Q: I just handed out solo, duet and trio choreography letters to our competition team. Several dancers and their parents were disappointed that they weren't offered more dances. How can I make them realize that I gave everyone great opportunities?
A: The week choreography letters go out is always challenging at our studio. My faculty and I brainstorm for months beforehand to make sure everyone who could possibly handle extra choreography is given the opportunity—even the weaker of our competition dancers. Yes, the most talented and hard-working dancers get the most opportunities, but putting a dancer into choreography she's not ready for can be damaging to her self-esteem and training.
The key is talking one-on-one to your disappointed parents and students, in a positive but honest way, about what level the student in question is at currently. Encourage them to keep working and strive for that solo in the future. This conversation lets them know you have their best interests at heart.
I have a student who is what I call a slow-and-steady dancer—she's always in class and tries hard, but she's just not a superstar. Her mom came to me in tears this year because her daughter was only offered a trio and not a solo. (We struggled to find a trio for her to be included in.) I was positive and complimentary about the growth her daughter is achieving as a dancer but explained that the difficulty level for a solo at her age level, both technically and performance-wise, was beyond her daughter right now—it wouldn't be a positive experience for her. The trio, I explained, would be a great opportunity for her daughter to continue to grow as a dancer and performer.