Ask the Experts: When One Teacher's Routines Don't Score Well

Thinkstock

Q: We're competing in a Nationals this year, and I'm being pressured by my parents to improve one teacher's routines, because they haven't been scoring well. I've tried talking to her about it, but little has changed. I'm considering letting this teacher go, mid-season. What do you think?


A: I noticed that you didn't mention how the dancers feel. I have learned that if a teacher is loved by the majority of your dancers—even if parents are not 100 percent impressed with her choreography—it may be best not to let her go, mid-season.

A few years ago I had a young, talented teacher whose ego was out of control. Many parents complained about her favoritism and said their kids were scared to go to class because she picked on them and told them they were the reason the routines weren't doing well. Talking to this teacher only got her back up. I did let her go at the end of that season, but I was very surprised by the response from the same parents and dancers who had complained about her. They now said their kids were sad that we let her go and that they were going to miss her—and then they immediately wanted to know who was going to replace her.

In your case, since it's a Nationals year, I wouldn't try to rock the boat (unless you're at your wits' end and already have a stronger teacher ready to take over until the end of the season). Yes, the routines might not be as strong as you want, but treat this year as a learning experience and move on.

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.