Month: February 2010


Cheerleading “guys and gals”

A lot of  girls and guys aspire to become  cheerleaders.  Some actually take the steps to make those dreams a reality.   Some take it all the way to the
university  level.

Depending on the college you attend, the difficulty ratings will differ greatly.  Not everyone will end up cheering on ESPN and/or compete for a national title.

Cheerleading is a great experience.  You get to be out there where the action is.  Doesn’t matter if it is elementary, jr high, high school or
a university environment – being a cheerleader is  a lot of fun.  Cheerleading gets you out there into the world,  and teaches you about how to motivate a crowd.   Let me tell you – you  really have to break out of your shell for cheer.   You will be in the spotlight 24/7 when you cheer.

Cheerleading is a sport and one of the most popular sports for younger girls. I’ve watched very quiet people learn  they have vocal cords once they put on the cheerleading uniform.  Those involved in cheerleading have the extra added benefit of being active physically; be that jumping, tumbling or doing pushups when their team scores.

It also helps young people  develop better social skills.  You get to take a group of people and teach them to work together as a team.  A team that provides spirit in unity toward their peers and alumni.  Cheerleading
is a great place to make lasting friendships as well!

Students interested in cheer should try out.  Not everyone will make the varsity team; some will only make junior varsity (JV).  JV is just as essential as varsity when it comes to upholding your schools reputation.  You have to begin some place.  You have to learn how to work together.  You have to grow and you have to work hard.

There are a  lot of times where  cheerleaders do a great deal  of work and get very little recognition for that work. At the competitive level things do change for cheerleaders.  Competitive
cheer is much more intense, and keeping that winning attitude is what it is all about!

Everybody  loves to watch the competitive teams compete.  The level of skill on some of these teams is fantastic.

At the university level, the cheer teams and the dance teams often perform together.  They come together in what is known as a “spirit team”.   In my own experience it was really fun to work around the cheer team as well as the pep band.   The guys on the  cheer team and the pep band were so fun to work with.  I hope they know how much they are appreciated.

Many don’t know that cheerleading used to be an all male sport beginning in the 1890’s.  Sorry ladies, you weren’t first in the sport.

Women didn’t start participating until 1920.  Cheerleading didn’t become a predominantly woman sport until the 1950’s  The statics from the above site  have some interesting facts about male cheerleaders.  Today, in collegiate cheerleading it’s 50/50, half males, half females.  It’s a sport and a tough one.

Professional  NBA/NFL cheerleaders often do not tumble or do stunts on
average. You see teams like the Denver Bronco Cheerleaders, LA Lakers Cheerleaders,  or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders doing jazz dance routines, cheering, and performing well rehearsed kick lines.  It’s a different level there too.  But for these professional cheerleaders, it’s predominately female.

Dreams are only as good as the effort you put into them.  You have to want it.  You have to “TRY OUT”, sign up –
and go to practice.    The worst thing you could do is not try out.

Your dreams have to be backed up with effort.  So get out there and have some fun.  You have some new friends waiting to meet you!

Let your little light shine

Let your light shine

It is better to light a single candle than to cure the darkness…..

Sometimes we attempt to try and make “all things better”, only to learn that it is the simple things that slip past us, or help to keep us balanced. Even in dance you have to have a balance. You can’t make all the problems fade away, that’s a reality of life. But, what you can do, is light a candle and see who is drawn to the light.

Those who have experienced dance at the core of their being will understand what I’m saying. Those who don’t understand, have yet to experience the sensation of accomplishment in the raw, nor have they felt defeat, and used that defeat to rise again. To many It’s just memorized steps or a social game. It’s over very quickly, so take a look at what is lost.

Those moments of victory found in dance – can be the same as defeat if not nourished by something warm and light. It’s all in how you wrap it. Winning can be cold. Winning can be lonely. More friends are bound to come when you are down than when you are up. There are a lot of “fixers” in the world of dance, and nobody likes a bragger.

To draw people into a winning environment you have to first show you have meaning. You have to care about their wins and their loses.

Too many dancers will follow the current flow where ever it goes – even away from the light. They fear they can’t make it alone.

