Elevate Dance Center began 4 years ago, but most of our staff has been in the business of dance for longer than some of our dancers’ parents have been alive, and many of our staff members have worked together for a decade or two before EDC. When the dance studio I was working for in Westminster closed it’s doors in 2014, my sons still wanted to dance, so I went on the hunt for a great school for them close to home. I tried several, and I couldn’t find it. So, Elevate Dance Center was born. We were founded on the idea that what I wanted in a dance studio for my own children did not exist on our side of town. It was also founded on the idea that there are a lot of goofy- but sorta true- complaints about this industry, and we thought we could easily do business in a way that totally eradicated them. Now I mean absolutely no shade to any of my competitors, but the truth is, I saw certain norms being perpetuated in dance studios everywhere, and I wanted a change for the industry. I wanted to do it all differently. So, we did. Here are 8 things EDC does to revolutionize the studio experience:
- We are organized and communicative. You’ll notice it with your EDC handbook, your show handbook, the presentation and delivery of your children’s costumes, and our responses to your emails, calls, Band chats, social media messages and texts. You’ll also see it with how quickly our shows run, our dismissal procedure at shows, and more. Many schools run on chaos and prayers. We run on well-thought-through CONTROLLED chaos and prayers.
- We create a culture of love first, then dance and not the other way around. Our community is second to none. From parents, to teachers, to students, we care for each other. We lift each other up. This is why our name is Elevate.
- We perform in the best venue we can find, and we do not scrimp on staff or supervision.
- We select gorgeous costumes that are both classy and covered. Our rule is that we don’t show our midriff. There are many beautiful costumes out there that show midriffs, and crop tops are totally in right now, I get it, but it’s a slippery slope to dancing in a rhinestoned bra. I have judged dance competitions and taught classes from coast to coast, and it’s not just true but sadly it’s also the general standard. By keeping “no midriffs” as our rule, we never slide down that slope.
- We choose our music to tell stories that uplift and entertain. There are lots of ways to express emotions and process life through dance, but we choose to stay away from topics that are too serious or too mature. You won’t see our kids dancing about breakups, deep romantic love, or death. That type of art can certainly be beautiful, but it’s just not our jam. We stay in our lane of love, empowerment, and FUN. We believe in spreading positive vibes to build positive lives.
- Our ballet music is usually unconventional. Our ballet technique is absolutely traditional, but our music is often not classical or from a famous ballet. There is time for honoring tradition as the children grow in their appreciation of ballet, but for the moment, we just want them to love it.
- We are never in the wings dancing with your kids. Our youngest performers at shows are barely two years old. Our newest performers might perform after only dancing 6 weeks. We are confident in them, and we don’t care if what they produce on stage is perfection. What we care about is that they are brave and proud. Their technique will come with time.
- Our school is super boy friendly. A lot of dance studios are all pink glitter unicorns all the time. That doesn’t work for every girl, and it certainly doesn’t work for every boy. We work hard to welcome everyone at EDC, and I bet we are the only general dance studio in Colorado with a fluctuating percentage of boys of 10-20%. #boysdancetoo #heckyestheydo
If you grow up playing little league soccer and football, then the natural progression is to try out for your high school team when the time comes. If you’re good enough, you might even earn a scholarship to play in college, and an elite few will even turn pro! Dance is trickier though, and there are many paths to professional dancing. Oftentimes, joining the poms team isn’t the way forward in your dance dreams. That’s not true for every team, nor is it the only reason to join or not join Poms.
Dance can be an art form, a sport or a major in college. There are different opportunities to continue to pursue dance at a collegiate level if that’s your desire, so make sure your high school trajectory points towards your future goals- that might mean joining Poms, or it might not. Emma Goldberg, a 2021 high school graduate who spent four years on her poms team says, “Poms/dance team was something I never saw coming, in all honesty. But in hindsight, for my own high school experience, it was the best decision I ever made. The program introduced me to my lifelong friends and a healthy competitive environment, and I can safely say my coaches and teammates are the reason I’ve grown into the person I am today. I was on the varsity team for all four years of high school, and I was lucky enough to be a captain for my junior and senior years as well.” However, Presleigh Goodwin, a future graduate of the class of 2023 danced on the same team as Goldberg and chose not to audition again. “From game days and competitions to rehearsals and team bonding, Poms was extremely different from anything I experienced at the studio. I made some of my best friends and memories and learned so much from being on my pom team, but, I decided to leave after my 2nd year to return to studio dancing because eventually I understood the training I was receiving on my pom team does not correspond with the dance goals I want to achieve after high school, which for me are more ballet-based. Becoming a member of the poms team is not a choice that should be taken lightly. Not only will it consume a huge amount of your time, but it will also define your high school experience for better or worse.
