Q: Last year, dancers on my comp teams missed a lot of classes for school trips, cheer squad, exams, and religious and family commitments. This had a definite effect on our comp routines. How do you manage attendance at your studio?
A: At our studio, we're very clear about what's expected from everyone involved with our competition teams. The dates of recitals and stage rehearsals go out with registration information in the summertime. We also let them know that no full- or part-time company dancer can miss more than one day for religious or family commitments from the start of choreography to the end of competition season. This way, everyone knows what's expected of them as they come into the new season.
Three weeks before choreography starts, we have a competition parents' meeting, where we discuss travel, costumes, fundraising, guest choreography, choreography fees, entry fees, production and ballet company schedules and attendance. Parents and students must read and sign a waiver stating they agree to comply with all our requests, which includes a commitment from the dancers to be at the studio 30 minutes before class. If a child is ill, we ask that they not come to the studio—but they are responsible for learning what they missed.
We find that people respect our rules and know that we will hold them accountable. Decide what your commitment standard will be and be clear about it. Don't allow someone to make up their own rules. Hold everyone to the same standard, and everyone will reap the benefits.