Working with technical instructors

06 photo shoot2 055Students who work with technical instructors fair better than with  the non-technical.  The problem comes when the student has to work with too many non-technical trainers.  That is when you start to see your student falling behind. When the non-technical teachings override the technical, you are setting your student up for failure. The effects are almost immediate.

The trade off for glittery  glamour and fancy costumes are no substitute  for technique. I find this hits home a lot in the ballet and technique courses taught at some studios.

A  good  rule of the thumb is that everyone should teach the same form of technique.  You must  be consistent.  However,  if you allow someone who has no formal background in ballet technique to be your lead,  you do your students a disservice. You are in a business, and you are supposed to hire the best, and to offer the best product you can.  Emotions and feelings will not build your studio.  True talent will.  

Take a good look at your studios top dancers.  Did you really train them or did someone else?  Have you taken the credit for someone else’s work?   What would happen if you lost that instruction?      I can tell you that your level of technically trained dancers will decrease.  If you aren’t teaching proper technique, you may have a nice sparkly show, but it won’t pay off in the end at competition.     As a competition judge – I’ll bust you on the technique score sheet.  Because I can, and because I should.  Dance is a discipline after all  – and you are there to compete and be judge.  If it weren’t for judging you wouldn’t show up.  Think about it. 

 I’ve watched this technique formula unravel recently as a newer off shoot studio had its dancers level up, and in many ways is beginning to pass the older studio.  It’s about being willing to WORK!  If it were a popularity contest there would be a lot more people beating down the doors to work for you.  At some point studio owners have to face the hard cold facts.  What is technique, and how does it effect my bottom line in the long term investment of my business?  What a concept “long term investment”. 

Studio’s need to hire the best.  But if the best is only versed in one style of dance, and  has little or no formal back ground in ballet, you only have short term profits to look forward too.  Dance styles change constantly, technique is here to stay however.  Your long term investment is in investing in someone who will discipline your students to be consistent and hit those movements every time.  That investment should include training the trainers as well. If your instructors are not on the same page from preschool to 3rd grade levels, your top levels will be weak and sporadic to say the least.  Those per former years are mandatory for  so many reasons.  From 3rd grade through 9th grade, you will have growth issues to content with.  You must have instructors who understand those growth spurts and can help student to re-learn technique. Their young bodies are developing, and muscle and bone growth is tremendous.  Example: The bones in the foot of a point ballerina.

Chances are, if you have neglected technical training for your dancers, your top dancers are getting training from someone else outside your organization.  So, back to the questions “Take a good look at your studios top dancers.  Did you really train them or did someone else.  Have you taken the credit for someone else’s work?”  Are you giving a non-technical short term instructor credit for years of someone else’s instruction. Possibly destroying hard learned technical disciplines to boot.

Look at your business as “a business”.  New and shiny is always enticing, but the true and proven, hard core disciple of dance is rough, and controlled, and has long term payouts.

 

Turns and Leaps!  Dance on !

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Inexperience vs. Experienced

Be careful when you choose who you will dance with, and where.   Also, know something about the different type of dance degrees available , and how they compare against other degrees, or up against an experienced dancer/instructor.

Someone with a two year degree in dance (associate level), has basically taken pre-dance classes. “PRE”…or the general ed’s of dance. They have only taken the pre-classes that might help them gain entry into a bachelors (BFA), or masters (MFA) program. A two year degree is no guarantee you will make it into a real dance program. Most professional schools of dance require a tryout / audition(uofu’s modern department link), as well as a host of other preparatory physical skills.

A number of two year programs really do not offer all the prerequisite skills  that will be necessary to enter into a four year and/or major university dance program. Two year programs offer very little real technical  dance experience above the entry level.

You would be better off  going to a university and auditioning, and getting into a real program.  Auditioning is the only way in, and if you do not have the necessary technical dancing skills, the competition will be overwhelming to you.

To better understand, think of  dance levels as categories, starting with beginner, then intermediate, advanced, elite/varsity, and then pro. A two year course is pretty much beginner to intermediate. I doubt any instructor at a two year institute would lead their students to believe they were anything above that level.  You don’t see a lot of two years dancing on college level dance teams and performing before large audiences of 40,000 or 50,000 people.  Two years are the beginners, and may perform at recitals.

Be careful, don’t let someone lead you into something that will cause you to embarrass yourself.  Chances are they have political and/or money motives in mind, and not your best interests.

A four year bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA)will give you a much better understanding of what will be  necessary  for you to learn as you embrace the dance profession.  A masters degree (MA) (MFA) is a specialty degree.   To teach at a university, a masters degree or higher is required for undergraduate courses.  Graduate level courses are generally taught by instructors who have doctoral degrees.  You will probably train with a number of  tenure- track associate professors, who have  both teaching and research experience at the graduate level.   Full tenured professors have PhD’s, which qualifies them to hold the position of Dean’s.