How you express yourself now, will be the fuel for your tomorrow. Dance can be very cold to those who don’t have the right fuel. If you are lead by trends and clic’s, you probably are looking at the bottom of the tank already. However, for those who are lead by the pure enjoyment of the art of dance, and the feeling it leaves them with – their tanks are on high.

You don’t have to have many in your circle to shine bright. Many doesn’t mean success. Success is what tomorrow brings.

Success is usually only accomplished by the few. That is the reality in the dance world. Most will not succeed. How you burn today will be a sure sign of your tomorrow.

Dance is so much more than memorized steps and a popularity clic~. Continue to let your little light shine. See who is drawn to it. See who rises to the flame.

It is better to light a single candle than to cure the darkness…..

Solo Instructors


By the time my daughter was in 7th grade she began teaching small teams and soloists. High school brought a lot of travel her way, with clinics, camps, and out of area events. With a closet, totes, and trophy case now overflowing with trophies, crowns, plaques, ribbons, bling and whistles – I have to admit it was worth it.

When my daughter was growing up I spent upward to $30 an hour for a coach to teach her a routine that she would use at both regional’s and nationals. I also paid lump sums of $200 – $300 for so many practices and choreography. It really depended on the caliber of the instructor. If the instructor was well titled, I paid more.

I picked the best of the best. That made all the difference in the world. I picked from those that knew and understood dance technique, stage performance, etc. Those are the ones I hired. Anyone can teach, but it takes someone with experience to teach well. For that matter, anyone can open a dance studio – doesn’t take a whole hill of beans to do that either. To be successful however, you have to have business savvy. Ethics helps too.

“No experience necessary”. I told that to someone who I knew was not a very technical dancer with very limited experience a while back. This individual wanted to study dance as their major. There desire to study dance however, did not filter down to “I know what I’m doing”.  Having taken on the role of instructor, I am hoping that now they understand that a two year degree in dance means very little in the competition world.  Word to the wise “Don’t quit your day job”.

My own kid donates a lot of time each year. I found it rather humorous when one of the little dancers from the studio where she taught told another mother that “they pay all the other teachers $5.00 an hour – but Cricket gets hundreds”. Well, humorous as it sounds, it “isn’t”  true. I wish it were hundreds all the time. Hundred’s huh? Hum…… Kids are cute…

When a solo coach hires out they can request whatever they want to charge. The parent or dancer can accept or refuse. That is different from what a studio may charge – it’s a set fee there. We have trained (cricket and I) nearly 30 soloists over a span of 7 or 8 years. At some point in time, girls have touched foot on the floor in my living room, the MARC gallery, the Stars studio, or fellowship hall. The money was used to travel to competitions, buy solo outfits for her own dances, and give her a little pocket change during trips. The rest of the competition money came from things like yard sales and baby sitting.

Now as an adult, she can free lance, and actually do what she wants! The number of students we helped out for free was also large. Truthfully, there are just families that don’t have the cash. We took some of them with us to competitions. Competitions used to be our vacation times – but we took other people’s children with us. It is hard to say no to them. You bond with them.

In Vegas we would often find that we became the built in team baby sitters. One year I had 13 girls in the room. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. I was just giving them a safe place to be, late at night, while their parents were out on the town. I wonder who really needed the sitter at this point.

Soloists tend to be the better dancers on average, after a year or so competing. Just for the sure fact that they practice more and hopefully learn technique from someone who understands technique. I hope they can spell it too. Teaching a soloist new choreography is always a challenge. You never know what they might be capable of until you put them to task. A lot of time and energy is spent just fine tuning technique before you even get started teaching new movements, let alone an entire dance.

Parents seem to be in a hurry to see the dance for their child made up ASAP. Well…part of the dance is technique, you choreograph the dance around the dancers technique and their abilities. I’ve watched parents become frustrated because they come to a practice and their student is still learning technique and not the so called “rock star” dance. My answer to those parents: The technique will be in the dance – it’s part of it. If it were my child, I’d want them to look good first.

That is what the judges will focus on in the end. Parents tend to get things backwards.  Some dancers just aren’t ready to learn a whole dance in one setting. That often times is  a recipe for disaster on the floor. Those are pro’s sitting up there in the stands judging you. These people don’t have time to waste teaching you technique. You are supposed to come ready to rock and roll. Show them your stuff.

