Author: Cricket


Dancer Highlight – Hailey Cox

Dance and Leadership!

Hailey is a trained dancer with many years’ experience learning proper technique, symmetry, choreography, and music balance. I have been privileged to watch her grow into the talented young woman she is today.

A self-disciplined learner, Hailey’s academic studies have always come first. I know that has been a major factor in the making of person she is today. She understands the quality of education, and her tenacity to set real-life objectives leading toward an end goal is commendable. I am talking about college, business concern, the arts, and civic-mindedness – that is the true Hailey.

Her work ethic is extremely high, and her ability to lead is also a key area that can’t be overlooked. She was tutored early on in her career as a student instructor at Crickets Dance.

Hailey assumed the leadership responsibility of instructing entire classes as well as designing choreography pieces and entire dance routines and solos. She understands the stage and performance arts. She knows how to lead, and how to describe and perform steps in a manner that is understandable and concise. Her students adored her and still do. She continues to be a technical asset to the local dance community.

Ha Ha. Cougar and a Ute!

Hailey has assumed a number of leadership roles, having served as both the Junior and Senior Co­ Caption, as well as being voted by her classmates, Home Coming Queen. She is fully committed to helping others and often volunteers her time in the community. Anything this young woman puts her mind to, she is committed to finishing.

When she isn’t busy studying, she performs and teaches dance locally, and has many dance accomplishments and awards to her own credit.   A member of the Grand County Devilettes Drill team, for the past two years she has held a top leadership position.  She balances out her busy schedule with sporting events and church functions.  She is a well-rounded and gifted individual.

Hailey with teammates at a competition

Hailey has a remarkable way of leading that makes others want to work with her and for her. She has led small to medium size dance groups for the past 4 to 5 years.  She also works with young inspiring dancers on a one-to-one basis for training in technique and solo instruction.  She has been known to teach others who don’t have the funds to pay for individual dance instruction themselves.  But Hailey has a passion for humanity and it shows through her love of dance and teaching.  To Hailey, she is simply passing along a legacy.

Where To Train

Be careful when you choose who you will dance with, and where. Know  the different type of dance degrees available , and how they compare against other degrees, or up against an experienced dancer.

Someone with a two year degree in dance (associate level), has basically taken pre-dance classes. “PRE”…or the general ed’s of dance. They have only taken the pre-classes that might help them gain entry into a bachelors (BFA), or masters (MFA) program. A two year degree is no guarantee you will make it into a real dance program. Most professional schools of dance require a tryout / audition(uofu’s modern department link), as well as a host of other preparatory items. A number of two year programs really do not offer all the prerequisite skills  that will be necessary to enter into a four year and/or major university dance program. Two year programs offer very little real dance above the entry level.  Auditioning is the only way in, and if you do not have the necessary skills the competition will be overwhelming to you.

To better understand, think of the dance levels as categories, starting with beginner, then intermediate, advanced, elite/varsity, and then pro. A two year course is pretty much beginner to intermediate. I doubt any instructor at a two year institute would lead their students to believe anything else.

A four year bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA)will give you a much better understanding of what will be  necessary  for you to learn as you embrace the dance profession.  A masters degree (MA) (MFA) is a specialty degree.   To teach at a university, a masters degree or higher is required for undergraduate courses.  Graduate level courses are generally taught by instructors who have doctoral degrees.  You will probably train with a number of  tenure- track associate professors, you have  both teaching and research experience at the graduate level.   Full tenured professors have PhD’s, which qualifies them to hold the position of Dean’s.

A professional or semi-professional dancer may have a combination of dance experience and/or academic training.   Or, they may never have gone to school, but rather learned their craft from years of experience on the competition floor.  Participants of SYTYCD are a good example of  studio trained and street competition dancers.

Semi-professional and professional dancer generally have a dance portfolio, or dance history that they can present.  It is a chronological history of events, trainings,  areas of expertise, and current status, be that in training, judging and/or teaching.  Many have a list of accomplishment and/or  published works.

Fake or for Real?

Be careful of the dance institutions that make promises they really can’t deliver on. They can be a rip off, and the training can be extremely poor; as they suck in unexperienced students. The degrees can amount to no more than a certificate that is non-transferable. That’s another aspect to look at. See if they are an accredited facility of higher education. Meaning….their credits will transfer to other colleges or universities. You will be surprised at how many do not.

Two year graduates might be able to skim by working at a studio that doesn’t really care about what your academic training is; or with directors that just want to control their own environments, and don’t want or need any competition that makes them look “different”.  Basically, no experience is necessary to own a studio if you want to.  But to be good – that takes skill – a skill that is recognized by the community and dancers.

