I am so excited to share this blog with you! Thank you for taking the time to read this. I have gathered some great tips and insights regarding dance education from some of the nation’s best and brightest dance educators. Enjoy! Your partner in education, Emily.
Last week when I decided to write this blog I polled as many friends in the business as I could and asked what they thought the most important thing a dance parent should know is. I was thrilled with the responses and am so thankful that the world of dance is one of support and encouragement. The responses I received were from all areas of the United States as well as all levels. Some are competition directors, studio owners, college professors and several dance instructors.
Nicole a dance instructor from the Chicago land area writes this to a dance parent looking for a place to enroll their child, “Do your homework…….When choosing a studio look for a loving, caring and comfortable environment that fosters education, growth and opportunity. A studio with well trained educators who have a passion to continue to learn and grow. A studio whose philosophy you trust and agree with. Look for a place that has the best interest of the children at heart. When you find that place then trust your teachers. All children dance, hear, see, think and comprehend differently, and trust that no matter what you think you see when you are looking through the window that they know what they are doing. If you can do that, then you know you’re in the right place.”
I think she touches on very important topics. The most important word she says is the word TRUST. My friends Jodi from the east coast, Jen from the west coast, and Melissa from the Midwest all said the same thing. Between the three of them they stressed that parents should trust their dance teachers and let their children grow and learn in a healthy environment. They also expressed that each one of them, as teachers, always has the best interest for each individual child.
Kim and Donna both studio owners in the Midwest expressed that parents should know that each dancer develops and learns differently. Even if taught the exact same skill at the exact same time no two dancers will achieve it exactly the same way. I agree with them. It is our job as parents to support our children and encourage them exactly where they are at in their journey as a dancer. This will ensure a love for dance long after they are finished with lessons.
My friend Lisa from college teaches on the east coast and she gave me a perspective for parents of students who are looking to become professional. She says this, “I think parents need to know that if their child is serious about dance then it is a big time commitment and they must be willing to give up other activities at a certain point in order to truly progress to a level where they can become professionals. Also it’s so important to train properly and take care of injuries in s timely manner with care specific to a dancer’s body to give them the chance to become professional if they wish.” Now obviously this is not geared toward the parents of toddlers or of recreational students. I think she makes a great point. I personally was one of these students who chose to commit my time to my passion. I have never once regretted this decision. I knew that if I were to do this as a career that I must spend my time, energy and focus on my craft so to speak. I also give my mom a lot of credit because she always trusted my dance teacher, she always encouraged me, and most important she never compared me to the other girls. This was EXTREMELY important for my growth and is exactly why I am still dancing and teaching to this day 29 years later.
My dance teacher Pam from the Midwest has ran her business for 20 years now. She has two locations and has inspired thousands and thousands of lives, and she believes all parents want to know that their child will be treated fairly, that they will be in a safe-environment, that their child will receive personal attention and that they will receive good customer service. Yes parents, these are four extremely important things to look for.
My next responder is a convention/competition owner and director. He has over 50 years of teaching experience to over 150,000 students. Michael McBain says, “Dance parents should choose their dance teacher for the love and caring attitude the teacher gives to the students not for the competitive aspect of the studio.” This is what it is all about.
My final responder is an incredibly inspiring woman who is on the up and up of setting the highest of standards when it comes to running a positive, motivating dance studio. Her name is Misty Lown and she is the owner of Misty’s Dance Unlimited, More Than Just Great Dancing an affiliate program for studio owners, Midwest Dance Connection a dance competition, and is the founder of A Chance To Dance foundation among being a teacher, writer, speaker, wife and mother of five. I have the utmost respect for her and when she took the time to respond to my poll I was humbled. Misty says, “1. The number one thing parents should know when considering competitive dance is “What is the goal of the program?” There are many possible outcomes/goals for involvement with competitive dance. Programs range from very family friendly and school activity-flexible to very elite and demanding. Parents should be sure that they are choosing a program that aligns with their values. 2. The number one thing parents should know when enrolling their child in dance is the philosophy of the school. Again this is a matter of choosing a program that aligns with their values. At my school we value quality curriculum, trained teacher, professional management and community involvement. We tend to attract families that value organization, structure, results, character education, and community service.”
I would like to thank you for reading. I know it was long but it is something that I am passionate about so I wanted to make sure that I included these very important responses. For me, I believe one of the most important aspects of your child’s training starts with communication. In my opinion, the only way to communicate is by being open and honest. Teachers need to listen to the concerns of the parents and the parents then in return need to listen to the suggestions and expertise of the teacher. By doing so you are working together in enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved especially for the most important person involved…the student.
Loving the job God gave me,