tone to give the best dance class possible.
We’ve noticed that you wear lots and lots and lots of Sparkly clothes and shoes. Is there one item in your wardrobe that sparkles and shines above the rest?

My favorite Sparkly item in my closet is my formal dress. It’s a white sequences dress with a silver tiger pattern. Although this one can’t be worn to class, it is my favorite because when I put it on I feel fierce like a tiger and confident! This dress makes me feel like I outshine the rest!

Tips and Tricks for Keeping your Dance Class on Pointe

Dance Exploration, LLC offered a $5.00 Dance Teacher Training on 11/11/2012 to offer hands on tips and advice for running a structured dance class for preschool and elementary aged children!

We had a great time doing hands on activities and getting the teachers and children involved! We wanted to share with everyone our tips and tricks to keeping your Creative Dance Classes on Pointe!

1) Music Choices
A big concern and question our teachers had was how to pick music that is kid friendly, fun and easy to dance to! Here are some of our favorite music selections for Creative Dance Classes:

Can’t go wrong with Disney! Most children have seen Disney films, they can relate easily to the songs and characters and makes the class more enjoyable!

Dancing with Miss Melody
This is great for practicing ballet moves. Some of our favorites are her Flowers in the Garden, where we Plie in the sun, Grow Leaves (Passes), and Sip from the puddle (Piques).

Her Jump song also invites us to practice our Sautes, Echappes, Chasses and Skips!

Miss Melodee - Dancing With Miss Melodee CD Cover Art

The Fairies
Another Favorite, more upbeat CD is Fairy Dancing by the Fairies

We do the Fairy Boppity Bop, Dance the Sleep Away and much more fun activities!

2) Creating Structure

We believe in using props and imaginative rules to keep the class structured and under control.

Some little tips:

  • For Warm Ups: Place bandanas or mats on the floor in a circle. Children will know where to sit and it will stop the pre-class run and romp.
  • Across the Floor: Kids get a little antsy when having to wait their turn to go across the floor. This is when your magic super glue comes in. Give everyone some glue on their hands and have them super glue themselves to the wall.
  • Get them talking: Children have a lot they want to say, so instead of trying to keep them quiet, get them talking. When warming up, create warm ups that ask them questions “Where do our butterflies want to fly to today?” “What color are your wings?” “What princess do you want to be today?” A Secret is to keep your warm ups music free to let them get all the stories they want to tell you out at the beginning of class.

3) Incorporating Boy and Girl Movements for the same activity.

One of our student’s favorite activities is Bibbity Bobbidy Boo! We turn the dancers into the character of their choice and then they tip toe walk across the floor! Our teachers learned how to turn all exercises and activities into something both boys and girls could enjoy.

For example the girls were asked which princess they wanted to be? They then put on their glass slippers and tiaras and princess walked. The boys were asked which superhero they wanted to be and then put on their capes and flew across the room. Before the spell can work, they must all show the teacher the Dance Move the Day.

4) Encouraging Good Behavior

The biggest questions we received were how to encourage good behavior, and what to do when a child acts out. Here are some great tips:

Reward Board
On a dry erase board write all of the kids names in your dance class. Next to each name draw one star. Explain before every class that all the children start with one star and throughout the day they can earn more by sharing, being patient, being polite and following rules. When the teacher sees them doing a great job, a second and third star is added by their name. At the end the stars represent the number of stickers the kids will receive. Remind kids who only received one star how they can earn more at the next class and what they can improve on. Be specific! Avoid taking any stars away, as this can be traumatic and cause conflicts in the class. Instead give warnings and remind the kids of the star system. We want to promote the positive behavior through positive reinforcement.

Curbing the “I don’t Wanna’s”
We’ve all had those dancers who just don’t feel like doing something. Whether it’s because they are having an off day, or if it’s every class, here are some techniques to use to curb the “I don’t want to!” Syndrome

  • Offer them a special task: For example you know Miss Sally loves being the Tickler in Dance the Sleep Away. “Miss Sally, if you can do all of your across the floor exercises today, you can be our first ‘Tickler’ in our Sleeping Game!”
  • Partner them up: Children often times feed off the energy of other children. If you see Miss Sally sitting down and not dancing encourage a friend to hold her hand and help her dance.
  • Turn them into something new: Give the nonparticipating dancer a magic wand and ask them to turn the class into different animals: Toads, Cats, Dogs etc. Then tell the dancer it’s your (the teacher’s) turn to turn the class into things. When the dancer sees how much fun everyone is having, they will be quick to participate.
  • Bring a Friend: Usually the “I don’t wanna’s” are more common when a dancer is new to their dance class. New dancers can be more timid as they learn what dancing is all about. Encourage these dancers to bring a friend, usually a favorite stuffed animal or doll, and sit them on the shelf to watch the dancer!

Miss Jessica teaches students in her Creative Movement class how to leap like mouses.

5) Making your class Personable

The best dance instructors are great at creating a curriculum and class flow that fits themselves and their personality. If you aren’t having fun, aren’t confident, or uninspired, you will have a harder time convincing a group of preschoolers to follow along on your dance adventure. Here are some tips for keeping your classes fun and exciting for everyone!

Educate yourself!

