Teaching Tips

Make Your Students Better Prepared for Convention Season

Photo courtesy of NYCDA

Competition and convention season can seem never-ending, but with access to the world's most popular teachers, the experience is invaluable and gives students the opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

Seth Robinson, who teaches contemporary and improv with STREETZ and REVEL dance conventions, has taught and judged thousands of dancers across the nation. Here, Robinson offers three tips to better prepare your students for dance's ever-popular, jam-packed events.

It's a Journey

More often than not, dancers become overly focused on where they are headed and what they'd like to achieve next. This is a great mind-set to have, but being in the moment—trying to stand out and be unique for potential scholarships (or even potential castings)—is where your students' focus needs to be. Being aware that the technique they have, prior to starting a class, is what you have to work with. This can cause some kids to feel shame or inadequate. But remind students to go into the convention, workshop or class with the mindset of giving today's best version of themselves.

Tell your students: You are your biggest cheerleader. Believe in your abilities and all the progress made from the hours and years of training.

Give Yourself Space

In a crowded convention room, spread out. Please! Sure, standing up front is a great view: the teacher's sweat splashing on you and you're safely surrounded by dozens of other dancers. Who doesn't want that? Jokes aside, I always start my classes explaining to the dancers that we are here to work and learn. As a teacher, I'm here to give students all that I can in an hour or so, and the best thing dancers can give themselves in this setting is space. It's so common that dancers never get the chance to go for the moves full-out, because they are so worried about getting an elbow to the face.

Tell your students: Move around the room throughout class. While learning choreography quickly, it's a great idea to change your scenery. This will challenge your brain from merely remembering choreographing to really gaining confidence with the movement and feeling the steps.

Meet New People

I can't help but laugh when I see dancers sticking with the same friends at a weekend-long convention. You look great in your matching jackets, but I'm a firm believer in mixing things up. This is a great time to meet different people in the dance community. Challenge your students to meet the other visiting dancers and to make friends.

Tell your students: Down the road, networking is the name of the game, and the connections you make today will serve you in the future. Plus, introducing yourself to the new faces in the room will break down walls, relieving you of the nervousness that you might be feeling.

Bonus Tips

Don't forget the basics: rest and hydration. Going away after a school week can be tiring for kids, so remind your students to always practice self-care, but especially before these marathon weekends.

Support others and allow yourself to be supported in return. This is a unique chance to work with new industry people. Make it a pleasant experience by leaving our judgments at the stage door, so everyone can succeed.

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