New Teacher? No Problem

By: Alana Tillim

 Now that class has been in session for over a month, a lot of you are getting used to a new teacher!  Having a new teacher in class can be an awesome experience for any student, and especially a dance student!  Because dance is passed down from generation to generation and learned from person to person, every teacher’s perspective brings something special to the classroom.  Whether it’s the way they introduce a concept or how they explain a correction, a new teacher’s unique viewpoint can offer unexpected “lightbulb moments” in a child’s learning experience.

 Just like classes at school, our dance classes may have new teachers in place at the beginning of the season, at the new semester, or if a teacher requires a substitute during the year.  Here at SB Dance Arts, we understand that having a new dance teacher can be fun for some students and nerve-wracking for others.   If they are still getting used to their new teacher, here are some tips to help ease the transition!

  ●        New teachers are going to be different—but in a positive way

Going into class with an open mind is key to having a positive experience with a new teacher!  Talk to your child about the kinds of things they might learn from a new teacher, or what they want to know about that person.  Remind them that the previous teachers they’ve loved were once new to them too!  With time, this new relationship will develop and feel more secure.

 ●        Having a new teacher is great practice for school

It’s reassuring for your child to know that this won’t be the only time in their life that they meet a new teacher.  The dance classroom is a great place to practice getting to know someone new, because we all already have something special in common: We love to dance!  Finding those shared likes right away helps build the teacher-student bond no matter where you are.

 ●        A new teacher is eager to get to know their students

We know that any new teacher at SB Dance Arts is going to be excited to get to know the dancers in their class!  Talk to your child about how to show that they want to make a good impression, perhaps by raising their hand to answer a question or giving the teacher an extra “thank you” when class time is over.  This is in perfect alignment with our appreciation theme.  A new teacher will appreciate the extra effort as they are getting to know each student.

 We also suggest that you explain to your child that their teacher is probably a little nervous too!  And everyone will feel more comfortable once the dancing begins.  Dance unites us all in a pretty amazing way.  It helps us connect as humans, and gives us the confidence to try new things and welcome new people into our lives!

Why Gratitude Matters

Why Gratitude Matters

By: Alana Tillim

 Welcome back!  This season at SB Dance Arts we are focusing on GRATITUDE and APPRECIATION.  Studies have shown that the ONE proven link to happiness is gratitude.  Those who are the most appreciative live the happiest and most fulfilled lives.  Isn’t that what we want most for our children and ourselves? 

 It is  easy for our children to forget how lucky they are, when they live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and get to pursue their passion for dance.   Kids, especially teens and tweens,  get  sucked into the complaining continuum.  How many times have you heard then them say, “I’m bored!”  or “I have nothing to wear, or “I wish I had my friend’s (insert anything here).”  This prevents them from appreciating that they have the luxury of boredom.  They don’t realize that they are blessed with closets full of clothes, while other kids would give their right arm for just a few items in their wardrobe.   They are always looking out at someone else’s life instead of looking around and appreciating what is right in front of them. 

 As parents, we get sucked into this narrative as well.   I am hoping that this year we can all come together and take pause to appreciate the beautiful things in our lives.  Our kids are watching, and instead of telling them to be grateful, our greatest gift lies in showing them the power of GRATITUDE… it is contagious!  

 Each month we are focusing on a different appreciation theme.  September’s theme is SELF APPRECIATION.  In our survey, many of you asked us to focus on positive body image, and we wanted to kick off the year by encouraging our dancers and families to look within and affirm what they love about themselves.  Please stop by the reception desk and fill out a flower for our Gratitude Garden and share what you appreciate about yourself.  Having a hard day?  Visit our Appreciation Station and take a quote to help inspire you… tuck it in your purse, post it on your mirror, or have your dancer put it in their room.   Our bathroom literature is focusing on tips for positive body image, and our teachers will be working in the classroom to spread body positive attitudes. 

 Please share your family’s gratitude journey by using #gratitudeistheattitude and tagging @sbdancearts on social media.  I believe that, TOGETHER,  we can help change the culture of our studio and our community.  THANK YOU for sharing your children with us!  It is going to be a great year!