A professional or semi-professional dancer may have a combination of dance experience and/or academic training.   Or, they may never have gone to school, but rather learned their craft from years of experience on the competition floor, and studio training well beyond basics.    Participants of SYTYCD are a good example of  studio trained and street competition dancers.

Semi-professional and professional dancer generally have a dance portfolio, or dance history that they can present.  It is a chronological history of events, trainings,  areas of expertise, and current status, be that in training, judging and/or teaching.  Many have a list of accomplishment and/or  published works.

Fake or for Real?

Be careful of the dance institutions that make promises they really can’t deliver on. They can be a rip off, and the training can be extremely poor; as they suck in unexperienced students. The degrees can amount to no more than a certificate that is non-transferable. That’s another aspect to look at. See if they are an accredited facility of higher education. Meaning….their credits will transfer to other colleges or universities. You will be surprised at how many do not.  Two year colleges lack a lot of credibility in this area.

Two year graduates might be able to skim by working at a studio that doesn’t really care about what your academic training is; or with directors that just want to control their own environments, and don’t want or need any competition that makes them look “different”.

Basically, no experience is necessary to own a studio if you want to.  But to be good – that takes skill – a skill that is recognized by the community and dancers.

Experience is what matters.  Dance is an art, and dance is a sport, you can’t learn technique with your head in a book.  It takes years to develop skill and knowledge.  You might memorize terminology and be able to recite after reading a book, but you would do better to practice what you preach. 🙂

Be warned if you are trying to fabricate your way up – that those dancers and instructors who are highly involved in dance can spot a fake a mile away.   They probably won’t tolerate your behavior.

Your claims will be under the microscope.  It DOES  matter in the dance community, what you do, or don’t do. When people pay money for you to train their children, and you can’t even teach them to do a simple turn correctly or teach them to point their toes – you let them down.

Getting serious
If you are serious about setting your life ambitions to be a dancer, you have options.  One, you can go the university route, or two, you can develop a  life time of dance performance through  precision studio training and upper level competitions.  A lot depends on the style(s) of dance you wish to perform.

Dancing on a university team is also a  good choice to help you develop your skills along side of  dancers  your own age and of equal ability. Many pro’s and semi-pro dancers dance(d) on university teams.  It’s a whole different level of expertise that complements your former training, be that in ballet, contemporary, hip hop or jazz.

Learning to dance with a partner is a challenge for many.  Do it!

Serious dancers know when another dancer is their senior, and they acknowledge that. Equal dancers also acknowledge the level of each other. When you dance with equal level dancers you really are a team. You recognize each other, and respect each other. That is the way it should be. Yes, there is competition – but it is a recognizable merit of skill.

Deciding where you dance is as simple as acknowledging your own level, and being honest about yourself.

What’s out there for you?
What is available for  teachers, choreographers, directors, cheerleaders, experienced coaches, ballerina’s, and hip hop artists?

There are so many wonderful programs available for the person who wants more of a professional background rather than a recreational one.

Many top organizations offer franchises and specialty training. Masters level classes, memberships, and more.

Check out some of the Utah links on our website, and start to explore or branch out in your dance career.

~”A great dancer is not great because of
their technique,  They are great because of
their passion.”

Author: Martha Gram


A Beautiful Distraction

 

A Beautiful Distraction

Teaching learning. How do you  teach someone to learn?  It’s a beautiful distraction.

Learning to teach isn’t quite the same when you realize you have to train others on what you’ve just learned.  You must offer the simplest and traditional training first.  It is here, that you make the decision of what not to do as well.

A Vision of Dance.  It’s a Beautiful Distraction.

New approaches are only incorporated when you understand that some change or actions can work, and work well.  New approaches should be looked at,  as beautiful distractions.  But, not everyone will adapt to new approaches, or accept outside assistance.  Some will fight off change no matter what – even if that change is the substance necessary to make things better in their studios, or their own personal performance, etc.

Good teachers research their subject.  But how do you teach research?  With tutorials?  How do you write the tutorial without the research? Or without the teacher?  Or even without the student to learn?

Somewhere in time,  someone (maybe you)  took on, or will take on,  the task of inventing  a dance process by which others will benefit.  When  a process is finally viewed for the first time by others, many begin to understand the pain staking hours that it takes to learn,  teach, research and write out,  an explanation of a  vision.  A vision of Dance.  It’s a beautiful distraction.

