It’s hard to be a new dance parent while helping your child navigate dance for the first time, right? Don’t worry, we got you. We are here to walk you through a few life hacks to make it seamless. Some of our top 5 tips are counter-intuitive, but trust us. We’re experts!
- Take your child to the potty before dance. “But I don’t have to go potty, Mommy!” Famous last words, right? Taking a trip to the bathroom to at least TRY to go, is non-negotiable before dance class. At the very least, it will offer your dancer to wash hands before entering the studio. We want our students to have an amazing experience at dance- peeing one’s pants isn’t the way there. A dancer cannot concentrate when they have to go to the bathroom. Stopping class to go to the bathroom for one student usually results in a disruption of the entire rhythm of class- we call it “starting a pee-pee party.” Suddenly, the whole world has to go and one-by-one our students are led on an unplanned field trip to the restroom. In a worst case scenario, the dancer has an accident before they can verbalize their need to the teacher, which results in gross cleanup, and physical- and maybe even emotional- discomfort for all involved. This whole scene is so easily avoided by arriving 10 minutes early, and making it routine to stop by the bathroom.
- Clean out the dance bag and label everything. Clothes, shoes, Barbie dolls, snacks, lip gloss… the list goes on. Your dancer feels confident when they can walk over to their bag, grab their next pair of shoes, and head right back to the group. You can help facilitate your dancer’s shoe transition by making sure the dance bag is easy to navigate and free from distractions. Also, if it comes to dance class, it should be labeled. Most of the shoes look EXACTLY alike, and many of the tiny dancers aren’t sure which gear actually belongs to them. You can help the teacher retrieve your dancer’s belongings by making sure everything is clearly labeled. An easy way to label shoes is to use an address label sticker on the inside sole of the shoe. Permanent marker also works, but make sure you don’t write anywhere it would show up during a performance- no shoe graffiti, please!
- Join the communication platforms. Read the weekly newsletter, join the app, check your parent portal. It might seem like a lot but it’s probably a total of five minutes a week, and it will make all the difference in whether you feel like part of the dance family or not. It feels good to understand policies, changes, important dates, and special events. You’ll never feel clueless or alone if you make the tiniest effort to stay informed at the studio. When it comes to performances, costumes, and the next session of dance, if you read the studio news each week then you and your dancer will always know what’s happening, and you’ll even avoid unwanted charges to your card and schedule!
- Untie shoes. If the dancer’s shoes have laces, it helps tremendously if you take them out of the bag, untie them and stretch them open so they’re ready that tiny little foot to slide right in. Often we find ourselves sifting through the cluttered bag only to find a shoe with a quadruple knot left behind. Multiply that times a dozen students, and we’ve unnecessarily wasted precious dance time wrestling with the footwear. Your dancer feels confident when they can put their own shoes on themselves. When shoes are harder to get into than a bank vault, they can’t do it alone!
- Make like a tree…and LEAVE. (No, do not grow roots and stand there strong as an oak!) We know, we KNOW! Your dancer is clinging. Your dancer is crying. Your dancer LOVES IT when you watch. How can you possibly leave them? But the hard truth is when you linger, the entire dynamic of the class has changed. Your dancer isn’t free to be their authentic class self, because they must perform-duh- there’s an audience! The other kids start wondering where their parents are, and the questions begin. Everyone is so busy looking backward at the windows and door, they have forgotten all about the teacher in front of them. If you think about it, you pay us to capture your child’s attention. So why then would you compete with us for it? It sounds harsh, but it’s so true. Boogie out of there and everyone’s better off for it, including you- because now you have a full 45 minutes to yourself! When the time comes for us to perform for you, we want you to see growth, progress and a confident, independent dancer. We won’t have anything to show you if you never go away long enough for us to teach it, so kiss your dancer, trust us with your precious cargo, and head out. You can do it!
