High Five on Competition Rules and Expectation

Between choreography, costuming and scheduling, you’ve got more than enough to stress you out during the competition and convention season. The last thing you need to worry about is your dancers—and their families—adding unnecessary pressure. Dance Teacher asked five studio owners to share their rules and expectations for dancers and parents, and how they keep everyone in line.

 

“I host a parent meeting prior to auditions and convey my expectations regarding commitment, behavior, fees, costumes, etc. I also try to explain my mindset about casting. There is always someone who is unhappy with my decisions after auditions, and it comes in handy if I can reference what I talked about in the meeting. Dancers and parents sign a code of conduct, and parents also sign a financial agreement covering fees and what happens if they quit or fail to follow through with their payments.” —Sue Sampson, The Dance Studio of Fresno, Fresno, California

 

“During the dress rehearsal before our first competition of the year, we sit down with all the parents and dancers. Our main focus is teaching the dancers respect—we want them to be respectful of the other studios and of the competition. They are told to sit together at awards wearing our studio sweatshirts, clap for everyone and behave onstage and backstage. It’s important that they’re kind and supportive so the competition world is a nice place to be, instead of a competitive one.” —Lisa Bunker, Vision Dance and Learning Center, Herriman, Utah

 

“Each year the dancers write down their goals, and we put them all in our ‘good luck charm.’ Before every performance, each dancer in the routine touches the charm before going onstage. At Nationals, we open the charm to see who achieved their goals. Of course I have my own goals for them and for my choreography, but it’s so important that they accomplish their own personal goals.” —Heather Soccio, Dance Arts Academy, Boonton, New Jersey

 

“We ask our dancers to sign a ‘three strikes’ contract. By being part of the Spotlight team, they are held to the highest standards when it comes to their behavior in and out of the studio. Dancers must respect their bodies—a lot of kids are peer-pressured into making bad decisions, and this contract gives them one more reason to be aware of their behavior. I want them to make the best decisions possible when it comes to their lives. —Liz Schmidt, Spotlight Dance Works, Chesterfield, Michigan

 

“Every year starts with a mandatory parent meeting. We’re very upfront about the rules. For example, for every routine, we have understudies who are ready to step in as needed. All of our dancers are required to attend every competition throughout the year. But if they can’t be there for some reason, that dancer still has to pay the entry fee for the routine. The understudy then steps in and gets to perform for free. —Sam Renzetti, Xtreme Dance Center, Naperville, Illinois

 

Photo: Sam Renzetti's Xtreme Dance Force (by 2sisphotos.com, courtesy of Xtreme Dance Force)

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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

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.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.