Dance Choreography is “A Beautiful Distraction”.  You take the very raw elements of dance technique and music and you incorporate your own personal vision.  You can add pieces of emotion, and suspense.  You learn to talk and express a story using your body, and facial features, even the use of your hair flowing as you turn and move.  You feel the movements of dance in your soul.

Dance, like with all the arts,  is perceived differently from one individual to the next.  It takes time, energy, and patience,  to make your dream a reality.  It is the lucky artist however, who is able to reach a vast audience.

Sunday Snapshot: Canyon Repose

Follow your dreams – look into your own “beautiful distractions” that come your way.  One of those distractions may be that rainbow that you have been waiting for.

To all those I’ve ever taught, or will teach,  I just want you to know, that having you in my life is a “Beautiful Distraction”.  You make up a very colorful rainbow.  Thanks for the  Skittles! Dance on, there are a lot more rainbows to come.

To see the article from Sunday Snapshot:  Canyon Repose, click HERE

It’s a Beautiful Distraction!

Volunteering

How many times have we thought that to give is to receive? Well, true volunteers feel that way. They give out of their own need. The need to feel like they are contributing to a greater whole. Without true volunteers the work might never get done.

Volunteerism isn’t something you get paid to do. There are those who go into volunteerism expecting something in return; a political favor, a job, money, lime light, etc. But for the true volunteer – it’s for the warmth and knowledge of knowing you’ve done a good job, and you may have helped another human being, or special cause.

There are so many things that people can volunteer for. You can coach, work with children, visit the elderly in the hospital, make flyers for a campaign, or do surveys for medical services. The list is endless, the need is great.

True volunteers are often overlooked. They might not even let others know they are working in the background. Some people are just givers. They give of their money, and time. Many don’t like to be noticed for what they do. They don’t feel the need to be recognized. They gain from the experience in other ways. That is their reward – knowing they have helped a cause.

When looking at volunteer work, one needs to be committed to staying the course. Sometimes volunteer work can be very emotional for the giver. Working in shelters, helping animals, dealing with troubled youth. Nothing is ever for sure in anything one will do in life.

But there is a lesson in volunteerism. If you do it, and you do the best you can, you will gain self confidence and a reliance on yourself that you may not have had before.

Leaving the “self” out of the formula for volunteerism is the first step
to being an effective volunteer. You might find yourself handing out clothing or standing in a kitchen soup line dishing out food to the needy. Maybe that isn’t your idea of volunteerism. There are other things that one can do. Volunteering at your local K-12 schools to help teachers with projects and field trips. These are areas that also require a different set of skills and emotional awareness. Working with children from K – 6 grade is very different than working at the middle school and/or high school levels. Needs change. Volunteer needs also change.

As we age in life, the things that we once thought important may be better handled by younger people who have the drive and zeal to handle them. Working at a marathon is a good example! Age brings with it a whole different set of priorities and meaning to each and every one of us. As we age and learn more, we begin to seek out organizations like Rotary, sororities, and non-profit organizations that do community service in many different fields. Helping to raise funds to build a park, or a walkway is another form of volunteering. I know many of you may have done volunteer work when you were younger, working at dinners to raise prop money and gym fees. You were part of something – and had fun at the same time.

When you see those ladies and men sitting at the polls during election time, it should be noted that – that is an all day event. You are there from sun up to sun down, and many times later if you are counting ballots. Why do people do it? Because they want to serve. They want to feel that self appreciation of doing a job well done.

Volunteerism has its ups and downs, like all things in life. Sometimes we go into things full steam and believe we can truly help, only to find out that we don’t have the skills necessary to help by ourselves alone. Learning to work as part of a team when volunteering , helps you to overcome some of this self doubts about our own abilities to help others. A team of people that work together, not as a group of unknowns, but rather a team of individuals with the same goal, the same purpose, and the same drive.

Understanding ones own limitations in volunteering is also important. You can’t be all things to all people. You can only be you. You are one. Learning to pick the right volunteer position that will give you the greatest self  appreciation is an art.  But do try. Try often.

Volunteers are what make us a nation. Our greatest virtue comes from the love and support of volunteers all across this nation reaching out and helping others. Truly we are the greatest country in the world. We are great because of our volunteers. Remember our service people fighting in the war: our community leaders who struggle over political issues to make life better for everyone, the fireman, the coach, and the little old ladies who stitch quilts for the family who has lost everything. Every body has a place. Everyone has a purpose. You just need to find yours.

Some people find volunteering in their writings and drawings. Being able to write articles for non-profit organizations or donating a piece of art for an auction. Its all about caring. Caring for others. There is no greater gift you can give than to give of yourself.

Volunteer – you are needed. Volunteers are what make this country great.