Our community means everything to us here at CoreDance. We want to celebrate some shining stars that are giving back in different ways.
Our first spotlight interview is an inspiring woman from Surrey, BC who shares a passion for family, friendship, and all things dance. Tajanna Harris decided at a young age that she needed to help people. What makes TJ even so inspiring to this blogger, is that her years of being a dancer and now a dance teacher have inspired her to choose a career in Behaviour Intervention.
What is that?
A Behaviour Interventionalist assists families with implementing individualized plan for children diagnosed with Autism. She works one on one with children and families in their homes to assists them in achieving different goals in communication and socialization.
Why is she different?
TJ takes the time to really get to know the families. She sees that all children are different and therefore don’t deserve cookie cutter solution. Having the opportunity to have a positive impact on these families is all the reward she ever hopes to get. She’s so honoured to be welcomed into someone’s home and to aid the incredible children she works with in advancing their capabilities to enhance their everyday lives. TJ believes everyone deserves the opportunity to live their best life no matter what who they are.
“My favourite quote is inspired by my Grandmother’s favourite song “I Hope You Dance”. To me that simply means if you have the opportunity to explore something new take it. Don’t settle, reach for your full potential in all aspects of your life.” ~Tajanna Harris
During our first decade of CoreDance, we’ve had some incredible adjudicators. These talented people continue to be mentors in the community and were excited when we asked them the share their expertise once again. This week, our interviews are focussed on all of you dancers out there eager to start a career in the arts. Keep your eyes peeled for more words of wisdom coming your way next week!
My best piece of audition advice is to understand that there are tons of ways to get a dance job beyond the audition! (Maybe this could be called anti-audition advice). Sure auditions happen, and yes you want to be prepared. Know who you are auditioning for. Do your research. Don’t show up for a Rockettes audition in sweatpants. But beyond that, most dance jobs in this country are acquired outside of an audition setting. Particularly in the contemporary dance scene, its all about who you know. If a choreographer has seen you dance before, has perhaps taught you, and likes you, they are much more likely to hire you if a job opportunity arises. I would suggest first of all figure out what kind of work you want to do. Dance is a vulnerable art form and being genuine is very important. If you are faking it just to book a job, its obvious. Decide what kind of dance you like, find teachers you want to learn from, find choreographers who inspire you and figure out how to get in front of them. Take classes, sign up for workshops, travel, experience dancing in different cities. All of this will lead to you figuring out what scene you belong in and a higher chance of booking a dream job!
A career in the dance/ performance art industry gives you a specialized lens through which you can examine the world. Generally, dancers and performers have strong leadership skills, excel at understanding movement, interpreting nuance, and understanding non-verbal communication. Dancers and performers learn to consider and hold multiple viewpoints at the same time, have a strong sense of community and a unique capacity for empathizing with others. These skills are valuable in any realm, inside or outside of dance and art. Dancers are valuable community members. Almost every dancer I know prides themselves on taking care of their community in some capacity.
~Caitlin Griffin (Photo Credits: Michal Urbanic @urbanlabel)
For the dancers out there hoping for a career as a teacher: Be selfless. Teaching is not about showing off what you can do, it is 100% about the students and their growth. Always be prepared. Have alesson plan that is longer than you need – it is better to not get through everything than to have extra time left over, especially for younger kids who are not able to focus as long.
September is here and we are so excited to kick off the new dance season with the relaunch of our CoreDance Blog!
What to expect
This year we are thrilled to be celebrating our 10th anniversary. In honour of our first decade of dance, we will be sharing exciting articles that celebrate our history as well as lift us into our future.
Incredible things to come… Stay Tuned!
Figuring out what you want to do with your life after high school can be extremely difficult. If you’ve grown up dancing, and have been serious enough about it to consider pursuing dance as a career, then it’s time to figure out what you need to do to make it happen. You can of course just dive in and audition for roles or a spot in a company, get an agent, or move to a big city to train and audition. Or, you can go to a post-secondary school to further your training and prepare for your dance career, while getting an education.
What are your steps?
Ask yourself what it is you want out of your education. Do you want to teach, do you want to dance professionally? What styles do you want to focus on? There are so many options, so take time to really think about it. Some people want a degree as a back up plan in case their dance career doesn’t work out. Some people want the option to study something else while kick starting their dance career (minoring in kinesiology is popular amongst dancers). If a degree sounds like a long term, intimidating plan, look into your diploma options!
