5 Things You Can Do In Dance Class (While You’re Not Doing Anything)

It’s common during dance class to find yourself with a little bit of downtime. Whether your dance teacher is working out a section of choreography, changing the music or drilling one-on-one with another student, you might occasionally find yourself in a holding pattern during your class. It’s definitely NOT an invitation for you to stop and do nothing, talk to a neighbor or kick up a ruckus. Nope, no thank you, no way! Instead, make use of every moment and perfect your craft. Here are five things you can do in dance class while you’re waiting for direction from your teacher:

  1. Stretch. Flexibility is as important to a dancer as water is to fish! It’s the foundation on which every single piece of dance technique begins. If you are not flexible and mobile, then it’s extremely hard to execute most dance steps properly. So, if you find yourself with downtime during a dance class, then pick a stretch and hold it. If you have arrived early to a class, begin warming up in a quiet corner. Don’t just stand there, stretch something!
  2. Review. If your teacher has just taught you a new dance step, such as an outside pirouette in jazz class for example, then you can be practicing it over and over. Even if your teacher said, “Practice this three times,” and you’ve done it three times- but your teacher hasn’t moved on yet- then keep working! Maybe you’re done before your teacher has gotten around to giving the next piece of instruction, or she has found herself working with another student for longer than expected. Please don’t shout, “Miss, I’m done! What should I do now?!” Chances are, you weren’t a master after the three times anyways. Why? Because mastery doesn’t happen in a minute or two. Keep polishing, keep practicing, and work on your move until you’ve been told to do otherwise. 
  3. Practice. If you have been taught a combination or a dance, and you find yourself with a hot second to think through it, then downtime during dance class is a great moment to remind yourself of your choreography. You do not need to perform your dance “full-out” in the middle of the room to practice. Simply mark through your steps in a quiet corner, and it will make a remarkable difference in how much you can remember when it comes time to do the dance as a class. Your teacher will be so impressed with what you retained! 
  4. Write. So you’ve stretched, you worked on your new step until the cows came home, and you’ve reviewed your choreo so well you could do it in your sleep. You really are done. What now? Pull out your dance notebook and jot down your step or combo so you can remember it next week! For example, pretend you just learned the Martha Washington in tap class. You’ve practiced it several times, you’ve worked through it slowly on your own, you even stretched out your ankles, but your teacher hasn’t switched it up yet. You’re still in Martha Town. There’s nothing else to do right now, right? Wrong! Jot down “scuff-heel-flap, hop-shuffle-step, flap-click-heel-stomp” in your notes, and you’ll never forget about Martha as long as you live. 
  5. Watch. If your teacher is working with another student, or practicing a piece of choreography she’s about to teach you, then consider zipping your lip and watching to learn. You can pick up some of the movements before they’ve even been taught to you! Similarly, you can listen for the corrections the teacher is giving to another student and apply them to your own dancing. Genius! If your teacher is demonstrating a step across the floor, you should pay attention and mark. After all, that teacher is an expert- don’t miss an opportunity to learn from the best!

Remember, every minute counts. Somewhere, someone is working hard.When they meet you on the dance floor, they’ll be ready. Will you? No doubt, because the next time you have downtime during a dance class, you’ll know exactly what to do. There is always a teachable moment in dance, so make sure to use each minute to learn something awesome!

Making The TEAM

TEAM is for:

Trained 

Enriched 

Abloom

Motivated

 

That’s right, Elevate Dance Center is home to a very special dance team. I’ve been asked a few times when we plan to start competing. I mean, why not? I competed myself as a young dancer. I won the trophies. I coached the teams- sometimes I coached the teams that won 1st place at nationals, and sometimes I coached the teams that couldn’t win even a steaming pile of cow dung. I have won the choreography awards. And I have also gotten the comments from judges like,  “This one fell flat for me. Not my cup of tea.” (Whatever, Simon. Who says that to kids?!) And for several years now I’ve been at the judges’ table deciding the fate of the dancers on stage, sitting there for up to 50 hours in a single weekend in a city far far away. 

So yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve done it all, and I don’t intend to do it again- especially not with OUR school, the one where I get to make every careful decision about our values and culture. Nope, not here. Not ever. Buh-bye competitive dance. The bottom line is this- if you want to spend big bucks and a ton of time to dance for trophies and crowns, you are really going to have to find another studio. Oof that’s harsh. 