I’m a 40 year old woman, I’ve been a dancer since I could walk, and I just finished my first month training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While I am a “black belt” in dance, I am as novice as it gets in jiu-jitsu. I have learned so much in just a short time, and it’s exciting because it’s only the beginning. Every class brings a new surprise, but the biggest surprise so far has been how much I’ve learned about dance class during my jiu-jitsu training. Here are four of the biggest “new student dance class fears” and tips to overcome them, brought to you by my jiu-jitsu academy:
- FEAR: It is terrifying to walk into a new school, sport or activity for the first time. I’m so at home in dance studio life that I could eat sequins for breakfast. While every dance school is different, there is still a general understanding of the expectations, protocols and behaviors no matter where I’ve gone. I can walk into any school and pick up on their norms and fit in within seconds. Well, I’d never walked into a jiu-jitsu class before one month ago. I had forgotten that gut-wrenching nauseous feeling brought on by stepping into completely unknown territory for the first time. I had shaky hands, sweaty pits, and shallow breath. Even though I really wanted to try a class, I still stood at the front door and seriously considered backing out. I was paralyzed with fear.
- Tip To Overcome: Take a deep breath, drum up 20 seconds of courage like Matt Damon said to do, and walk through the door with a smile. Face your fear for just that moment, and you will survive to live another day.
- FEAR: It is terrifying to KEEP walking into that new school, sport or activity for at least the next several times. I thought walking into jiu-jitsu for the first time would be the hardest part. Turns out, walking into jiu-jitsu for the 2nd and 3rd times was the hardest part. The first time I walked in, I was afraid of the unknown. I was making up scary scenarios in my head. What if nobody will be my partner? What if I get hurt? What if the coaches don’t like me? What if I can’t do anything? Surprise! None of my worst fears came true. People were happy to partner with me. I did not get hurt. The coaches were all nice. But, it was super true that I didn’t know anything. I mean, duh. I had never done jiu-jitsu! So the second time I walked in, I was afraid of the known. I knew it was going to be hard. I knew some of it was going to hurt. I knew I was going to fail a lot in order to be successful. I was walking willingly into the fire and I knew it. It was scary all over again!
- Tip To Overcome: It’s human nature to want to be great at everything the first time we try it, but that’s not how the world works. Dance is likely not going to be life-changing fun in the first few classes. In fact, it will be grueling or tedious work most every time you go, but you will find joy in the journey and it gets better every time. Consistence is the key. Keep finding 20 seconds of courage and do not listen to the negative voice in your head trying to talk you out of the thing you say you want to do. You are not too old, too young, too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too ANYTHING. You are just right, and today’s the day. Just keep showing up and imagine how your future self will thank you.
- FEAR: Besides all the technique, there’s a whole dress code, language and etiquette to learn too. Hand me a pair of tights and a leotard and tell me to tombe, pas de bourree, glissade, saut de chat? No problem. Clap and curtsey at the end of class?Totally normal, and I do this in my sleep. But dress me up in a gi, tell me to sit in butterfly guard, and remind me to bow when I get on and off a mat? I might as well be in outer space; it all feels SO alien and uncomfortable.
- Tip To Overcome: First, do your homework. The studio website is going to give you a solid head start on how to prepare, what to wear and how to act. Look at the school’s pictures on social media. You’ve probably been sent an email or a newsletter. READ them. When you arrive, be a phenomenal noticer. Look around at the more experienced people in the room, and do what they do. Make a friend, and ask questions.
- FEAR: Everyone looks super mean and they’re all staring. The first time I walked into the jiu-jitsu academy, there was music playing and people were chatting and warming up. Then it was time to line up for class. As soon as I stepped on the mat, there was a loud record scratch followed by dead silence. You could hear a pin drop. 30 pairs of eyes- that’s 60 eyeballs- were suddenly glued to ME! There were no smiles on faces, just blank stares and scowls. Then somebody shouted, “Get to the back of the line, White Belt!” And they all threw their heads back and laughed and laughed. Then they went back to talking with each other and ignoring me.
- Tip To Overcome: Absolutely none of that actually happened. Truly, nobody but the teacher even cares you’re there the first day you go. Let that be a relief. How freeing! Don’t take yourself so seriously. Absolutely nobody is paying attention to what you’re wearing, how you look, or whether or not you know anything. They are way too preoccupied with themselves! As soon as you make eye contact and introduce yourself to someone, you will realize they are so nice and quite willing to help you. You make a friend, and pretty soon you make another. Your new friends start greeting you and fist bumping you when you walk in the door. They ask you why you missed class if you were absent one day. Suddenly you’re part of a community, and just like that, you’re home.
