Summer Dance Intensive -Is Your Dancer Ready?

It’s almost the end of February. Here in the Northeast, we have just finished shoveling from the 4 inches of snow that fell overnight (Sorry Boston, I know you guys are at 100ft), we are recovering from record number low temperatures that fell below 0 degrees (-15 to be exact).  What better time to start thinking summer thoughts, and to be even more specific, Summer Dance Intensives?  Auditions & Registrations have begun for the many summer intensive opportunities, and while dancers are itching to keep dancing while their studios close for summer break, it’s important to think about how ready your dance is for a summer intensive.

Dance intensives are titled as such because, well they are INTENSE..5-10 hours of dance every day for a week or more.  Not only does the dancer have to be physically prepared for those longs days, they have to be mentally prepared as well:

  • Away or local/Big or Small?: The major dance intensives (American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Ballet, The Rock…etc , offer a larger scale experience that requires housing in their home cities.  Is your dancer ready for an experience away from home?  Is your dancer equipped to adhere to a strict daily regimen without your prompting? Many of the larger programs, do not encourage parents to watch classes, or even call the students throughout the week.  Parents are encouraged to email only.  If this sounds too daunting to a first timer, look to your local dance schools for programs that allow the students to come home daily.
  • Whether your intensive is away or local, dancers have to be prepared for new teachers. New teachers with different styles of teaching and perhaps more stringent rules.  If it is a comprehensive program, there may be a new teacher teaching a different dance style each day of the program.
  • Students may have doubts about their skills. “Will everyone be better than me?’, “Am I good enough?” This is normal. Just about every dancer is going to have some doubt going in.  If your intensive required an audition and you got in then obviously the judges felt you ARE indeed good enough.  Encourage your Dancer to their strengths and be open to learn and improve those areas that are weaker.  An intensive is yet another opportunity to learn and improve.  Dancers should be thinking about what they can learn & how to bring this back to their home studio.
  • Be prepared to meet new people. Here is an opportunity for dancers from different places to meet, share experiences and form new friendships! Talk to your dancer about not comparing themselves to the people they are meeting. Everyone is coming in with their own dance experiences, and just like in the home studio, each brings their own strengths
  • Prepare your dancer for long days. Most intensives happen mid to late summer so there has been some time away from the dance studio.  Dancers should stay in shape during their hiatus so that they aren’t prone to injury coming back to a week-long of intense dancing.  Activities such as swimming & running are great ways to stay in shape while not in the studio.  This article offers some excellent advice on how to prepare physically for an intensive: click here to read article.

Above all the intensive is meant to be a positive learning experience, a great opportunity to learn new skills, improve existing skills and broaden the dance education.

Teaching Higher (Dance) Education

Happy NEW Year.  New Year, New experiences!

In that vain, My daughter recently received her acceptance letter from her at first choice college and we are both excited at the prospect that she will be going to a rigorous academic institution with the bonus of having a equally strong dance program that will allow her to either double major or minor or dance. The entire process has brought a lot of anxieties to the surface for our family (cost, distance, cost, best fit, curriculum, cost…..you get the picture).  After the applications had been submitted, my daughter developed yet another anxiety….”If i don’t get into a college with a dance program, I may never get to dance again”.  So needless to say, the entire family breathed collective sigh of relief when that letter arrived.

For the past week the conversation has been about what a minor or double major in dance looks like. What classes meet those requirements and more interesting to me “how are those courses taught?”.  Not having been this involved in dance, I guess I pictured most of those dance classes being in the studio….kind of like clinical rotations. Browsing through the course catalog has given me a whole other view.  Dancers learn about not just dance but the History, Anatomy & Kinesiology…like wow!  So I scoured the internet a little bit for how the textbook courses are integrated with the studio classes and I came upon this great article from the Professor’s point of view. Here is a great contextual view of how three different educators teach Dance History.  Providing Context

Boys Who Do Ballet

“They think it’s cool”; “They don’t really tease me about it”; “A lot of my teachers support me & come to see me in it”; It’s like a dream come true, it’s amazing”.  These are the words from the young boys who star in The Nutcracker performed by The New York City Ballet this holiday season.  It’s more than wonderful to see that the stigma attached to boys taking on dance and in particular, ballet has fallen and that as a result more boys are embracing the stage as ballet dancers.

