How important is your “team”

You don’t have to take my advice, or the advice of someone 300 miles away. If dance is really what you want to do – go somewhere or train with someone that will respect you, understands the genre and the terminology of the dance you perform in.

Learn technique, learn the terminology.  Find those instructors who know how to teach all the levels.  When you really search them out, you will find there aren’t as many as you thought.

What you also need to decide is whether or not the clic~ is more important than the dance? Who do you want yelling at you – inexperienced or experienced trainers? It’s a no brainer.

Is being on a team the most important thing to you? Or, are you the solo type?

Deciding to dance on a school sponsored team, or a studio team, can make a big difference in your life. If you are on a team (school or studio) and you spend more days being miserable than happy – it’s probably time for a change. You need to decide as a young adult what really fits your personality, your needs, and your comfort zone. You have decisions to make!

Do you want to be a part of a team because you enjoy dance, or because you want to be part of a social clic~? Is your team friendly? Does it have fair policies? Does your team have a trained instructor?

If your team does not seem to be up to the levels of the past, that can be very discouraging. It’s hard to continue being a part of something that may looked “stalled”.  You come back each year, to see the same poor judging, the same types of unexperienced  coaches or assistances; and the same types of  choreographers that just don’t put together winning material. Counting those things on your fingers yet?

There are options to getting your dance career off the “stalled” block. You don’t have to be on the discouraging  end.  I would hope there are studios in your area that you could explore as an options. All it takes is four or five really dedicated dancers to pull away from a “stalled” team and create their own winning team. I’m not talking about building a new studio either – just get floor space, and a name to dance under. Pay the fees; buy the jacket “feel good again”.  Be careful however, not all studios are created equal, and may be below your level, and can pull you down quickly.

Just about any studio would love to have you, if you really want to be there. But, don’t be wishy – washy. Don’t bring any past problems with you either. You shouldn’t be looking to destroy anything, or bring any names into play, when you finally decide to leave your current team. You just have to let your coaches know that you feel like you could learn more someplace else. Don’t feel guilty about it either. Leave on good terms. Burning bridges behind you leaves scars. So don’t do that please.

There are people who get into positions just so they can boss people around. It’s that need to control. They don’t mind telling you about it either. Not a good way to be.  If someone is a professional or semi-professional dancer, they have probably earned the right to say “I’m in charge”. But, the average dancer,  or instructors who teach outside their own genre, has to learn that being a dance authority has added responsibilities that may be over their head.  Instructors who teach outside their own genre will struggle.  It’s not a nature flow, and things will not right themselves.  You have to teach what you know.

There is always the parental aspect of any decision that is made by those still underage. My suggestion is to take your parent with you to the new studio, school, or location you are interested in. Generally if a dancer can win over the parent, they pretty much get what they want. But winning over a parent takes craft. I say that because, there are a lot of parents that are tired of hearing their student come home with stories of nepotism, favoritism, elitism, and cruelty from dance practices.

Sometimes parents have to endure these complaints month after month. This is what your directors and school administrators are there for – to deal with these issues. But a lot of parents are just as afraid as their student. Too afraid to make waves.. The mind set is to just get it over with. The sad part is – you don’t. You have to make choices somewhere along the line. Hopefully parents and dancer can make those choices together.

I’m not real fond of people quitting mid-stream. It is always better to not begin in the first place – if you are the wishy-washy kind. No offense – but hey, I like dedicated dancers. Most trainers do!

You have to evaluate what it is you really want. Going with the flow will only get you more of the same. You need to have the guts to help yourself. Stand committed.  FINISH!

*You don’t have to challenge any authority – leave on good terms

*You don’t have to stay on a loser team – excel somewhere else

*You can pick where you want to train in most cases – school or studio

There can be just as many competitions available at a studio as there are on a school team. Generally more at a studio. You still can go to the games!Your possibilities are endless – but you have to take the first step. Pick that thing that will bring you peace throughout the year – not despair.

Good luck dancers.

I hope you pick wisely.

Motivation

Learning how to motivate young dancers, and older dancers to remember the choreography and/or timing needed for a dance, can be taxing to an instructor. Not everyone learns at the same pace. Bodies grow at different rates, and mental learning is different for each person.

Muscle memory is also important in dance. You learn and train your muscles to react to movement through practice. You don’t learn muscle memory from a single practice, you learn from many practices. Yes, it takes many practices, over-and-over again. Some never really get it. They just play at it, or hope no one notices.

Ah….they notice!