Next, you need to determine what you want to get out of the program. Most Canadian schools offer options for ballet, contemporary, or commercial dance. Simon Fraser University, for example, is Contemporary based. You’ll study ballet, but the prime focus is on modern techniques such as Graham, Cunningham, and Horton. Ryerson offers a broader curriculum which includes modern, ballet, contemporary, and jazz. University of Regina offers an education degree with a focus on dance, preparing you to teach in public schools. George Brown College aims to prepare you for a career in commercial performance.
Find out what your options are
We’ve provided a list of post-secondary dance programs in Canada. Keep in mind that we have only listed Canadian schools, but there are international options, as well! We have also only listed Colleges and Universities. There are many additional professional training programs in Canada, we’ve just limited our list to those offering post-secondary accreditation.
Do Your Research
Your first step will be to check out the websites of the schools you are interested in. Find out when application deadlines and auditions are. It’s also worth your time to reach out to current students and alumni: ask them about their experiences, what they love about the program, what they find challenging, and what the audition experience was like. Look up what their alumni are up to. Attend an info session or check out the campus.
Find out what you need for the application & audition
In addition to your High School Requirements and the basic application process, dance programs will require an audition. You’ll either need to attend an audition (which means travel, staying in a hotel, making sure you have someone to accompany you), or submit a video audition- in which case, you need to make a video. You’ll also need headshots, a dance resume, references and/or reference letters, and you should be prepared to answer questions in an interview setting.
I hope this has given you some new information on your options for studying dance at university. There are so many great options out there, so find the one that’s right for you. Good luck on your journey!
Cross Training. You’ve probably heard the term before, but do you know what it means and why it matters to you as a dancer? Well, cross training simply refers to training in a sport or activity other than the one which is your main focus. By doing so, you improve the skills and fitness needed for your main activity. In our case, it means doing activities other than dance to supplement your dance training. We’re going to explain why you should cross train, and how you can get started.
What & Why?
Why should you bother with cross training? Well, it’s a great way to continue to improve your fitness, gain skills, and reach goals. We all have different natural strengths and weaknesses. No matter how great your teachers are, or how many classes you take, sometimes there are going to be things that you need to focus on in your own time in order to see improvement.
Cross Training can also be a fun way to switch things up. You love to dance, obviously. But sometimes doing an activity without the pressure to reach an elite level can be a welcome change. You don’t need to stress about how good you are at your cross training activity: you’re doing it to help you dance! Choose something fun, and don’t take it too seriously. CoreDance Founder & Director Geneen Georgiev loves keeping her cross training playful, with monkey bar workouts at the beach, and martial arts!
How can you implement cross training into your already busy life? After all, you’re already at the studio 5 nights a week, and you have school, friends, and family. Our advice? Just add one session a week, about 1 hour. Involve your friends and family- go for a bike ride, or a Sunday hike!
During holidays and breaks from dance, add more to keep yourself in peak condition. We all need a break from dance (even just a little one) so Christmas, Spring Break, or Summer Vacation are perfect time to add a little something different.
What to do?
So what sorts of cross training are useful for a dancer? Well, that depends on what you want to get out of it.
Do you find that you’re struggling with flexibility? Perhaps a yoga class would be perfect for you. Are your teachers telling you that you need to work on your core? Try going to the gym or focusing on strength training at home: standing on a balance board or working with a stability ball can be extremely beneficial in gaining core strength, as well as balance.
Some other suitable choices for dancers include pilates, swimming, biking, hiking, running, aerial silks, and weight training. Figure out what it is that you need to focus on, and find an activity that complements it!
Tips & Reminders
Choose activities that are specific to the style of dance you do, and what you need to improve on. If you want to improve your stamina, focus on cardio like swimming, biking, or running. If you want to increase your flexibility, choose something along the lines of yoga or pilates. If you’re looking at overall strength and fitness, hit the gym or add some resistance/weight training at home.
Remember that cross training should be supplemental to your dance training; it shouldn’t take over, or cause you to be tired during your dance classes. Keep it fun, and don’t over do it!
