Can I prohibit students from performing on their own?

Q: I’ve discovered that one of my advanced senior students competed at an extra competition as an “independent.” I’m a bit disheartened that she wouldn’t come to me first if she wanted more competitive opportunities. Am I right to be upset? Can I prohibit students from performing on their own, or is there some way to fulfill a few of my students’ extra competition needs?

A: Any routine that is choreographed in your studio and by your faculty belongs to your studio and therefore cannot be performed or competed without your permission. When a student is listed as an “independent,” I understand that to mean he or she is not connected with any one studio.

If a dancer is performing a solo without the studio’s permission, as an independent, the competition directors should not allow the entry. If a student comes to me and asks permission to compete with a solo that has been choreographed by my faculty but isn’t currently on our competition roster, I would first make sure that there is no conflict with any of his or her classes or rehearsals at the studio. If there are no conflicts, I would give my permission to compete, but only under my studio name.

Because competitions are expensive and many parents don’t need the costs involved in doing an extra competition, I don’t think you will run into this issue very often. My best advice is to make your studio policy on this matter very clear at the beginning of the year, at your parents’ competition meeting, so that everyone is on the same page.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning studio Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Ontario, Canada.

Photo courtesy of Dance Teacher Summit

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