Or is it? Even though it IS different today, than when I was growing up, I promise not to go on and on about how much better competitive dance was back when I walked 10 miles barefoot uphill both ways to and from rehearsals in snowstorms. I DO have fond memories of my dance team days. It’s just that when I look back on my experience and think of the best parts, those good memories have absolutely nothing to do with the competition aspect. (My trophies hit the garbage bin by age 18.) In fact, most of everything competition related throughout my dance career has been more of a source of stress than anything else. 

Now rather than going into detail on what I DON’T want to promote and all the reasons why I dislike competitive dancing today, let’s instead take my own advice and find the good. Let’s talk about what we DO want to promote at EDC and why our TEAM is different and so special. We feel the point of our TEAM is to give families who want more out of their dancer’s education an opportunity to create a deep sense of community while fostering and living the TEAM core values. It’s our mission to create an endearing and tight-knit community within our community that provides above-and-beyond experiences for our dancers to engage in dance in inspiring new ways without the dance competition environment. 

As we said before, our TEAM is based on four core values. Every move we make with TEAM has to deal with at least one of these values, or we don’t do it pure and simple. Let’s break those down: 

  • Training: To be taught through practice and instruction. To undertake a course of exercise and/or diet in order to reach a high level of physical fitness, to cause to be sharp, discerning and developed. 
  • Enrichments: Improving or enhancing the quality and value of something. To enhance, make richer. Supplementing, upgrading. 
  • Abloom: Flowering or being in bloom. Blossoming. Thriving in beauty, health and vigor. 
  • Motivation: Stimulated in interest and enthusiasm for doing something. Inspired, encouraged, imaginative. A strong desire to succeed in some pursuit. 

Here are the ways we put our core values into practice on TEAM:

  • Training: audition workshop, minimum 2 classes in every session, participation in Fall and Spring show, participation in one weekend dance convention, priority selection for teaching assistants, some administrative training and tasks. 
  • Enrichments: exclusive opening number in Spring Show, featured performers in Finale at Spring Show, Colorado Dance Project charity show (recently canceled due to COVID-19), halftime performance at CU basketball and Denver Nuggets halftimes, volunteer opportunities such as serving at EDC Breakfast & Broncos fundraiser or producing our Halloween show for Sunny Acres Assisted Living, invitation to audition for local The Nutcracker production, trip to Nashville to Dance The World (July 2021).
  • Abloom: TEAM members are urged to grow in technique and skill as a dancer. The teachers will know they have permission to expect more from TEAM dancers and push them harder than before. Blossoming dancers are blossoming humans, and they embody the EDC Student Pledge and they participate in character development exercises with their coaches and teammates. 
  • Motivated: TEAM dancers have a MINIMUM 85% attendance in their dance classes, 2.5 GPA or its equivalent. They are also school ambassadors by always demonstrating proper dance class etiquette and dress code, New Student Buddies, participating in culture building social events, etc.

The bottom line is this- we are not against dance teams. In fact, we love them. We just want to bring out the BEST in our dancers (and their parents) and we’re convinced we’ve found the number one way to do it through our non-competitive dance TEAM, upheld by its core values. Our commitment to EDC families is to take our TEAM members’ experience to the next level. We give the best we have to offer in terms of instruction and experiences, and we work alongside our dance families to raise the most trained, enriched, abloom, motivated version of our dancers they can be. We invite our members to join for the dancing, and stay for the growth. This is what being on a TEAM is all about!  

*Interested in joining the 2020-2021 EDC Dance TEAM? Stay tuned- there will be an informational family meeting in early August!

Find The Good

I have struggled with how to write this blog for weeks, because I’m not sure how to keep my first-world privilege from shining through so brightly. But alas, I am  first-world privileged and if you’re reading this, then chances are you are too. Today there is sunshine over my home, safety under my roof and satisfaction in knowing my little family is huddled together. But, let’s be honest. While in pandemic mode, I have yelled at my kids and been unreasonable. I have drunk significantly more cocktails than if we were in normal life. I worked out much less  and found myself at the fridge when I’m not even hungry. Sometimes, I have felt despair. I’ve watched too much TV, including Tiger King. I have mindlessly scrolled Facebook and read angry posts about hoarders of toilet paper. These are parts of COVID-19 I hope I soon forget, but I am acutely aware it could be so much worse. 

