did i just use a hashtag in my title? yes i did. what is our world coming to? #dontusehashtags.
i’ve been teaching/directing dance since i was 18 and dancing since i was little. i’ve learned a ton over the years and i’ll continue to learn more as the years go on. i’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible dancers and i wish i could post of picture of all of them, but that would take up the whole post so one will have to do. today i thought i would share a few gems of advice and hopefully some dancers will read it, take it to heart, and apply it. as a choreographer and teacher this is what i want to see in my dancers and when i have my own company (years down the road) the ones i will hire.
^be on time. not show up 2 min before class with your hair down and dance clothes in your back pack. get to class early enough so you can be in the studio ready to go right as class starts. i would love to see my students all spread out and ready to start when i walk in the door.
^come prepared. if ballet, jazz, tap, and hip hop are on the schedule for the day, pack your bag with everything you will need for those classes. respect each art by wearing your appropriate attire. ballet class means pink tights, leotard, and ballet shoes (sewn not tied). jazz requires (atleast in my class) form fitted tank, bra top, or leo and bike short or leggings. tap is tap so show up with your tap shoes:) and same goes for hip hop. bring your tennis shoes or high tops! its important to show respect for each class by dressing appropriately and wearing the correct shoes.
^ take every class like its your favorite. i know that ballet or tap may not be the favorite but both are pretty essential if you want to be a working dancer. take class like you are the best. step into that role and make it count. once you graduate class isn’t a required thing and you need to start making good habits now about how you take class
^ask questions. ask the right ones. i don’t want to answer the same question 5 different times or answer one you could’ve answered yourself. i am happy to help you feel confident and secure on stage. watch when things are demonstrated and pay attention to detail. you can learn a ton by watching and lots of questions answered by mimicking the choreographer.
^dance full out all the time. i hate marking. every chance you get to be in the studio with the music on is an opportunity to get better. marking won’t improve your muscle memory and will form bad habits. at the very least walk through a number with your arms full out…
^train on your own. once a solo or group number is set you’ve got to get in the studio and work on your own. as a director we have so many other things going on its your responsibility to work on the choreography given. i am responsible for composing a quality piece and will do my best to do so. help me out by getting into a studio and refining it.
^be respectful of my professional decisions. i have been in your shoes. i grew up at a studio so i know how it goes. i know rehearsals can be long and grueling but they are so worth it. i’ve also been working as a professional and know what works and doesn’t work. i value your opinion as a student but when push comes to shove i am making the decisions. these decisions are made with you in mind and its never anything personal. spacing is based off work ethic. period.
^take advantage of every opportunity, large or small. go to conventions, local auditions, anything that will help you grow! if you can figure out how to push yourself without someone else pushing you, you will go places. i can’t teach that drive or self determination. it’s just there in some people and those are the ones i want to work with.
^work hard. i get that school, dance, and life can be stressful to balance. manage your time, keep up in school, and work hard in the studio. it’s all very possible. i promise.
^ don’t get your parents involved in the small stuff. if its not something small than yes. i would love to take a meeting with your parents to discuss whatever needs to be discussed. as long as its worth it. i have been yelled at too many times for the silliest things. do not call me a terrible human being and confidence killer for putting your child in the back row. its not personal. its about visuals. i never leave those conversations feeling inspired. only angry.
i’ve worked with many awesome students and hope to continue to do so. just a few tips or reminders for dancers to succeed. sometimes i forget i’ve got to teach kids how to be a great dancer not just a talented one. it takes more than just natural talent to work in our world.