Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Happenings

Health and Wellness Seminar with Ms. United States 2008 Graziella Baratta
For Teens and Adults
When: Tuesday December 16th, 2008
Where: Uptown Dance
Time: 7-8pm
Cost: Free
RSVP by December 9th, 2008

Master Class “Precision/Dance Team Style” with Rockette Autumn Morgenstern
For Ages 13 and Up
When: Saturday December 20th, 2008
Where: Uptown Dance
Time: 3:30-5pm
Cost: $20
RSVP by December 13th, 2008

Holiday Party
The last week of classes before Holiday Break, December 18th-December 23rd, we will have a Holiday Party for the children during their scheduled dance class. Its our present to them, lots of fun dancing and goodies.

Holiday Break
December 24th-January 5th. Rest up and Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones.

Holiday Gifts

Perfect Holiday Gifts for your young dancer. Tinkerbell’s Dance Studio DVDs. Miss Leslea is the host for the Jazz and Hip Hop instructional videos.

Happy Holidays!!!
Peace, Love, Dance!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Reason Behind NJ Dancers

I created a Social Network for Dance in August and in just 3 short months I have gained over 50 members. This may not seem like many to most, but I am very proud of the progress we have made. Some of you may wonder my reason for starting my Network, so here it goes...

On my main page my mission statement reads...

Welcome to my Network! Thank you for your support in my effort to create a positive, motivating, non competitive place for us to interact and share our love for dance. My goal is to be well known as a encouraging support system to our Dance community, and best of all, its Free! Help me in my effort and ask others who love dance in NJ to join too. Get yourself a badge or send them and invite. Questions, comments, suggestions are always welcome. I look forward to hearing from you all. Peace, Love, Dance!

As a young dancer I can remember my dance environment being extremely competitive. For instance; among other local dance schools, at competition(of course), auditions, and even among the girls in my own class. When my mother and I opened our studio, one of our main goals was to change that competitive attitude between dancers. We should unite, not be bitter towards each other. We all love dance, why not share our knowledge and motivate each other. We instill this positive behavior in all our students and accept nothing less. We also do not compete our dancers, we chose to teach our students to appreciate dance as an outlet and art form, nothing more. I wanted a companion to the mentality we have within our studio and to share our teachings with hopes that it will become contagious, hence NJ Dancers.

I recently opened up the Network to those who may not live in NJ, but who promote dance over the Internet. You can't really localize what they do, so we have adopted them into our NJ Dance Community. For example; dance bloggers, dance apparel, dance instructional sites, dance forums, etc. I feel this will be very useful to our members because not everyone has the time to search for all the valuable dance info out there on web. That's where I come in, providing resources at your fingertips on Dance NJ. You can find these awesome people under "featured members." I will also alternately display one of these members weekly on the main page so you can't miss what they are offering us.

I would love for you to stop by and visit NJ Dancers. I also love comments, suggestions, and questions.
As always, Peace, Love, Dance!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Power of the Net

You have all heard me mention before that this was Uptown's year to use the Internet to our advantage. It was long over due, using the power of the Net for advertising and networking. Our adventure started this past summer before our new season began. A very close friend of mine, Graziella Baratta, opened me up to the power of the Net. Sure the studio and I had Myspace accounts, but how about all of the other opportunities out there that are not as "popular". She informed me of Twitter, which has opened up many other doors and has motivated me explore. She also encouraged me to get an official website which was pretty easy since she was my web designer. She is very talented and creative, together we came up with a well received Site that many students and parents are enjoying. Here we are about 4 months later and I want to share with you some of my experiences.

Twitter: Short and Sweet. Follow people with similar interest. Attach links and info, meet and connect with people. So far I've met some awesome dance bloggers, one in which inspired me to start my own (Thanks Nichelle of Dance Advantage.) I've also been introduced to dance communities and sites through Twitter which I will make note of below.

Ning: Similar to Myspace or Facebook but a little more specific. My Ning Network is for Dance in NJ. My goal is to be well known as a encouraging support system to our Dance community, and best of all, its Free! I'm making a big effort to create a positive, motivating, non competitive place for us to interact and share our love for dance. I will talk more in detail about my mission behind this in my next post.
*Two other Ning Network for Dance: Dance New York and Dance Advantage Interactive

Helping Hands, My circle of Info.
Below I will list my dance discoveries thus far in my effort to make full use of the Net.