We’ve all been there: searching in vain through an unorganized bag, trying to find a missing shoe or 1 more bobby pin. Throwing everything onto the change room floor, desperately sorting through orphaned socks and miscellaneous debris.
But what if- what if your dance bag was organized? Imagine it: you reach into your bag and find that missing shoe? Or a spare bobby pin is actually where you expect it to be?
We’re going to help you make this dream a reality.
We’ve listed the essentials, as well as the “just in case” items that all dancers should have on hand.
1- Hair Supplies. You know you will need these.
2- Massage Balls & Therapy Supplies
3- Warm Up clothes & Extra Layers. Keep warm during those times when you’re not moving.
4- Ready-to-go Snacks. You need to have snacks that keep well in your bag, and don’t require much preparation.
5- Dance shoes. Obviously, pack for the classes you take. But if you do ballet 5 days a week, you might as well let those slippers (or an extra pair) live in your bag.
Tip: Store each pair of shoes in a zip lock bag. That way the pairs stay together & are easy to find, & delicate fabrics stay in great shape.
6- Toiletries. Sometimes you head to class straight from school, & you just need to freshen up a bit. Fresh breath is especially important when you’re doing partner work, agreed?
7- Miscellaneous. Don’t let a blister ruin your day.
8- Extras. Extra clothes. Extra Snacks. Extra Hair Stuff.
9- Notebook & Pen
10- Ipod/MP3 Player & headphones
We hope this helps you pack the perfect dance bag. Did we miss anything? Comment below to let us know what you would add! Look for our “Performance Bag” edition closer to competition season!
September is almost here, and with it comes the shift from sunny care-free days to schedule and routine. You might not be ready for “Back to School”, but you’re probably ready to head back to dance! The beginning of
a new dance year brings so much excitement: Seeing your dance friends after a few months apart, wondering what songs your teachers will choose for choreography, amping up to learn the latest “it” move.
However, after two months of vacation, heading back into the studio can come with a few challenges. Here are our Top 5 Tips for easing back in, and making sure that you start your dance year off right!
#1- Attend an End of Summer Intensive
Nothing helps you get back in shape faster than an intensive! Find a studio in your area that offers summer classes and get yourself moving. Our good friends over at M.E.M. Dance Co. are offering a Pre-Season Intensive the week before Labour Day! Check out their website for more information. http://www.memdanceco.com/
#2- Start Slow
Maybe you did a summer intensive or two. Maybe you watched a lot of Netflix. However you spent your summer, it’s important to remember that your body will need to re-adjust to dancing multiple hours a day. It’s better to take it a bit slow than to jump in unprepared and end up with an injury.
Be extra aware during high-impact moves, like jumps. Landing complicated jumps when your ankles and knees aren’t yet ready will put you at risk for sprains, strains, tears, and even breaks
Your teachers know what you are capable of, so don’t feel like you have to impress them. Start small, and work your way up! Why not drop into a beginner class and refresh your basics?
#3- Set Goals
Once you’re feeling back on track and ready to kick it up a notch, set a few dance goals for the year. Try setting a goal for flexibility, technique, and performance. Goals are a great way to measure your progress, and to challenge yourself. Tell a teacher or dance friend so they can help you keep on track.
#4- Stretch and Strengthen
Take time every evening to do a few gentle stretches at home. Make it a part of your bedtime routine. You already know that it’s important to stretch when you’re warm, so do it after having a bath, or make sure to do a little cardio first!
Rebuild strength in your feet and ankles using a Theraband (they’re cheap & available at Sports Equipment stores, physio offices, & Walmart). Check out these exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6us2J8gFLc
You can also strengthen your feet and toes with toe gymnastics: try picking up pencils with your toes, stand on a towel and “gather” it up with your toes, try to lift each of your toes off the floor one at a time. It’s harder than it sounds!
It might not hit you right away, but you are going to experience some soreness after the first few days back in class.
The best way to ease the pain? Proper self care.
My final tip for getting ready to dance again? Plan a Dance Movie Night with your dance besties. My favourite (and cheesy) picks are “Center Stage,” “Save the Last Dance,” and of course the entire “Step Up” franchise. Or try something inspirational, such as “First Position” or “Pina”.
Good luck, and have a great “Back to Dance” season!
Get ready for our all-new blog!