Month: July 2010


Stepping – Cross Training for Strength

I’m always looking for extra activities to  mix up my routine.

If you are looking for a good cross training activity for strength, and to give you variety in your exercise program, try running  stairs.  Great for when you might have a summer dance moratorium.  Helps keep you in shape during the down time.

Stepping is a great cardiovascular workout, that also gives your legs a workout.  Stepping is a great exercise  that helps strengthen those hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes – and it helps work off that extra cellulite.

Using  two sets of stairs separated by about 20 or 30  feet of bleachers is allyou need.  No expensive gym costs, and no exercise equipment needed.  Just a good set of running shoes and a little bit of motivation.

Since I am not an exercise expert, you should  check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise program.

Be careful if you use weights when you step.  I don’t know of anyone whorecommends using ankle weights while running or stepping, probably because they add extra stress on the already weak areas of your body.   I’ve also never heard of a professional runner who uses them either.

When starting a stepping program, it is a good idea to chart how many steps you do per repetition.

Arrows show direction of reps

Here is a simple repetition start up program:

Up 20   steps
-Down 20 steps
-Run across  the bottom row (flat platform)
-Up 20  steps
-Down 20 steps

Five repetitions will give you a pretty good workout if you are doing 20 steps.

Skip steps as you get stronger, and add more reps later on as well.

Number of Steps Number of Columns of steps Repetitions
1 to 2 weeks 5 1
2 to 3 weeks 10 1 to 2
5 weeks 20 2 to 3

Start off with a couple reps, and gradually increase as you get stronger.  Go slower at the beginning  and add steps gradually as you build endurance.

As you get stronger, you can try skipping steps too.

Take a buddy along to keep you company and challenge each other to work harder.

Have Fun!

The Lone Wolf

The lone wolf. Nearly every team has one. That individual, for whatever reason who doesn’t run with the traditional pack. On the dance floor they are the most creative, most versatile, and often most successful. What makes them different? Could be their willingness to experience new things with a hunger. Or maybe their desires to create new movements and excel in other areas of dance others won’t attempt. It’s that lone wolf attitude.

Some lone wolves fit in well in the traditional dance pack, others do not. A lot depends on the pack mentality, and it’s leaders. If the pack leaders fear a lone wolf, they will often –  out of jealousy, or envy, find ways to attempt to set them aside. That fear of losing control to the lone wolf is a real fear to them.

However, when you have a team that respects ability, the lone wolf is generally picked as lead in most dance events. Lone wolf leaders are nice to have. They bring a level of experience and admiration to the group.  Positive role models.

The lone wolf is really there to dance, not socialize so  much. They have that competitive drive that is not missed by others.  Most people don’t understand that need that fills them.  Some might take their stand offishness as rude, or stuck up. That is generally far from the truth. They just have a great thirst for knowledge – dance knowledge, and they are studying it’s forms constantly. The hunt.

A lot of lone wolves grow up to be successful in their dancing. They don’t seem to be to much into the mom and pop dance studios, but rather are looking for serious dancers like themselves who bring a level of technical training to table. The lone wolf as an instructor is more likely to examine their students on the floor with a more critical eye than say a mom and pop instructor might. Years of hard core competition has molded most lone wolves  understanding toward the value of proper technique. Their  tolerance for the mom and pop is generally low.

The lone wolf can often be perceived as the leader without even trying. Individual dancers will often attempt to mimic the creative style of a lone wolf.  Lone wolf’s like to win. They don’t rest until they do. It’s just hard wired into them to be successful. Usually you can spot your lone wolves early on in their training.

Attempting to change a lone wolf to conform to the pack is not a desirable thing. Your lone wolves tend to be more mature in many ways. Changing them or attempting too – isn’t necessary. What is necessary to help lone wolves excel even more is to keep the “would be’s” under control. The “would be’s” are those who just want to push their way through life, without a care about what is important to the lone wolf,  others, or the continued success of the art of dance. The biggest concern is not that the lone wolf would get their feelings hurt, but rather that the “would be” may get bitten, and bitten hard. Remember a lone wolf is patient.

When you look at the faces of those under your instruction, how many lone wolves do you have? Do you really understand their needs? They may not be the pack favorite – but rather, the trail blazers, the one who brings competition to the table. They often compete, or rival, if you will, the pack favorite.

