Ask the Experts: What to Do About Parents Wanting to Observe Class

Getty Images

Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

A: Minimizing classroom distractions is a priority for teachers and studio owners. However, today's parent is very interested in being kept in the loop on their child's progress and growth. When it comes to dance class for preschool and elementary-age dancers in particular, we notice that parents genuinely enjoy watching their children participate, try new skills and express themselves in class. If you frustrate parents by making it hard for them to view or know what's happening on a regular basis, you may end up with waiting-room gossip or general dissatisfaction.

To address this issue, we have installed closed-circuit cameras in all of our studios, with a large color monitor in every waiting room. We used a local security company to do the installation, but you can also buy a system from a local retailer and install it on your own. Systems like this allow you to close off any distractions from a door or window, while still letting parents view class from the comfort of the waiting room. We find that the camera does not distract the teacher or student, and when class is over, the parents can share their excitement at having watched their dancers' progress in the class.

Beyond projecting class on a monitor, it's a great idea to schedule a couple of "watch weeks" when parents can come in the room and observe for the last 10 minutes of class. This is a chance for the students to experience performing for a live audience. We really encourage parents to take photos and videos during these classes, and find that they love sharing them on social media.

While investing in technology that lets parents observe class may seem burdensome, it's well worth it. Giving our parents regular viewing without distracting the dancer or teacher has elevated our customer satisfaction significantly.

Layeelah Muhammad, courtesy DAYPC

This summer's outcry to fully see and celebrate Black lives was a wake-up call to dance organizations.

And while many dance education programs are newly inspired to incorporate social justice into their curriculums, four in the San Francisco Bay area have been elevating marginalized youth and focusing on social change for decades.

GIRLFLY, Grrrl Brigade, The Alphabet Rockers and Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company fuse dance with education around race, gender, climate change and more, empowering young artists to become leaders in their communities. Here's how they do it.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.