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!
You are dying to sign your tiny dancer up for dance class, but how do you know if your little one is ready to go or if you should wait a bit longer? We ask several questions when we’re trying to assess dancer readiness. Here they are:
- Is your dancer expressing interest in dance class? Maybe they are begging you to dance, or they talk about being a ballerina all the time.
- Does your child watch television or movies and follow along with the movement? This is another way your dancer is expressing interest, but it also demonstrates an ability to pick up choreography and follow directions.
- Can your child follow three simple instructions in a row? For example, “Put your bag on the green line, find a colored star on the floor, and sit criss-cross-applesauce.” Participating in dance class requires a certain level of cognitive and physical development, and the ability to follow a series of instructions indicates a developmental milestone has been met.
- Can your child spend at least 10 minutes at a time doing an activity? This demonstrates an attention span that’s ready to absorb some dance. Does your child play with their cars or splash around at the water table for at least 10 minutes at a time, or is their attention span such that they constantly switch activities from one minute to the next?
- Can your dancer put on/take off their own shoes? Don’t worry, we’re going to help your dancer with their shoe changes, but an ability to put on/take off their own shoes demonstrates a level of physical coordination that can indicate dance readiness.
- Does your child use language to express themself? It’s pretty important that your dancer is able to communicate their needs and wants to their teacher. If your dancer uses words that are easily understood outside of your own family, then this can indicate dance readiness.
- Is your child comfortable without you? If your child spends time with grandparents, a babysitter, or in a daycare, then the answer here is yes. For many of our pre-primary students, dance class is their first adventure without mom or dad. It’s normal for a child to be clingy or even cry for several weeks before deciding dance class is a blast, but if your dancer is wrecked absolutely every time you leave without making any progress from week to week, then it might mean waiting for a few months and trying again.
These are the seven indicators we use to help assess whether or not a tiny dancer is ready for dance class. However, if your dancer didn’t ace them, it’s possible they’re still ready for dance- we’re looking for a majority here. Keep in mind that dance is a family activity, especially at the beginning. Once you’ve determined your dancer is ready for class, you must decide if YOU are ready. While your dancer doesn’t need a perfect score to join dance, everything on the following “parent readiness checklist” is non-negotiable, so make sure you can check each box below with 100% certainty. If not, consider waiting a little longer until you’re ready too; we want your dancer (and you!) to have the best possible experience in dance!
√ You are happy to bring them and commit time and finances to the cause.
√ You will encourage your dancer with music and movement in your home.
√ You are able to help your dancer get the right dress-code approved gear and get them ready every week, hairstyle and all.
√ You will make the time to park, take your dancer to the bathroom, help them into their first pair of shoes and calmly arrive 5 minutes EARLY to class. (Not 10, not 40, not 3 minutes late. Five minutes early is where the real magic happens. 🙂 )
√ You will read all communication and stay informed with the school by joining and checking the app as well as reading one email per week on Fridays.
√ You will trust the curriculum and you promise not to ask for a more advanced class placement for your child. If your child is 4 years old, you cannot tell us she’s “danced for years” and is “advanced.” We are experts, and we’ll get your dancer advancing, we cross our hearts.
√ You are happy to KISS AND GO. You are comfortable enough to walk away from the window so you do not distract your dancer, other dancers, or the teachers by waving and filming from outside.
Everyone ready? Let’s D-A-N-C-E! Call today.
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!
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!