Some competition is good for a team – it motivates them to excel more.

The lone wolf doesn’t budge easily. They often lead without even meaning too. Others will look to them for memorization, synchronization, and technical helps.

There isn’t much disadvantages of having a lone wolf in your class. The plus side is much greater. The only area I would be worried for in a lone wolf situation is the potential for total isolation. How bad is your pack? Are they starved to death?

You have to teach everyone the same, and be fair. It is often a very different situation when you have a student who is way above the pack. They don’t necessarily challenge your authority, but they bring a level of perfection to the group, that pushes others. They also  tend to, by design, fall into the lead spots, and they should. That is the merits of dance.

Look at the faces of your dancers. Do any of them have that lone wolf characterization? Are they demanding without being demanding? Do they have a level of control that stands out? Do they force others to challenge themselves? It’s by design that some will be good, and others will follow.

Competition Season

Different organizations have different time lines for their regional and national competitions.   We always ended our national competitions in Las Vegas.  Every summer we were in Vegas for nationals! I know that downtown better than most competition coordinators!  I’ve seen it from a kids eye!

Many things happen throughout the dance season, but some things you can always count on.

1. make over’s and fall photo shoots – the glamour shots.  Some days we were there  10 to 12 hours.  We were little kids.  Someone had the patience of a saint! We were snots, but we had our momma’s to reel us in.
2. Christmas recitals, and costume horror stories. Candy stuck to everything.
3. Game day performances.
4. Camps.
5. Endless fundraisers.
6. Dance challenge ran all year long (students work individually on technique).
7. Dress rehearsals.
8. Keeping the motel pools open “way too long”.
9. Shopping in every little poe dunk town along the way to competition, and more when we got into the city. Being the first to get that new “thing”.
10. Spending 1000’s of dollars a year to go to Las Vegas for nationals!  That was our family vacation, twelve years in a row.
11. the adrenaline rush that comes from performing.

I recently stopped in to talk to my mom, and she had up on her 32′ screen  the JUMP competitions  that were being streamed online.   She liked this dance, I liked that one – so the judging war was on!   It was really great to watch this online competition.  It was so cute.   We must of both had a bad case of competition  withdrawals after we watched it.  There was something missing…there aren’t any malls here in poe dunk.

You kind of miss the “WHOLE thing” that goes with traveling to competitions.  We did find a pool and a hot tub, that helped some.  But, I really miss the adrenaline rush – for myself.

Competition season is a nine month season for most.  For me, it was generally year round.  I did most of my personal training and choreography in the summer months.   I loved it!  It was exciting to travel and train with an American gymnastic team and get my butt kicked in a ballet academy.  Those were, in my young eyes, way back then, “boot camp”.   I was proud of those blisters on both my hands and feet.

Competition is good for kids, teens, and young adults.  It gives them a chance to learn on a different level what success and failure really means on a personal level.  Here dancers can always come back and do it again, maybe win next time. 🙂  It is a growth thing.

You learn to read those scores sheets too.  As much as you like the high marks, it’s the low and middle marks you need to be reading.  You take your lowest score and work on that.

There are times when you get a judge that is maybe not as qualified as they should be.  If that is the case you need someone that can really understand those score sheets – looking them over with you.

It makes me so angry when I see  score sheets and they say nothing.  Nothing to improve, very little is written if anything.  SAY SOMETHING! Tell me, you were seeing what I saw.  Help me confirm that what I\’m saying to my young students, is also what you would say. Pick up on those basic’s.  It takes so long to get students to a certain level, it really isn’t helpful if you don\’t judge them at all.  They need to know what category they fit in.  They can only build upward, but you have to tell them.   That is competition!


You always have the last day to build upon at competitions.  Some times it turns out pretty good.   Sometimes you are left shaking your head.  I’ve even felt at times, that I was sitting with the wrong group of people.  No disrespect at all – I love everybody.  But there were just some odd moments at competitions.

Here is another thing. Have you ever wanted to reach out to some other dancer in one of the other award circles; who was crying and felt really bad?  I did one year.  Her name was Valerie.  I beat her in competition, and then she cried. It was third grade, my first national win. I had mixed feelings, and then some, after seeing her face.

