Ask the Experts: Handling a Guest Choreographer's Changes

How do you handle changing choreography after a guest choreographer is gone? We have a parent who is upset that a teacher tweaked her daughter’s piece. But we thought the work needed to be adjusted, based on judges’ critiques.

Your teacher and choreographer know it’s normal to make small tweaks until the flow and artistry of a piece gels, but this parent may not. To her, any changes made without permission probably seem unnecessary, since she paid for her daughter’s choreography with the expectation that it would be successful. Use this as an opportunity to educate the parent on the choreographic process and clarify for the future what your staff can change after a guest choreographer leaves.

If you haven’t already done so, share the judges’ feedback with the dancer and parent in a meeting with you and your faculty member. Show them specific examples of where changes needed to be made, and have your teacher point out where she has now reworked the choreography. Explain how these adjustments allow the dancer to best execute the steps at her current level of technique and potential. This will show the parent that your teacher’s changes were only implemented with the success of the dancer in mind.

Moving forward, it is in everyone’s best interest to have agreements or a contract in place with guest choreographers if the piece is to be rehearsed and cleaned during their absence. Define what your staff is allowed to clean and improve, if needed.

There are easy ways to keep guest choreographers involved after their departure. You can send video via e-mail, YouTube or Facebook. You’ll need to establish any fees for video conferences or critiques in advance, but this is a great way for dancers to get coaching throughout the season from the original choreographer.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.