Take if from me, I know how daunting it can be to start something new. If you’re thinking about joining dance class, don’t wait any longer. It’s okay to be scared, but do it anyway. We’re here to answer your questions, help and support you at every stage. Your new dance family is just a class or two away, so show up and let’s d-a-n-c-e!
It’s the middle of February, and six weeks into 2021. How is your year going so far? Did you pledge to make a change or two on January 1st? Now is the perfect time to assess your progress. Making changes is not easy- in fact, it’s really, really hard. But in the words of Coach Jimmy in the movie A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” Coach Jimmy was talking about baseball, but I think it applies here too. When the hard parts becoming the best version of myself aren’t feeling so great, I go back and review the most impactful book I’ve ever read about change, Atomic Habits by James Clear.
The main idea of the book is that it’s the teeny-tiny atom-sized habits, added together over time, that stack up to build your life- for better or for worse. Clear says habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Habits are not goals- they’re systems for attaining goals, and systems are my love language! At EDC we focus on creating systems all the time. Systems maximize efficiency, output and results, while minimizing wasted resources like time, money and energy. When you think of new habits as systems, they make more sense. Simply work the system to achieve your goal!
So if you’re not yet making the change you desire, then perhaps what you’re lacking is a great system. Clear suggests “habit stacking” as a way to make your new habit easier to systemize. So you’re used to brushing your teeth morning and night, but now you want to make flossing a habit? Well, stack them together. Make a rule for yourself that you’re only allowed to brush your teeth in the morning AFTER you’ve flossed. In other words, stack the two habits into one. Leave the floss out next to your toothbrush to make it easier on yourself in the morning, and voila! You’ve got a system in place, and suddenly flossing is a no-brainer.
Clear says, “time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.” For example, let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds, and you’ve been really good all week, but the scale hasn’t budged an ounce. Where’s the reward for your hard work? It’s frustrating, you’re annoyed, and you’re wondering if it even matters or not if you blow off today’s workout. Clear has a system for that too: focus on who you want to become, not what you’re trying to achieve. Losing 20 pounds means you are a fit person. That’s who you want to become. So, when deciding whether or not to skip that workout, you need to cast your vote with an action. Will you “vote” in favor of the woman who skips workouts and needs to lose 20 pounds by not hitting the gym today? Or will you “vote” for the fittest version of yourself by showing up even when it’s unappealing? These tiny daily votes are what create our trajectory in life. According to Clear, “you should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” In essence, what we do repeatedly over time is who we become. So ask yourself, is your current trajectory taking you closer to who you want to become?
And lastly, my favorite idea in this book is about the Plateau of Latent Potential. Most of us understand that progress is not linear. However, we still most often quit the new habit we’re trying on because we’ve failed to see a tangible result… yet. It’s the YET, that matters, and the reason why we should keep chipping away. There’s a quote by Jacob Riis that always comes to mind when I find myself hanging out in a plateau: “When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it — but all that had gone before.” Clear says, when you finally break through, people will call you an overnight success. So if you find yourself struggling to reach your goal, remember it is not because you have lost your ability to improve. It is most often because you have not yet crossed the Plateau of Latent Potential. Your “overnight success” could be just a day away. Keep calm and keep chipping away!
In this final installment of this three-part series with Elizabeth Benton, we discuss health and wellness. Besides being the author of Chasing Cupcakes, a mindset coach, founder of The Dagny Foundation, and host of the Primal Potential podcast, EB has also radically transformed her life by losing over 200lbs. If you enjoy the wisdom she dispenses here, make sure you wish yourself a Happy New Year by treating yourself to a copy of her book or listening to the Primal Potential podcast. If you missed Part I or Part II, make sure you catch up!
A lot of our dancers are starting to train more and dance longer hours. What is your current favorite portable snack for sustained energy?
