My name is Jules Kramer and I am a 15 year old teen dancer in quarantine. I have been dancing since I was around 4 years old but didn’t take it seriously until around 4 years ago. I am trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary among other styles. I thrive off of other people’s energy and my dance studio has been a constant for me when everything else felt uncertain. When the stay-at-home order was placed I was devastated that I would not be able to go to my studio every day,  take classes, and see my teachers and friends. Without dance I feel incomplete. I am so passionate that not being able to fully practice my art form has been a huge challenge for me. But seventeen weeks and 125 days later, I now know there are positives that have come out of it. Dancing in quarantine has taught me so many things about myself. I have learned to be patient with myself, not get as frustrated, and have learned how to keep motivated while there is so much uncertainty in the air.

Here are my top seven tips on how to stay motivated:

You are not alone

Remember, we are all in this together and every dancer worldwide is feeling the same as you. You may feel like you are losing your technique but remember that every dancer in the world is going through this. When you get back into the studio everyone will be working at the same pace to get back into your normal routine.

                        ( Screenshot of Tyler Peck’s Instagram page)

 Get inspired

Although there are negative aspects of social media, it can be used as a way to become inspired by watching professional dancers. Many dancers (especially in quarantine) have been using social media to display and create new innovative ways of performing. You also can take incredible classes from teachers worldwide and professional dancers that otherwise, you would not be able to take. Some of these classes on Instagram are by; Maria Khoreva, Mariinsky theater ballerina, Tiler Peck, New York City Ballet soloist, and Isabella Boylston along with James Whiteside, American Ballet Theater Principals.

Create a schedule

It may seem like a lot of effort but in the end, creating a schedule will help you make sure you get all of your tasks done. By sticking with it you will be able to find time to be creative and push yourself, creating a consistent routine.

Do it with friends

Get together with friends either virtually or in-person (while wearing masks) to take a dance class or a conditioning class. It is so important to stay socially connected and by dancing with your friends, even if virtually, you will be more inspired.  It also creates a friendly competition which in this case may help you improve.

Set a goal

Choose at least one thing you want to achieve. Whether it be holding turnout in fifth or keeping your elbows up in your second position, having a personal goal will motivate you and help you to improve. For me, my main goal has been improving my attitude shape in the center and the barre. By working towards this goal I have been able to improve other areas by just thinking about this correction. I still have so much to improve but just accomplishing little things has made me more determined to keep pushing and to give my all.

Remind yourself why you love it

Take a step back and remember how much you love dancing. By just acknowledging your love for dance it can encourage you to keep working and be motivated. Remember, having motivation is an internal battle with yourself and you are your biggest competition. In order to remind me of my love for dance I usually write down my top reasons I love to dance in a journal. Writing these ideas down reinforces my passion and love for the art-form.

Remember what it feels like to perform

Remember that sensation of working for weeks on end, and making it to that final 2 minutes on stage –  yes that feeling!  The feeling of joy and excitement mixed with nervous energy. Remember how excited you were and let that be your motivation to keep stretching and keep working. Stay positive!

As a parent, it’s normal to be concerned about how well your child does in school. Our kids need for us to support and encourage them with schoolwork, but they also need to spend time doing something they love outside of school. Hobbies help kids build self-esteem, develop a talent, and hone skills that will serve them in school and throughout their lives. There’s no mistaking that hobbies can put a strain on your family’s budget, but they don’t have to when you help your child find their dream hobby with these money-saving tips.

Tips to Make Hobbies Fit in Your Budget

The first step is to help your kids find the hobby that’s right for them. The blog My Stay at Home Adventures suggests encouraging an activity they have been drawn to on TV, such as admiration for a certain athlete or famous ballerina. Taking a cue from their interests increases the chance that they’ll stick with it, which means you can feel good about investing in the necessary supplies. Even better, encouraging children’s interests is not only money-smart, but it also helps develop a love of learning. When you’re ready to get a hobby starter kit or other essentials, look for deals from online retailers to help keep costs down, especially if it’s a hobby that tends to be expensive. You can often find weekly sales and coupon codes for stores like Walmart and special offers and cashback offers from Target.

Once you have an idea of what you can expect to spend on supplies and lessons, set a hobby budget. This can actually be a good money lesson for your child, and it’s also a great incentive for you both to give it your all. That doesn’t mean you should force them to do a hobby they hate, which could backfire. However, since your budget doesn’t allow for trying new hobbies every week, do what you can to encourage them and really set them up for success. Help them get to lessons on time, and set up a spot in your home where they can practice their hobby.

