Q: “One mother is constantly hanging around her young student, watching every class and interacting with her from the door. I think it would be better for her daughter to have a little independence. How do I politely tell her to back off?”
A:It’s best to be clear about structure and boundaries from the beginning. That way there’s a precedent to follow. If you’re not giving a clear message about when it’s OK and not OK to watch, you’re leaving a lot of wiggle room for parents who might have problems letting go.
For new students, especially in a pre-ballet class, you can have a period where the parent can watch, maybe even just the first
lesson, to give the child a comfort zone. Then ask the parent to wait in the waiting room or go downstairs and get a cup of tea, but let them know when there will be a parent observation day later on in the semester.
Be sure to explain what you’re trying to provide: Beyond just dance steps, you want to help students mature into more independent and confident people, and, while you understand their curiosity about how their child is doing, it’s better for their growth and sense of autonomy when they can be completely focused on dancing. It’s vitally important that students learn how to regulate themselves and to not have to rely on parents to motivate or guide them.
For parents who are awfully pushy, you might need to clarify that, as a professional, your time needs to be respected. If the parents have enough trust in you, whom they’ve selected as their child’s teacher, they need to let the process take place.
Dr. Harlene Goldschmidt, PhD, is a dance psychologist and director of wellness for the NJ Dance Theatre ensemble.
Photo copyright iStockphoto.com/Ben Boswell
Stay in touch! Visit www.dance-teacher.com or e-mail questions to email@example.com
Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.
When Jennie Somogyi retired from New York City Ballet, she found herself in high demand as a teacher. Parents called, texted and persisted. "I don't even know how some of them got my contact information," she says with a laugh. But Somogyi, who departed from NYCB in 2015 after a 22-year career, hadn't made any definitive plans for the next stage of her life. "I just like to see how things move me," she says. She discovered, though, that she enjoyed the process of giving private lessons and seeing the rapid progress students could make. Over time, she realized that teaching was something she wanted rather than needed.
Does your studio slow down when the weather warms up? If you don't offer a summer session, June through August can be a cash-flow challenge. One popular—and easy—strategy is to offer weeklong camps instead. We spoke to three professionals to learn how they make summer camp work.
This week Ballet Hispánico launched its first ChoreoLaB workshop, a summer intensive intended to better prepare aspiring professional dancers—with more than just excellent technique. Artistic director Eduardo Vilaro wanted to create a program that bridges the school and the company, to help dancers transitioning into the professional world and better hone their skills.
The language of Mind Body Dancer is dynamic. "Action words stimulate change in your students," says yoga teacher TaraMarie Perri. "Try 'pour,' 'push' and 'experience' –not 'feel' or 'do or don't' Those words don't mean anything." Here, Perri and dancer Maggie Ronan use the active MBD language to demonstrate yoga poses used as a warm-up in many dance classes. While practicing, be sure to inhale and exhale in steady cycles.