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Why do YOU Dance? An Interview With Ms. Tiffany

Posted by mstiffy on February 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Watch Ms. Tiffany's, "Why do YOU dance?" interview:


Why Do YOU Dance? An Interview With Lucia White

Posted by mstiffy on October 12, 2011 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

During the month of October, MTD is bringing you a new interview series entitled, "Why Do YOU Dance?" We will be interviewing dance educators, dancers, choreographers, and all around dance enthusiats to get different viewpoints on why dance is so important in their lives. Our second interview takes us Tennessee.

Lucia White is a singer/song-writer and lover of dance.

1) Tell me about your dance background?

I'm not a dancer in the strictest sense, but dance has somehow, someway always been a part of my life. When I was in elementary school, I was on the school dance team. I remember one of our routine's being to Michael Jackson's song "Jam." VERY big song during that time. :o) When I was in middle school, I was on my church's praise team. The dances we did were very lyrical. When I was a senior in high school, I made the dance team and shook my booty every Friday night in sequined leotards to the sounds of our marching band. I continued to dance off and on throughout my college years, and even though I hate that I never became the dancer that I wanted to be, I'm still grateful for what I gained during the years that I did dance. 


2) Do you think dance is important for everyone? Why or why not?

I think it is important for everyone. I think that dancing allows you to take a break from being so serious about life and live for a moment. I think that it also allows you to live outside of your own mind, your own world, or whatever you're going through and just live and be and escape for a while. 


3) What is your favorite style of dance?

My favorite dance to do is hip hop. My favorite dance to watch is anything, less Irish dancing. Sorry Michael Flatley. If I could ask God for the ability to do any kind of dance, I'd ask him to allow me to be able to do contemporary.  


4) Tell me about a (fun, scary, emotional, etc.) experience you had while dancing?

I had the opportunity to take a class from Wade Robson a few years ago. I didn't eat before the class, so throughout the entire class I had a headache. I didn't want to sit out and miss being able to take a class from Wade Robson, so I just toughed it out. By the time it was time for us to dance in groups, my head was splitting with pain. I started to not go on the floor when my group's number was called, but I told myself, "When are you ever gonna be able to say that you danced for Wade Robson in one of his class?" So I sucked it up, hit the floor, and completely ruined his beautiful dance. I was SOOOOO embarrassed. There were 5 of us on the floor, so there was no where for me to hide. I sucked the entire front of Wade himself. The only thing that made the day worth it was when I met him after the class and got a hug and a picture with him. Other than that, I would love to forget that day ever happened. LOL


5) Why do YOU dance?

I dance because it makes me feel very aware and very connected to my body. I dance because sometimes my movements say what my mouth cannot. I dance because it's the closest thing I know to being able to fly.

Thank you so much Lucia for your input! Much success to you and your music endeavours in the future!


Why Do YOU Dance? An Interview With Elizabeth Emery

Posted by mstiffy on October 10, 2011 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)


During the month of October, MTD is bringing you a new interview series entitled, "Why Do YOU Dance?" We will be interviewing dance educators, dancers, choreographers, and all around dance enthusiats to get different viewpoints on why dance is so important in their lives. Our first interview takes us to Charlotte, NC.


Elizabeth Emery is the owner of Dancers Unite Fine Arts Academy in Charlotte, NC.


1) Tell me a little about your dance background.


I started taking dance lessons at the age of 3 and began dancing competitively at the age of 7. I have performed and competed up and down the East Coast, as well as taken dance classes (from such places as Broadway Dance Center in New York and the Boston Ballet School ). I have studied many different types of dance, including ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz, lyrical and more. I also started teaching dance at the age of 13 and have taught hundreds of students in the dance studio setting as well as at local schools.


2) Do you think dance is important for everyone? Why?


Yes! Dance can bring so much joy to a person’s life. Dancing is fun as well as a wonderful way to escape from the stress and problems of the outside world. Also, learning new dance steps and styles is exciting and can give you a feeling of great accomplishment. These are things that can benefit everyone!


3) What is your favorite style to teach or perform?


Although I love many styles of dance, tap is my favorite.


4) Tell me about a (fun, scary, emotional etc.) experience you had while dancing or teaching?


My family and I have always enjoyed vacationing at Disney World together. An experience I’ll never forget is getting to dance in Disney World. Dancing in Disney World – performing on stage in the Magic Kingdom , being able to dance for the crowds in the park – was so much fun!


5) Why do YOU dance?


I dance because I love it! I dance because dancing has brought me so much joy over the years, continues to bring me so much joy, and I love sharing that joy with others.


Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your story with us. Much success to you and your wonderful studio. To learn more about Elizabeth and Dancers Unite Fine Arts Academy please visit the following:




Follow Dancers Unite on Twitter:


Like Dancers Unite on Facebook:



Healing Through Dance

Posted by mstiffy on January 23, 2011 at 6:57 PM Comments comments (2)

Alternate forms of medicine have always been something that has been of interest to me. Whether drinking herbal tea to cure a headache, or positive affirmations to relieve stress, many people are turning to less conventional forms of healing.


Did you know that dance can also be used to heal?


Have you ever had a bad day at work or school? Have you ever went home and turned on your favorite song and danced around the room? Did you notice that you started to feel better? Dance is more than just something to do for fun every once and a while. Dance has healing properties that a lot of people don't realize or even give it credit for.


When you dance, your brain releases endorphins. What are endorphins you say? Endorphins are like the body's natural morphine. During physical activity, like dancing, the brain releases endorphins to block stress and pain sensations, and generally puts you in a happy mood. That's why you feel so good after a dance class!


I can personally say that when I am dancing, my problems seem to drift away. No BS! I completely forget my troubles, my fears, and whatever pain I may be having at the time fades. But why wouldn't it, if my brain is releasing endorphins, right? It all makes sense.


Since the beginning of time, dance has been used for many important things, such as celebrating, telling a story, and most importantly, healing. The Khoisan people, who have lived in southern Africa since 5,000 BCE, use  dance to heal the sick and to relieve individuals of personal conflicts and stress. One member of the community would dance over the sick person, in a trance like state that might take many hours until the sick individual was relieved of any symptoms.


Though you may think that dancing in a trance like state for hours is a bit on the extreme side; healing dance practices are becoming more and more recognized by the general public. There are several undergraduate and graduate programs in Dance/Movement Therapy that are offered here in the U.S. and around the world. Columbia College Chicago, offers an extensive graduate program in Dance/Movement Therapy, that covers courses such as, 'Addiction Counseling' and 'Psychopathology'.


Still not convinced? You don't have to take my word for it. Do your own research. But the best research you can do is by actually getting up and trying it out yourself.



So you teach hip-hop....Can you teach me to dance like Beyonce?

Posted by mstiffy on June 13, 2010 at 6:17 PM Comments comments (2)

Hip-hop dance and video dancing (or what I would like to call "booty dancing") are always mistaken for one another.  As a hip-hop instructor, I always have parents say, "Now will my daughter be dancing like those girls in the music videos?"




Want to know why? Let me tell you.


What those "girls in the music videos" are doing is not, I repeat, is not hip-hop dancing. Shaking your backside to a hip-hop song does not constitute as hip-hop dance or even dancing period. There is so much technique and training that goes along with hip-hop. Everything from lowering your center of gravity to proper body placement must be achieved before pulling off a hip-hop routine. Not to mention the rich history that goes along with the genre.


To read more about the history of hip-hop dance check out past blog entries in the sidebar.


Sometimes I feel that hip-hop dance isn't taken seriously. I feel like a lot of people try to pass themselves off as hip-hop instructors and choreographers without doing the proper research. You wouldn't teach a ballet class with no training, right? Why should hip-hop be any different?  Taking your normal jazz class and tweaking it to add a few funky moves does not make it hip-hop either.


In this economy, flying up to New York to take a class from the masters is pretty much out of the question for most of us, but that doesn't mean that proper training must be sacrificed. I have found that Youtube has plenty of resources to help hip-hop instructors teach proper technique. Also, has a whole hip-hop forum filled with information about history and pretty much anything you need to start your journey into hip-hop dance. The good thing about hip-hop is you don't have to have a degree to teach it, but you do have to understand the genre and it's sub-genres.


What do you think?


Keep in mind this is only my opinion, and I would love to hear yours. Also, any topics that you would like to discuss please post them!


Stay tuned. More topics to come!


Monthly Topics are Back!

Posted by mstiffy on June 10, 2010 at 9:32 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm happy to announce that the Topics of the Month are back by popular demand! In the future months, we will be discussing several dance topics, for instance, the sexualizing of children in dance competitions, how to have a successful and inviting dance website, and dance companies and social networking. Please stayed tuned!


Also, as I always say in each of my blogs, this is an open discussion. If there is anything you would like to discuss please drop me a line and it will be covered. The best way to participate in our discussions is to become a member of the site! Becoming a member allows you to create a profile, post comments on blogs and chat with other members. You don't have to be a client of MTD to join the discussion. The MTD blog is open to everyone and all opinions are welcome!


Stay tuned!

November/December Topic- Protecting yourself as a Freelance Dancer

Posted by mstiffy on December 7, 2009 at 5:36 PM Comments comments (0)

So you have decided to put yourself out there as a freelance dancer, meaning you are not tied to a specific company or organization. There are a few things that you need to know before taking the jump into the life of freelance.