  • Check other local dance studios that have popular dance classes, ask if you can observe a class.
  • Participate in Teacher Trainings, like those offered by Dance Exploration, LLC to gain new ideas for your classes. To be involved in our next training, please visit: http://dancexploration.co/Teacher_Trainings.html
  • Search the web for blogs, youtube videos and other tools with advise and tips on preschool dance classes.
  • Attend Seminars and workshops.

Switch it up
If you feel yourself getting burned out or tired, or if you notice your kids are appearing bored, it’s probably a good time to switch up your class. Teach them some new dance steps, create a fun new game, or bring in some new music and props to dance with!

Be Yourself
Make sure your class is a reflection of you and your personality so that the kids can really bond with you and have fun!

Stay tuned for our next blog on our tips from our Hip Hop Training Complete with Video!

A Lesson in Motivation

Author: Jessica Clayton

November is child safety and protection month. We at Dance Exploration believe in teaching all classes in a positive “Yes” Environment where children are encouraged, motivated and nurtured to make the right decisions. We teach all ages and are aware that each age group requires a different nudge in behavior.

I teach a very small Teen Jazz class on Tuesdays. The girls have been enrolled in dance by their parents to “keep them out of trouble”. However, with that being said, they are a great group of kids and really enjoy dance and want to learn as much as they can and improve at it.

Often I give my students a chance to let me know what they want to work on and this week Marcie decided,

“Miss Jessica, I want to work on turns across the floor!”

Great Idea!!!

One of the tools I use for teaching consecutive turns across the floor to beginners is a scarf. I have the dancers tie the scarf in a knot and stick it between their inner thighs. This prevents the “penguin walk” effect of chainee turns. The goal of this is to have the dancers use their muscles to hold the scarf in place while half turning across the floor. Usually my students find this a ton of fun and laugh the whole way.

My Tuesday night girls reacted a little differently. These girls are at that age where self image and being “cool” and accepted is so important. As soon as they saw what they had to do they decided,

“I can’t do this!”

All the way across the floor they kept stopping, taking the scarves out and just wanting to give up.

Keep in mind, I have never had students react to this exercise in this way, they usually love it. So I knew I had to come up with a quick way to movitvate these girls to come back across the floor on the left without any problems. So I decided to use the trick of “dangling the carrot in front of their noses.”

“Ok, I tell you what. If you can make it all the way across the floor without dropping your arms, touching your scarves, or saying you “can’t” do this…then next week when we repeat this exercise you won’t have to use the scarves.”

Play music, 5-6-7-8

Those girls turned all the way across the floor: perfect posture, great arms, and not one dropped their scarf or claimed they couldn’t do it.

Encouraging our students to change their behavior can sometimes be the most difficult aspect of our job and it is not always easy. This turn of events last night reinforced my decision to ensure that all of my dance educators are trained in teaching in a “Yes” Environment, where our students are nurtured, encouraged to change behaviors for the better, and driven artistically and creatively.

To get the best results positive reinforcement is always better than negative! Take for example the story below:

In one of my preschool classes, I had two sisters who always seemed to want to display sibling rivalry right in the middle of class. Pushing, shoving, fighting, crying… you name it. Now these students are preschool aged, so much younger than my teen jazzers, but the same lesson in encouragement and motivation needed to be taught. To attempt to combat this behavior, I used a technique that I’ve heard about frequently throughout the years used by not only by dance teachers, but school teachers as well.

I wrote all the names of the dancers on a chalk board with three stars. I told them that at the start of each class, that each of them had already earned 3 stickers and to keep each sticker, they must follow the class rules (ie: no running, sharing, saying please/thank you…etc). If they didn’t follow the rules, a star would be erased and they would be down to 2 stickers.

This didn’t work as planned, the sisters still wanted to argue throughout class and my warnings,

“Please remember that you have three stars and they may be taken away if this continues!”

just upset them even more!

“No Miss Jessica! Please don’t take away my stars!”

I brainstormed and finally realized, taking things away isn’t positive at all! The reason behind this technique, which is trying to foster positive behavior, was positive, but the result is not. It causes more distress than good. It didn’t take me much time to realize this wasn’t working and quickly came up with the following solution:

“This week you all have one star! Which means you all have already earned one sticker! You will be able to earn more stickers throughout class. You can earn stickers by being nice to your friends, sharing and listening to Miss Jessica!”

This solution didn’t stop the sibling rivalry completely, however when the girls were asked if they thought that kind of behavior would earn them another sticker, not only did the behavior stop more quickly, but we avoided the tears that followed with the threat of having a sticker taken away.

If you are finding that your students are having a difficult time staying motivated, positive, and on focus, it is probably a lack of motivation to behave differently. Start asking yourself the following questions after each class:

Am I rewarding and congratulating my students for positive behavior?
What, if anything, are they receiving for following my direction/lead?
What other ways could I approach my teaching style to motivate my students to focus?
Is my approach more negative than positive?
Is my approach age appropriate?
Do I know my students and what they want to gain from my class?

After asking these questions, you may realize that you need a different approach to teaching your classes. Which is fine! You may in fact need to change your teaching styles a few times! But never give up on students! Always remember it is your job as their teacher to lead by example. If you are negative, they will respond in a negative way! If you never reward them or congratulate them, they will never show you results.

I hope if you are a teacher reading this that you will apply these techniques and let me know how your next class goes! Did you see a change in behavior? What are some positive reinforcements that you use in your classes to keep kids determined, motiviated and on track?