Coping with May Madness: Dance Parent Edition

Coping with May Madness: Dance Parent Edition

 May is a stressful time of year. Every school, activity, and sport ramps up to finish the year strong.  But… IT ALL HAPPENS AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!  We are a part of this as we put forth a massive recital and task you with thinking about Fall. We know how you feel. Fall? I can barely remember what I am doing this afternoon! 

 We want you to know that we are here with you and wanted to offer some tips to navigate this time of year and take some stress out of the process!

 Take a pause:  In the chaos it is so easy to run in circles.  We encourage you to take a moment to get a cup of coffee and relax. This year we focused on kindness at the studio.   Personally, I like to practice what I preach to the students, and express gratitude. Whenever I feel lost, appreciation always helps me get centered.  Taking a break from mindless scrolling, (guilty!) and doing something positive always helps me find calm amongst the storm.

 Get organized:  I don’t know if it is the fact that I recently discovered Marie Kondo, but I find that taking a moment to organize my dates and responsibilities, even if it means getting up 30 minutes early, makes my life easier.  I suggest sitting with your coffee (second cup) look at the newsletter and map out what your child needs for the show and to wrap up our year together.  If this is your first recital with us, it may feel overwhelming, but hopefully our helpful videos and grids, and personalized emails will help you navigate the process.  

 Looking ahead:  It may feel overwhelming to look at Fall right now, but with the popularity of our program, our classes will fill long before we get to our September 3rd start date. We are taking the work out of the process and asking you to take 5 minutes at your child’s photo rehearsal, to fill out a Commitment Card for next year. The new schedule will be online May 9th, take a moment to select your classes and we will do the work for you.  This will also secure your discounted registration and for dancers that are seeking advancement, take advantage of the earl bird rate or our Pre-Placement Session.  This small step will save big heartache when your dancer cannot get into their favorite class. 

 Ask for help: If you are feeling lost, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We want this to be a positive experience for your dancer and provide you with the best service possible. 

 Than you again for sharing your dancer with us this season! We cannot wait to do it again next year!


Why Performing is Beneficial for Your Child

As you’ve probably noticed, the team at SB Dance Arts is buzzing about recital. Even though it’s not until May, our recital planning is well underway. Your costumes have been purchased, tickets go on sale in April, and the routines are in full swing.  With buzz of recital growing, parents sometimes ask us, “What’s beneficial about it?”

 This is an excellent question—and a significant one!  The recital is an investment in your child’s dance education, and it’s a pretty important commitment.  At its core, dance is a performing art, which is part of the reason why we want every child to experience the thrill of being onstage.

 We believe there are three core reasons at the heart of why performing is so valuable, even for our youngest dancers:

 1)      Progress
Throughout the dance season, your child is making awesome progress in class.  And when we say “awesome progress” we don’t necessarily mean the obvious, like learning fancy ballet steps (although that is pretty awesome too!).  What we mean is that your super-shy child bursts with confidence, or your child who said “I can’t” now says “I can,” or your teen who hid her smile now shines with every practice.  Seeing this kind of progress in class is great, but having it showcased on stage is priceless!  Performing allows your child to demonstrate their progress—both with the steps AND with their self-esteem.

 2)      Potential
The recital is an excellent time to see what’s possible if your child sticks with dance for the long-term.  From the audience, you’re able to see the potential dance holds as you watch the variety of styles and age groups.  Your child, too, will be inspired by seeing the different dance routines, and might think to themselves, “I bet I can do that too!”  Dance offers the promise of so much growth if a young child perseveres and works hard; the recital performance brings this potential into the spotlight!

 3)      Passion
Performing holds an excitement like some children have never experienced before.  Nerves can transform in an instant as the dancers light up with joy when stepping foot onstage; they are swept away by the magic of entertaining the crowd.  The sense of accomplishment they feel has them hooked!  It’s this growing passion—not perfect technique or memory—that makes performing so special.

Progress, potential, passion … these are foundation of what performance is all about!  At SB Dance Arts we love pretty much any opportunity to chat about these benefits, so if you have any questions about having your child perform in our recital, don’t hesitate to ask!

