Stralow strives to teach students to enjoy the movement of dance


Precious Onalaja

Coppell High School aerobic activities and dance I teacher Julie Stralow leads her sixth period class through aerobics warm-ups on April 23 in the small gym. Starlow was selected by The Sidekick staff as the sixth Teacher of the Issue for the 2020-21 school year.

Manasa Mohan, Staff Writer

Coppell High School dance and aerobics teacher Julie Stralow was selected by The Sidekick staff as its Teacher of the Issue. Starting her teaching career at CHS in November 2003 as a long-term substitute for the Lariette director, she became the permanent director in the fall of 2004 and continued in that position until 2018. In 2018, she decided to step into the newly created assistant director position so that a new director could be brought in with new and fresh ideas. She finds great pride in the fact that CHS provides dance classes for students, who otherwise cannot receive studio training, to enroll in and get to experience a vast number of styles and forms of dance. Her enthusiasm towards teaching dance is admired by her students, and her passion for the art form instantly brightens up the room. 

Why did you want to pursue teaching as a career?

It wasn’t something I was thinking about until I was already in college [at TCU]. My boyfriend’s mother was very insistent that I was a dancer, and I needed to keep pursuing that. It just never occured to me that I would keep dancing to get my degree. She told me that I could do accounting later, and [she told me] to consider auditioning for the dance program, especially if I was going to TCU. I went and took a class during Thanksgiving and followed that track, auditioned in the spring of my senior year, I got in and went to orientation in the summer, signed up for the dance classes, but I never really decided that this is what I was going to do. Eventually, I realized that I was getting my degree in dance, but I knew that I didn’t want a full career in dance. So that’s how I considered using other modes of how I could use my dance degree in other ways. I happened to start working for a drill team company, Marching Auxiliaries, over the summers, and they hired me on the staff and that’s how I got into teaching. I really enjoyed doing that, and it completely surprised me. So that’s where it clicked [and I realized] that I wanted to be a drill team director which surprised me to no end. 

How would you describe your teaching style?

I try to hit the highlights and surface of what they’re wanting to see and what they’re wanting to do but also try to make sure they’re getting the historical, technical and foundational things in without them knowing they’re getting it. I try to give them a taste of everything and be able to go from ballet to jazz or jazz to modern and [make] those connections, but not [get] them so bogged down that they’re not enjoying the movement and the music and the experience of moving in those different styles. 

Do you have a memorable experience with a student?

I had a student named Christian McDow who was pretty new to dance and didn’t have any experience. I know he had a natural ability and he ended up taking Dance I and showed back up for Dance II. Along the way, without my prompting, it was just his own motivation, he was picking up on [all the things we were learning throughout the year] and he became a very good hip-hop improvisational dancer. I’ve seen him in Coppell [outside of school] and he’s still doing a lot of freestyle work and he’s part of a hip-hop crew or two. That was really exciting because he came in with nothing, and he had not really had the chance to be in a dance class before. To see him blossom and graduate, and he was part of a hip-hop crew that [CHS] used to have and he would perform in a lot of the shows, so he is someone I am really proud of. I got to see his progress and that was really humbling for me. 

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