The Wall Street Journal’s piece is a heartwarming audio directly from these young dancers who sound not only confident in their dance, but extremely proud of their art.  Kudos Guys, let’s hope some of your friends are motivated to join you on the ballet stage!  Click below to listen.

The “Nutcracker Boys Bring Change to Holiday Classic”

Learning to Embrace Corrections

The other night, my daughter came home to tell me she was “off her game” and that she had received a number of corrections in her Pointe class. As a result, she wanted to know if she could take an extra Pointe class later in the week to apply those corrections before her next formal class.  While I gave the usual warning about juggling time and making sure homework would be done, I had a certain affirmation of “look how far we have come”.  I remember when she took her first Modern class, and had come home in tears because she felt her teacher picked on her the entire class.  Oh, we had experienced those moments before: “I think my teacher hates me, she’s always fixing my feet, my arms…..etc.”, but this time there were actual tears and an announcement that she didn’t want to go back.  We had the first of a speech that would be repeated again and again about constructive criticism and learning how to embrace that your teacher is doing her job…..teaching:

1. Your teacher doesn’t hate you. Your teacher doesn’t hate your dancing.  Your teacher wants you to dance your best, so he/she is teaching you how to become your best.

2. You shouldn’t be embarrassed.  Yes, the entire class is now focused on you.  They are learning too! Someone else in the class is making the same error as you, but you teacher caught you first, so by fixing the error with you as the model, the rest of the class is learning as well.

3.  Lot of corrections doesn’t mean you are a bad dancer.  Be grateful that your teacher is taking the extra time to share her expertise with you.  Believe it or not, someone in the class wishes they were in your place!

4. Don’t just leave those corrections in that class.  Apply them, practice them, and show them off in your next class and on stage!

5.  Keep trying. Sometimes the corrections don’t take the first time, or the second time. keep practicing. Set your sites on improving on what you have been taught, make it a goal to reach.  You’ll be proud that you did.

6. Take the lesson of dance corrections outside of the dance studio.  You English teacher just marked up your essay with suggestions for improvement, go at it with the same gusto as your dance corrections and make it an A paper! You boss at work just gave you some corrections on your customer service skills? Try it out on the next customer & see how much they appreciate your help!  Learning to embrace corrections is a great skill to learn in the studio & to practice in real life.

People in Your Neighborhood — Ballet Dancer

I’m from Sesame Street.  Say what?!  OK, I’m from the Sesame Street era.  I grew up learning things from Bert, Grover, Ernie, Cookie, and Oscar The Grouch.  Even when I was supposedly too old for “The Street”, I still watched.  When my daughter was born in 1997, Barney, Arthur, and the Teletubbies were “in”. I still made her watch Sesame Street. I remember telling her that technically, you weren’t really famous until you’ve been on Sesame Street.  She grew up watching as well.  one of my favorites segments was “People in Your Neighborhood”….go ahead and sing the song….“who are the people in your neighborhood, the people that you meet, when you’re walking down the street, the people that you meet each dayyyyyy’  (I always get carried away with the song).  SoI can’t even begin to tell you how awesome I felt when I found the following video. It’s a must watch for everyone.  Those ballet dancers that you think are untouchable/…yeah them…they are people in your neighborhood!

A must watch for everyone…

Sesame Street: People in Your Neighborhood — Ballet Dancer

Think of Dance School….As a School

Dancemother

I’ve spent alot of time in the dance school office these past two months.  September was back to class month and the questions were mostly about dress code, and class schedules…the easy stuff.   As October hit, so did all the complaints “we missed a class, do we get credit for it?”; “why didn’t anyone tell us that there would be a substitute teacher today, we wouldn’t have come?” I can’say it was a majority of parents, it was a very small minority to be honest.  I admired the calm way the Director and teachers responded and marveled at the type of questions that were coming in.  I wondered if other schools tempered the same queries. According to this well written article, it seems they do.  Read this article on Why all those rules.

World Ballet Day

How exciting is this? First we had National Dance Day and now on Wednesday October 1st, Five World-class companies will join in a live 24 hour stream (on youtube).  The companies are; The Australian Ballet; The Bolshoi Ballet; The Royal Ballet; The National Ballet of Canada, and The San Francisco Ballet.

October 1st is a Wednesday, I think I feel a sick day coming on………..

SAVE THE DATE!  October 1 2014.  Click on this link for more information:  World Ballet Day