GenDance: "The NEW weekly e-newsletter and trend-zine for the NEXT GENERATION of dance." Dance Trends, News and Media. I found GenDance at the UDMA Costume Preview Show.

DanceHere: "You’ll find the best news, advice, reviews, and resources from within the world of dance." I found Dance Here on Twitter.

Dance Teacher Web: “Proven tips, tools and tactics to gain, train and retain better students!” Videos and articles for dance teachers and studio owners. You must become a member to access the info on this site. I found Dance Teacher Web at the UDMA Costume Preview show, we won a free month =)"A collaborative online community and resource that is full of information on everything you need to know to attract more students, retain top talent, inspire loyal faculty and staff and love the business of dance." I found DSO in a Magazine where they were offering a FREE ebook and Tip of the Week Newsletter. You have limited access to the website for free and must join for full access. I became a member and highly recommend the site. Some time after I also found DSO on Twitter.

Dancer Universe: Everything dance wrapped up into one site. Uptown Dance is listed with this site under Dancer Lessons. I found Dancer Universe through their magazine.

Merchant Circle: A well know place to promote any business. You can join the 620,000 businesses across the country who rely on Merchant Circle to manage their online reviews. Best of all, it's FREE!

Dance Plug: "The ultimate Dance Network featuring Online Dance Classes." I found Dance Plug through Nichelle of Dance Advantage.

Dance Jam: Another Network for Dancers. Create a profile, upload and vote on videos. Imagine a Myspace/Facebook combined with YouTube, but just for Dancers. I found DJ on Twitter.

I hope you all find this information useful. Maybe you will find opportunity just like I did. I am very much enjoying the benefits and hope you find something that interests you in the post as well. Questions and comments are always welcome. If you know of any sites, networks, blogs, etc. please share.

Peace, Love, Dance!
Miss Leslea

Saturday, October 18, 2008

UDMA Costume Preview Show

My mother and I attended this years UDMA Costume Preview Show in Seacaucus NJ. I felt the need to write a post about the very enjoyable time we had. Believe it or not, we had never attended a UDMA show together. I attended when I was younger as a model, and my mother use to attend with the owner of the school she worked at prior to owning her own.

The show is held in the Meadowlands Exposition Center. It is very organized with the booths lined up in aisles. You simply walk up and down and stop where you like. At check in you are given a badge to wear and tote to put your catalogs and merchandise in. For those who do not know, this is a free event for studio owners and teachers. There is even seminars and a fashion show you may attend at additional cost.

We enjoyed most the booths which had items for sale. I bought a "dance teacher" tank from Tia's Dancewear, silver dance sneakers from Stars Dancewear, and car magnet from All About Dance that says "Give Peace a Dance."

My mom won a free month from Dance Teacher Web through their scratch off game. We will be very interested in checking out their site. We were pleasantly surprised to see several games available for us to play. For example, we got to spin a wheel at Starpower Competition's booth and both won pocket mirrors.

We didn't spend much time at the costume booths because after 16 Recitals we have done business with almost all of the companies. We have narrowed down our ordering to 2 companies which we are very happy about. The only catalogs/companies that were new to us were UFO (hip hop dance pants) and Bodywrappers. We made sure we put ourselves on their mailing list and left confidently that we now get all of the great costume and dancewear catalogs to our studio.

I highly recommend The Costume Preview show to new studio owners. Its the perfect opportunity to get catalogs and put your studio on mailing lists. You also get to feel the quality and see the costumes on a model. Costumes, Dancewear, Competitions, Workshops, Conventions and more, all in one place.

For established studios its a great opportunity to check out new vendors and make sure you receive every catalog so you have a choice when selecting costumes. Its also a nice opportunity to bond with the teachers in your studio, you can make a day of it with lunch after or breakfast prior. That's exactly what we did after.