Experience is what matters.  Dance is an art, and dance is a sport, you can’t learn technique with your head in a book.  It takes years to develop skill and knowledge.  You might memorize terminology and be able to recite after reading a book, but you would do better to practice what you preach. 🙂

Be warned if you are trying to fabricate your way up – that those dancers and instructors who are highly involved in dance can spot a fake a mile away.   They probably won’t tolerate your behavior.

Your claims will be under the microscope.  It DOES  matter in the dance community, what you do, or don’t do. When people pay money for you to train their children, and you can’t even teach them to do a simple turn or teach them to point their toes – your doors will eventually close.

Getting serious
If you are serious about setting your life ambitions to be a dancer, you have options.  One, you can go the university route, or two, you can develop a  life time of dance performance through studio training and upper level competitions.  A lot depends on the style(s) of dance you wish to perform.

Dancing on a university team is also a  good choice to help you develop your skills along side of  dancers  your own age and of equal ability. Many pro’s and semi-pro dancers dance(d) on university teams.  It’s a whole different level of expertise that complements your former training, be that in ballet, contemporary, hip hop or jazz.

Learning to dance with a partner is a challenge for many.  Do it!

Serious dancers know when another dancer is their senior, and they acknowledge that. Equal dancers also acknowledge the level of each other. When you dance with equal level dancers you really are a team. You recognize each other, and respect each other. That is the way it should be. Yes, there is competition – but it is a recognizable merit of skill.

Deciding where you dance is as simple as acknowledging your own level, and being honest about yourself.

What’s out there for you?
What is available for  teachers, choreographers, directors, cheerleaders, experienced coaches, ballerina’s, and hip hop artists?

There are so many wonderful programs available for the person who wants more of a professional background rather than a recreational one.

Many top organizations offer franchises and specialty training. Masters level classes, memberships, and more.

Check out some of the Utah links on my website, and start to explore or branch out in your dance career.

~”A great dancer is not great because of
their technique,  They are great because of
their passion.”

Author: Martha Gram

What are the judges looking for

They are looking for the basics first of course! They want to be entertained. They want to see something new. While I am in no way “the know it all of judging” – I do know a little, and enough to win.

1. Attitude:

I have seen a number of good dancers blow their chances at a win because of little tiny mistakes. Hot headedness and a parade like attitude is their first mistake. “Breath”

2. Technique.

If you don’t have good technique, expect your score to be low. Even good dancers get dinged for improper technique. Technique is the foundation of every dance known to man and woman kind. If you don’t practice good form in your training – why dance? The worst thing to see is someone slap a routine together and think its all hot only to be disappointed when they get their score sheet back, and see their technique scores hammered.

If you are unsure of how you are doing a particular movement – you should visit the American Ballet Theater’s Dictionary online at: The dictionary has numerous ballet videos in Quick Time format for those wanting to see the correct methods. (The following links are from ABT, and they own exclusive rights.)

Please count out your routine 5,6,7,8 and know where your music cues are. Get with the beat and stay on time. Make it pop! Here are some common technique flaws – how many have you seen on your own score sheets, or are worried about seeing in the future?

-open Jeté more
– Relevé kicks
– Relevé turns
-keep movements continuous
-more flex in splits and extensions
-more Relevé !!!!!!
-Dancers dance on their toes!!!!!!
-more use of floor
– Relevé on everything! (you’re getting this right?)
-Hit passé’ every time. So many marks are given for this technique error.
-DON”T LOOK AT THE FLOOR, you need eye contact and a smile at least for the beginners.
Fouetté Control, Lift, Execution, Spotting. Etc.. the same with:
Pirouette à la second, grande
Pirouette piquée
A sloppy fouette is a sloppy fouette. Don’t use it if you can’t do it right.

Some competitions base your technical training on the amount of fouettes that you do in a routine. They also judge on combinations,
directional turns, etc. Check the rules before you sign up in a category.


A leap has a beginning, a middle, and an end! Always begin your leaps with a “prep” or approach. Coordinate arms and legs to give your leaps and jumps height. Remember to keep your back in good form , legs straight, and toes pointed. Land on the balls of your feet and rebound after every leap. When you have mastered these basics, move on to more advanced leaps. Don’t try to do leaps that go beyond your range. Be good to yourself. DON”T LOOK AT THE FLOOR!

E-gads its freak-a-zoid!

