Ask the Experts: Part-time vs. Full-time Dancers

Q: I have several part-time competitive dancers who work hard but are definitely part-time dancers. They just don't have the technique for our full-time team. Their moms recently approached me about the girls' desire to be in the full-time program. How do I address this without discouraging the girls? They love what they do, and I don't want that enthusiasm to ever change.

A: We are blessed to have some great part-time dancers at our studio. I understand how hard it is to tell an enthusiastic dancer that her dream of being on the full-time competition team is just not a realistic goal right now.

What I've found to be the most successful way of keeping everyone happy and focused is to have a meeting with each mom and dancer. I point out the progress that the student has made and clearly state what needs to be worked on (for example: strength, flexibility, stamina, applying corrections) in order to reach her goal. I offer concrete ideas that will help them move forward—extra ballet classes, strength and conditioning classes, etc. But I am careful to never put a timeline on when I feel a dancer will get to join our full-time team.

We also give part-time dancers extra opportunities to compete—solos, duets and trios—at the part-time competition levels. To some, we offer the opportunity to be in our production number, which all of our full-time team dance in. (Mostly, we offer this to the brothers and sisters of the full-time members who dance in the part-time groups.)

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.

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