We very much look forward to next years show. For more information you can visit You can also join their mailing list if you are a teacher, school owner, or coach.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dance Diary Entries

At the end of the month I ask students to submit an entry from their Dance Diary. As a reward for sharing I post the entry on the Blog and give them an honorable mention. For more information please see the post titled "Dance Diary."

Two very lovely and talented students from my 10-12 year old workshop class decided to share the following...

Dear Dance Diary,
First, to start off, I love dance!! I love to learn new things every week. I love my teachers. They are both so nice! In ballet, my favorite thing to do is a tor jete. In tap, my favorite thing to do is a back to broadway. In jazz, my favorite thing to do is a single spin. Another thing I love are the barr stretches. I guess that's all I have to say.
By: Natalia

Hello and welcome to my dance diary. I love to dance. I've been dancing since I was three. My favorite song that we danced to was Calabria. It was for jazz. But I like hip-hop the most. It is fun to just hang loose and do whatever you think is right. My favorite song is Janet Jackson's Feedback. I like the way she dances and how she doesn't stay stiff. Every Monday we do something different. The best step to me is back to broadway. There are other ones like buffalo, maxie fords, and I like when you run and jump into mood position. I love the way Miss Alyssa and Mrs. Leslea dance. They are not afraid to do anything. The girls in my class are great too! I will dance until I'm like 30! Well I hope you like my diary. Have a great day!
By: Adrianna

I very much enjoyed reading my students perspective on dance class. I am very thankful that their experiences are positive. My hope is that they continue to use the Dance Diary along their journey with dance.
Keep Dancing Readers!
Miss Leslea

Friday, October 3, 2008

Keeping Attendance, Motivation and Interests Up

Rewards for Young Dancers
At the end of class for a job well done, thanks to, we are offering Ballet coloring pages. This will give the little ones something to look forward to receiving each week. When finished coloring they will have pages they can proudly display and learn from at home or in our Studio.
Perfect Attendance
For Ages 10 and up I offer recognition for them not missing class with a group photo in this post and on the NJ Dancer Network. ( At this age they understand the importance of class attendance and they also tend not to feel "left out" if they are not included in the photo for a missed class. It is understood as a reward and a reason to keep their attendance up. The younger ones would be more likely not to understand my intentions and would most likely look at me very sad as if to say, "why am i not in the photo?" Also, not all parents want their younger children displayed on the Internet. For these reasons I keep the "Reward" for ages 10 and up.

Here they are...

Monday Workshop

Monday Hip Hop

Tuesday Hip Hop

Wednesday WorkshopPointe Thursday Hip Hop

Thursday Workshop

Thank You to all my dedicated Students!! Keep up the good work!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Dance Diary

I have mention the "Dance Diary" before in my posts and network on Ning. I'd like to take the time to explain in more detail. My students may refer to this post when getting their diary started and other dancers and teachers may be inspired to start one as well.

What is a Dance Diary?

Plain and simple, a Dance Diary is a notebook of your experiences as a dancer. I think it is a great tool for students, teachers and professionals. Here is a breakdown of how you can use one to help you grow in your field of dance.


  • Write what you have learned after each class you take(new steps or choreography)
  • Write what you need to improve on and practice
  • Write things you feel you have accomplished or mastered
  • Write down your teachers goals for you as and individual and as a class
  • Write how you felt that day during class


  • Write what you teach in each class so there is progression week to week
  • Write individual and class progress so you remember what each student needs work on
  • Write choreography and line placement for each new piece
  • Write the goals you have for your class
  • Write ideas for music and choreography
  • Critique yourself as a teacher, take notes on methods that work or don't work
  • Write how you felt teaching that day during class


  • Write down each audition experience
  • Write down what you did in rehearsal that day
  • Write down goals you have for yourself
  • Write down goals your director has for you
  • Write down your rehearsal and performance schedule
  • Write down how you feel when performing or in rehearsal

How to Start a Dance Diary

Get yourself a notebook that inspires you, maybe your favorite color or an attractive design. Date your first page and get started, its that easy. Above are example how each affiliation with dance can use their diary. Use these examples as a guide. I recommend you make it personal, after all it is a diary and it is all about YOUR growth as a dancer.

