We are thrilled to feature Holly Derville-Teer for our Instructor Spotlight this month. CVDA’s story as we know it begins with Holly. After performing full time post college for several years, Holly moved back to Oregon and sent resumes to every dance studio she could find in the phone book.
Chehalem Valley Dance was one of the six studios that offered Holly teaching jobs. She taught for all them for a year, but Chehalem was her favorite. “The minute I walked in the door, it felt like where I was supposed to be” says Holly. One year later Holly bought Chehalem Valley Dance and added “Academy” to give it her mark. She later opened the McMinnville studio. After 11 years of owning and operating CVDA, Holly was ready to focus more on instruction and less on administrative tasks, and sold CVDA to Kristen Stoller.
Today, Holly teaches jazz, lyrical, and musical theater classes and choreographs PC dances. She’s also a freelance writer and about to speak at the DanceLife Teacher conference next month.
Chehalem Valley Dance Academy: How did your dance career start?
Holly Derville-Teer: I took my very first jazz class at age 10 in Beaverton and danced throughout school. At Principia College I majored in education and English and was heavily involved in dance. I would go to the studio at night (I had a key) and dance for hours. But I wasn’t sure how to make a career out of dance. Then the summer after sophomore year, sort of on a whim, I went to New York City with a friend. I took dance classes, went to auditions, and waitressed for the whole summer. I loved it so much I did the same thing following summer! From one of my auditions I was awarded a lifetime scholarship to Steps on Broadway.
During my senior year I started auditioning in person and by video and got 2 job offers! I had to miss my graduation ceremony because of my first performing job in Puerto Rico. For three months I performed six nights a week, 1-2 dances a night at The Sands. I was SO excited to get my 1st paycheck, I almost didn’t want to cash it – I wanted to frame it!
After Puerto Rico I returned to New York City and activated my Steps on Broadway scholarship. I worked 10 hours/week at the studio and could take as many free classes as I wanted. About nine months later I landed a 3 month contract at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, dancing 5 nights/week OUTSIDE in 90+ degree weather! Eventually, I married my husband (we met in college) and we moved to Los Angeles. Soon I got a 6 month contract in Sapporo, Japan. I danced 7 days/week (classes in the morning and performances in the evening) for 6 months. No one spoke English so I had to learn to count to 8 in Japanese! Then I moved back to NYC, this time with my husband, to study with (renowned dance teacher) Suzi Taylor. After two years we moved to Oregon to start our family. And that’s when I started working at Chehalem Valley Dance.
CVDA: How you like performing vs. teaching vs. choreography?
HDT: I love performing and I love choreography, but teaching is my life’s work. Being a part of the development and growth of dancers is the most incredible thing. I take my role as a mentor very seriously. If I’m not reaching someone in class, I go home and brainstorm different things I can do in the class to reach that child. I try to meet the kids where they are instead of expecting them to walk through the door with everything together. I encourage them in the direction they need to go next. If there is a behavior problem, for example, I think to myself, if I can get this dancer to get a handle (whatever it is,) they will have conquered that behavior for their life, not just dance class.
If a child isn’t confident, I am not just helping them believe in themselves during dance class, I’m helping them believe in themselves for everything. If a child has something difficult going on, like a divorce or a death in the family, bullying at school or anything like that, dance can be a safe haven where they can take a break from what’s going on in their life.
Dance is there to be the catalyst for whatever growth needs to happen. What’s amazing is everyone is growing in different ways and getting different things they need from the same dance class at the same time.
CVDA: How do balance your mother/daughter/teacher/dancer relationship with Bridget?
HDT: I’m so lucky I have a daughter who wants to dance. I never pushed her into it – we said if you want to play soccer, hey, that’s great! But Bridget was drawn to dance from the beginning. From a very young age we set boundaries that have worked well. She has called me Miss Holly in dance class ever since she was 3! Bridget wants to be treated like all the other dancers in my class. We try to keep our mother-daughter relationship out of the studio.
CVDA: What do you like to do when you’re not dancing or teaching dance?
HDT: Well, I’m dancing and teaching a lot…and I’m a dance mom! I spend time with my family: my husband, daughter Bridget (age 15), and son Cooper (age 13). We go to his soccer games. I like to go to dinner and a movie. We love movies – we see everything. It’s hard to pick a favorite but probably Pride and Prejudice. I love The Proposal…and Steel Magnolias. I see the action and alien movies, too!
I also have a new blog called Method Maven.http://methodmaven.comI created and implemented a dance teacher training program several years ago and I’ve also come up with a lot of different teaching methods. The content on the blog is everything I’ve used. These methods worked for me and I hope some of them will work for others as well! Now is a great time to launch the blog and I’m excited to share these ideas with dance teachers all over.
CVDA: Yes, we’ve heard you like to write. Tell us about where you’ve been published and what that’s led to.
HDT: I have freelanced with Dance Studio Life http://www.dancestudiolife.com magazine for years.
The year I sold the studio, I was looking for a new project. I attended the DanceLife Teacher conference and introduced myself to the editor of the Dance Studio Life Magazine. I handed her a pitch and she called me a month later to tell me it was accepted. I have contributed 28 articles so far for that publication.
Last year I pitched myself as a speaker at the Dancelife Teacher Conference http://www.dancelifeconference.com and was accepted. I felt so honored! At the annual conference in Arizona next month I’ll be speaking on two topics: “Classroom Strategies: Teaching Methods Age 7-Teen” and my “In-House Teacher Training Program.”