  • Be ready for the audition process Here is a short article written by Treva Bedinghaus entitled "Survive a Dance Audition" via


A dance audition can be intimidating. Whether you are auditioning for a dance company, a major performance, or placement within your dance school, auditions bring out the butterflies in everyone. Even professional dancers feel the pressure as they pin their audition numbers onto their leotards. However, being a little nervous can actually be beneficial, as nerves sometimes enable us to jump higher, or spin faster. The following 5 tips will help you dance through your next audition with flying colors.

1. Be Prepared

Make sure you have everything you will need for the audition. Check the application carefully, following every requirement. If the audition requires a fee, remember to take it. Some auditions have strict dress codes. If there is no dress code, keep it simple. Pick an outfit you feel good dancing in. (Don't be afraid to wear something that distinguishes you from the other dancers, such as a bright-colored leotard. It's okay to stand out!)

Bring proper shoes, band-aids or moleskin, hair pins and water to drink. Having everything you need will help you feel confident when auditioning.

2. Arrive on Time

Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the audition begins, maybe even earlier. You will appreciate having the extra time to check out your surroundings if you are not familiar with the location. Use the time to warm up, stretch, and get focused. Try not to notice the other dancers as they arrive, as they may make you nervous. Concentrate on preparing yourself, both physically and mentally. You will have a better audition if you are relaxed and ready..

3. Stand in the Front

Try to grab a spot in the front of the room. Don't hide in the back while the instructor is teaching the choreography. Judges will be watching the room, seeing who learns the combinations the fastest. Show them that you can learn the routine quickly and independently. Sometimes judges will pick dancers who are the quickest learners, not necessarily the best dancers.

Standing in the front of the room also shows confidence. Dancers who prefer to stand in the back are often followers, relying on the front row of dancers to guide them through combinations. Show the judges that you are a leader - stand in the front.

4. Ask Questions

If you are unsure about a combination or step, don't be afraid to ask questions. It will show the judges that you want to do your best. The judges will not frown upon dancers who ask for help. Asking for clarification is never considered a sign of weakness. Make sure and ask questions in a professional and serious manner. Pay attention, making sure that questions you do ask have not already been answered..

5. Stay Positive

Most dance auditions are extremely competitive. Remember that you won't be selected every time, and rejection doesn't mean that you are a bad dancer. Judges are often looking for specific qualities: a specific height, a certain hair color, etc. Never assume that you were rejected because of a lack of talent or technique.

Try your best to stay positive during the audition. Be yourself and dance your very best. Even if you are nervous, don't let the judges know it. Smile and show them how much you enjoy dancing. People enjoy watching dancers who love what they do. Relax, smile and believe in yourself, no matter how nervous you may be. And remember, auditions will get easier.

  • Be careful with agents You may at some point be approached by an agency wanting to represent you or vice versa. This is great and can be helpful with booking gigs, but always be cautious. Never sign anything without thoroughly reading the material, or even having a lawyer look through it. You may be signing your life away and not know it. Really do your homework. Check out the agency and what they have to offer. Ask questions and never feel embarrassed about asking too many questions. It can only help you in the end. Just keep in mind, that some agencies are very protective of their clients and will not allow you to go to auditions that are not exclusively booked through them. Make sure to get all the info upfront and go from there. If you feel the least bit uncomfortable do not do it!

Being a freelance dancer can be fun and very rewarding. You just need to make sure you have the proper tools to protect yourself. Remember, every gig that comes you way does not have to be auditioned for. It's ok to turn one down. Never feel guilty about not auditioning for something. Only you know what you want and what you are looking for.  Always stay positivie and dance your heart out!


This is an open blog. Any input or questions are welcome. Stay tuned for our first topic of the new year! Keep dancing!

Topics of the Month Will Continue in December!

Posted by mstiffy on October 13, 2009 at 8:41 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello all,


I have deciced to take a break from the monthly blogs, due to being really busy with business. Please stay tuned and check back regularly for updates. Next month we will continue our series on how to protect yourself in the professional dance field.



September Topic- Protecting Yourself as a Dance Instructor

Posted by mstiffy on September 8, 2009 at 7:37 PM Comments comments (4)

So you were just hired as a dance instructor huh? Or maybe you have been teaching for a while and still don't know exactly all the details at your studio. As instructors, we are the backbone to any dance studio. We work directly with the students harvesting their technique. We also talk directly to parents about the progress of the child/children. Without us, there would be no studio. Before accepting an opportunity to be an instructor, there are several things that should be discussed between you and your SO (Studio Owner).