Taking the Diary a Step Further

I started off as a student with a small notebook in my dance bag. After seeing the benefits and using my diary more ofter, I purchased a larger notebook. Now that I am a professional, teacher, and student, I need much more than a notebook to stay organized. So if you are like me and you would like to take the Diary a step further, go for a binder. That's what I use now, and I even have tabs and folders to keep it nice and neat.

Encouraging My Students

Some of my students didn't take to the diary when I first explained it to them. The gave me that look, "Geez Miss Leslea, now we have homework in dance class." I suggested that you remind your students that this is optional so they do not look at it as homework. It is really for the individuals growth as a dancer and they should WANT to do it. I also remind them that I use one because I am blessed to have many of my students wanting to follow in my footsteps. To make things a little more interesting, I offered all students that submit an entry to me from their diary to be featured in the Uptown blog. Again optional, if they have an entry they are proud to share that is not personal. The main goal is to students started. Get them using a diary so they can see the benefits for themselves.

Get Going Already!

The hardest part will be getting started. After your first entry you will see the benefits. You will feel organized, accomplished and focused. Putting your passion, goals, and desires on paper is really useful. I believe you will have more motivation and drive. I believe dreams become reality with focus and positive intentions. Maybe your Dance Diary can be your first step in manifesting your goals with dance.

I hope all find this post useful. I welcome questions and suggestions. Remember that above is just a guide, examples of how I used my diary in my dance career. Please get creative with it. As always, much love and luck to you Dancers!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

There is Always Room for Improvement

The season is officially under way. Our first week back was very excited. My mom and I are constantly trying to improve the business, and this year is no exception. As some of u may know, this is our 17th season and I would like to share with you the ideas we came up with to improve our Studio with in just the first week back.

Previous improvements paying off...

We have been blessed with a larger registration this year. I'd like to think that it had something to do with the improvements we made over our summer break. For example; the website, our social network, other forms of advertisement on the Internet, and phone communication with potential clientele. We kept a much better log of inquires and kept in touch with information about the studio. In the past we strayed from constant phone calls with the fear soon to be costumers would see us as just another telemarketer trying to sell them something. We were pleasantly surprised that people appreciated the reminders and updates. I am please to announce that 90% of those potentials registered with us and we are very happy to welcome them this year.

Future improvements to be made...

As far as future improvement we have decided to put our attire/shoe requirement online and in a hand out. We never categorized this as a subject of confusion, so this information was given out verbally during registration. Unlike other studios we do not have a dress code, we just ask that the shoes be uniform (color and style). We noticed more then usual parents being confused and several came in with the wrong shoes. So, similar to what we do during recital time, everything will be written out clearly and available in a handout or online. We feel this is a minor detail to adjust on our end which will help parents be organized and less confused next season.

What changes will be seen in the weeks to come...

As mentioned in previous posts I will be introducing and encouraging the use of the dance diary to my students. To keep interest up I will also offer a monthly contest to those who feel they want to share a diary entry. The winner will be featured in the Blog. I'm also in the process of coming up with more ways the students can be featured in posts. For example; student of the month, or perfect attendance records. Definitely something creative that will keep the students interests up in class, and at the same time bring attention and readers to the Blog.

Also, a cosmetic change will be unveiled within the next few months. We would like to surprise our students with this so I can not give out to many details. I think we will all be proud of this change and can not wait for it to happen.

Stay tuned readers. I'm excited to share more with you in the weeks to come. Happy Dancing!

Miss Leslea

Friday, August 22, 2008

Not just a dance teacher: Addressing different personality types

Classes start next week and I find myself wondering what my students will be like this year. You never know what kind of dancers you will end up with. Most are great, positive attitudes, respectful, willing and eager to learn. While others are a bit challenging, they test you at times to say the least. I look at these cases as just that, a challenge. My goal is not only to teach dance class but to turn attitudes around. I know it would be very easy to get frustrated and ignore or dismiss a dancer who just seems as though he/she is not interested in being there with you in class. I however do the opposite and see these student as a project. I choose to take my job a step further and not only consider myself as a dance teacher, but a role model/mentor to my kids.