It’s not uncommon to have a really good practice with your students, and then the next day it seems they have forgotten everything they have learned.

There are a lot of things that can affect a practice; like what was served for school lunch that day. That is the first one I would look at for the younger dancers.

The second thing I would look at is social matters. The older a dancer gets, the more social problems
they can come up with. Older dancers have boyfriends; PMS; a teacher hates them; a big test; or who is running for prom queen. They can have an endless list. You should ask them to leave the list by the door and pick it up on their way out – after class.

It’s not that they want to be bad or misbehave during practices, they just haven’t learned how to organize their time yet. Time management is lost on most teenagers. You have to keep on them, keep hammering in the lesson. You have too. Am I lying dancers? Noooooo…

With your younger dancers, they have about a five minute attention span, and then you better have something else in mind to teach them. They need that constant activity. They need activity that involves jumping or running – that is good for them, and they learn that way.

Motivating a team at any level is work. You have to be on your toes; constantly looking for ideas and ways to make your voice heard and understood. When you finally find that niche, you need to really push all you can before the learning niche is gone.

Motivating requires skill. I really like spirit leaders for a team – not presidents or captains. You want spirit leaders – people who do things for the team; people who look past all the drama and show others what Team Spirit is all about.

Presidents have their own duties that they need to do. They really can’t be the motivators for the team 24/7, as well as the choreographers, teachers, and whatever else. That is a burn out.

Separate the duties, and separate them correctly.The structure that I’ve seen work best, has a President who has tried out and was judged for the position. Same with Vice President.

Only Seniors can hold the title of President. Vice President is generally reserved for juniors. Sophomores have a representative who is either the secretary and/or historian.

Freshman, usually one of them holds the position of spirit leader . This is not set in stone of course. You should also have spirit moms. Only the parents who are interested in helping with spirit matters should be considered. After all it is a volunteer position. The Spirit parents work with other mom’s to do things for the team, as well as plan
special outings.

Our spirit moms used to put together goodie bags filled with “FOOD” for trips. They would put silly stuff like bubbles, and rubber bands (for your hair – not for shooting), oranges and donuts, and all kinds of stuff. They also helped with the fundraisers by taking turns during the day helping out. Our car wash was always a winner.

Having an assistant to help the director is a must. They can help with things like props, covering some practices, helping with paperwork, and running the numerous errands that come up. They are invaluable at competitions.

For the girl who is selected for the position of President, it’s an honor when you get the call from your director that you have been selected by a group of non-partial judges, as the next President or vice, etc. It is a good feeling to know that you have tried out before a team of judges and won. That is part of growing up. Earning honors.

It’s great just to make the team. Being a part of something that matters. Matters to you.

Most directors believe in keeping things in a more diplomatic fashion, and have decisions based on true merit (try outs) , and not preference . However, there are times when you do have to make a choice; like at state for team representatives and as helpers.

There is an old saying “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”. If you take charge of an organization mid-stream and you attempt to change the leadership style, don’t expect that others will appreciate it. It is best to learn the ropes a little first before you attempt to change the rules.

If you are going to make changes, make them at the very beginning or end of the year. NEVER after a tryout has already occurred. If your team, president, and officers have already been selected, you should wait until the next year to implement any changes to structure. I know that isn’t always possible, sometimes there isn’t any structure to
being with when you take on the task. Then you have to create a new structure.

People like to be informed way in advance – it gives them a chance to know what is coming. Try to get your letters and notices out as quickly as humanly possible. You have to use common sense.

Make any changes wisely, and let your team know what they will be doing. As an adult, if you don’t inform your team going in, you won’t have their respect coming out. It’s that cut and dry.Same goes for dancers.

If you have students who are disrespectful and refuse to change – bench them. I say that very easily don’t I? I mean it. You WILL sit out.Be tough. Let them know you mean business. But be fair. Dancers will respect you if they know the decisions being made are fair. They might not like the decision – but at least they will know the process and
understand it.

Good instructors are firm believers in merit – and hard work. Dancers who put in the extra effort should be allowed to rise above to take the lead. That isn’t preference, that is merit and hard work. If you are a casual dancer – and just there for the “social” aspect – the back row will probably suit you fine, and the hall if you are disruptive.

Motivation begins at the top. Dancers take notice – you are not an alumni until you FINISH the year. You aren’t a trained leader until you FINISH. If you begin fresh the new year with a balanced plan, open to training and new ides, and you are up front with everyone about any changes – you will have a better year.

New Directors and team officers, it’s hard the first year. Start planning as early as possible. Work with your Directors and Coaches as often as possible. Learn from them.

