Back Stage

Procrastinator

Preparing for back stage is 1/2 the battle in preparing for competitions.  “Where are the pins?  Oh my gosh – hairspray – I know I packed it.   Shoes – I have two left feet!”  What a nightmare.  If your organization skills for competition sound like the above comments, you probably are a procrastinator.   I hate to admit it, but I’m a procrastinator too.  I’ll pack the day before the event, and/or scramble the day of – to get everything into the car.   I didn’t relieve how much of the organization went into getting ready for competition until I got out on my own.  I think there is a progression that parents go through in working with their dancers.  They come in as newbies, and gradually progress to diva managers.   If you fall into the procrastinator category above, you are far from alone.  Even the best diva mangers fail sometimes.

I’ll pack the day before the event, and/or scramble the day of – to get everything into the car.

Gofer

At competitions, many times we have found our dressing room, half way across the school, or auditorium.   Parents who are often caught in the middle, somewhere near the stands,  are  clueless where to put  the bags.  There aren’t any signs in front of the buildings that point to where you need to go.  You need gofers, or scouts, to be in the facility before your team starts to arrive,  just to locate all the doors, corridors and stair ways.  They can then wait at the gates for when your team arrives, and help them to get to their dressing and staging areas.

Parents are fine to use as gofers, but a couple older teens who don’t have youngest to prepare for the stage, will work just as well.   You have to understand that your director and many of your instructors may not be there right when you get there.   It could be the roads are jammed packed, or  maybe it is because they are at the director meetings getting the 911 on the competition proceedings.

Make sure your gofer or scouts are trustworthy and that their cell phones are on for you to contact them.  They shouldn’t be text queens chatting with their friends and neglecting their duties.

Assistant Instructors

If you have to be in a meeting before completion, make sure you have an assistant teacher to  help warm up your students, and to check their costumes.  It’s okay to delegate to your assistants who have worked with you and your team.  Uninformed people in the dressing rooms are a studio nightmare.  They will, and can, give out a lot of false information.  Maybe not knowingly, but “false information” none-the-less.  Tempers can flare at the drop of a hat back stage.

I always find that the student is generally calmer than the parent, 9 times out of 10.  Parents, your kids need the input from their instructor’s right before going on stage.  The instructor knows the dance the best, they understand the choreography, and their students trust them.  You should too.  Don’t be in the dressing rooms in front of your dancers talking drama right before a competition.  Don’t attempt to make changes for an instructor, which includes costume changes.  You can discuss changes afterwards, for the next event.   That is acceptable to do – 100%.   What is not acceptable is disrupting an already nervous team with changes that you have no authority to do.  Afterwards, also allows your instructors / director the opportunity to state why something is the way it is.  If you constantly are disruptive at competitions,  or whining about  everything  – especially in the dressing rooms –  know that it stresses everyone out.  We call these types of whiners the “dressing room trolls”.

Warm Ups

The little bitty kids may need a parent or two around if Instructors don’t have assistants.  The little ones need to be watched carefully, and a system developed to help them get from point A, to point B, in as quickly and easy a manner as possible.

Your little ones might not understand why they have to bunch their lines together to practice.  Talk to them about warm up rooms before they get to competitions.

Have them hold hands when they enter the warm up room.  Once they are in there, make sure you get them to a huddle together as fast as you can.  Warm up rooms are puzzling to little bitty ones.  There are generally many other teams in the warm up rooms that take up a lot of spacing, and it can be noisy.  Your little ones might not understand why they have to bunch their lines together to practice.  Talk to them about warm up rooms before they get to competitions.

Older dancer, DO NOT need their parents in the room, unless that parent was asked to be there.  The most important thing is to stretch out!   Look over your lines, and nail those turns and combo sections.  Parents your dancers need to be looking at the instructor before going on.  Don’t become a “warm up troll”.   Find your seat and make sure that you can be heard when they perform.  Warm ups for older students should be a closed session.  There is already enough distraction in the room to keep them busy for a long time.   Some students don’t react well to other parents in the room either.  This is your curtain call “all parents to the stands”.

Music

Ahhhhh..  I can’t stress enough that you need to have at least 4 copies of all your music.  “Why?”  One, to give to your assistant, just  in case you don’t make it.  Two are for  your travel bag (a warm up CD and a performance CD for check in).  The fourth one you should  give to your top gofer.

Don’t let your students over run your common sense when it comes to music either.  It’s not a team decision – it’s more a, what is appropriate decision.    Just because a song is popular doesn’t mean it is the right song for your team or solo performer.    Truthfully, if the song is too popular you may be in for a shock when you get to competition.   There are lists out there, of the most overly used songs on the internet.  Check out the lists at www.DanceNet.com.    Not all songs have that over use feel,  but it doesn’t hurt  to be careful on your selections.