Make all your arm movements strong. Hit each movement like it was deliberate – because it is. Don’t just flop it – check it in the mirror. Fluid movements should be defined, not just left for the judges to guess if you meant to pop your wrist or stick your thumbs out. Your hand and finger movements should look as good as the rest of your body. Bent elbows in leaps – freak-a-zoid…. Another common mistake is to SWIM with your arms before you take off into a leap. Arms up from the side please. Lift ….from your
center…eyes forward…leap

-Use of floor!

Starting with x, and ending with 8 (this is an example only for like the first 32 -64 counts of a routine) One thing I learned years ago was that you never stop moving on the floor unless it is a choreographed stop, pause, or transitional movement.. We do, do movements when the music pauses. Those dead spots are great for putting in a nice visual, or formation change.

Consider this the size of half a gym in your middle school or high school. Advanced people use a full gym or stage. If you aren’t moving or at least showing me some form of well choreographed arm/hand/body movements – you aren’t dancing. (Please don’t stop with your hands on swinging hips and wink for 32 counts – unless you are 3 ½ years old).

For teams:

Formations, formations, formations. Don’t go on the floor without running through your formations first. Many teams dance on gym floors. Know that some floors are marked for volleyball, and some are not, some are just marked for basketball. If you have been practicing on a volleyball floor – you will be sorry  if you don’t get your formations for basketball floor down.

Guide right! Use your side peripheral vision to help you spot your position on the floor. It’s so easy even a three year old could do it. The old baby cheer goes like this “line up – guide right” No cheerleading experience necessary.

Our team is here to stay
Dancing dancing the time away
Line Up! Guide Right!
Line Up! Guide Right!
Our team is here to stay

Snap and Pull up on those kicks kiddies. Don’t banana back, you look like an old man when you do.. 🙂

3. . Choreography – what do they want to see?

A beautiful choreographed routine is a well thought out routine. Don’t just put it together because the movement is cool. If a movement doesn’t fit the song “please don’t use it”. I would rather see a CLEAN routine with good technique than a routine that is too difficult for the dancers.

When you choreograph – choreograph your facials as you go – DON’T wait! Practice with your facials.

Be aware of over use of tricks or repetitive motions.
When you choreograph ask yourself a few questions

a. How many Leaps & Jumps= ___
b. Turns & Spins=___
c. Hip Hop Funky steps=_____
d. Flash poses=__ ___
e. Kicks=_ _
f. Floor transitions=__ ___
g. Gymnastics =__ ___
h. Facials- Presentation- -How many & where _____

i. Please don’t use the same movement over and over and over and over – You get the hint.

j. use of floor in many directions – cover more area

k. New movements to wow the judges (I’m for that if clean and not over done)

l. Variety

m. Originality

n. Difficulty (is the routine to difficult for you?) It’s okay to change it.

o. More facial changes (a,e,i,o,u – head nods, winks) make sure they match the music. Please do not do facials as you walk onto the
stage (overkill). Just smile and nod when you stop to pose for

the beginning. I prefer a smile and/or a sultry look when appropriate.

Know a little about your competition. Just a thought. You should be as graceful a winner as a loser.

4. Costumes and makeup, etc: Costumes, and frills do not make the dance. This is a hard one for a lot of people. You can have the most expensive costume on the floor, but if you don’t have technique, presentation, and a tooooo die for routine and all the goodies that go with it – you wasted your money. Pick costumes that accent your figure – no flabby belly rolls hanging out, and no butt cracks in the back “please”. No robust breasts that overwhelm the senses “glaring back at you – warning, warning a fall out is
eminent”. Pick a costume that is flattering to you and that will accent your particular dance. Costumes – especially competition costumes need to have that little extra touch to them – but come on, draw the line somewhere. ORIGINAL is good too.  A number of competitions require you to take your jewelry off. Check your rule sheet.

– Hair, as long as it fits the style – do your own thing. Warning – some judges just aren’t as up on new trends as others may be. I hate to say these types of judges are dinosaurs – but……. in dinosaur land – do as the dinosaurs do.

-If they wax the floor you need something for the bottom of your shoes – right before you go on like, Rosin, hair spray, water or spit! Nothing like sitting in front of the judges when you should be moving.
– Plan for the worst with your choreography. What if I forget? KEEP GOING, don’t stop moving. Let me say that again, don’t stop moving, even if your hair falls out, and you want to cry, and the floor is so slick you could butter toast with it. Poop happens. Keep moving.

Gymnastics: There is a debate on that one out there. I don’t plan to get into it. We use gymnastics – but a good rule of thumb is “Use it sparingly, and in the right places”. Variety is always the key.