Dance Teacher Tips

How to Keep Your Comp Dancers From Looking Like "Jazzerinas": Don't Let Them Skip Ballet Class

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Training versatile dancers skilled in every genre has become the norm in today's studio world. Comp kids are proficient in ballroom, jazz, hip hop, ballet, tap and more. Kids are entering the workforce more versatile and prepared than ever, and it's wonderful. But, there are some downsides to this "jack-of-all-trades" mentality: one being that a dancer's musculature and movement quality can becomes a hybrid of types, rather than fitting a traditional aesthetic. So, even though dancers can perform the technique of the different styles proficiently, the overall vibe can seem to be a bit off. Due to the strict nature of ballet, this problem seems to be especially true in classical work. *Cue the cringe-worthy phrase: "jazzerina."

So how do we solve this problem when so many dancers love each genre and want to have the option to pursue all styles professionally? Other than investing in top-notch classical teachers, the answer is the answer to most questions in dance training—don't let your students skip ballet class.

Seems obvious enough, right? It all starts with you!

Here are three pointers for keeping your kids in ballet each week. Good luck!


1. Never schedule company rehearsals during ballet classes.

As competitions approach or performance opportunities loom, it is often tempting to schedule extra rehearsals during technique classes. Resist this urge. Over time those missed ballet classes add up, and the classical muscles your dancers could be developing will atrophy. Schedule classes at inconvenient times before you even think of touching that daily ballet class. Trust us!

2. Keep firm rules and hold to consequences for missing (or coming late to) ballet.

At the beginning of the year, establish your expectations surrounding attendance and tardiness. Let your students know that it is particularly unacceptable to miss ballet, even if it's for a rehearsal for a different genre. Make consequences clear, and follow through with them.

For example: "Dancers with more than two absences and three tardies that have not been made up will not be allowed to perform their solo at the next competition."

3. Flood their lives with ballet.

Preparing for classical competitions, auditions and intensives will allow your dancers to grow exponentially. Giving them something to work toward will hone their focus and encourage them to develop skills that they wouldn't have otherwise. Make these opportunities just as important as national and regional conventions, and your dancers will begin to develop just as much classically as they do in other genres. Don't just sprinkle their lives with ballet class for maintenance. Flood their lives with ballet.

The Conversation
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It's February! The month of love (and by extension, the month of pink) is upon us. We are major fans of a good class theme, and dressing lovey-dovey is one of our very favorites! So this month, to keep you on brand, we have a list of our favorite pink leos on the market right now. They're all kinds of wonderful.

Check them out and let us know your favorite in the comments!

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Check out our five reasons why, and let us know over in our comments if we got 'em right!

XOXO

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We've all had times when we've failed miserably while trying our best to communicate important concepts and ideas to our students. We are all well-meaning with hopes that our dancers will achieve their dreams and become kind humans along the way. Unfortunately, our delivery may need some honing in order to help them without causing some damage,

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1. Using online registration as a crutch

If you offer registration via your studio website, make sure you aren't losing clients by neglecting in-person registration. One day Kathy Morrow, director of Dance Du Coeur in Sugar Land,Texas, overheard a front desk staffer directing a new client to the studio's website to register, rather than offering to do it over the phone. "I thought, You had a fish on the hook—why didn't you walk them through it?" she says. "When you register, there are a lot of boxes to check off. Some people want to pay with a check, some to link to a credit card. We can make it easier by answering any questions directly."

2. Not delegating

Have you heard yourself say, once too often, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself"? Overextending yourself because of perfectionism or a misguided need to control can be counterproductive. By creating choreography, teaching, bookkeeping, cleaning, making phone calls, typesetting, doing payroll, mailings and ordering, you could be leaving no time for the very things that will create your best business. Misty Lown decided to delegate all the teaching at her Onalaska, Wisconsin-based studio, Misty's Dance Unlimited. "Giving up teaching was super-hard," she says, "but it's the best decision I ever made. Whenever I was teaching, it meant I never saw the other five classrooms that were operating during that time. Now I can rotate my time checking on classrooms and interacting with students."

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Working with a 9-year-old student, Alexandra Koltun asks the young girl to face the barre. She reviews fifth position, demi-pointe with the front foot and coupé devant. "I separate all the positions, so the student understands each one," says Koltun, founder and artistic director of Koltun Ballet Boston. She reaches down to shape the girl's foot into sur le cou-de-pied, leaving the heel in front and gently squeezing the toes around the ankle. "This position will equip the foot with more strength," she says.

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The best way to celebrate a holiday in the dance teacher world is to create a class combo that fits the theme! It's a sure-fire way to get you and your kiddos into the spirit of the day! So, Valentine's Day, we recommend some mushy, cheesy, oh-so-wonderful love songs!

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