Q: One of my competition families feels their two girls are an exception to my team rules about missing class. I'd hate to lose them, but how do I justify bending the rules for them?
A: This is a problem we all face. Rules are in the best interest of our comp dancers. I believe in updating and revamping them when necessary—but once they're in writing, I feel we must uphold them.
We make sure ours are published with our class schedule before registration begins. We state that no full-time comp student can miss class, from the start of choreography until our last competition. The only exceptions to this rule are illness, religious commitments and a one-time pass for a school commitment (we have many students who attend art schools, so we try to accommodate school performances). Optional school trips or family vacations are not exceptions.
I know it can be hard to stick to rules that you know are going to cost the studio, both financially and talent-wise. Before you make your decision, think about how it will affect you and your team—not just this year, but in the future, too.
I once had a dance mom lobby for me to bend the rules for her. “We've been with you for 10 years and never asked for vacation time before," she said. My answer was, “Well, if you've been with me for 10 years, then you know the rules." I learned long ago that if you make an exception for one person, you have to do it for everyone.