So, I find the good. I am not sick with the coronavirus. I don’t personally have anyone in my immediate circle sick with COVID-19. I am finally in a decent position to absorb the economic blows we’re taking (I’m looking at you, hard lessons of 2009). I have a roof over my head, and I can still put food on the table. I am both capable and available to help my kids with their schoolwork. And, I have pretty much the best quaran-team ever. 

But why then is this still really, REALLY hard? There are times-sometimes several moments in a single day- that I fight back tears for everything we’ve all lost. Even if my pandemic problems aren’t life-or-death, I have realized I am grieving anyway. 

I grieve bigger things like how we still can’t plan a memorial for my dad, because we don’t know when we can safely gather again, or that my mom has to start chemotherapy in what feels like a very dangerous and lonely time. I grieve that my business is closed and I can’t see my students or staff and that our season has been upended and we have to reschedule our show. 

I grieve the smaller things like our family’s trip to London and our couple’s trip to Vegas getting wiped out. I grieve that I have to wear a mask to buy groceries and all this newfound “stranger danger” with every single soul in public. I grieve with all this time together and sunshine, I can’t go places or hug my mom or take my kids out for some fun. 

It’s not just the adults- even if they’re adjusting well, our kids grieve too. They are missing their school, their friends, the family they can’t see and the sports they can’t play. They are sad about field day, the spelling bee and school dances. Frankly, they are just sad about their world being shaken up and life as they know it getting really freaking weird. 

But we’ve got to find the good. With so many ups and downs in these strange and scary times, we’ve got to make a sincere effort to switch off the dark thoughts and keep the lights on. We’ve got to make the choice every single morning when our feet hit the floor to dwell on the positives. When I’m in the right head space I feel so grateful for the stillness that has come upon our household in what is usually the busiest season of the year, and the fact that we haven’t felt “rushed” for a month. I can appreciate the friends, family, acquaintances and dance families who took time and made the effort to connect with me. And I am thankful for all of the sweet dancers who tuned in online to dance with their amazing teachers from their living rooms. 

So much goodness can come from this experience, and it’s our duty to glean it, or everything that’s been lost along the way will have been for absolutely nothing. I hope what sticks with me are the evenings of playing cards, taking super long walks and jumping on the trampoline together. I don’t want to forget celebrating our son’s 13th birthday with just us (and having an awesome time). I want my kids to look back on how I patiently helped them with their schoolwork or how they took an entire afternoon and turned the dark, yucky space underneath the basement stairs into a “secret lair” lit by twinkling Christmas lights. I want to remember how the boys have grown closer and how much time I’ve had to hang out with my husband. I want to smile when I think about people howling at 8pm or helping a neighbor in need. 

When Coronavirus Meltdown 2020 is a distant memory, in the months or years later it takes for our economy to recover and life to reboot, I am going to cling to the ideas that we are resilient, innovative and caring. We can do more for each other with less. We are surrounded with abundance and there is joy to be had and love to be experienced in even the darkest of moments. I will say I learned to take all of my fears, problems, and anxiety and hand them over to my God in faith. And mostly I hope we will all have grown in spite of the pain and learned to find the good. 

Top 5 Things Parents & Dancers Need To Know About Costumes

Costume Try-On Week is such an exciting event for dancers! Slipping the costume on for the first time is often the “a-ha” moment when the dancers suddenly understand their teacher’s vision for the performance. This is also the moment where your dancers get pretty excited about their time in the spotlight. Simply put, they feel like stars.

 

Behind the scenes, so much goes into the logistics of costuming. Your studio’s process of selecting costumes is a painstaking one, full of careful thought, creativity and the joy of putting a smile on your child’s face. Read on for the top 5 things we things we REEEEAAAALY  want you and your dancer to know about costumes:

 

