Q: I have a group of intermediate-level dancers who were outgoing, confident performers when they were juniors, but now that they're older, they don't dance with the same fire. They're insecure and feel like everyone is better than they are. How do I build their confidence?
A: When dancers are young, they tend to be fearless, hungry to learn and eager to have new experiences. But when they become preteens, body confidence and peer pressure can affect how they view themselves. Unfortunately, these feelings can often cause them to hold back from what they're really capable of. To combat this, I recommend you give them an opportunity to shine. Take them to a smaller convention or less intense competition. Bring in some uplifting guest teachers (Mandy Moore, Stacey Tookey, Chad McCall, Kirsten Russell and Martha Nichols have all been great at building my dancers' confidence). Share any similar experiences you may have had with these issues, and let them know that they're not the only ones who feel this way. Encourage your staff to talk about the great improvements your dancers are making. We all love our dancers and want to instill self-confidence and belief in them. Help them realize that you have their backs and that they're on the right road.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.