Studio Owners

Ask the Experts: How Do I Keep My Competition Team Motivated Right Now?

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The first e-mail that we sent out talked about how the studio would be closed for two weeks and everyone should be practicing social distancing and staying healthy and well. We recorded some YouTube classes for all the recreational levels as well as some "boot camp" and warm-up classes for our full-time and part-time comp teams to stay in shape.


As April approached and it looked like we would be staying closed longer, we started sending out the competition rehearsal videos for the numbers we'd been working on before closure. We also signed up and paid for CLI online classes. Once we registered as a studio, our dancers were able to take advantage of all the CLI online classes at no charge, and we encouraged them to dance and take class every day. We made the decision that no monthly fees or any other type of payment would be charged until we were back in the studio running classes again.

We also put out daily challenges for each week: Move It Mondays, TikTok Tuesdays, etc. We have had Zoom chats to check in with each level of our competitive teams. Talking to all our dancers made all of us feel better, and hopefully the dancers felt better, as well. We continue to post new classes and challenges on social media and YouTube, and we send an e-mail weekly. There is a famous quote that we're keeping in mind: "Life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how we handle it."

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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