Did you catch “Dance Moms” (or as I like to call it, “The Housewives of Allegheny County”) last night on Lifetime? Per usual, the student dancers were adorable and talented, the stage moms nutso, and the fierce Abby Lee Miller was caught in a wild ride between the two worlds. Last night's episode revolved around a fight between Kelly and Abby. For some reason, Kelly was angry when her daughters were chosen to perform solos, and then when she didn’t complete a simple task (putting rubber stoppers on chair legs) that Abby asked her to—for the safety of her own child—Kelly lost it, stormed out of the studio, and finally prohibited her children from performing those coveted solos. It was just a tad melodramatic.
But the episode had some key take-away ideas:
1. Voice lessons! Brooke likes to sing, and Abby suggested that she take voice lessons from the woman who gives classes at the studio. If you want to breed triple threats, you have to send your dancers to a vocal coach. But why not make it easy on your students’ families by offering the lessons at your location? Moreover, it seems like a great way to increase your income. Unfortunately the show didn’t go into the logistics of housing a vocal coach at a studio, but how about either renting out the space to the teacher—with you splitting a percentage of her lesson fees—or hiring the teacher directly and encourage your musical theatre kids to attend voice lessons. Both options increase your studio’s offerings, attract new clients and bump the talent of your students. Win, win, win.
2. Building stamina—that seemed to be the theme of the week. Abby mentioned that her students had trouble keeping up their energy throughout their performance, and they seemed to slump on and off stage. They performed a Zombie-themed routine at competition (winning first place) to drill in the idea that the dancers often look like the living-dead while dancing. It’s no secret little girls struggle with this; one second they’re bursting with energy, and the next second they crash. I see this in my own classes all the time—fifteen minutes after practically bouncing off the walls they’re too tired to even stand up. So how can we train them to keep going? What will help build stamina? The answer may lie in their breath.
As neuromuscular specialist Debra Vogel writes, “As their breathing patterns improve, stamina, endurance and overall performance will improve.” In the article “Breathing Techniques,” (click the link to read) Vogel shares breathing strategies for increased endurance.