High Five with Dale Lam and Jodie Wexelberg

This month marks the peak of competition season. With a few regional events under your belt, it's likely you've still got a handful of competitions and conventions standing between you and recital time. It's an exciting time—but also stressful. Here, two busy teachers share how they stay sane throughout the season:

1. "Use the 'It takes a village' approach. At our studio, we develop committees for every conceivable duty that match the strengths and availabilities of our participants. These groups of parent volunteers tackle everything from travel and accommodations to props, community appearances and food. Together we ensure that everything is covered and the entire year runs as smoothly as possible. This comes in especially handy during competition season!" —Jodie Wexelberg, United Dance Arts

2. "Take time off before the competition season starts, even if it's just two or three days. I feel less tense and can be more objective about what needs to be done for the kids and the parents after a few days away. During that time, recognize what you have already accomplished so far. Don't fret so much about competition—you'll win some and you'll lose some. Your kids will feel your stress, and it will affect their performances." —Dale Lam, Columbia City Jazz Company

3. "Take care of yourself first. Figure out what you're going to wear during the competition weekend, prepare directions to the venue and get yourself in order before you start worrying about your dancers." —Wexelberg

4. "Shift your focus from competition to education. Find the balance between teaching your students technique and encouraging them to just let go and dance." —Lam

5. "Be well-organized, have patience, be flexible and maintain a sense of humor throughout the weekend. Make sure the experience is a positive one." —Wexelberg


Photo courtesy of United Dance Arts

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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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.

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