Today on Dance Blog Spotlight we have Dance Advantage–one of the leading blogs about dance on the web. Read about how Nichelle got started on this endeavor below…
1. Can you tell readers a bit about your background in dance?
I grew up in a small town, next to a slightly larger college town in Pennsylvania. I was very involved in the arts: community musicals, school plays, band, church choirs, color guard, and of course dance. My childhood dance school is a pretty typical ballet/tap/jazz studio, with one exception, and that is that the owner’s specialty is none of those. In her “creative modern” classes movement is a medium and she helps children and youth “paint” their own pictures, giving them the structure and the tools to express themselves artistically. It’s creative movement very much in line with Virginia Tanner and Anne Green Gilbert. I firmly believe that foundation and the care with which it was provided is why I am still in love with dance today.
I did it ALL at that studio from about age 5 through high school. It was not a pre-professional dance education but when I majored in dance, what I lacked in training I made up in enthusiasm, dedication, and diligence. The technique came along and I had some fantastic teachers. I married my husband halfway through college and when I finished, I did a lot of teaching in all kinds of environments: college, studios, community programs, homeschool groups, theaters. I danced in a few modern dance companies and choreographed at every opportunity.
Though I’ll admit there have been times I’ve wished I was just spectacular at ONE thing, I am a Jack of all trades (master of none) with a variety of experiences and skill sets. It’s not a bad place to be, actually.
2. When did you begin your blog—and why did you start it?
Dance Advantage was born in my head as early as 2001 or 2002 when I was doing a lot of teaching and Internet use was exploding. I imagined a place where I could send my students to get additional technique tips, learn about the body, dance history, and the art of dance. At one point I even worked on an html-based site that bore the name Dance Advantage but it’s a slow way for a novice to build a site and even if I had finished it, I had absolutely no idea how people would find it.
In 2007 we moved back to Houston (long story) when I was eight months pregnant. I wasn’t employed at a studio and planned to take the year off to focus on motherhood. When my son was around 7 months old I met a “mommy blogger” at a stroller fitness class whose site was steadily growing. Since 2003, before anyone’s cousins, aunts, or mothers were joining Facebook, I had been using a blog to keep our family up to date on our Texas adventures. But this mom was creating a useful resource for other mothers, one post at a time, and that was a lightbulb moment for me. I may have gone home that day and opened a wordpress account. I simply started writing and because the blog-bloggers said I should, I joined Twitter and found perhaps three other dance people there. More dancers and dance-bloggers began showing up to the party, though. Unwittingly I found myself on the forefront of something new in the dance community. No one was more surprised than I, for sure.
3. What does your blog cover?
That original mission still stands. Dance training and education is the core focus of Dance Advantage and the blog features articles and content that is above all useful for students, their teachers, and their parents. It’s an extension of who I am as a teacher so it is everything I want my students to know, everything I hope to share with and learn from my peers, and everything with which I feel parents should be provided to best support their children in dance.
4. What has been the best part about participating in the dance community online?
The feeling that I’ve reached out to and been touched by a wider, more diverse group of people than I ever dreamed possible. And they all care about dance!
5. What are some of the other dance blogs you read?
All of them. I’m only partially kidding…! The ones I enjoy most are the ones that consistently inspire me in some way to be better at what I do. That list is a long one and is the better part of my blog roll. If I limit myself to those that currently, in between nursing, changing, and cuddling my newborn daughter I am reading most regularly (present company excluded): Maria’s Movers (Move. Create. Educate.), The Body Series, The Dance Buzz, and BalletScoop.
There are great dance blogs that come and some that go every day. I love the way dance blogging has grown, not just in number of sites but in quality!
BIO: Nichelle Strzepek writes about 100,000 words per year on dance and dance training at DanceAdvantage.net. In addition to self-publishing, other pursuits include covering dance performance in Houston, TX, where she finds time to periodically perform and teach dance. Her career in dance has been a diamond into which she continues to cut new facets but the true gems in her life are her young son, infant daughter, and infinitely supportive husband. You can find even more of Nichelle’s words about dance at NichelleDances. Or, interact with her on Twitter: @danceadvantage or Facebook: fb.com/danceadvantage