Behind the Scenes at the Studio

Have you and your child ever wondered what goes on at SB Dance Arts when you’re not there?  There’s a whole other side to the dance studio that some people never know about!  Here’s a little report on how the magic happens and what you don’t usually see …

 Documents, spreadsheets, and software, oh my … You don’t usually associate these things with teaching dance, but it’s how we stay organized and prepared.  On any given day, you’ll find Dance Arts staffers plugging away at computer work, all in the name of maintaining reliable systems so we can serve you better!

 Creating classes... Dance Arts teachers are in constant creative-mode, working on which curricula will be the focus of which class, how that material will be introduced, and to which music.  They are always experimenting with different combinations of steps to find just the right mix for each class’s students.  

 Marketing development … You know the fun social media posts you see?  Created and scheduled behind-the-scenes!  That amazing master class opportunity coming up?  Contracted last year.  The new brochures, flyers, or rack cards that go up at the front desk?  You guessed it; they were all designed and printed with months of planning from our marketing calendar.

 Problem-solving … Whether we’re troubleshooting a scheduling snafu, juggling a tricky music edit, or working through a budget, there’s always some element of problem-solving at play.  Our creativity can’t stop at the classroom doors; we need to use it everywhere!

 Performance prep … The recital may only come around once a year, but the work needed to make it successful goes on all year long.  From planning choreography to choosing costumes, and from reserving the venue to setting the show order, every detail is sharpened before the information becomes public.

 Mentorship … We are always making time to help our students in and  out of the classroom. Whether it is counseling them on study-dance balance, helping them navigate a social situation, or meeting with them to set and evaluate goals, we love offering support and guidance to our young dancers.

 Always Learning… Our staff is always learning together.   This month Alana is off to Studio Owner University with the International Association, More Than Just Great Dancing. She will take public speaking and leadership courses, inspiring ideas for the classroom, and innovation for our programming.   Our staff actively engages in leadership training, listening to podcasts, reading, and we actively educate our teachers with new methods, workshops, and resources to make your classroom experience the best it can be.

 Giving Back … Because Dance Arts has a partnership with the non-profit Arts Mentorship Program, we are able to give back to the most vulnerable populations in our community.  We work closely with the Board of Directors, attend meetings, help create forms, policy and programing that serve all facets of our community.  In addition, Dance Arts generously donates to dozens of local schools, CALM, Teen Star, NCL,  and other organizations to support their missions to make Santa Barbara a vibrant and special place.

 So now you know: Dance Arts is full of bustling activity, even when classes aren’t in session!  The best part of the day though, comes when we see our first group of students for the day.  It’s when the behind-the-scenes hustle pauses and we all get to do our favorite thing in the world: teach dance!

How to Make the Most Out of Your Child’s Classroom Experience

Dance lessons can be an awesome way to encourage your child’s personal growth!  At SB Dance Arts, we’re not just teaching dance steps in our classrooms—we’re developing curious, compassionate young leaders and equipping them for success. 

 We know that it can be a challenge sometimes to know what to do to offer support and encouragement for your dancer—especially if you are still new to the world of dance!  Here are four of our best tips for making the most out of your child’s class experience at SB Dance Arts.

 1)      Talk about dance at home
Although many of our young dancers take just one or two classes per week, dance is usually on their minds every day!  Read dance books together or listen to music and try some dance moves in the living room.  This helps keep your child’s mind engaged about dance in an extra-fun way—because they can share it with you!

 2)      Ask your child to teach you what they are learning
Since dance lessons are built on structure and repetition, teaching someone else can be a fun way to practice.  Even if your child is still working on remembering their steps, this can help exercise their memory!  (Plus, it can be pretty cute.)

 3)      Find out what your child likes best about class, or what they find challenging
Gain insight into what your child loves about dance—and what they think is hard—by asking them about their class.  Do they have a favorite step?  Have they made some new friends?  What do they like about their teacher?  These answers can help you understand what your child’s experience is like.