Here are some things for both dancers and their parents to consider if you are thinking about whether or not to try out for the poms team in high school.
- Pay attention to the current team long before trying out. Discover:
- Are these the kids you want to spend 95% of your time with for the next few years? Collectively, how do they carry themselves?
- Do they get good grades? Participate in philanthropy? Respect their adults?
- Are they friends with everyone, or cliquey and exclusive? Are they perceived as kind, or are they “mean girls?”
- Is the current captain a strong leader or just the most popular person?
- Are the team members respected in the school community by the principal, teachers and other students?
- Take a good hard look at the coaching staff before trying out. Discover:
- Does this person work for the school? It doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker if they don’t, but working at the school makes communicating with the team members and holding them accountable much easier. If the coach has their finger on the school and team’s pulse, then they are more equipped to catch problems before they become catastrophes.
- Is the coaching staff loved by the team? The coaching staff is going to become a big part of your life. Are they people you want to look up to? Can you/will you respect them and their decision-making, even if you don’t agree with it?
- Does the coach promote a positive culture? Does the coach choose uniforms that are classy and flattering? Does the coach expect and require you to get good grades? Do they penalize you for D’s or is barely passing sufficient? Are the coaches involved in practices or are the kids doing everything on their own? What kinds of messages is the coach sending to the team? Is their approach positive or negative?
- Make sure you understand the expenses and how to pay for them.
- Dancing on a poms team is an expensive pursuit. The team will dress in uniform on most game days, so there are A LOT of clothes. Many teams have taken to wearing name-brands such as Lululemon. If there is a showcase, there might be additional costumes to purchase. The fashion is fun, but there is a hefty price tag attached.
- The team might also have to pay for choreography, studio time, dance classes at a specific studio, master classes, a trip to nationals and more.
- Absolutely all teams will cost at least $1,000 per year. Most teams will cost 3-7x more than that, so make sure you ask ALL the questions. How and when does the team pay these expenses? Do you pay up front, or are there monthly dues? Does the team fundraise and if so, for how much? What exactly is the dancer responsible for? Is that it, or do other expenses come up throughout the year, such as photos, dinners, team banquet, etc.?
Discern what your high school poms team is really about, and decide if that is representative of YOU and who you want to become.
- You can’t force a square peg into a round hole. Just because you watched some weird tween movies growing up and you have these big dreams of a fancy uniform, it does not mean THIS team is YOUR team. Be discerning and don’t go out for a team that isn’t your style. Be choosy, and choose wisely.
- Some teams are really good, and they are about WINNING. Winning is not something that comes without major design, so if you have a competitive nature, then this might be the place for you. Make sure you are prepared for a more-than-demanding practice schedule where you spend an enormous amount of time fine-tuning and perfecting one or two dances. EXPECT that you won’t participate in every routine. When the team is mostly about winning, it does not mean you will dance every routine or performance just because you made Varsity. It doesn’t even mean you will dance ANY routine or performance! Be prepared to sit the bench and cheer from the sidelines (even though you paid a lot of money to do it).
- Some teams aren’t very good at all, and that can be equally hard. Are you a great dancer and this team will be endlessly frustrating for you? Are you a mediocre dancer and you are not ready for the pressure of being yelled at to get it together? No matter the skill level of your poms team, it’s still “competitive,” meaning you will compete against everyone else at State, and you may even travel to a competition for a Nationals event. Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, competition adds an element of pressure to the individual dancers, the team unit, and the coaching staff- because frankly, nobody likes to lose. Pressure can make people behave differently. It’s okay to sign up for this, but make sure you’re aware of the dynamic and that this environment is right for you.
- Most teams fall somewhere in between, and they can be a lot of fun too. Here dance technique will likely hit its peak right as you join poms, and will not continue to improve. That might be okay with you! You will get to dance and perform for your school and you will cheer for all of the teams at their games. Just keep in mind that joining the dance team does not usually equate to more or better dancing. If continuing to grow in dance styles and technique is important to you, then make sure to stay involved in your studio as much as possible, especially in ballet and other tech. classes.