I’ll absolutely share my favorite portable snack ideas, with the caveat that I’m not a dancer or an endurance athlete. I also have to say: I’m not much of a snacker. I prefer meals that strategically satisfy my energy and hunger until the next meal. In a pinch, I like EPIC bars (the turkey one is my favorite) or macadamia nuts.
What did you eat for breakfast today? Why?
This morning I had a plant-based protein shake (chocolate) with probiotics, greens, frozen cauliflower rice, unsweetened almond milk and cashew butter. It’s quick and easy, it’s a great way to pack in tons of nutrients and it keeps me full until lunch.
What have you done really well lately?
I’m proud of the way I have prioritized sleep. Grief, trauma and now a second pregnancy have demanded a lot from me and I’ve been very consistent about getting more sleep.
“Leaders are readers.” What are you reading right now? Why?
I’m not! I love to read, but I also am sensitive to when I need less input (and often, more output). So, I’m spending a lot of time writing my next book, but I’m not reading anything.
You often talk about gratitude and focusing on solutions rather than problems. I call this focusing on the good– how do you routinely practice it?
I’d say I probably focus on solutions and being a creative, energetic problem solver. In terms of how I practice focusing on the good, it’s usually via questions. If I feel stressed, overwhelmed or like something is wrong or unfair, I’ll often ask myself, “What’s good?”
In Part II of this three-part series with Elizabeth Benton, author of Chasing Cupcakes, mindset coach, founder of The Dagny Foundation, and host of the Primal Potential podcast, we talk about good mindset mantras, surviving failure, avoiding drama and superpowers. If you enjoy the wisdom she dispenses here, make sure you wish yourself a Happy New Year by treating yourself to a copy of her book or listening to the Primal Potential podcast. If you missed Part I, make sure you catch up!
Practice makes confident. Love first, then dance. Clear is kind. Changing lives for the better through dancing. Always rising. We have a lot of mantras we use at EDC to keep our goals, values and culture top of mind for everyone in our organization. What are some of the mantras you find yourself using the most to do the same?
Every choice is a chance.
I’m wildly curious about my potential and fiercely determined to create it.
Ditch the drama.
The ‘how’ can always be figured out.
Failing is hard and typically it’s not everyone’s favorite. Have you failed at anything lately? Was it worth it? Why?
Failing is part of growth. I see it as an important part of life (if you aren’t failing, you likely aren’t trying new things, growing and expanding). If I learn from it (and that’s a personal choice), it’s always worth it. I fail every day. I try something new and it doesn’t work, or I work on a new skill and make lots of mistakes. Success has nothing to do with avoiding failure. Success hinges on how you respond to failure.
You often talk about making decisions that avoid drama. This has become especially challenging during the pandemic, where we are bombarded with messages that even just meeting a friend for dinner in a restaurant is a life-or-death choice. You talk a lot about asking better questions as a means to making better decisions and avoiding drama. What are your go-to questions you ask yourself when you are feeling insecure, indecisive, unclear or just plain dramatic?
What have I added to the facts?
What’s the difference between what’s actually happening and how I feel about what’s happening?
What is your superpower?
I’d have to say that maybe it’s being intentional and consistent about questioning my own thoughts and assumptions instead of rolling with the same old way I’ve always thought. It helps me grow, learn and overcome obstacles while helping others do the same.
Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Benton? If not, it’s time you did. EB is the author of Chasing Cupcakes, a mindset coach, founder of The Dagny Foundation, and host of the Primal Potential podcast. Phew! I need a nap just writing all of that. I found EB several years ago when I was searching for a great health and wellness podcast, and I’ve been a fan ever since. As I was reflecting on 2020, I thought about how we could probably all benefit from a mindset upgrade, which immediately made me think of EB’s work. So what the heck- I took a chance and emailed her to ask for an interview…
Holy smokes, you guys, she said YES! It was unbelievably difficult to narrow down what to ask! I’m so grateful she took time out of her busy schedule to spend with our dance family. If you enjoy the wisdom she dispenses in this three-part series, make sure you wish yourself a Happy New Year by immediately picking up a copy of her book or listening to the Primal Potential podcast- she is so good!