  1. Costumes aren’t a democracy. 🙂 Your dancer’s costume has been selected by the choreographer (the person who made up the dance), and has been carefully considered to both bring the dance to life, and flatter the performers. There may be differences in costumes in the same class. For example, it’s possible there will be three different colors of the same style of costume in one routine. The colors have been chosen for specific dancers for a reason- such as formations- and there is no switching or requesting.
  2. Costumes have been chosen not only with artistry and beauty in mind, but also with modesty and tastefulness as top priorities. You will not see exposed midriffs in our choice of costumes. All dancers will wear tights. These are non-negotiables for us, and we’re proud to keep your dancers covered on stage.
  3. We are building a non-judgmental culture of love and understanding at our school. Please keep these core values in mind as you see the costume reveals and bring your dancers’ costumes home. If the costumes wouldn’t have been your choice had you been in control of the selection, please keep in mind these costumes WERE the first choice of the teachers who picked them. We are very excited about our costumes and can’t wait to see our dancers wearing them. Remember if it’s not necessary to say, then it’s necessary not to say it.
  4. If it’s your dancer who comes home less than thrilled about his or her costume, then please use this as a teachable moment for your child and educate them about everything mentioned above. Let’s work together to get your child pumped and operate under the principle, “You get what you get and you’re super excited about it!” (We like this better than the old “throwing of the fit.”)
  5. Our costumes are not custom-made, however we take careful measurements following the manufacturer’s guidelines and we allow for a reasonable amount of growing room. Even so, costumes may still need some adjustments. Pinning and/or a neighbor with simple sewing skills will be your best friend in these cases. If something absolutely does not fit, we will make every effort to exchange it. Remember, we are on Team YOU!

 

Thank you for taking the time to learn “how we elevate.” We understand not everyone grew up in dance or theatre, and we want you to feel like the confident, competent and loved members of our dance family that you are. Mostly, we want you to be happy and we’re working hard to make that happen. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our friendly staff members. Happy Costume Time!

What Does A Life of Dance Look Like?

Growing up in dance can look differently from state to state, studio to studio and kid to kid. In the past several years dance has made a comeback in the mainstream spotlight of television and film. While this pop culture reboot has done some great things for our art, it has also given rise to some negative trends for both youth and adults. This is one reason why it is so important to take time to find the best dance school for your family. It didn’t occur to me that parents are actually afraid of their children becoming commodities or exploited through dance until I had a lengthy and honest email conversation with a father concerned about his daughter choosing dance as her passion. 

It’s worth noting this conversation was with a prospective client whose daughter danced at another school. For anonymity and brevity’s sake, this is only an excerpt of our conversation. The only thing altered is I have used pronouns where names had been. Do his concerns in yellow ring true for you? Or do you relate more to our responses? Both sides are valid and worth discussing. We’d love to know your thoughts on this important issue!  

“But at the same time, I play it out in my head of what a life of dance would look like, and what message does that convey to our daughter of what we value.”

So this makes me wonder, what movie is playing in your mind when you picture what a life of dance would look like? I hate to answer your question with a question, but it is important to know what you’re picturing here. For me, a life of dance has looked like:

  • A lifetime sport- everybody dances throughout life at school, parties and weddings. I have built the confidence to get out on the dance floor until I am at least 100 years old. 
  • Life skills that have led to my success in life- discipline, work ethic, physical exertion, nutrition, balance, stamina, time management… 
  • Growing up I loved performing. Then I joined a competitive team. (This is no longer a part of my value system and my school won’t be competing. We focus on performances.) In high school this led to me forming a dance team. In college, this lead to me forming another dance team. I also performed in the Dance Collective show in college. As a young school teacher, I joined a professional dance team and performed at games for two years. Highlight moments there included dancing at a game with Bon Jovi and John Elway present, flying in US military Chinooks to land on soccer fields and talk to kids about not doing drugs, and performing in a packed Mile High Stadium on the 4th of July- they were such rare experiences, and SO exhilarating. I also coached and taught dance all throughout my college and “real job” years, where I created dance scholarship programs and put on some amazing shows to raise money for awesome causes. I have seen some of my dancers go on to become professional performers, others who have become dance instructors, and still more who have gone on to do nothing with dance but still be amazing at life and come back and share how dance shaped them as adults. I have performed with bands and choreographed flash mobs. When I was in high school, there was a death in my family- a child, my nephew. It was heartbreaking for my whole family, and I firmly believe dance saved my life back then. Today, my mission is to change lives for the better through dancing. THIS is what a life of dance means for me, and it’s pretty similar to what most of my colleagues and dance friends would say too. Is this what’s going through your head when you picture a life of dance? 

 

I have a message that plays in my head that goes something like “If you get into dance, then you are placing a high value on how you can move and use your body, and you learn to move your body in a way that gains attention and appreciation from other people.” Now I know that this is incorrect, and maybe you could help me out with what value is being conveyed to the dancers with the time and energy they invest into this. 