As you enter high school, and you and your family decide if joining the poms team is right for you, consider all the angles and ask all the questions. Think about your future goals, and whether or not becoming a member of this team will bring you closer or further away. Do your homework. Make sure the team is composed of the type of people you want to become. Make sure the coaching staff is one that will help you tap into your potential. Consider the expenses, how you will afford them, and if it’s worth it to you. And finally, make sure the team is representative of the type of experience you’re after. We are here to support you in achieving your dreams, so make the best decision for you and we’ll cheer you on along the way!
When I was two years old my mother put me in dance classes because my older cousin was taking lessons. I loved it, so my mom never looked back. She signed me up every single session until I could decide for myself, at which point I would beg her to take more and more classes and hand her paycheck to the front desk until I was practically living at the studio.
Today’s preschool parents are different than they were 40 years ago. When I was a little girl, there were pretty much three choices for tiny human activities- dance, swimming, and soccer. My mom picked one, and she was so happy I liked it, because that set the stage (pun intended) for what I would do to burn off energy for years to come. Dance it is! Check. When I was old enough, I was offered a job at my studio, and I earned money and danced all through high school living my best life while instead my friends used a long claw thingy to pick up trash at Water World in the summers. My dance friends were mostly separate from my school friends, and that proved to be a great thing for me through adolescence. I spent a lot of time with my dance teacher, and she guided and loved me like a second mom. If it takes a village to raise a child, then my dance studio was on its main street.
Today there is a menu of toddler activity options so extensive that a parent is made to feel like a failure if they don’t sign their babies up for a different extracurricular each day of the week. Being a good parent does not mean you must spend all your time ferrying your children from basketball to dance to French class to guitar and back again. In fact, many parents are starting to revolt against over-scheduling their kids, and we say Bravo! However, these same parents are choosing ONE activity at a time, and then switching them up every several weeks. The trend we see now is that parents don’t sign their kids up for the same thing over and over anymore like my mom did. They sign up for a session or a season and then immediately try something new, so the child can “discover themself” and decide what their passion is.
Call me old-fashioned, or just biased towards dancing and keeping my business full of repeat customers, but I see several flaws with this model. For one, we are kind of teaching our kids not to stick anything out. They aren’t really afforded the opportunity to face any adversity and overcome it, because there isn’t the time when participation in everything is just introductory. Also, when we hop from activity to activity, we are creating a short attention span for our kids. We are training them to get bored easier because they are always ready for the “next thing.” Additionally, we are robbing ourselves of community. We don’t give our kids (or us!) a chance to put down any roots to make enduring friendships, nor do we give the instructors/coaches enough time to mentor or make a lasting impact. In a world where we are constantly distracted and influenced by FOMO (fear of missing out) to consume more, try everything, and look perfect doing it all (thanks, Instagram and Pinterest), it’s positively countercultural to hang in there and grind for a bit. All we’re saying is, trust the process y-know?
So when is a good time to switch up activities? First, give it at least six weeks before you allow your child to decide it’s not for them. It can easily take that long for a kiddo to feel confident they know the class expectations and procedures, and make connections with the other people in the room. Also most big things start small, so your child might think the activity is slow at first. Give them a chance to get to know the class content and make a friend or two before deciding to pull out. However, we say all bets are off when the environment is toxic or your child HATES the activity. If you have any reservations about the safety of your child, whether physical or psychological, or you feel like the community opposes your family’s values, is negative and/or unwelcoming, then yeah- pull your child faster than you can say buh-bye! Likewise, if your life is made miserable every single week because your child throws a fit against going, then the timing isn’t right either in their life, or maybe just in their day. Coaches want your kids to love their activities above all else, so if that’s not happening for your child, then absolutely yes, you should explore until you find something that makes their heart sing. Avoid making your life miserable with all the coaxing, bribing and wrangling it takes to make an angry kid do what you want them to do.
Sports usually operate in seasons, but arts (music, dance, martial arts) are more of a practice. Getting good at either requires an investment of time and money. Most people are fine with the money- much more so than they were when I started dancing- but it’s the time investment where parents seem most restless these days. Our studio will always stay friendly to kids who want to come in and out of dance so they can play sports and do other activities. We’re not saying that’s not okay, however I want to encourage parents out there who are pulling their kids just because they think they should try the next new thing- kick back and stay awhile. Let your kids make friends, connect with their teacher and experience the magic and growth of performing in a few shows. Our advice is not new; if it ain’t broke, maybe don’t try to fix it so soon!