Month: July 2009


Where do you draw the line with choreography?

Everyone uses the internet now days to capture movements and styles.  Everyone goes to conventions and trainings to learn new and creative forms of dance too. They want to capture it from the pro’s.

Using eight to sixteen counts of a combination that is bold, new and exciting is pretty much the norm.  That is the trend.  Keeping a new dance style moving through all levels. But, if you think about it, how many hours did that choreographer spend creating those moves?

You should always use professional  ethics when using another persons material.

Many schools and  dance programs go to dance or drill camp, and are taught a team dance.  It is common place to return to your home turf and perform that routine for your home crowd.  It is understood that you won’t be attempting to sell it as your own.    Teams routinely buy choreography from companies who specialize in the business.

It is almost impossible to create a dance now days and put it on line at places like Youtube, and not get notified of  usage right claims for music, and a advertisement placed over your work.  But, at least many artists allow the videos to stay.    KUDO’s for that.  It’s hard to be creative without music.

You should be careful when buying choreography.   Don’t let anyone sell you a bill of goods belonging to someone else.  There motives are clear; money and deceit.

You should also draw the line with any instructor that isn’t first teaching your child the technique they will need to perform adequately before a judge.   Listen to those who have been in the competition world, some of them all their lives.



A while back I was asked to do a choreography piece for a young dancer.   I had a number of ideas I was working on that would fit this particular dancer.  But, there were a number of technical issues that they would have to overcome first , but I still felt  they could probably learn the routine.

The young  dancer  wanted to show me a  piece they had learned from another instructor, and I watched as they performed it.  To my dismay it was nearly step-for-step a routine I had seen someone else perform online.   It was all there, down to the push/pulls,  and turns.   I told them  it was cute, and then we continued to work on technique for the dance we would create and learn together.

Another person, who had accompanied me to this practice,  later asked me how open the parent would be to knowing the truth – win or lose.  Good question.

I did learn that the dancer was taught the routine in about a day and a half.

Honestly, I was  concerned about the technical flaws I was seeing in this young student.  The student also missed a number of practices, and with each missed practice they were regressing.  It was like having to start over each time.  The other instructor wasn’t dealing with the technical issues, and it was problematic.   Having been a judge, I was afraid those little flaws could be costly for the young dancer.

The other instructor also placed the dancer in a category not suited for the routine, and ended up with penalty marks, because she had failed to  check the rule sheets before teaching the dance.  Someone else’s dance!

This instructor had no idea what “was” and “was not” acceptable at  competition.  They ended up having to change the dance, and category.  It was unfortunate for this young dancer to have to suffer this type of neglect.

Here is the facts.

ALL technical training should be a  part of the dance.   But how do you  explain that to a parent  who has just been ripped off by another instructor?

You have to draw the line somewhere.  You have to decide if instant gratification, or life long technical learning is best for your dancer.

I do hope the parent will also notice the level of regression, and seek something better for their  dancer.

Don’t let pride get in the way.

Working with what you have “Bring it”!

Having just came back from college and dancing on a college team, I was excited about helping my new students understand what it was like to perform for a mega size crowd.

When I met my group.  I discovered I had 2 beginners, a number of  regulars and a couple ADHD kids. “What can you do with them,”  I heard one mom ask?  I heard complaints that they never listen, they are disruptive in class, they pick on each other, and the parents are difficult.    I thought to myself  “oh, a normal class”.

Before I start I want to praise that little group of dancers.  They beat their peers in the same age and category at nationals.  They beat them despite the odds of being called the misfits.

The class no one wanted – beat the favorites.

What was wrong in the normal way of thinking toward these kids, was that no one was willing to believe in them.  The kids didn’t believe in themselves either.  They had been told that they  were just too much work for the pay, or the time, etc.

I’ve worked with kids  with ADHD in the past on  solo & duet  routines.  This was my first attempt at teaching them in a group setting, and with more than one in the group.

I never looked at that team as being anything more than trainable.  I was into the lesson plans for over two months before someone told me “those are the misfits no one wanted”.  My jaw probably dropped to the floor with that comment.  I was so mad.  Not at the girls – but the adults making the statement.  All I could think in my own mind was “Bring it“!

I grew up with girls who had forms of ADHD, leg problems, asthma, depression,  stomach problems, slowness, you name it.  What had happened between my generation and this new one?    What had changed? Nothing!  They said the same thing about us.   Yet, we all went out and busted the rules, and took championship titles  away from the elites.  Someone(s), somewhere believed in us.

Truthfully, my generation was helped by the use of older dancers in the studio where I trained.  It is their instruction that helped my age group become so successful at competitions.   I still admire those women today.

Number one –  and only one.

Kids are kids, I don’t care what physical or mental element they might have.  You take what you are given and you “MAKE IT WORK”.  You train each one as if they were a star!  A winner!   You encourage them to be all they can be, and not to worry about their peers perception of them. Prove them wrong.

If you were looking for a medical prescription to deal with ADHD, or other problematic conditions – my class wasn’t  the place.  Rather it is where I learned a few skills necessary to keep them learning, and challenge them to be successful.  I used a lot of the same techniques that I was taught from the older dancers of my time.

-turn the music up
-keep things moving
-always have something new to learn
-challenge them to the same rules you challenge their classmates
-give them a chance in the spot light.
-laugh with them, and accept their sense of humor
-give rewards
-listen to them
-Be sharp, be consistent, raise your voice above the music so they can hear you over the music.
-Look them in the eye
-Demonstrate the technique
-Be firm and don’t give in to drama

I  adore the little girls that they beat at Nationals.  They were GOOD!  They still are, and winning at other locations.  I also have great respect for their instructor as well.   Their instructor taught me at one time.  She was one of those older dancers back in my day.

But I love and adore the little girls who everyone said couldn’t do it!

The reason they won was simple.  It wasn’t just that they were learning technique (some of them the basics), but they were using new movements that fit THEM.  The movements fit their team style.  They were new, creative, and fresh.  They had the advantage.

They were taught to perform and go beyond that level of expectation.    They exceeded all those goals.  They were given the opportunity to “Bring it”, and they did!

You have to use the problems as a learning tool.  Accept  who they are, and go from there.  Every student deserves a chance.  You might have some rough areas to work out first, but children do learn.  They learn so rapidly at the younger ages, than the older students do.

Never give up – Never give in!  Bring it!

Love to you all – you little Diva’s!