Well, I’m not sure you are incorrect on this. I think it’s absolutely true. HOWEVER, I imagine that this has a negative connotation for you. Perhaps you are picturing a tiny little outfit and some sexual movements in a dimly lit room. If so, these are terrifying thoughts indeed. For me, my perception of the same sentence is 100% positive. I am completely fascinated with what the human body can accomplish, and I think it deserves the attention and appreciation of others. This is no different than how I appreciate the amazing feats of a football player’s body rushing the passer, a gymnast’s body in a double tuck, the baseball player’s body that swings the bat so hard the ball leaves the field, a wrestler’s body who gets a reversal and pins…. I could go on and on.    

 

I know our daughter loves to dance, I just need to ensure that the time investments and values we lift up and tell her to aim for are good and pure. The last thing I want to be is apathetic and indifferent. 

I completely agree. Apathy and indifference will convey a horrible message to your daughter. However, you might just have to fake it until you make it on that one. It will take some time for you to buy-in. Frankly, it could take years for you to appreciate the life changing magic that happens when a child who loves dancing finds the right fit in a studio. That’s okay, and I promise you’re not the first dad to feel this way. You won’t be the last either. You are probably the only dad who takes the time to think through it this thoroughly though, and THAT in and of itself puts you miles above apathy or indifference. 

In all honesty, I don’t think it’s the art of dance that scares you. I think it’s all the potential environments you are wary of. You don’t need to worry about that with us, and I don’t think you need to worry about it for your daughter in general. It seems to me you are working hard to raise a values-driven adult. No matter what she does with dance or where she goes with it, she’s not going to make decisions to disappoint you. 

 

Introduces our youngest dancers to ballet and tumbling in a positive and fun setting.

Why Can’t I Watch Class?!

Elevate Dance Center is a “kiss and go” studio. This can be hard for some of our youngest dancers’ parents to understand, but we feel very strongly that our children should be given a learning environment free from spectators. Class time is about exploration, mistake-making and growth. It is not a performance, and therefore needs no audience. 

While certainly you are the most well-behaved parent on Earth, some folks are absolutely not. When parents are in the room, they unintentionally create a slew of distractions, such as texting, tending to younger siblings, whispering to one another, or giving a misbehaving child “the eye.” 

While well-meaning, it is actually a huge step in the wrong direction for our classes when parents interrupt the room to help with changing shoes. We totally get it- you’re just trying to help, and you don’t want to see us “waste” 5 minutes changing shoes. But, we are experts in our craft, and there is actually magic that happens during the shoe transition part of class. Did you know it’s actually an opportunity for our kids to reach some benchmarks and milestones in their coordination and independence? Did you know that’s the part of class where some students step in as leaders and help those who need it? Did you know during the shoe change is when some kids share whatever’s on their heart with us?

Who knows what goes on in all those brilliant little minds while you’re watching, but we bet it goes something like:

Why does her mommy stay and mine goes? I want my Mommy too! 

Oh I see my mommy over there I will run and give her a quick hug. 

My mommy is here but she’s looking at her phone. I have an idea! I will really act up so she pays attention to me. 

Why does my mommy keep making those movements at me while I do this dance? She doesn’t like it. I must not be a good dancer. 

My mommy isn’t here today. There’s nobody clapping and watching me do this. I guess I’ll stop. 

You see, when parents stick around, it creates two distinct groups of kids; those kids whose parents stay, and those who don’t. This creates a whole bunch of different behaviors that we don’t normally have to handle when ALL parents simply kiss and go.

So what if you’re on board with the kiss-and-go policy, but you’re still not ready to be separated from your little for 45 minutes? Here are some tips to make it easier on you, momma:

  1. Arrive early enough that you are both calm and not rushing. Take your child to the bathroom, help her find a cubby, set up their stuff just right. Spend a couple minutes together in the room, dance it out for a sec. 
  2. With a bright smile, wave and say “See you soon! Have fun!”
  3. THEN GO. No more hugs, no tearful slow-motion waves. Rip the band-aid off and book it. We promise to keep your child safe and comfort him if he’s upset. 
  4. If you are really uncertain if your child is going to go for this, then talk to the teacher about your concerns up front. Let her know how long you are comfortable with your child crying before you want to be called. (We’ve never had to make that call, by the way. 😉
  5. And lastly, if you can’t bring yourself to leave- just stay invisible. The room is made of glass, you can see in. Just make sure your baby doesn’t see you, or it all really goes downhill from there.

