A Note From Beverly's Desk — Learning from Lisa Howell

This February, I had the pleasure of attending Lisa Howell’s Level One Dance Teacher and Health Professional Workshop in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. The first time I met with Lisa was in Australia, and then she worked with me on the Leading Edge Dance workshop in Lafayette. Spending time in Canada was much colder than we were used to, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time shared together. We took in the beautiful frozen scenes like Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls, shared stories over dinner, did a lot of learning, and even made plans for future collaborations. 

 
 

The workshop was the in the middle of February, and I can already see that the information I learned during the workshop has made a positive difference in my dancers! I truly believe every ballet teacher should take level one of Lisa's dance teacher training. The information and techniques learned are essential to teaching dancers of all ages.

My niece Danielle (in the picture above with Lisa and me) is recovering from an injury and ankle surgery, and she has been diligent about doing her “Miss Lisa exercises” several times a week. She is now able to stand on the surgery ankle without wobbling and has learned to activate the muscles needed to maintain her rotation and alignment without the support of the barre. We are very excited to see such progress in a little over two weeks. I do believe that with Lisa’s prescription of exercises she will be stronger than before her surgery by the time she is able to return to fully dancing and performing. All of her exercises were learned in Lisa’s workshop.

I am now starting each class by implementing Lisa's rotation activation exercises with my students too. I am taking time to teach each exercise so the young dancers (ages eight and up) are able to understand and perform the exercises on their own. Once I know they are able to perform them correctly on their own, I will ask them to do the exercises on their own prior to the start of their class. So instead of just talking in the hallway before class, I expect them to be doing Lisa's exercises. Many of the exercises are done with a partner so the young dancer’s friendship and social needs will also be met while preparing for class. After a dégagé exercise today, one of the nine-year olds turned to me and said, “Wow, Mrs. Bev! When I stand on my leg, I can feel my turnout muscles working ever since we started those new exercises!” Lisa would be proud! I know I am!

Finally, I am very excited to announce that Lisa will be at the August Leap ’N Learn Workshop! She and I will be teaching a session on safely and effectively training turnout in young dancers on August 6th, the special day for returning Leap ’N Learn studios — in other words, all of you! She will also be holding the same training that I attended in Canada on the three days before the LNL workshop. You can click here learn more about this Dance Teacher Training and Health Professional Workshop in Lafayette. She is graciously offering all licensed LNL teachers a 10% discount on the workshop. Simply enter "leapnlearn" at the checkout (the offer is good until April 30, 2015). 

Lisa is very excited to meet everyone involved in Leap ’N Learn and looks forward to sharing, as my niece calls it, her “Miss Lisa exercises!" 

I can't wait to welcome you to Lafayette this August for our annual workshop (don't forget to register as soon as you know you can make it) and to hopefully having you stick around to learn from Lisa too! 

Happy learning! 

 
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A Note From Beverly's Desk — Motivated for Time Management

Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year tends to bring an abundance of motivation, and I'm personally motivated to become more organized and use my time more efficiently. I wanted to share a few things that have been on my mind lately that relate to these goals... 

Cleaning My Closet — Over the holiday break, the time off (or at least away from the studio) allowed me to get work done without interruption. Being able to focus on one thing from start to finish is an excellent way to get projects done. And the best thing I accomplished was cleaning my closet! While it may seem insignificant, it felt so good, and it has inspired me to organize other areas of my life too. What has been making you feel good lately, and what are you inspired to focus on in the new year?  

Organizing in Advance — That brings me to my next thought which is all about the benefits of being organized in advance. So much in life takes up time, and we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Being well organized can free up your time and your mind to focus on what matters most and to get more done in each day. Instead of wasting time searching for something or trying to remember everything that's going on, it's better to simply know where to look and find what you need. (Annie always reminds me that I need to quit trying to remember everything because you can't do it.) Sure it will take time to get organized in the beginning, but imagine how much time and frustration you'll save later on. What would you like to be prepared for in advance, and what are your tricks for staying organized? 

Staff Communication — Another way I'm better organizing my time (and saving money) is by reformatting how I communicate with my staff. I used to have staff meetings frequently, which added up to a lot of time and money, and now they rarely can happen due to scheduling challenges. So, I'm switching to written communication. Putting notes in a teacher's file or paycheck, or perhaps via email or an online program, and having them be accountable for reading and responding to everything as necessary will be a lot more efficient. Plus, I love the idea of personalizing the messages. I think my staff will appreciate this; however, I would still like to keep some face time for team building and keeping a positive work culture. I will continue to try to catch teachers before or after their classes to check in with them, but I may consider setting a bit of time aside each week to be official "office hours" where they could schedule appointments to meet when they felt the need and have my attention one-on-one . How do you communicate with your staff? Have you tried ideas like this; if so, how'd they go over?