What was your goal when you started Primal Potential and how has that evolved to today? When Primal Potential first started in 2014, I wanted to help people with their chronic weight challenges. As I worked with more and more clients, it became increasingly obvious that weight issues weren’t food issues, they were thinking issues. Creating change, whether it’s related to health, weight, money, relationships, career or anything else, comes down to the way you think. If you continue to think the way you’ve always thought, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got. So, Primal Potential gradually became more and more (and then exclusively) about upgrading the way you think.
This is likely your first encounter with the families of Elevate Dance Center, and they might not be familiar with you or the important work you do. What is the core message or the one thing you want to share so they get to experience the essence of Primal Potential? If I had to pick one thing and generalize, I’d say none of us needs to remain behind the struggle. It doesn’t matter if it’s a struggle you’ve had for decades or it’s a struggle you believe you’ll always have. We can make progress and improvements. Our pasts are only patterns, they aren’t prisons. The key to creating change isn’t motivation, discipline, willpower or the perfect plan. The key to creating any and all change is the practice of thinking differently, and that’s the practice I take my listeners through day to day.
In one way or another we have all experienced loss and grief in 2020. You have experienced a unique kind of grief as you suffered the passing of your baby daughter, Dagny. It would be very easy for you to give up for a good long while, and everyone would understand. Instead, you keep working at your life and inspiring others to live better. What are some of the strategies you employ to continue developing the best version of yourself as you simultaneously experience extreme suffering and deep grief? I remind myself that with every choice I make, I’m either contributing to my healing or I’m not. I constantly say to myself that the grief can ride with me, but it cannot drive. I am still Dagny’s mom, even though she isn’t here with us, and I want to be an amazing mom. I can be devastated, depressed and in despair and still make the choice to take care of myself, to take care of my clients and to take a step forward, even if that step is as small as brushing my teeth. This is something I’ll explore very deeply in my next book.
Can you share a favorite strategy or two, a “starter kit” if you will, for folks who are feeling down on themselves or stuck and are perhaps new to this whole self-reflection thing? It’s as simple as focusing on your next great choice. Sure, you can choose to focus on the problem, but that’s not where the solution is. I encourage people to ask themselves, “What’s the right thing, right now?” Focus on the moment you’re in and the next great choice you can make. We’re always a choice or two away from feeling better.
Tyler Muhlenkamp is a dancer with The Walt Disney Company, in Orlando, Florida. It was so exciting to host Tyler at EDC for a Musical Theatre Master Class and Audition Workshop in September. We caught up with Tyler in between his busy schedule of dancing, rehearsing, performing and teaching to get answers to our top 6 burning questions.
How have you turned dancing into a living? I wake up each day and get to perform in the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Walt Disney World, for children and adults to see their childhood stories come to life.
You began dancing at age 14, which is kind of “old” to start according to some folks. How did it all begin for you, how long did it take for you to “get good,” and when did you realize you wanted to dance as a career? I did certainly start at an “older” age. My earliest memory of being put into dance comes from my younger sister. She didn’t want to go into a tap class by herself, so my mother put me in there with her. Ironically, she no longer dances and it has stuck with me through all these years! I knew I wanted to dance as a career pretty quickly afterwards, when I was around 16 or 17. I started to realize I really had improved rather quickly, and I had a talent for it. Once I learned there was actually a career to be had through dance, I was inspired. Now I continue to grow and get better at my craft through teaching.
What do you think has been the key to your success as a professional dancer? That would have to be taking every chance and opportunity I possibly can. I have an open mind, I’m not prejudiced or skeptical, and I put forth 100% effort in everything I do. After all, if I fail at something, at least I tried!
What does “a day in the life” of Mr. Tyler look like on a performance day?
Everyday is ultimately a performance day. I get to perform 5 days a week on the castle stage and around Walt Disney World 52 weeks a year. We perform 5 or 6 shows a day, but every day is different. Although I do the same show time and time again, each performance is different than the last. That could be because I am performing another role, I could be with a new partner, or it could be raining and we have to perform a modified show. The complexity of putting on a show for a daily operation is always exciting, and it inspires me to go to work each day.
What is one of your all-time favorite dance steps- something that makes you feel like you can conquer the world? When I am in class, I love to turn. When I nail a pirouette or turn sequence, I feel unstoppable!