ON THE FLIP SIDE: There are parents, who don’t want their children to do solos, and you know what? – that is just fine. But, in any classroom anywhere you will have competition. Doesn’t matter if you have soloists in the ranks or not. There really isn’t anything anyone can do about it. It is what it is. Girls will be girls, and boys will be boys. A little competition is good to keep a group motivated to learn more. Friendly competition that is.

When you shop around for a solo coach, know that you get what you pay for. If you take your child away from an experienced coach before they have actually had time to train and learn proper technique – you still get what you pay for. You can’t say it is the coach’s fault if you pull your child out or attempt to teach them yourself.  Having your child train with different instructors who aren’t on the same technique level is a recipe for disaster.     Your Child’s scores will reflect 100% what YOU the parent did right, and what you did wrong. But like I said before “no experience necessary”.

I can tell you that any money my own daughter made with soloists growing up went to pay for regional’s and nationals, clinic, and camps. But then again, she worked at four jobs, and attended college full time. She is motivated, and she passes that along to the students she works with. She keeps training to improve and learn. That is what real coaches do. They train and learn, so they can pass that on to their students.

When you look for a solo coach, $10 an hour once a week for a high school senior is about all you can ask for. Pay them out in lump sum and make them commit to a certain amount of time would be even better. They still don’t have that thing called “responsibility” down just yet. Time management isn’t really a factor either. Generally most (not all) make the dance up over night, and call it good. No technique required.

Steer clear of dancers who have a history of getting into trouble, gossiping, or won’t cover up vital parts. Dance clothes are slinky enough, but they shouldn’t be obscene. Little girls need to remain little as long as they can!

Setting your student up with a solo coach is a personal thing. There is a understanding that happens between the teacher and student. Some parents can’t deal with that. Some parents tend to want to jump in and sometimes think they could do a better job, and when they discover they can’t – they seek to discredit young instructors because they are jealous of the situation. I’ve seen it. I’m sure some of you have seen it too.

I have learned “the hard way” parents and daughters tend to bicker too much when they work together … that kicks off a  blame game … “Why isn’t my dancer doing well?” Who you going to blame for that? The coach of course. To make the blame game work, you have to paint that coach out to be the most evil demon in the world. But, remember you dropped them out of your program months ago right? You dropped them out because you could not deal with the bond that an experienced instructor had with your student. Or maybe your student just missed too many practices because the parents were always gone out of town. Folks….some parents are this way.

I don’t think I’m being to harsh here. I’m talking about the reality of what happens to parents when they get too caught up in the clic or the background noise of their children’s lives. Competition or stage parents, do you know one? Two? Three?

Parent’s DO NOT push your child toward solo’s if that is how you are. If you are a stage parent – please don’t. Instructors will and should have a professional understanding with their students. To some parents that is a threat to their nurturing abilities. In their eyes their child is a reflection of them, or to use another term “living your life out through your child”.

Summary: Pick your solo teacher well.
*If they aren’t strong technical dancers, keep shopping.
*If they can’t show you anything new, keep shopping.
*If they really don’t know what they are going to be doing or where they are going to be in the next couple months, keep shopping.
*If they hang on their boy friends in front of you, to busy with their own kids or friends, keep shopping.
*If the teacher is too occupied during the training, keep shopping.
*Got a resume?

Instructors – Welcome to the trenches.

There is an old saying “You can pay to keep your children in dance/sports, or you can pay to keep them out of jail. Either way – you will pay”. Might as well be something productive. If you raised your child with respect for others, decency, and a good work ethic, then let their little lights shine.

So now they have a mentor, someone to look up too. Years down the road you will thank yourself, and that mentor.

Solo’s are not for everyone. Some mom’s just can’t handle the competition.

I’m not a bury my head in the sand type of person. I’m not into the rumor mill. What I am into is the safety and education of our kids. That comes first. Dance is second. Any questions ?

When picking a solo coach, don’t pick one that is also training someone the same age and in the same dance category. You can end up with some really bad vibes. Have them do a duet instead. Dance should be enjoyed.

Dancers should only have to compete against themselves – to better themselves.

Dance on