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The Greater Boston School of Dance Interview with Kerrin Michaels

Kerrin Michaels is Owner and Director of the Greater Boston School of Dance (GBSD) in Boston, Massachusetts. The studio prides itself on is being a place for students that want to take their dancing to a new level. The staff is dedicated to making students stand out from the crowd. They are passionate about teaching proper technique, but even more passionate about good sportsmanship, kindness and while at competitions appreciation and support of other studios!

Having a strong musical theatre background, Kerrin knows how important it is for dancers to be “triple threats.” Every year, the dancers have to sing in at least one routine. This year they competed with a Musical Theatre Tap routine to “Anything Goes” where they had a lead singer and the team sang chorus. GBSD tries to push their dancers out of their comfort zone and do something that will make them better, stronger dancers in the long run.

Kerrin’s proudest moments as a coach occurred during their competitions this year. Not only did their team take home multiple first place trophies locally and nationally, but their studio was awarded “kindness” and “backstage awards” at several competitions this season. It was those awards that they celebrated the most. (more…)

Starstruck Dance Academy Interview with Emily Suing

According to Emily Suing, the owner and director of Starstruck Dance Academy, in Lincoln, Nebraska, their studio mission statement is “Dance should be about bringing out the best in every dancer, having fun, and helping dancers feel good about themselves.” They want their dancers to feel empowered in a positive learning environment.

In Emily’s opinion, what separates her dance studio from other dance studios is the fact that they have a staff that genuinely cares about their dancers. They like to keep their class sizes small for personal attention. Their classes are for all ages, two years old to adult, and they have something for everyone – from the recreational dancer to the competitive dancer.

Emily loves watching her dancers grow in their dance skills and seeing those moments when things click and they finally get something hard they have been working on. She also loves when her dancers become her assistant teachers and then later begin teaching for her. That is very rewarding for me.

Emily believes that dance is a sport and an art where you are always learning. She thinks it is important to remember to continue working hard even if you think a class is “too easy.” There is always (more…)

Leigh Purtill Ballet Interview with Leigh Purtill

Leigh Purtill of Leigh Purtill Ballet in the Pasadena/Los Angeles, California, area teaches beginner through advance ballet, including pointe. In Leigh’s words, she puts her dancers on stage! They perform at least twice a year – a spring show and Nutcracker.

She also has an amateur ballet company, Leigh Purtill Ballet Company, which is for adults only. In the past, the Company has performed small sections of Leigh’s original ballet, Sweet Sorrow, at venues such as the popular horror convention, Scare LA, in Pasadena and at the ARTNight Pasadena. They will be producing the full length version in October as the first full ballet of their repertory.

Leigh is always looking for performance opportunities for her students so they can experience dancing on a stage in front of an audience, learn choreography and costume design, and in some cases, fulfill lifelong dreams. She loves hearing from students that their dreams have come true when they finish a Nutcracker or other story ballet she has produced.

Leigh’s proudest moments as a teacher occur when she sees beginner students who have never performed in front of an audience or on a stage, who have never played a character or danced choreography, really blossom on stage. Then (more…)

How To Sew On Buttons

We are now going to show you how to sew buttons onto a garment. It is a really great skill to learn. It can create a dramatic impact and completely change the look of a costume. Plus you never know when you are going to need to sew on a button that has fallen off.


  1. Dance garment
    Buttons of your choice
    Thread to match garment
    Tailor’s chalk or a bar of soap


Choosing Your Materials
There are two types of buttons from which to choose. There are buttons with a loop, or a shank, in the back and then there are buttons that have a single row of two holes in the button (we will call them “singles”) or a double row of two holes in the button (we will call them “doubles”). With the single row of two holes, you would obviously just sew in one button hole in the button and come out the other hole. With the single row of holes in the button, you could place the row of holes in the button in a horizontal direction or a vertical direction. It is best to have the row of holes in the button in the same direction as the buttonholes. For the (more…)

How To Sew On A Applique

Sewing appliqués on garments is very easy to do and we are going to show you how. For our demonstration, we will use a top. However, you could also sew an appliqué on a skirt, dress, shorts or briefs. When you are done sewing the appliqué to your garment, you will be astonished at how simple it is and how elegant that garment looks.


  1. Dance garment
  2. Thread to match appliqué
  3. Straight Pins
  4. Safety Pins
  5. Needle
  6. Scissors


Choosing Your Materials

When you choose an appliqué, your first consideration is the size of the appliqué that you will need. You will also need to consider the design of the garment and the design of the appliqué. You need to choose an appliqué that is conducive to the look you are trying to achieve.

For our demonstration, we are going to sew appliqués a bra. The key to sewing appliqués on a bra is to open the bra up so that it is laying flat on the table.

