Danced since I took a pre-ballet class at the age of 5. Graduated from the National Dance Academy (a boarding High School for the Arts in Champaign, IL) and went on to dance professionally. Received a BFA in Dance and Dance Education from UW – Milwaukee and continued to dance, choreograph and teach. Taught in the Milwaukee Public Schools magnet program and the Minneapolis Public Schools magnet program. Also taught for Hubbard Street in the Chicago Public Schools. Opened my studio in June of 2006.
2. What are you currently doing?
Running my dance studio, INTUIT Dance.
3. Can you point out the major hurdles that people will have to overcome when opening a dance studio?
Be prepared to work really hard without much monetary reward the first couple of years. Be prepared to sub if people call at the last minute and be ready to wear a lot of hats to get the job done.
4. How have you been able to make your studio such a success?
Well, I think I know how to teach all types of dance and students. I really studied dance education and went through a state certification program so I think I know a little bit about child development, psychology, lesson planning etc….
5. Can you share a few tips for teaching young children?
Children need to be engaged. If they are off task and you are spending all your time trying to get their attention, then you need to change your approach. I have studied this quite a bit and I would recommend starting with reading Mary Joyce.
6. How do you handle the recital issue?
For right now, I split my recitals up into 5 half an hour recitals. Each recital contains some smaller children (starting at age 4) and some teen and adult pieces. I hold them at the studio which I turn into a black box. This way, parents are not sitting through 21/2 hours to see their child dance for 2 minutes and small children feel supported instead of paraded about. We do not purchase fancy costumes. The kids just wear their practice clothes. The teens and adults will organize a look out of what they have. They are very fun events and the parents love them.
7. What is the best piece of advice you have ever heard in terms of owning/operating a dance studio?
I had a successful dance studio teacher and owner tell me that “Your teachers make your studio.”
8. Can you tell me a little about your teaching philosophy?
I try to include body mind patterning, dance techniques, improv and dance making in some form in every class. That sounds like a lot but it can be done. It gets everyone involved and changes the dynamics of the class from just working on dance technique to working with others and it helps to come at a technical exercise from a different perspective.
9. How do you handle challenging parents?
Really I only have had one problem in four years with a parent. Listen to what they are saying and don’t take it personally. Don’t think about the parents behavior, think about what they are saying. Use active listening techniques and keep it short and sweet. Stay positive.
10. What new things do you have coming up on the horizon?
I did the Nutty Nutcracker this year at the studio and I am looking for a larger theater to stage it. I thought this would be a way to give some of the more advanced children and teens a way to get out of the studio and perform. It was a real fun show and I can include a lot of kids in the show, and still have it entertaining for the public. This way I can keep my recitals but give some children another type of experience while keeping it interesting for the audience.
Diane VanDerhei, Director, INTUIT Dance
Diane VanDerhei is the artistic director of INTUIT Dance! She holds a B.F.A. in dance and dance education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her credentials include developing and implementing comprehensive K-12 dance curriculum for the Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago school systems. She graduated from the National Academy of Dance in Champaign Illinois, a high school exclusively devoted to dance education. There she studied classical ballet with Lupe Serrano and Gwynne Ashton and jazz with Buzz Miller. She performed and toured nationally with the National Ballet of Illinois and the Ballet Folk of Moscow and Wild Space Dance Company. She has choreographed numerous acclaimed works and in 1989 was awarded the first Milwaukee County Fellowship in Choreography. From 2003-2008 she served as a teaching artist and education consultant for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Education and Community Programs.