Regularly Exercising — Finally I want to manage my time well enough to incorporate consistent exercising for myself into my routine. I've started putting a mark on my calendar each day I exercise. I love seeing all those marks on my calendar. And if I don't see them, I say to myself, "Woah, I haven't exercised, I need to!" Maybe getting more organized will help lead to even more marks on my calendar this year. How do you exercise for yourself? How do you stay committed to it?

I look forward to reading your comments and thoughts on the new year, organization, and time management. We'll also be talking more on these subjects this month, so if you come up with other ideas or see articles that are related, be sure to come back and share with the rest of us. 

Cheers to an organized 2015 where your time is spent in all the best ways! 

 

A Note From Beverly's Desk — Giving Thanks

Hope that all of you had an incredible November!

When I think of everything going on lately, I realize that almost all of the events on my busy schedule are very fulfilling. So similar to last month where I found reasons to celebrate, this month I want to share reasons why I'm grateful —

1. Teaching more than just dance — Being a dance teacher means so much more than simply teaching a student to dance. For example, we make sure our dancers know the importance of eating well. While we do get to see the dance skills we teach progress before our eyes, but we don't always get to see other values we instill in action. Each year my studio participates in a local food drive, and this allows us to further reinforce positive actions. Plus, it gives us a glimpse into how our influence can help students develop beautifully inside and out. Seeing our youngest dancers proudly dropping off canned goods and the fact that they know the impact it has on nourishing another person fills us with gratitude.

 
 

2. Time with Family — Often times people who own their own business spend all of their time running that business. There is a common thought that giving up any free time is an expected trade-off to do what you love for a living. But it doesn't have to be that way! In fact, owning your own business can not only give you financial freedom, but it can give you more flexibility with your time too. Spending time with my family is something I value, and I'm proud that my work allows me to make it a priority. In the studio, I employ my sister-in-law to run the front desk (talk about a good hire!), I teach my two talented nieces (and they are class assistants with younger ages), and now that my grandson is old enough, I get extra play time with him and Annie weekly during the grown-up and me Movin' at the Zoo class. And when some people have deadlines or increased sales around the holidays, dance studios close. This allows me to be present for all our family festivities; I was even able to sneak away to Kansas to see my son and daughter-in-law's new home for Thanksgiving!  

 
 

3. Space to do more — When The Ballet Studio acquired the space next door and I expanded the business to include drama, music, and preschool programs, I wasn't sure if I was ready for that major leap. But here we are with Lafayette School of Performing Arts, and I am so thankful for the ability to keep learning and doing more. This year we are not only doing an end-of-year performance, but also our older trainee dancers are doing a Christmas dance and both levels of our new triple threat program are doing a unique holiday show. All funds from the performances will be donated to St. Jude's Research Hospital, another great way for our students to give back! It has been wonderful to see how excited the dancers are to realize how their gift and talent as a dancers can help others in such a meaningful way. Our added studio space is large enough to hold these performances, so without pushing forward into this new phase of business, these worthwhile performances wouldn't be possible. The students receive more value from us, and seeing their pride in showing off what they are learning is worth it all!

 
 

Before writing this note, I didn't expect to find two common themes running through each reason I am giving thanks, but I notice that each one touches on values and pride. It makes sense that what you value and hold closest to your heart gives you the most pride though, and in turn, that gives you reason to be thankful! I'd love to know what you value and pride. Are these things filling you with thankfulness too? Please comment below! 

Finally, I couldn't talk about giving thanks and not thank each one of you! Your support of Leap 'N Learn and our mission to provide the best quality dance education to young students always fills me with appreciation! So, thank you for everything you do!

With gratitude, 

P.S. If you want to talk more about performances, head over to this Dance Discussion. And if you're motivated to find more ways for your studio to give back during the holidays, check out this blog post

A Note From Beverly's Desk — Time to Celebrate

Happy Fall, everyone! 