Awards

I was fortunate enough to work behind the screens during  a lot of  award ceremonies.  We set up everything for awards, including all the trophies, we did lane running, transporting score sheets to the tally rooms,  sweeping floors for acts, to crowning the dance champions.   During my time at the University of Utah on the Crimson Line Dance Team, we were sponsors for the Utah Drill Championships.  You work! You dance! You work some more! Did I say you will work?  You will!

If you are a returning dance champion and are asked to help with awards, be sure you understand that it could be very late before you are allowed to go home.  It isn’t uncommon for awards to end at midnight, or 3 pm, or 5 pm, etc.   Timing for awards isn’t an exact science either.    Just because they say awards at 7:00 p.m., that doesn’t mean they won’t start awards earlier or later.   If all the scores are tallied, and the competition staff is ready, they may go ahead and start the awards ceremony, to get people home earlier.  It is fair when you consider that you might not get out until 10 or 12 p.m.

It is nice to get away from competition to go somewhere to eat, but you need to make sure you are in contact with your instructor/director in case the event planners call an early awards ceremony.   Don’t drive 30 miles away for food either.

You should have your team on site early for awards, and they should sit together either in the stands ,  on stage, or on the  gym floor.  I understand that little girls get tired, and that a late awards ceremony is often hard on them.   But this is what you have spent your hard earned dollars on.  All the sweat and tears are for that moment.  Your team needs you there.  You are a team all the way from the first dance on the floor, to the awards ceremony.   It’s not just your vacation, it’s everyone’s, so please be considerate.

The day after

It is important to have that time with your dancer, and to help him, or her, to let down after an event.  Let the activities of the events wash over.  Win or lose, everyone needs down time to recoup, relax, and just breath.  Hopefully you have something planned that is fun for your dancer and family members who also attend the competitions.  A motel with a pool is a great way for the family to let down.  Those who have to travel all day and night may not have that luxury – but hopefully you will plan down time once you arrive home.  Spend time with your dancer doing things that aren’t dance related, even if it is just a movie and popcorn.

Even dancers who win can have a low period after a competition.   They have been working at a high pace with their performance and now all of a sudden its stopped.  That is similar to hitting a wall.  I’ve seen solo winners not return to competition because they didn’t adjust to the let down time well.  They weren’t able to come back up to the level of performance that helped them win.

Even dancers who win can have a low period after a competition.

Losing doesn’t have to be bad either.  The best perspective is one that helps a dancer learn to compete against themselves.  What others are doing really isn’t of concern,  as much as knowing that they have made progress in their own studies.    So winning isn’t everything – sometimes it is the end for some dancers.  It’s high stress, I understand.

Well rounded dancers need other outlets to focus on.  If all they do is focus on dance, day- in and day-out,  they might not be maturing emotionally and socially as they need to be.  They can carry those negative traits into adulthood.   Take the time to recoup, you are worth it!

As kids get older and adjust to different stresses, they will pick the activities that they desire to be in.   Having 2 or 3 activities outside of dance is normal.  Play ball, piano, swim, run – whatever.  Enjoy your time in the spotlight “Be a Star!”

 

Freelance Choreographers & Consultants

Freelance choreographers are professionals who out -source their abilities to a host of organizations including, dance studios, amateur performing dance companies, for dance camps, judging, team and solo choreography, and a lot more.

Freelancers are the people that usually move in  multiple  dance circles, and have many acquaintances in the dance communities they work in.  They may or may not own, and/or be attached to a studio.

They can move around  without  being overly  restricted by a lot of internal  constraints.  A lot are not studio based,  yet some do  carry their own name or brand.

A good thing about freelancing  is the independence and freedom to pick your own schedule and what you will teach.  You also get to keep your creative rights in some instances.  Although some teams prefer to have full ownership of the dance, so it is not sold again.

You can contract with local studios, but don’t have to hold any set loyalty if you don’t choose too.  It’s the experience and the dance, that  matters most.

Freelancers tend to have a larger  audience and are more apt to have fresher material because of all their outside choreography work.  A lot of freelancers have also been judges, and have had a chance to view new material that your studio and/or instructors may not have.

I judged for a short while and in that process I learned a lot.  I will be honest “I really think it helped me grow as an individual and instructor”.  Those weren’t my students on the floor, they were someone else’s.   I admit it was refreshing to be able to unbiasedly  look at these young individual’s and critic and praise them in the areas they needed.  No pressure – just do what I know.  At the same time, it was nice to see what others were presenting choreography wise.