I do a lot of observing and really try to figure my students out. One thing is clear, they have all come to me for one reason... they love dance and want to learn. OK, so we have that in common. Lets discuss those challenging cases.

First, those who are unfamiliar with dance class etiquette. No matter what age some students think they are there in the studio to play, socialize, or just get out of their house. Rule 1- The studio is a learning environment. That's where I explain my role as a teacher, to provide leadership and structure to the class. I teach my kids that they should be respectful at all times to myself and their classmates. If we all understand that first and for most we are there to learn, then and only then will there be room for fun.

Second, those striving for attention. This is actually a very sad situation, unfortunately i see it a lot, more so with younger students. I witness lack of discipline and disruptive behavior all just to get noticed. I prefer not to go into detail about why i think some young ones act this way. Instead of wondering why or losing patience i choose a different route. I let students know they are all special in my studio and they can express themselves when its their turn to do so. We have fun time for the younger classes which really helps. Such things as freestyle circles and freeze dance. We encourage each other during this time and clap each other on when we are in the circle. It really brings spirits up and makes everyone feel good about themselves. I notice a change in attitude quite quickly and it really brings me joy. In my experience i find negative discipline never works. Explaining why we act a certain way and positive reinforcement is my choice for turning special cases around.

Third, lack of confidence. This is something I witness as my students get older and it really brings the energy of the class down. Another challenging attitude I'm ready to turn around. I usually notice bum faces, then as weeks go by they start to become vocal. "That's to hard," "I can't do that," "You make it look so easy Miss Leslea." Some of my responses, "of course it's hard, I'm here to challenge you to be a better dancer," "don't say you can't, say you haven't mastered it yet," "I make it look easy because its my job, I expect you all to be good at your chosen professions when you get older too." The most common is the dreaded CAN'T. Every time I hear it I turn the music off and ask, "what was that I heard?" The class knows whats coming. If the student is unfamiliar they quickly learn, others chime in with me, "I haven't mastered it yet." There is never a CAN'T that slips by in my classroom, NEVER. With teenagers and adults I often get "ugh yeah sure" or "u do that so good" or "u make it look easy." This one really gets me and makes me uncomfortable at times. If i know their profession (the adults) I'll usually become very specific and say for example, "well i bet you make accounting look easy." I just go over the fact that this is my job, I am their teacher and if I didn't do my job well they would not be in my company right now. I'm sure they would find another studio with an instructor who does perform his/her job well. Then I usually get giggles and it diffuses the situation.

Fourth, the unmotivated. This is usually a case where the dancer just loses interest or something is bringing them down outside of dance class. I will talk this situation out privately, usually after class in my office. I ask what wrong, you don't seem yourself, are you still enjoying dance class? Sometimes dancers bring their problems to class with them and are just looking for someone to talk to. I offer that ear to them. I also tell them to do their best to leave their troubles in their dance bag, sometimes when you are done with class they are gone. I let them know they can talk to me in confidence. Very rarely someone will confess that they are not enjoying themselves with dance anymore and I let them know that it's OK. To inform their parents and tell the student to maybe take a break, try something new, and that the studio will always welcome them back if they decide to return and i will not be upset with them.

Fifth, the competitive attitude. That talented student who knows they are the best in the class. I diffuse this situation by telling the class as a whole that we are a team. With dance there is always something to strive for. Their is no finish line or perfection in dance. If it comes down to it I will talk privately with the student and let them know that this kind of behavior is not welcomed in the classroom and makes me and the other students uncomfortable. I share with them something my mother always told me, "no matter how good you are, there will always be someone out there in the world who is a little better then you." For example, if you can do 10 fouettés image someone that can do 15, and strive for that.

That sums up in my experience with some different personality types I find in my classroom year to year. Going in I hope for the best, but like i said before i don't mind a challenge, and I definitely don't mind changing a child's attitude around and being that positive force in their life. I hope this post was useful to new teachers or even experience ones who are looking for a new way to address special cases in their classroom.

Best wishes for a great season,
Miss Leslea

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Start The Dance Year off Right

Summer is coming to an end which means a new school year is right around the corner. With a new school year comes a new season of dance. How can students prepare and make this year their most productive dance season yet? I will be sharing some of my favorite tips that i give to my students during the first month of classes so they can do and be their best throughout the year.

