How to Use Dance Daze Dance Boards

While there are so many ways to use Dance Daze Dance Boards, our co-founder Saumirah McWoodson loves using them most for doing outdoor ballet barre classes and for learning tap dance combinations from YouTube!

Throughout 2020 and 2021, Saumirah says that using her Dance Daze Dance Boards helped her to establish consistent practice routines, improve her ballet technique, and to develop her own creative practice.

While Saumirah is most experienced in classical ballet and tap–as those are the styles of dance she began studying as a child and continued practicing and training in through her adult years–those who practice other styles of dance love using Dance Daze Dance Boards as well.

Dance Daze Dance Boards can be used for practicing balancing, turns, and non-locomotor movements in any style of dance. Our boards are also great for building a home dance studio, to include as a fun prop in dance photo shoots or video shoots, and even for creating a simple stage when teaching dance classes to large groups. Also, while many tap dancers love our boards, our boards are perfect for practicing Irish step dancing as well!

How do you think you’d use a Dance Daze Dance Board? Let us know in a comment!

Straddle Stretch Forever

In an effort to keep my digital content focused on what my audience wants to see and to encourage myself to keep to routines that make me feel great physically, I’ll be focusing on stretching for a while!

When it comes to stretching, you should know that I like to keep it simple. There are a few stretches that I’ve been doing since childhood that still serve me well. One of these is the straddle stretch. This is my go-to stretch when I’m at home and feeling a bit antsy in the evening or after I’ve just entered a dance class and want to stake my claim to some space in the studio (typically a place at the barre where I can see myself dancing from more than 1 angle, or where I’m at the end so I can follow someone if needed, then challenge myself and use my good ol’ memory skills the rest of the time.)

To perform a straddle stretch, sit down on the floor in an open space, with your legs spread apart so that you can feel a stretch in your inner thigh. Be sure that your knees are facing up toward the ceiling and not rolling inward.

While sitting in the straddle stretch position, I like to point and flex my feet, focusing especially on holding the flexed position so that I get a good stretch behind my knees.

I also like to reach my arms forward, to deepen the stretch of my inner thighs. I then relax my head and neck and hold that position for several seconds.

To focus on one leg at a time, I like to tilt my torso all the way to one side, either touching the side of my torso to my leg or by lifting my arms (into a ballet high fifth position) and twisting my torso so that my chest goes toward my knee.

Should we do a straddle stretch every day for the next week?

Let’s do it.

Saumirah

I WANT to be paid to think.

I’m a hardcore entrepreneur. I live to create. I thrive on bringing ideas to fruition through the art of starting and developing business ventures.

But I’ve mentioned it before on The Happy Dance Podcast and I’ve mentioned it in my Lunchtime Entrepreneur Chats on Clubhouse: I like to keep some freelance work or a super easy part-time gig in my back pocket so that I can always make sure the bills are paid.

So the other day, when I was working at one of my part-time gigs, I overheard someone say, “I don’t get paid to think here!” He went to explain how, when he’s at work, he’s thinking about what he’s eating next or how he will be getting to the next level of a videogame, but not about the work he’s doing for the company.

I thought to myself: THAT’S what’s wrong with this situation. I WANT to be paid to think.

When I worked for a large charter school management organization a few years ago, I remember one of the principals was always emphasizing that we, as the teachers, were the experts in the room. She said this as a way–not to make us feel that we were all-knowing or that we should be teaching our students in a top-down way, but instead–to encourage us to feel comfortable and confident in our background knowledge, life experiences, and professional training to do our job properly. When I worked there, even on the really challenging days, I felt like I was getting paid to think.

When I’m running my dance programs, maybe a few parents think they’re paying me to entertain their child for an hour each week, but I think most parents knew they were paying me to:

  • Develop and facilitate engaging, challenging, and developmentally appropriate programs
  • Be the best or hire the best talent I could find to help their child discover and explore the art of dance in a safe and nurturing environment
  • Put money back into the business by the way of performance opportunities (including space rentals and costume purchases), buying and maintaining props (such as scarves, ribbons, balance beams, hula hoops, etc. for my Creative Movement classes and Dance Daze Birthday Parties)
  • Create appropriate music playlists that would guide the atmosphere of the class and support my instruction
  • Develop and maintain the best systems for relaying information, collecting payments, ensuring their child’s safety, and more.