 4)      Voice your support
The way you praise your child can be very useful in helping them get the most out of dance class!  Use phrases like, “I love watching you dance!” or “I can tell you’ve been working hard.” or “Did you try your best?  That’s what’s most important.”  Your child’s confidence and enthusiasm will continue to grow with this kind of encouragement at home and at class.

 We hope these four tips come in handy as your child progresses through our dance season and of course, we’re always happy to help with any class curriculum or programming questions you might have.  We’re so thankful you’ve chosen SB Dance Arts your child’s education in dance! 

What Progress in Dance Looks Like

Dance class is a lot like school in many ways: your child explores new ideas, practices skills, solves problems, and develops friendships.  Unlike school though, dance classes don’t have a new grade level every year.  This can seem strange at first, but for dance education it’s very normal and expected! 

 At SB Dance Arts our dance students experience “growth” years (when they move up a level) and “grind” years (when they remain in the same level).  Because every dancer develops at their own pace, this advancement will look a little different for everyone over time, and in different styles.  For example, a student might spend two ‘grinding’ in ballet class before promoting, but receive a mid-year promotion after just a few months in hip hop.  Please refer to our syllabi to find out how our faculty is evaluating each dancer in order to gage progress to the next level.

 It’s important for you to know that progress is taking place no matter which type of year your child is in, growth or grind.  Our instructors are equipped to teach classes in a way that accommodates each child’s needs, allowing them to tailor the class material to reach different learning styles and personalities. 

 Achievements in dance can be seen in small ways and big ones, and we advocate for celebrating both!  In our experience at Dance Arts, progress is much more about the personal wins than it is about the name or number of your child’s class level. 

 From the exuberant child who proudly demonstrates his self-control to the teenager who finally embraces her strength as a peer leader, every piece of progress is a triumph.  It’s easy to think sometimes that a student should simply be doing more or moving faster—but those things are not always hallmarks of progress.  The true signs of growth come from the perseverance within; not necessarily from the obvious places.  And the grinding hard work is what makes it possible.

 We work diligently with your kids.  Each student set goals in September and we are spending our first week of December revisiting these goals, tweaking the plans to accomplish them, and most important, setting accountability measures so they can achieve them successfully.

 We hope that as teachers, we have proven that you can trust our guidance and expertise, and that we’ve shown that our goals align with yours.  We’re committed to helping your child discover their potential and share it with the world!


Practicing at Home: Dos and Don’ts

Many of our students absolutely love practicing dance at home.  You’ll find them twirling in the living room and tapping in the kitchen—they just can’t contain their enthusiasm!  It’s not uncommon for a parent to tell us that their child feels compelled to choreograph with their friends after school or teach their stuffed animals how to piqué and passé.

If your child is one these non-stop movers, you might have started wondering, “What can I do to encourage this practice in a safe way?  How can I foster this passion?” 

At Dance Arts, we get it!  And we’ve got some great advice for you here with our Dos and Don’ts for practicing at home:

First and foremost, Do designate a specific spot in your house that is “dance practice” space!  This could be a room or hallway with very little furniture, or perhaps your garage—somewhere that is easy to move in.  Don’t allow tap shoes on your easily-scuffed floors, and never allow your child to practice tumbling/acro/aerial at home.  

Do challenge your child to practice what they remember from class, but don’t worry if they just want to improvise their own moves!  Resist the urge to “teach” the dance steps yourself; Do allow your child’s dance teacher to be the authority of those skills in the classroom.

Do come a few minutes before class ends and video the routine. This is a great tool for your dancer to get inspiration and practice the routine ‘with their teacher’ in the comfort of your home. 

Don’t expect perfection with at-home practice; it should feel relaxed and carefree as much as possible.  Do suggest that your child practice with music (any music!) since it will help them become even more familiar with finding the beat and keeping time with rhythms.

Also take care to supervise when your child practices; do watch what they’re doing at home to ensure they are safe—and don’t hesitate to join in the fun!

Practicing dance at home should always feel comfortable and supportive so that your child can unleash their creativity and joy for dancing.  If you ever have any questions about what is safe or appropriate to practice at home, please ask!  We’re happy to help.