Prior to the start of classes- Call your studio and make sure you are ready to go. Have all of your shoes and attire you need for class. Make sure you know the times and location of your classes and put them into your planner. Ask if there is anything else you need or need to know before you begin class. It's great to start the year off organized and prepared.

First week back- I see nervous new students as well as comfortable faces. Before we start I remind everyone, both new and returning students, why we are here in class together... for our love of dance and to learn of course. My advice for those nervous new students, breath, relax, and know its normal to feel butterflies when you start something new. Remember why you are there and know that after a few classes you will feel great, you'll get use to your teachers routine, and meet new friends who share your love for dance. For those returning students who may be comfortable with the routine, aware of their surroundings and what their teacher expects of them... set your own goals. For example; this year I will become more flexible, I will get that triple pirouette, my grand jeté will be higher, my attendance will be better, etc. Also it's always nice to make the new students feel comfortable, introduce yourself, welcome them into the group.

Second week back- Getting to know my students and observing behavior. The excitement of starting something new is over. This is when I explain my goals for the year for each class. Students, I recommend you pay close attention and possibly even write down what your teacher expects of you this season. I'll talk about a "dance diary" later. I have noticed this is the week where I see some sluggish faces. Students feeling the effects of school and homework plus dance class. They are tired and miss their lazy days of summer. This is the perfect time to have a small nutrition/scheduling talk. Students, I suggest when you get home from school you refuel with a healthy snack and then get as much of your homework done as possible before dance class. You should make sure you are eating properly and drinking lots of water, not soda or energy drinks filled with sugar. I like to go more in depth with my teenage/adult students on how food fuels our bodies and what foods are best for dancers. Remember if you set a schedule and monitor your time you will not have to worry about that term paper you have to write while you are standing at the barr stretching. You should be focused in class on dance and this should be a time when you are not stressed about school. Dance is a great outlet and way to destress, its your time, and who needs to be thinking about the school work you put off and should have done before you got to class.

Week three-This is where we really start to get involved and are getting set with our routine. I'll explain the Dance Diary at this time. I think this is a great tool, in my experience it really helps a dancer improve and grow. I still use one myself. I tell my students to jot down their personal goals and the goals I have for them as a class. They can get more in depth if they choose by writing everything we did in class that day and their feeling while in class. For example, "It was great when stuck that balance in arabesque." or "I definitely need to work on that combo across the floor." In week three I also reinforce teamwork and address any negative attitudes I'm witnessing privately. Remember your dance class is like a team, you will have to perform and learn together all year. It is best to have a positive attitude at all times to keep things moving along so you and your classmates can learn, improve, and be your best together.

Week four- Really into the groove now. We are comfortable with each other and on a mission. Students, I recommend you stay positive and motivated. Keep your attendance up, use your dance diary, maintain healthy eating habits, balance your time between school work and dance, and practice what you need to work on. When in doubt remember why you joined a dance class, for your love of dance and passion to learn about this beautiful art form.

This sums up the first month back to dance and the tips I like to give out. Throughout the year I keep reminding my students of healthy positive habits for a productive dance season. I hope all that read this post find the advice useful. Make this dance season your best ever! I wish you all much success in your journey with dance.

Love and Luck,

Miss Leslea ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our First Post

Hello Everyone! I wanted to take the time to introduce Uptown Dance and fill you all in on why we decided to Blog. Not many dance studios in our area use the Internet to their advantage. We feel it can be very beneficial since the majority of our clientele (the younger generations) are constantly on the Internet. We recently obtained and are anxiously waiting for it to launch. We also are on Twitter which is lots of fun, its a quick way to inform your followers "what you're doing now". We have our account linked to our myspace ( which allows students who are our myspace friends to see our tweets(updates). I must mention that i met an awesome person through Twitter who has been our main motivation for taking the time to finally create a BLOG. Her name is Nichelle Strzepek and she is the author of Dance Advantage ( We were excited to be invited to participate in her Teach-A-Thon (pictured below), and now we are able to do so. Thanks Nichelle =)