When I’m working as an educator, I’m paid to think.

When I’m working in education, all of me matters.

My thoughts, experiences, and professional background are important because I’m taking on the extremely important work of supporting, informing, and influencing the minds and shaping the experiences of the next generation.

And I like it that way. I love being paid to think.

Any job that doesn’t pay me for this beautifully developed, empathetic, thoughtful, passionate, sensitive, curious mind of mine is 1) missing out and 2) will be short-lived.

PLEASE: Pay me to think. I like it that way.

Saumirah

If You Write, You’re A Writer

So I’m currently reading Seth Godin’s book, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. In it, he says that if you write, you’re a writer. The point is doing the work and getting the work out there.

So, here I am blogging and being a blogger and all, but it’s not just so that I can update my IG bio (which ya know, I do love to do!). I’m working on changing my habits to develop multiple daily practices because I, like Seth, believe that we are what we regularly do.

I used to teach dance all the time (in person, to actual humans). I watched videos about how to teach dance. I read articles about concepts to teach and ways to teach them. I chose music that would best enhance my dance classes. I wrote lesson plans for my dance classes. I was a dance teacher. It’s what I did. It’s what I was. (To be clear: I am still a dance teacher, but I’m re-developing the way in which I deliver information and engage in the process of educating through the medium of dance.)

You may or may not know that I have a professional background in education. I have a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I taught kindergarten through second grade for 6 years. I’m currently earning a Doctor of Education degree. So yeah–professional background in education.

You may or may not know that I love creating – creating digital content, Reels, TikToks, blogs, social media plans, dance boards, etc. I’m a maker. And I once heard a poet at some event I attended in New York City say something like “My best days are when my art and my life are one in the same. I’m trying to have more of those good days.”

So, in an effort to live the life that I love, have as many good days as possible, and to get my creative work out into the world as the homie Seth is recommending to me, I’ll now be developing my creative and professional practice as an educational content creator for Dance Daze, Inc.

To start, I’ll be focusing on two topics that I absolutely love: Ballet and Creativity.

To catch my latest deep dives into living my best life as an educational content creator, check out the Dance Daze, Inc. Instagram page. I have some cool stuff shipping out!

More to come.

Saumirah

Dance Classroom Management: Warm/Strict

Today’s Behavior Management Monday Technique from the book Teach Like A Champion 2.0 (paid link) is one of my favorites. It is an extremely simple technique that I use regularly in my work as an educator, both in the traditional classroom and in the dance classroom.

This technique is under the larger category of building character and trust in your classroom. Using the Warm/Strict technique allows us to “send a message of high expectations, caring, and respect” (p. 438).

This is a short section in the book, but I really love the way that the technique is described:

We’re socialized to believe that warmth and strictness are opposites: if you’re more of one, it means being less of the other. I don’t know where this false conception comes from, but if you choose to believe in it, it will undercut your teaching. The fact is that the degree to which you are warm has no bearing on the degree to which you are strict, and vice versa. You should be neither only warm nor only strict. In fact, as the Warm/Strict technique shows, you must be both. You should be caring, funny, warm, concerned, and nurturing–but also strict, by the book, relentless, and sometimes inflexible.

In fact, you should seek not only to be both warm and strict but often to be both at exactly the same time. When you are clear, consistent, and firm while being positive, enthusiastic, caring, and thoughtful, you send the message to students that having high expectations is part of caring for and respecting someone. (p. 438)

In reading the above paragraphs from the text, I am reminded that the idea of showing caring through high expectations is a core belief of mine. As a child training in dance, I remember complaining a few times to my mother that I was being “picked on” by my dance teachers. I remember my mother explaining to me that if the teachers didn’t care or think that I had potential, they wouldn’t correct me. She pointed out the some students never received corrections and got away with doing movements incorrectly, but the fact that teachers took the time to make sure I did things the right way shows that the believed in me and knew I was not giving my best effort. Those teachers wanted me to be my greatest self. Today, I realize from the way in which I communicate with my students and the lens through which I view parenting decisions is largely based in this belief: When you truly believe that someone can accomplish great things, as if it is an undeniable fact, you won’t have a problem with helping them see themselves in the same way and encouraging them to reveal the best part of themselves through their own work and effort. This is one of the qualities that I love most about the technique of Warm/Strict–it combines caring with high expectations and reminds us that high standards are good and should be sought and desired.