Ideas for Budget-Friendly Hobbies

  • Dance – Of course, we recommend dance as one of the best hobbies for kids! Having any hobby helps build self-esteem, and this is especially true for dance. Along with self-esteem, dance develops coordination, improves physical fitness, and helps with focus. Dance can also be very budget-friendly. You can save money on dance wear and accessories by finding daily specials and online deals for retailers like Amazon.
  • Music – Learning to play an instrument is another great way for kids to be exposed to the arts, and music lessons develop skills that help kids do well in school. There are ways you can make music lessons affordable, such as group lessons, swapping services if you have a talent to offer, and buying a used instrument.
  • Free Online Activities – Whether your child’s interests are in science, computers, the arts, or some combination, the internet is an endless source for activities kids can do online as well as instructions for things to do in real life. For example, Earth Science Jr. is a great online springboard for discovering fun and educational activities. You can turn a love of science into a hobby by doing kitchen experiments like making a glass of “lava.” Many of today’s kids will end up having careers that involve computers, making computer hobbies ideal for preparing for their future. Most tech hobbies are free to do, and your local library can be a great resource for getting started. For those that aren’t free, the Washington Post recommends discount websites for activities such as learning computer coding, graphic design, and animation.

Even if your child’s hobby doesn’t turn into a future career, it is guaranteed to help them in school and in life. Education is much more than what goes on in the classroom, and what better way to learn about the world than by doing something they love? And with these smart, money-saving tips, your child’s new hobby may be much more affordable than you think.

Lillian Brooks is the founder of For years, Lillian worked as a special education teacher with a focus on teaching children with learning disabilities. She created to offer information and understanding to parents of children with learning disabilities, as well as adults who are in need of continued support in order to succeed.

Photo credit: Unsplash

It was no surprise to us when our newly launched Mentor Match program took off like gangbusters in 2016. Right away, we saw how offering low-resourced youth the opportunity to meet regularly with a role model working in a field that piqued their interest could be a gateway to transformation … for both mentor and mentee.

What we knew before launching Mentor Match was that mentoring nurtures positive youth development – youth are more likely to succeed in life and avoid risky behaviors when supported by a caring adult. What we didn’t realize was that high-risk youth – or youth with barriers to achieving economic and social mobility – can benefit profoundly from formal and informal mentoring.

According to The Mentoring Effect, a study completed in 2014 by MENTOR, The National Mentoring Partnership, at-risk youth with mentors are:

  • 130% more likely to hold a leadership position in a club, school council,
    sports team, or other group
  • 81% more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities
  • 55% more likely to enroll in college

Wow, and yes, we’re on the right track with Mentor Match! Mentor Match is a component of our High School Enrichment Program, which supports high school students as they navigate their post-high school college and career paths. Funded by The Angell Foundation and Cathay Bank, students select their level of participation in a variety of interesting activities – teaching assistantships, summer internships, leadership team – that fit with busy schedules.

Mentor Match partners youth with arts professionals. Mentors coordinate monthly conversations and real-life experiences with their mentees about their post-high school educational/career options as well as steps to achieve their career goals. They also coach students on college application personal statements.

We’re delighted to share with you the experiences from one of our mentor/mentee teams, Melinda Sullivan and Nadine Aguirre, who both reaped significant benefits from their partnership. Here’s what Mentor Melinda had to say:

Becoming a mentor to Nadine & Zuleny through everybody dance!  was an incredible opportunity. I had been an everybody dance!  Teaching Artist in the past, but this was a cool way to work with the students differently and more intimately. The girls and I would meet about once a month, and mostly in the studio, as they shared with me in the first meeting that they wanted to get stronger as tap dancers. They pushed themselves to grow technically and as improvisers. I was so impressed with their level of dedication to their dreams, while still keeping up their busy schedules. I was able to invite Nadine to several dance workshops, and was happy to assist in other tap opportunities, for instance working with Chloe and Maud Arnold’s youth company. I personally will never forget the mentorship I had from professional artists when I was in high school, and hope that the Nadine and Zuleny will take with them what still impacts me today: belief in myself, my art, and in positive relationships. I look forward to being in their lives as a resource and a cheerleader!

Mentee Nadine said this:

Becoming a mentee to Melinda Sullivan gave me many opportunities to explore dance through someone else’s point of view, especially someone who has been successful with dance. It was an amazing experience to create a bond with Melinda and get closer with Zuleny by going outside of everybody dance! and meeting up in new places. I experienced many opportunities given to me by Melinda, for example taking private tap classes with her which was an advantage to improve my tap dancing and my musicality. I also received a scholarship with the help of Melinda to join a youth tap company called Sole Talk that was led by Chloe and Maud Arnold. I will take all the skills and advice Melinda gave me throughout this process and keep them inside my mind and heart.

Your life experiences can transform a young life! Learn more about mentoring at And if you’re interested in becoming an arts mentor with us, visit, scroll down and type “Mentor Match” in the message section!