We promise, it gets better every week. This is why we suggest you give it 6 weeks for your predancer to adjust. Check in with your child’s teacher after class. If after 6 weeks it’s still a struggle, then it’s possible your dancer isn’t ready yet.  We will be honest with you and help you if the decision to dance now needs reassessing. We are in this together. You and your child are in great hands. It takes a village, and we are your people. Now kiss that beautiful baby and go! 

More Than Just Great Dancing

Why dance?

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words the magnitude of what we do when step into the studio. When we dance, we throw a party for our soul. As dance teachers, we know we are changing lives in every class, and we think our parents intuitively know it too when they sign their kids up for dance.

When you find the right fit in a studio, you get it. You begin to understand that dance is so much more than pointing your toes. By engaging in dance in a positive and nurturing way, we’re building beautiful human beings, not just beautiful dancers.

Yes, technique is very important. The athletic and artistic benefits of dance cannot and should not be ignored. But, it’s more than just great dancing. Dance enhances intelligence. It also develops resilience, creativity and teamwork among other important life skills.

Your dance studio is a lighthouse in your dancer’s life; a bright beacon in this dark, crazy world. Your dance school is a community of growth and learning, where children are celebrated and dancers are invited to become the best version of themselves.

This is why we dance.

6 Questions With Professional Danseur Keston Meyer

Keston Meyer is a dancer with Ballet Ariel in south Denver. He performs in three shows this weekend on April 27th & 28th in Swan Lake Act III & Mother Goose Fairy Tales at the Lakewood Cultural Center. We caught up with Keston in between dancing, rehearsing and teaching to ask him our top 6 burning questions.

How did you start dancing? I started dancing at 15, after I watched a rehearsal from a local school in my home town. There was a paper posted on the window looking for guys with ‘no experience needed.’ I took my first class and the fire was started. I kept it burning ever since that first class when I was a teenager, and I’ve never looked back. The best thing I’ve found in performing is that on any given day, I could be a prince, a pirate or an evil wizard. To be able to portray that to an audience through dancing, is my favorite aspect of performing.

What do you think has been the key to your success as a professional dancer? I worked as hard as I could. I took every class possible and dove headfirst into dancing.

What does a day in the life of Mr. Keston look like on a performance day? A performance day or theater day starts with packing and preparing everything I will need from the moment I leave the house. Then I will typically start with taking a 90 minute class, followed by 5-6 hours of rehearsals and then straight to the show.

What is one of your all-time favorite dance steps- something that makes you feel like you can fly or conquer the world? A really lofty grand jeté. When you time it just right, you feel like you stop time and float in the air.

What are you looking forward to most as you retire from professional dance? To start a family.

What advice can you offer our young dancers? Work hard. Give your dancing everything you have when you’re in class or on stage, and you will never walk away dissatisfied. And… point your feet!

Tights. Are They Over?

Elevate Dance Center is a tights-wearing dance studio in spite of the fact that it’s become very trendy and “cool” to skip the stockings. The no-tights camp is quick to label the pro-tighters as “old school.”  The issue can be such a point of contention, that we once had a parent petition to get Miss Janelle and I fired from Belliston Academy because we did not allow her daughter to dance barefoot and sans-tights at a dance convention like students from other studios were doing. It was our job to enforce the rules of the studio, and we told her she needed to take her classes in dress code. Her mother complained to the owner, Miss Jeannine, and although I don’t remember the exact language she used, it amounted to, “The other kids are doing it, and my daughter should be allowed to look like them if she wants. We pay a lot of money for dance.” Thankfully Miss J backed us up, and told the mother to go ahead and take her pick of those other studios. Phew! Bullet dodged. However, that crazy mommy’s reaction is just a microcosm example of the greater dance world’s hot-button feelings on the tights-or-no-tights issue. I asked our expert EDC instructors to weigh-in, and here’s what they had to say:

Miss Janelle (Hip Hop, Breakdancing, Jazz): I like for them to wear tights. It helps make their body lines look cleaner when on stage. It keeps their muscles warm. When I was judging [a regional dance competition in another state] last month I noticed three [different] teenage dancers that started menstruating [during different dances]. You can tell they were uncomfortable on stage. Tights add extra protection for young dancers. I am 100% in support of tights.

Mr. Keston (Ballet, Turns & Leaps): I mean, it’s ballet. You should always be wearing tights. I didn’t stop wearing full-length tights until I got my first professional contract. It is an extra layer of protection for guys as well- keeps everything in place.

Miss Sara (Predance, Ballet, Tap, Lyrical): I think wearing tights is important to keep muscles warm and I think it completes the body’s lines too.