What advice can you offer our young dancers? My advice to young dancers is to never give up on what they dream. That also means to never lose your drive and determination. Exterior forces will impact you throughout your life, but you can always control how you act and react to achieve what you want.
Did you know….
- We like to give you dance shoes for free. Before the start of each session we host a Gear Swap & Uniform Fitting. We bust out our huge collection of gently used shoes and outgrown leotards, and we set them on tables for you to come “shopping.” If something fits, then you’re welcome to it for free. If you prefer new gear or can’t find a used item in your size, then we’ll fit you on the spot and order your gear for you. We keep our new gear affordable, we never charge for shipping, and we always guarantee a perfect fit!
- We have a giving fund. We believe dance should be accessible to everyone, so we created The Elevate Dance Center Giving Fund. The EDCGF is a scholarship fund devoted to making sure dance lessons do not stop for EDC students who fall upon financial hardship. Financial assistance is determined by application and may be awarded based on need and/or merit. Students who apply for and receive a scholarship from the EDCGF are provided any combination of tuition, fees and other associated costs (uniform, equipment, costume, production fee, etc.) for a dance education with us. We have awarded almost $2000 in scholarships to date, and our primary source of funding comes from King Soopers Community Awards. Register your card today, and help us keep kids dancing!
- We blog. We love writing about dance and teaching our families about dance studio life. We post helpful articles such as, How To Choose The Best Dance Studio for your family, Why It’s Better You Don’t Watch Dance Class and What’s So Great About Signing Up To Do Performances. We also tackle tough conversations like, What Does A Life Of Dance Look Like, #boysdancetoo, and Why Dance. Tune in to learn about all things #dancelife, and please share relevant articles with your dancer.
- We’re super communicators. If we had a dime for everytime we heard a parent from other dance studios complain about how they never know what’s going on, man we’d be rich! Lucky for you, we don’t roll like that. We are a hoppin’ community with a lot going on, but if you make even the eensy-weensiest effort to stay informed around here, then you WILL know what’s happening and how to get involved. We send a weekly email newsletter (Check your junk! Gmail users, this goes to your “promotions” folder- send it to your inbox instead), occasional Remind text alerts, and we post on our social media channels almost daily. We are active on Facebook with a business page and a private group for our families, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok. Also, we post announcements in the Parent Portal- so you can login anytime it’s convenient for you and catch up on studio news. If you think we talk to you too much, you can always mute the channels you don’t want to hear. Just pick your favorite way to listen, and stay caught up!
- We’re not into competition- we hope everyone crosses the finish line. So we don’t compete. That makes us a “rec studio,” right? Wrong! Just because we don’t dance for trophies doesn’t mean we don’t get out there and do our thang. We host a bunch of opportunities for our students, including a performance team, dance trips to awesome places such as Orlando and Nashville, and special events and master instructors. We focus on fantastic technical training that will allow our dancers to go after their goals in dance- whatever they may be- all while KEEPING DANCE FUN!
- That’s right, we travel to cool places. Every other year, we travel with Dance The World and take an amazing vacation your whole family will love. We make memories through dance by performing in a parade in an awesome costume, dancing on a world famous stage, and taking class with a celebrity instructor. There is plenty of time to recharge on your vacation and have a blast spending time with your family and EDC community. Our trips are open to all with accessible requirements to attend. Performers can be as young as 7 years old. It’s not too late to join us in Nashville in July of 2021, so ask for details!
- We strive to delight you. Seriously, we do. We are doing dance differently, and it’s on purpose. That whole Dance Mom’s show and Negative Nelly culture it promotes in the dance world? So dumb. We work really hard to add value to your life without adding to your payment, and we’re known for our above-and-beyond surprises. Past delights have included gifted professional photos at our winter show, a visit from the Sugarplum Fairy, dance storytime with an author, Little Monster’s Ball for predancers, Bring-A-Friend weeks, summer celebrations, individual evaluations for primary and above, and more. YOU are what makes us have the best families in this business, and it’s our pleasure to show you that you are loved, wanted and appreciated. We think you’re pretty neat, and we try to let you know it!
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
TEAM is for:
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!