My mom had just bought me a dancing teddy bear from the merchants there at competition. All these years my mom thought I lost that teddy.  “Mom, I left it with Valarie”.

For years to come I would see Valarie again at competitions.  We became good friends.  I even talked with her mom, and sat with her in the stands. She went on to win her own competitions – it was all good.

What you learn at competitions isn’t about “YOU” always winning.  Sometimes it’s about meeting a friend, and being one. Sometimes it’s about “US”.

Some of you are winding down the competition season,  while others are just gearing up.  JUMP is all over the country, as is Show Stoppers and Hall of Fame.   I love them all.   STARS Nationals is coming up also. There are a bunch out there to pick from.  Other  favorite categories, clinics and camps  I’ve been watching  are:  Coastal Dance Rage, a Blake McGrath production, his looks really good – some big names (may be coming to the mid-west next year!)!!!  Dennis Caspary’s is a really good one too.  Love Dennis’s.  Had way too much fun this year at his.

I should mention The Pulse, NYCDA, and Star Quest too.  I know I missed a ton of comps and camps.   There are so many good ones.

Drill and Cheer camps are coming up soon.  USA Summer Camps

Here is the dance/drill link: DANCE

Here is the cheer link:  CHEER

If you get a chance to do the college/pro camp in your future DO IT! It’s a great time!

As you get older, I don’t want any of you to think it’s over.  It’s never over.  You are an alumni.  You are sitting with the right group. It’s just that now you are the teacher, and with that position comes a lot of responsibility.

Here are a few teacher rules:

1. You can’t keep the pool open until 1:00 a.m.
2. Yes, they can ask the team not to return to the hotel
3. Since her shoe is missing, have a back up pair for the ENTIRE team!
4. Don’t throw away those old solo costumes or choreography
5. Sixty’s music is music and works good for novelties. Ahhh, check your props….!
6. You can’t chew gum if they can’t
7. You can’t swear, drink,  or talk about ANYONE EVER AGAIN!
8. If you put so-and-so up front some one  is bound to pitch a fit.  Deal with it.  It won\’t go away until you do…
9. Being thrown up on at competition is a right of passage. New and old dancers will let it spew at the most inconvenient times possible.
10. You must now share the pool and hot tub.   Yeah, you are with the right group.
11. You will have to put up with people who really don’t know anything about dance.
12. Administrators make mistakes – and have to learn too.
13. Camps are over way too soon.
14. Gum isn’t a snack or team treat.
15. When the phone rings – it’s probably not for you anymore. Kids!
16. Competition is what you live for, train for, and do.
17. Mom’s and dad’s rock!
18. Friends come in different packages and sometimes on the other team.
19. Score sheets aren’t always understandable.
20. You are important to the team!

Love, hugs and kisses people.


PS:  Aspen, I’m so proud of you!

35 Things dancer hate

1. A hole in your tights under your tutu
2. Popping your wig off during a performance
3. Losing your top
4. Falling on your butt during a solo
5. To give a speech and have your gum fly out of your mouth
6. Water splashed on the front of your skirt before your speech
7. Throwing up behind the stands because of nerves
8. Eating blue candy before performing
9. Sitting on gum and then performing backwards movements to the judges
10. Forgetting your dance and standing there. You laugh – they laugh – you laugh – you
11. Showing up a day late
12. Showing up at the wrong competition
13. Getting travelers squirts before you are ready to go on
14. Farting (egg smelling kind)
15. That time of the month
16. Flipping a shoe off while dancing
17. Having someone kick your hat or wig off
18. The lunch you had earlier is clinging to your front or back side
19. Showing up with the wrong shoes
20. Getting caught talking about “you know who”
21. Having to sit out a performance
22. Being picked last
23. Trying to smile with a mouth full of braces with rubber bands
24. For some, watching the video of your performance
25. Having someone who wants to start trouble
26. Getting hit by a another car
27. Blowing an engine
28. Getting a LATE BILL!
29. Getting placed in a lower class
30. Throwing up in the pool
31. Wondering who left the log in the pool “it shut the pool down due to health risks”
32. Wrong colored tights (bleached)
33. Dropping your drill flag on national TV ESPN, after uncoordinated team mate trips you.
34. Tripping in front of hot guys
35. No Music