Miss Harley (Jazz): Tights always made me feel confident and comfortable [while I was dancing].

Miss Shelli (Acro): They are fine right now with what tricks they are working on [but we may need to reconsider them for Acro as the kids progress in difficulty].

Let’s examine both sides of the coin from a broader perspective of the international dance community where this is an ongoing debate. (The following quotes are taken from dance instructors and studio owners across the country, however they were pulled from conversations from closed networking groups and are listed anonymously to protect privacy.)

“What would be a pretty step or trick otherwise looks sexual without adequate coverage. As an Acro teacher, I am very careful about putting kid on stage in just a leotard, hitting split lines and balances. It’s gets inappropriate quickly, and can have the potential to sexualize children. I just watched a community performance with teenagers wearing only leotards and doing balances and tilts, and the audience of adults were either very uncomfortable or watching intently…It’s a slippery slope.”

“As a teenager, it did make an impact on my emotional development feeling so exposed because that’s just ‘what you wear’ and my point is – shouldn’t we be making costuming choices for our children based on what is most modest and appropriate for them individually rather than on what everyone else is doing?”

“Once upon a time when I was training and going to college for dance…tights were a rule. The light compression helped improve circulation to your legs and feet (there have been studies where this is proven…same reason I wear compression socks as a runner). It was also thought to be part of the “uniform” and make class professional.”

“As a studio owner, dance teacher, and mom to three girls, it’s tights all the way. In a perfect world, we should all be able to appreciate the beauty of a dancer’s body, and if body parts happen to pop out, it should not be an issue because it’s all beautiful…. HOWEVER, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world loaded with sickos and perverts, and those out there ready to post pics and exploit a child.”

“When I was in high school I always said “no way” when an instructor brought up not wearing tights. I don’t know why, but tights were just a barrier from my body to the audience. I think part of it is that I never heard someone say “you’d look great without tights” or “you’ll still be beautiful.” Now, every time I bring up not wearing tights, or even wearing shorts instead of leggings, I have a lengthy conversation with my dancers about it and how they feel about wearing them (or not) on stage. The choreographer should be in tune to their dancers’ level of confidence and comfort. There is a difference between choreographing for professionals and choreographing for young girls who have very fragile ideas of their bodies.”

“This will be a conversation that will never end – can we agree it is up to the choreographer and hopefully based on costume and body types, they make the right choices. If you don’t use tights, please make sure your dancers are trimmed, glued and don’t show anything they don’t want us to see. I love seeing the muscles they work so hard on developing without tights, but I also use tights depending on the costume and dance genre.  Let’s let everyone make their own choices and support each other.”

In summary, the list seems to go something like this:

PRO TIGHTS

  • Clean body lines
  • Warmer muscles
  • Added layer of coverage/protection
  • Builds confidence and comfort on stage
  • Hygiene! Tights provide a light barrier between our skin and everything else in dance class. Besides the fact that we want to keep from spreading our sweat, open scratches and/or odors around the room, we also want to keep everything from touching us as well.
  • Protects dancers’ modesty
  • Finishes the look in a costume
  • Looks more innocent, especially on curvy dancers
  • Light compression improves circulation in legs
  • Completes a dance school dress code, adding to the professionalism and uniformity of dancers in class
  • Lessons the probability of a wardrobe malfunction
  • Filters the look of the leg- hides distracting imperfections- bruises, ashy skin, body hair, cellulite, etc.
  • Dancers who don’t wear tights typically must and/or choose to groom excessively- trimming, shaving, gluing, applying self tanner, using tanning beds- to look good and feel comfortable on stage. This is unnecessary for young dancers and can lead to greater questions about beauty and body image.
  • Dancers in a dance school are still in training. They are not professionals and should not be subjected to the life of a professional dancer yet. There’s plenty of time for that later.

ANTI-TIGHTS

  • Old school, outdated
  • During certain lifts or Acro tricks and partner work tights can add slip and take away from grip.
  • Modern, Contemporary and Acro dance styles should never use tights.
  • Dance tights aren’t inclusive enough. Now the manufacturers are getting smarter and offering tights in several skin tones, but that has not been the case for long.
  • Filters the look of the leg- there’s not a thing much more beautiful than a dancer’s muscular leg in motion. Dancers work very hard for their muscles, and seeing the engagement of the correct muscles while dancing highlights fabulous technique.
  • Professional dancers rarely wear tights, and we should be preparing our kids for the “real world” of dance.