It’s that rare team that really steps up and presents something unique and entertaining.  That’s the challenge each studio, and each performer faces.

As a freelancer you  have to stay current with dance,  and practice your  skills.  It’s in doing this that you are able to help teams learn new routines and specialty movements. You should be able to teach your students to incorporate their thoughts and ideas when needed for a routine.

It’s important that each dance look different, have its own style, and visual attraction – so your audiences (or judges) will be entertained.

At the same time, your dancers need to feel the dance.  They need to understand the emotional part of the dance.

SETTING YOUR OWN SCHEDULE

Being able to freelance, allows me to set my own schedule.   I’m busy 24/7 some months – but  have leaned to curb that down in other months so I don’t burn myself out.   I like to be in many different settings learning and growing.  From  those learning settings,  I am able to  bring  back new and challenging choreography to my own students; both team and solo.

I love it when someone comes on line and says a kind word or two about something I’ve done.  I try to make sure I say something positive back.

BALLET INSTRUCTION

With ballet, I always- always-always,  evaluate my students.   I want to know what skills they have acquired  before we begin learning new choreography and/or skills.  Young bodies have limits when it comes to training.  Their feet and legs need to be ready.   Emotionally they need to be able to follow directions without bursting into tears because they have to repeat certain sets.  One of the hardest things to do is say no.

TIME IS MONEY

As a business owner you know that you don’t have time to train your teachers.  They have to come to you already qualified.  It’s your family welfare on the line, and  your businesses reputation.  But even your best  teachers get stuck in a rut; so bringing in someone who has  new and challenging choreography can really help boost your team performance, and your instructors confidence.

I’m not competing with them, I’m augmenting what they already do.

It’s at this point that you pick up the phone and call those freelance choreographers to help you put together  choreography for upcoming events, team dances, camps, solos, etc.

This  is what I do.   Since  I’m not tied to any studio, I can work with all the studios and independents – on my time.  however, I do carry my own name and brand to distinguish myself  separately from the others. That is important for me.  I’m not competing with any studio, I’m simply augment what they already do.

While I do instruct a small ballet group – I choose to remain independent, and embrace the entire dance community.

Dance on!

 

 

 

 

Anti-Bullying

Have you ever been bullied?  Maybe you’ve been bullied by another student, an adult, a coach, or dance director?  A group ? How about your cheer team? Or maybe a dance team?  A group of  jocks making up stories to look big?

Could bullying be done by a principle or vice principle? How about a member of the church? A parent?

Kids bully because a need is not met somewhere. Or maybe someone has mistreated them in that manner.  Bullying takes many forms, but it takes a real mature individual to step up, and say STOP!

Your courage may be someone else’s courage too.

When you see someone being bullied, do you turn away?  Are you afraid that they will  bully you too, if you try to help the other person?

How do you deal or cope with bullying?  Who do you turn to?  What if the bully is your coach or director?  Yes, adults bully too.   Some, by allowing the very act of bullying by others or  themselves. Some bully to get what they think is social status,  or to get into a clic, or even advance their own children.  They battle with power and control.

Everyone needs to learn the facts.  Everyone needs to step-up, and say STOP to bullying!

It takes everyone! Some links to help you learn what you can do…

Learn how to deal with bully’s

More Links

Bully Police USA (Utah)

Bullying in Dance Class (Dance Advantage)

National Dance Day

NATIONAL DANCE DAY, is a grassroots initiative that encourages the nation, young and old, to move! Individuals, families, organizations and communities from across the nation come together through their creative expression in dance. Any style of dance is welcome and imagination is recommended in order to get the most out of this celebratory day

 

CELEBRATE!  KEEP DANCING!!!

Step outside your dance genre and experience with other dancers that something that bounds us

all together – DANCE!  Learn more about National Dance Day on their website on Facebook  MORE

Also check out Dizzy Feet for more information and learn this years  Dance Day routines:  SHOW ME THE ROUTINES!

National Dance Day is something fun to experience with your students.  Use it for the theme around your next try-outs or awards ceremonies.  Teach your students the importance of belonging to something bigger than where they are at in the world.  Let them know they are part of a larger family of dancers from all over the country; and the world.

Have an  essay and/or  poster contests.  Have your team practice and submit their dance – maybe it will get posted live for everyone to see.   Submit your teams video!  Utah!!! You need  delegates!  Know someone?  Submit their video and name to National Dance Day.

Have fun dancers!  Keep your self in the know!  Dance, Live, Life, & Love!