When sewing an appliqué onto a bra, it is important to consider how the bra fits. If the top of the bra has any gaps in the fit, this is where you can correct them. There are two ways to (more…)

How To Sew Down Straps on A Top

In this lesson, I am going to show you how to take a halter bra and sew down the straps. You can use it in other ways also but this is one way to take a halter bra that you have bought from us or somewhere else and sew the straps down in the back rather than just tying around the neck. You can also use this technique to just sew off the top so that you do not have straps hanging down after it is tied.

What I have done is pinned it while the girl is wearing it, I have pinned the straps to the back of the bra where the straps will be sewn down. You will want to use safety pins so that the pins will not come out or stick the girl when she takes it off. Once it has been pinned and the girl has taken it off, fold the bra in half to find the center back. Then check to make sure that the straps are both an equal distance from that center back. That way you can ensure that the straps are not too far to the left or the right. Now, since you (more…)

How To Sew A Skirt And A Brief Together

Sewing a skirt to a brief or to shorts is a simple technique that will have a huge impact on your costume. We are going to show you how to tack a skirt to your briefs or shorts. This technique can work on a lot more applications than just tacking things down so they do not move around. It is really important with this skirt because the skirt will want to naturally move up to the smallest point which is the waistline which can really distract the judges. So this is a really important technique to learn that can come in super handy.


  1. Dance shorts or briefs
  2. Dance skirt
  3. Straight pins
  4. Safety pins
  5. Needles
  6. Thread to match
  7. Small scissors to clip threads


Choosing Your Materials

The only choice of materials to be made here would be the pair of shorts or briefs and the skirt that you want to put together.

Sewing the Garments Together

We are going to show you how to put a pair of shorts and a skirt together. First, you take the back seam and the front seam and hold them together. Bring the waistband together matching the center seam and the side seams. Pin the side seams together at each (more…)

How To Ruch A Skirt

We will now show you a simple technique called “ruching.” This is basically gathering the material up. We are going to show you this technique using a skirt but it could be used on almost any garment. This is a great method if you want to show a little leg. We suggest you use it on the side of the garment where you are going to be doing the most kicking. It is a great look if you are looking for something that is a little saucy but you still want to keep it elegant.


  1. Dance skirt
  2. Thread to match dance skirt
  3. Appliqué or broach, optional
  4. Thread to match appliqué, optional
  5. Small scissors to clip threads


Choosing Your Materials
The first thing you need to do is choose the garment that you want to ruch and then choose any optional appliqué or broach you may want to use. For our demonstration, we are going to use a short circle skirt. This technique also looks really nice on a long skirt.

Ruching a Skirt
The first thing we are going to do is find the center back of the skirt. Then decide where we want the ruching. Do you want the right leg? The left leg? (more…)

How to Create a Shredded Skirt

A shredded skirt is a fantastic look if you want a lot of movement. It creates a great deal of interest and brings the eye down to your legs. This is a fun, fun skirt to make and to wear when danceing.


  1. Skirt, second skirt optional
  2. Scissors


  1. Choosing Your Materials

There are four main things to consider when you choose a skirt to “shred.” You need to choose the type of skirt, the material the skirt is made of, the color of the skirt and whether you want to wear the skirt solo or layer it with a second skirt. These four items are important to consider if you want a dance costume that attracts attention and is relevant to your dance.

For our demonstration, we are using a velvet circle skirt. The skirt you choose does not have to be velvet nor does it need to be a circle skirt. We chose velvet for two reasons – we like the feel of velvet and the fact that the back of the material is different so it appears like there are two different materials being used. The important thing to remember is that the material needs to be Lycra, mesh or some other (more…)

How to Make a Pattern for Dance Shorts

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to make a pattern based on your favorite dance shorts.


  1. Your favorite dance shorts
  2. Scraps of material or Kraft paper
  3. Pens
  4. Pins
  5. Scissors
  6. Ruler or Yardstick


  1. Choosing Materials

The first thing you will need to do is find a pair of shorts that you already have that you like the way they fit.

Next, choose the fabric that you want to use to make the pattern. Old sheets, left over pieces of material are perfect for this purpose. You can also use Kraft paper or butcher paper.

  1. Laying Out and Tracing around Shorts

The first thing you are going to do is turn the shorts inside out. Fold these shorts in half matching the left seam to right seam making sure that all the seams match up. You will want to pin the center back seam together so that it does not get mixed up and twisted around. Do the same with the center front seam.

Next, open up your shorts and lay them flat on the table with the center seam, crotch and inseam on the left and the side seams on the right. Pin the shorts to the pattern material so that it (more…)