I believe there are valid reasons both for AND against tights, and I wholeheartedly agree with the inclusion argument. However, during my dance training I experienced the many benefits of using tights. As a dancer with a professional dance team, we still wore tights while performing. As a parent, I recognize the fact that nobody wants to see children who look remotely unclothed. And now as I come full circle as the owner of Elevate Dance Center,  I strongly believe the pros to wearing tights absolutely outweigh the cons. EDC will continue to mandate tights as part of our uniform for Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Turns and Leaps and other classes as necessary, and hopefully now you feel educated and equipped on why tights matter for our school.

Thanks for reading, and never miss a chance to dance. -Miss Dena

What do you think? We’d love to hear your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Tribe of Mentors Responses, Part III

After reading the book Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss, I decided to answer his questions for myself. Below are my answers to his final five. How would you respond to these same questions? We’d love to hear your answers!

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

In the last several years I have begun the practice writing of a new year’s reflection on the past year. I am a big believer in goals, and I always spend time during New Year’s Day thinking about where I want my life to go and what I want to do with my next 365 days. However, I only recently began the practice of writing a reflection while looking back on my calendar and goals for the previous year. This has really helped me see my progress in life. It’s easy to take a quick look at what’s still on the goals list and say, “Well, I didn’t hit that target!”  But, when you sit down and pay attention to all of the things you DID do, it is invigorating and breeds motivation for what’s to come.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world?” What advice should they ignore?

A dear friend once gave me great advice about raising children, and I think it applies here too. He said, “The best advice I can give you about raising your children is to politely listen to everyone else’s advice, and then do whatever you want to do anyway.” Advice is never in short supply. I would also add, “Don’t give a second thought to the advice of people who aren’t where you want to be in life.” If you want to make money and travel the world, then don’t listen to the advice of Broke Uncle Joe Who Never Left Town. Seek mentors and advisors who not only have your best interests at heart, but who are also out there living the dream. And finally, go with your gut. Your intuition is a power tool and should not be ignored.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

“Never give up.” I think that’s a romantic, archaic notion. I do believe you have to fight for your dreams and go after what you want in life, but sticking around just so you won’t be called a quitter is not necessarily a best practice. Sometimes you need to quit things- jobs, relationships, environments… the list goes on. I think the secret lies in knowing WHEN to quit something and when to persevere, but the idea of “never giving up-” that’s a bad plan.

In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

I had a major a-ha moment when I read Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect, and she said, “I’ve realized one thing that makes it hard for me to disappoint people is my tendency to overestimate how close I am to someone, and then how imperative it is that I don’t disappoint this dear, dear friend.” This is me to a tee. First of all, I hate to disappoint. Secondly, I want to be liked. People often ask me for help because they know I am reliable, creative and a generally great teammate. Sometimes I’m asked to run a race. Other times it’s volunteering for something at my kids’ school. However I’ve learned that with every yes I give, it has an equal and opposite no to something else. By saying yes to the school function I’m being asked to plan, I might be saying no to time with my kids and husband. It used to feel weird to say no to something when I didn’t really have a calendar conflict. I mean, my schedule is open. Why can’t I help? But, I’m learning to cherish the empty space on my calendar, because that seems to be where the magic happens. Niequist goes on to say, ” Picture your relationships like concentric circles: the inner circle is your spouse, your children, your very best friends. Then the next circle out is your extended family and good friends. Then people you know, but not well, colleagues, and so on, to the outer edge. Aim to disappoint the people at the center as rarely as possible.”  That last sentence brought me so much clarity and has become my compass. I will always disappoint people when I give them a no, but now I aim to disappoint the people at my center as little as possible. With this simple tool, life is better and much less complicated for me.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I make lists. Often I brain-dump a list and then I will re-write the list in a more organized fashion. Many times I will fold a paper into four quadrants and organize the larger list into four separate mini-lists with the titles: urgent/important, urgent/less important, not urgent/still important and not urgent/not important. When I do this, I realize that the things I’m overwhelmed about are often down on the not urgent/not important list. I turn my focus to the urgent/important list and let the things on the other lists marinate a bit. I won’t forget them now because they’re on the list, but I don’t need to spend any mental energy on them just yet. This almost always eases my mind and brings me back to prioritizing what needs my attention most. It’s an excessive amount of list-making for sure, but the simple act of writing my mental clutter down in an organized way instantly calms my stress.