  • Know exactly how much time you will be committing to your studio. It's important to know how many classes you will be teaching a week.  You should have a concrete schedule that does not change from week to week or month to month. This is not only good for you as the instructor, but also for your students. If things seem shaky, consider going somewhere else. Never commit to more time than you know you can commit to. Committing to more than you can handle can hurt you and the studio. If you feel like a lot is being put on you, talk to you SO before anything is written in stone.
  • Know exactly how much you will be paid. There is nothing worse than getting your first check and receiving a lot less than what you expected. Whether you are paid by class or by hours spent at the studio, make sure all the details are clear before jumping on board.
  • Have all important information in writing. All the details about your job description, pay and other responsibilities should be received in writing, before accepting the position; this way if anything changes without your knowledge, you can go back to your originial policy agreement.
  • Talk to your SO. You should feel comfortable enough with your SO to talk to him/her about any problems you may encounter. He/She should be easily accessible and there to help and make things clear. Also, if there is ever a problem with a parent, you should only work for an SO that backs up the instructor (within reason) and not automatically sides with the parents. Having an SO that does not back his/her employees is bad news.
  • Never teach a class that you are not properly trained in. Never feel pressured to teach a class that you do not have the proper training in. Doing so can hurt your reputation and the business of the school. Always make sure you know your craft inside and out. Attend classes, read books, or do anything else that helps you grow as an instructor. Your students will thank you.
  • Always be honest about your training. Nothing is worse than stretching the truth about your dance background and then landing a class that is way beyond your dancing ability. If you have only done ballet for 2 years, than make sure you SO knows that upfront. If your experience is the difference if you being hired or not, don't lie. You can always train more, or apply for a lower level class or perhaps at another studio.

These are just a few things that I feel are very important before taking the leap to being a dance instructor. It can be stressful at times, but the rewards outweigh the stress. Feel free to comment and add!


Stayed tuned! Next month we will discuss protecting yourself as a freelance dancer.

August Topic- Protecting Yourself as an Independent Contractor/Choreographers

Posted by mstiffy on July 30, 2009 at 1:54 PM Comments comments (0)

As dancers, dance instructors, and choreographers it is so important to have a business mind. You have to protect yourself first, because in this business you can get messed over very quickly. Sadly, I have experienced this several times. I wanted to focus this month on the importance of protecting yourself as an independent contractor doing choreography.  



Whether you know it or not, as a choreographer you are considered to be an independent contractor. You are hired by a studio, gym, music artist ect., to provide an original work of choreography. Before being booked by the company to provide services, you must have all of your paper work in order.


  • Never sign anything without thoroughly reading through every word. You could be signing your life away and not know it. You could also be agreeing to a lower payment, or dismissal without pay, even if half the piece has been created and set. If you can, you may want to get a lawyer to read over anything you receive to make sure that your best interest is in mind. Only when you feel comfortable and have gotten all the details discussed and understood with the employer, then you may sign. Never feel pressured to sign anything! Even if it means passing an opportunity.

I understand that we sometimes come across opportunities that we feel are once in a lifetime, or something that would really better our businesses. No matter how excited we are about the opportunity, we have to slow down and think. The more excited you are, the more your common sense is blocked, and you can make stupid decisions. Not to sound rude, but it's very true. I have experienced this myself first hand.


  • Have you own contracts in order. You should have a contract drawn up for your employer to sign to protect yourself. This may sound overwhelming at first, but it is really not much work, especially if it means protecting yourself. I found a wonderful contract template for choreographers at The template is available by request only, so you must contact Dance NYC and ask for one. The template helped me tremendously.

Be specific as possible when preparing your contract. Leave no room for loopholes. If you can, get a lawyer to look over it, I suggest you do so. Make sure that each contract is specific to the employer. You can have a standard contract to work from, that can be tweaked for each gig.

  • Keep track of your time at each gig. This is so important. If you are required to fill out a timesheet, make sure you receive a copy, on the spot, for your records. If you don't have a copy, you leave yourself open for the employer to say you didn't work as many hours or none at all. This is also very important to make sure you are compensated properly if you are being paid a hourly rate.


  • Receive payment upfront  or at least half before starting your work. This goes back to the contract you made. Make sure you have clearly stated when payment is due. Receive at least half of your payment upfront if not all. This way you can insure that your time and work is being paid for. Only accept payment that is guaranteed! Checks are not a suitable payment. Cash or money orders are suitable as you have your money right there on the spot. If you absolutely have to accept a check, do not start production until you have cleared the check (deposited and you bank cleared it as being good. Just because it is in your account does not mean it has cleared completely, it could still come back as a bad check) This may take several days depending on your bank and the employer's bank. I would stay away from checks altogether.


  • Have an Invoice ready to give to the employer when work is done. Make sure you have one for your records as well. I keep a copy on my computer, email a PDF copy to myself, and have a hard copy that has been printed. Always have several copies on hand. The more paper work you have the better. It's all about making sure you get what you deserve!

This is an open blog! Please respond and let me know if I have left something out or if you have more to add. Also, if you have questions, feel free to ask away!


Stayed tuned! Next month we will talk about protecting yourself as a dance instructor.



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