Friday, July 1, 2011

Celebrating A Minor-versary

Today I celebrate a minor anniversary. No, I am not talking about Canada Day (even though it is, in fact, Canada Day). We are all accustomed to celebrating major anniversaries (like weddings or birthdays) but we seldom aknowledge the minor ones. And I don’t believe I am alone when I say that one thing the world could use is more celebrations! Right? Although, on second thought, I am tiring of all those graduations. I get college, high school, and maybe even middle school, but fifth grade, kindergarten, pre-school...come on already.

Dance Teacher
Anyways, today I share with you my personal minor anniversary. Today is the one year anniversary of my Jazz Dance Technique & Syllabus™. It was exactly a year to the day that I launched my web site and began sharing the work, which I had been developing privately over a period of 14 years, with the public dance world. I had very modest goals for the first year, so I am thrilled that the syllabus has been adopted by schools in Italy, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and across the United States. Altogether, there are 27 studios, private school dance programs, and public performing arts schools that have embraced the syllabus.

I was lucky enough to get support from the dance world as Dance Teacher reviewed the first level in November and Dance Studio Life spotlighted the syllabus in their January issue.

Individual creativity is almost always stimulated by the work, ideas and achievements of other people. ~ Sir Ken Robinson from Out of Our Minds

Over the years of developing this syllabus, I was fortunate enough to have the support, encouragement, and guidance of some wonderful people. Priscilla Wagner is my mentor in jazz dance. As my college professor, Priscilla instilled in me an appreciation and passion for jazz dance as a serious art form, worthy of study, attention, and investigation.
Dance Studio Life

When I graduated from college and moved to New York City to dance, I was full of ideas and theories but very raw as a writer. David Wilson of danceart.com served as both my editor and guide for my Got Jazz!? column (anyone remember that) as I developed a taste--and hopefully a voice--for writing. At danceart.com, I found a warm community of dance enthusiasts who helped with feedback and encouragement (thanks Rusty!). I tip my hat to David for creating that atmosphere.

All along, my wife Melissa continually supported (and sometimes cajoled) me into continuing to work on the syllabus, especially when I went to graduate school. Professor Marcia Parsons with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate dance program helped create the platform for me to finally bring the entire 6 level syllabus to fruition. Also, the generous help and guidance of Anneliese Burns Wilson from www.abcfordance.com, who both shared with me formatting ideas to make the syllabus useful to teachers and offered me my first storefront on the web, was pivotal.

So what is in store for year two? On July 11, I will begin teaching a 3-day Teacher Training Workshop for the syllabus. After that, I plan to record more video blogs so teachers and students can see examples of some of the exercises online.

I have also received requests for DVD’s...so I am thinking about it. To be honest, I hesitate because there are plenty of dance videos on the market for teachers who want to grab new and trendy routines. I am not interested in going down that road. Jazz dance shifts and progresses with the times. As soon as you lay a combination down on video it becomes dated. So, I have worked hard to create exercises that are purposeful and timeless and do not dictate a style or limit the students potential.

I feel what makes my syllabus special is that it is a strong foundation upon which any teacher can expand with any style of jazz. On the other hand, I understand that as dancers many of us are visual learners and having a DVD as an aid could be helpful. 

For now, I am just going to enjoy today and relish in the idea of adding more minor celebrations to my life. Well, except for daycare graduation ceremonies. Give me a break!