I’m teaching my first class tomorrow.

They say that the secret to happiness and abundance in life is to have more beginnings than endings. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but I surely love starting new things. So tomorrow, I’m launching #DanceDazeSacramento — new weekday children’s classes in Sacramento, California, for my studio-based dance organization, Dance Daze, Inc.

If you’ve known me for a while, or even if you’ve been following me for the past few months via DanceEdStartup.com, I’m sure you also know that I’ve been building up my dance organizations–Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools–for about a decade now! I’ve taught dance classes myself for my businesses in different cities and in different spaces, such as schools, community centers, country clubs, and synagogues. I’ve partnered with charter school management organizations and local educational organizations in my city to bring after-school enrichment classes and seasonal camps to students at elementary schools. I’ve worked with universities and high schools to develop and implement paid service-learning internships for college students and high school students as well. Today, I’m working on building my performance program with Dance Daze, Inc., expanding my studio classes to a new city, researching dance educator training in the United States for my doctoral dissertation, and developing a digital course for early career dance educators. So yes, perhaps it is safe to say that, at least with Dance Daze things, I’ve successfully had more beginnings than endings. And I suppose the secret to that success is that I simply never stop. When it comes to getting what I want, I’m pretty relentless (the way all the greats are in my mind).

Now, I’ve done the base work that I walk my students through in my Dance Ed Startup course–I’ve found a beautiful location for my classes, I’ve done some marketing (though, there’s always more marketing that can be done!), and tomorrow is the big day!

Of course, like most of you who have been teaching dance for years, I know in my head what I’ll need to teach. I have my playlists created. My props are organized. Essentially, I’ve got this down. However, I also strongly believe that “A failure to plan is a plan for failure.”

So, I created this little document to make sure I have everything, absolutely everything, I will need to teach a single 45-minute jazz and hip hop dance class to 4 to 6 year old children tomorrow morning.

Like I said, I literally wrote the list, so I’m sure I already know what’s on it. But, when the adrenaline rush hits tomorrow and I’m rushing out of my front door to teach, I will do a quick check of the list, just to be safe.

Click here to grab the Dance Daze® First Class Checklist for yourself, and be sure to check back here at The Happy Dance Blog each week for a new post and likely a new freebie as well.

Have a great week!

Saumirah

The Importance of Music in a Dance Class

Though I have occasionally had a specific movement or feeling in my head around which I wanted to create a piece of choreography, I typically choose the music for my dance classes before I plan the rest of the class. The music is my foundation, my core, my bass. This is because I believe that the music used in a dance class lays the foundation for the energy, atmosphere, and overall experience of each class.

I’ve always been a lover of music, though. As I child, I used to visualize movements to songs while riding shotgun in the car with my mom, coming back from Pier 39 on a Friday night. I remember that it was almost as if I could envision my future through music and movement. I wasn’t exactly choreographing in my head, but I would see movements that matched the songs we used to sing at the top of our lungs. And I felt safe and comforted. I felt hope and joy.

I also studied music as a child–piano lessons for several years, a youth vocal ensemble (which I think caused me to realize that singing was not a particular talent of mine) . . . . We sang a lot in my private elementary schools as well. I’ve said before that when I picture my childhood, I think of sunshine and music. [Insert your eye roll here.] (Sorry, not sorry. My childhood was awesome.)

In college, I completed about 5 courses in music (including Physics of Music, Psychology of Music, and Ethnomusicology while studying abroad in Marburg, Germany).

With that for my background in music, I think I always assumed that most people were the same way. I thought that most people who grew up dancing would feel a similar connection to music and its power to define a dance class or to make or break a movement experience. After working with many dance teachers over the years now, I have come to realize that this is simply not common. Some beginning dance teachers simply don’t seem to have the same connection to music that I’d always previously assumed was innate for those of us who call ourselves dancers. (Side note: The topic of identifying as a dancer vs. as a dance educator will be a future blog post. It’s a thing.)

With that said, I want to make it clear that I believe that dance is still dance, even if we are moving in silence. I understand and respect the rhythm of life and the melodies and beats that are still present, even when no bow brushes strings and when no stick strikes a snare.

However, I’m still all about the music! I’m sure I’ll have to write more about this later, but for now I want to stand united with those who use music as the driving force for their dance classes. I also want to tell you that if you’re looking for some help with choosing music for your dance classes, I’m working on a little something that you might find useful.

More to come!

Stay tuned.

2011 Summer Dance Camp

Hi Everyone!

I hope things are going well! I wanted to let you know that we’ve made some changes to our Summer Dance camp program! Instead of offering a Junior Dance Camp as a completely separate camp, we’ve decided to invite our junior dancers to join with us on Monday, June 20th – Friday, June 1st.

Students ages 5 – 8 will have separate technique classes and will learn different choreography than students ages 9 – 12, but the sessions will run simultaneously.

We think this will be a great change for us and our students!

To learn more about our 2011 Summer Dance Camp, please click here.
To pay for camp, please click here.

Happy Sunday!