As you probably already know, we tend to focus on the bright side of things here at Leap 'N Learn. We feel infinitely grateful for a career that brings us so much joy, and we love taking time to appreciate all of the things that make us happy. Sure, like any business owner we have our struggles, but at the same time, our positive attitude often leads to overcoming those obstacles. With the holiday season kicking off, we are in a festive spirit, but before we get to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, I wanted to share some of the more dance-related reasons why we are celebrating right now — 

1. Classes are in full swing at our studio. All of you know about my dance studio, The Ballet Studio (TBS), and most of you are aware of the newest part of this business, Lafayette School of Performing Arts (LSPA), but we are still getting the word out about this locally in Lafayette. This is the first year we've fully moved over to using only our new and improved studio location too. Changes like these require an adjustment period, so we are balancing the strong reputation and awareness of TBS while introducing LSPA and our new variety of classes including music, theatre, aerial silks, and gymnastics. It's been a blast seeing students in both dance classes and in these other new offerings, and the ease of having only one location again sure is nice. How is your dance year going so far? Have you ever changed names at your studio or gone through a transitional period like this?

2. We love our dance students! After much encouragement from my good friend Sam Beckford, I hosted a student appreciation party at The Ballet Studio and Lafayette School of Performing Arts to show my students how much they mean to us. While we'd always love more students, we never take for granted the ones we have, especially those families that have been taking classes at our studio for multiple years. We gave away branded t-shirts with both The Ballet Studio and Lafayette School of Performing Arts logos to each student and sticker decals to each family for their cars (which not only act as thank you gifts, but also help us increase brand awareness for LSPA and its relationship to TBS). We also had lots of food, games, prizes, and fun. You can check out some of the activities on our newest Pinterest board. Feel free to ask us if you have questions about what we did or would like suggestions for hosting your own party — we're happy to share even more of our ideas and resources with all of you. Have you hosted events at your studio recently; what activities did you include? How do you show your dance families that you appreciate them? 

3. Our newest hire is finally official. Finding incredible dance teachers is one of our biggest challenges (we're talking more about it in this month's Dance Discussion), so we're beyond excited to welcome a new member to the TBS staff. His name is Dadier Aguilera Ramos. The long story short is that his brother who works for my son performed a  perfect port de bras standing in first position, and I asked him how he knew how to do that. He answered that his brother graduated from the Cuban National Ballet School, was in a company there, and was currently dancing professionally in Brazil. I knew that type of talent would be amazing to have at TBS. We talked to him about the opportunity to work for us, encouraged him to move to Lafayette, and the rest was history. We were hoping to have him start teaching classes at the beginning of the year, but we had to wait for his paperwork to be processed for working in the states... and it finally has been approved! This situation partly fell in our laps through coincidence, but it also meant a lot of hard work and patience while working through the legal aspects of hiring someone from another country. Thankfully, it paid off, and now I'll be able to scale back some of my own teaching hours to spend more time on other things that need my attention. If you want to talk more about building the best staff, please head on over to this Dance Discussion

All in all, we're glad to have all these reasons to celebrate. And we'd love to know what you're celebrating too. Leave a comment below, and let's get in the mood for a thankful holiday season together. 

Cheers, 

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A Note From Beverly's Desk — Summer Workshop News

Hello, everyone! 

I'm excited to share my summer workshop schedule with all of you! I must say that Lafayette, Louisiana is truly a hot destination this summer, and not just because of our warm Southern temperatures. Between renowned dance leaders like Lisa Howell and Deborah Vogel heading this way and our annual Leap 'N Learn workshops, I am looking forward to hosting some of the most brilliant dance educators at my studio. 

As you likely have seen, I'm collaborating on a new dance project — Leading Edge Dance! It's a great new style of dance conference that focuses on learning how to take care of a dancer as a whole and working safely toward optimal performances. Instead of a conference that teaches little tidbits of information and trendy choreography, LED dives into a comprehensive look at recent research and proven methods for effectively working with dancers of all ages and abilities, as well as across all styles of dance. While this isn't directly tied to Leap 'N Learn, I encourage you to check it out and consider attending!

  • July 25-27, 2014
  • Lafayette, Louisiana
  • $649/Attendee

 

We also have confirmed and announced two Leap 'N Learn Dance Teacher Training Workshops for June and August. You can take your pick of dates and register today

  • June 25-27, 2014 & August 6-8, 2014
  • Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Free for First Two Attendees
  • $449/Each Additional Attendee

I will be leading a couple Angelina Ballerina™ trainings about the curriculum I developed around the cute little mouse too. Those will be announced soon and take place following each Leap 'N Learn workshop. So if you use that program as well or are considering starting it, you can head to Louisiana and take care of both events at once! 

Finally, I'll be heading to New York for the Dance Teacher Summit in August. If you are also heading there, be sure to come say hi at my booth and try attend my movement class. 

I can't wait to see you this summer for these events! Comment below if you have questions or to let others know which events you'll be attending. 

Happy planning, 

P.S. Please feel free to share the news about these workshops with other dance studio owners and teachers that are looking for summer training events.