Ask the Experts: The Competition Team is Causing Too Much Drama at the Studio

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Q: I'm about to cut my competition team because of drama, stress and the types of parents it attracts. People keep trying to talk me out of it, but I'm burnt out. Any suggestions?


A: Running a competitive program requires a significant amount of time and energy, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, since it nurtures a core group of dancers who are engaged and invested in their training. At one time, you were inspired by your competitive program. Before you cut it, we recommend you assess the cultural value the program has for your school. The problems you're having are symptoms of underlying issues related to the structure and management of the program, and they can be mitigated with some new policies and procedures.

It's time to objectively take an inventory of what is working well and what needs improvement. Review and possibly revise your dancer participation agreement. Be sure to state the details of every aspect of your program for attendance, code of conduct, outside obligations, communication channels and parent conduct. Clearly state consequences for noncompliance. Establishing what behavior is acceptable doesn't mean you won't ever face a difficult situation again, but it does mean you can uphold professional boundaries and standards when issues come up.

At our studio, we meet with everyone prior to the start of a season to review expectations, as well as declare our studio goals, so that everyone knows where we're headed and what it will take to get there. Each team has a parent liaison to our program director, and we directly address every issue that has the potential to cause any drama, negativity or parent conflict.

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