Ask the Experts: Fulfilling Commitments

Q: This past summer, I had a student tell me she was going to join another studio in the fall, even though she was on our competition team and had committed to Nationals in July. I ended up releasing her from Nationals. Do you think I should’ve made sure she fulfilled her commitment with us instead?

A: To me, a commitment is a commitment, and no matter what this student had in mind for the upcoming year, the promise she made to you, your studio and her teammates should have been first and foremost in her mind. If she was scheduled to be at Nationals as part of your team, then she should’ve been there.

But there might have been extenuating circumstances that convinced you that you didn’t want this dancer around. If you were concerned that she wouldn’t put her heart into her performances or that she’d bring your team down or else be a major distraction, pulling her from Nationals was a wise decision, one that was for the greater good of your team. Having negative energy within your group can affect everyone’s performance.

Many years ago, I had a student tell everyone during the last class that she was leaving us to go to another studio in the fall. Getting through the year-end show was very difficult. We put so much into our competition students. I really took this dancer’s decision to leave to heart, and it bothered me for a while.

If your situation happened to me, I would weigh the pros and cons of letting this dancer attend Nationals. Would it be better for my team to let her move on and re-choreograph my routines? Or would it be better to finish out the year and deal with what happens next year, next year? Every situation is different. The best thing you can do, post-decision, is be positive about your choice and don’t second-guess yourself; your team looks to you for strength and leadership.

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


Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman

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