First thing on your planning list is to “Plan to have a good year”. “Plan to have a spirit leader who has the “spirit of love flowing through their veins honey!”

In my own memories I will always remember one indivdual as the best spirit leader we ever had. She was the joker, the puzzler, the sneak, the secret sister, the girl with the candy bag, and love in her heart for every lost puppy in the world. She loved the team. She hated rules – but she loved the team.

Sometimes the real leaders are the ones you remember as being a caring person. They didn’t need an officer position to lead. Our spirit leader just knew what was needed! Laughter.

Remember it’s all about “team!” There is no “I” in team, but there is in Motivation”. Spirit Leaders can and will be the greatest asset to your organization. People like to smile and laugh. It’s those things they remember. It’s those things they come back for! That bond, that sisterhood.

So spirit it up!

Motivate yourself and your team

Good luck with your new year

Military Drill Team

Military is a precision dance that requires a great amount of control and focus.

Military is restricted to clean crisp movements that are defined by the 2009-2010 Yearbook Drill Team UHSAA as:

Definitions of Categories for 2009-2010

MILITARY: Any basic military maneuvers or steps such as pinwheels, blocks, ranks and files, etc. may be used. Overall emphasis is on precision; straight arm sequences. School uniform or military attire may be worn. Kicks and ripples may be used.

DO NOT USE DANCE STEPS. No jazz hands, no head rolls, no body rolls, no hip movements, no jazz runs, no pyramids, no arch backs, no toe touches (Russian or Straddle), nor tumbling may be used. General emphasis is on clean, sharp movements. Props and backdrops/sets may not be used.}

Military also has a strict dress code that does not allow performers to wear any jewelry what so ever.  Fake nails and polish is also not allowed.  Each dancer is to look identical.  Pants should not drag the ground – it is an automatic deduction if they do.

Facials in military are generally stern and/or puckered (fish face).  Teams can smile if the style is appropriate toward the theme.

Most military routines are done to instrumental sounds – no words.  Heavy emphasis on down beats.

Marching is also a standard part of a military routine.  It is also good to practice drill down techniques to help students learn proper footing and hand and arm control.  The level of the head is also important.  Kurts and nods of the head during marching sections can add effect.

Many teams in the midwest use head stands and leg lifts to add to the drama of the routine.

Below is a  59 second video  clip depicting a typical military routine that might be used for competition.



Students should work on their drill down to help them develop proper hand movements (see list below).  Students need to hold the hand in a spade position.  Slaps to the side of the body are not light.  They actually should make a decent sound.

Kicks are also a part of military dance.  Kicks must not include any ballet or cheer prep methods.

Arm combinations can vary in difficulty.  Being able to put together combinations is only as complicated as the level of your team.  Using all parts of the body to provide the audience and judges with a style that is new and fresh is points rewarding.   Synchronization  is critical in military precision dance.

There needs to be an adequate number of transition and formation changes.  At least 5 to 8 formation changes combined with X number of transition up and down to the floor.

Remember that military is not dance, nor is it pep dance.  Absolutely NO dance moves will be allowed.  It is an automatic penalty if you do.

Research the types of movements that are allowed in military.  Remember that one part of the country may have a different set of rules than another part.  The rules are NOT equal.   Please be careful to remember that when you start choreographing your routines.

DRILL Down
Drill Down will help students become better listeners, and to follow directions easier. Students should be able to execute instructions better having learned drill down,  as well as  preforming the movements correctly. Drill down helps train the mind to respond and respond quickly as new skills are mastered.

To help your students learn the basic commands, below is a list of Drill down commands: (borrowed from my Stars Teaching manual: teaching the right way)

Attention
At Ease
Dress Center Dress
Ready Front
Hand Salute
Right Face
Left Face
Half Left Face
By the numbers: ( to execute a command on counts)
Cancel by the numbers
Cover Down/fall in
Files – any number of individuals arranged front to back
Ranks – any number of individuals arranged side to side
As you were – erase the last command
Carriage – don’t look at the ground
Mark Time March
Company Halt
Change Step – step-ball-change
By the Right Flank, March
By the left Flank, March
To the Rear, March
Double to the Rear, March
Right Oblique, march
Left Oblique, March
In place Halt/Squad halt – 3 counts
Forward march
Resume Forward march
Multiple commands – combination of commands given once.

Students are on the honor system during a drill down. If unsure, a teacher will touch them on the shoulder.

Enjoy – it’s a nice fun thing to do in a class, while teaching students to follow commands.