Bullying seems so senseless and unnecessary. And yet, it still occurs in seemingly all environments. It happens at school, extracurricular activities, via social media, and, yes, even from members of the dance team at competitions. Social media outlets has removed accountability and personal connectivity from today’s youth, allowing them an impersonal way of criticizing and degrading others in a very passive manner.
I have heard stories of bullying occurring at dance competitions for the past few years. But, it wasn’t until recently that I actually observed negativity at an event.
Via social media, an older student from one studio’s dance team was blatantly criticizing much younger students from another studio. Using that message, the older student had other dancers joining in the conversation, and it felt so unnecessary and inappropriate.
What do you think made this student feel as though this was an okay choice?
Respect and Appreciation at Competition
As instructors, we have to instill values of respect in our students. These values should transcend the studio classroom and reach other studios, peers, and life endeavors. Our values become our lifestyle, and I would like to think that studios would never condone this kind of behavior.
Most competitions and conventions encourage appropriate behavior. I appreciate and applaud the steps they’ve taken to guarantee students are learning and growing in a nurturing, supportive environment. Studio owners, parents, instructors, students, and peers have to support and encourage that mission, too.
Ultimately, we are all in this together. And, personally, I know that I want every dance experience to be positive, meaningful, and productive for each and every one of our students.
Dance Spirit featured an article in 2011 entitled Beat Bullying, which discusses the issue from an in-studio perspective. It’s just as relevant to think about bullying in regards to outside events and encountering other studios.
At the end of the day, we have to lead by example. That way, we make sure our students are aware of their choices, actions, and consequences. We are all working hard, striving to do our best, and encouraging our students to grow. Each individual is on his/her own dance journey, and we have to be respectful and supportive of each dancer’s work and achievement.
As J.K. Rowling said: “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Let’s make the choice to be kind. After all, we’re all in this together.
I truly believe dance is for everyone, and can move everyone in some capacity- as an observer, as a mover, or as a dancer. As dance educators, we have the opportunity to build programming that is accessible to everyone. Once students are a part of our programming, we have an obligation to serve them to the best of our ability.
When a studio culture transforms into statements of regularity such as “those kids aren’t good”, “he/she will never be an overall winner”, or “so-so refuses to dance with so-so”, it becomes a danger zone. It compromises our mission as educators to create a positive infrastructure that focuses on building the art of DANCE through technique, style, acceptance, and diversity.
As educators, we must take the lead. Our leadership is required to promote the accessibility of dance for everyone.
Our art is not elitist- it does not require Olympic level ability for success and impact. Rather, it requires time, patience, love, and nurturing.
Then, you create a dancer (in whatever capacity that may be), and you also build a relationship that will far outlast a student’s tenure at the dance studio. That’s impact.
Highly successful people choose to develop good habits and routines. They work consistently, with discipline, and do not allow excuses to overshadow their goals. It is rumored that a habit forms in 20-21 days; however, this Forbes’ article (a great read!) debunks the myth and elaborates on the formulating steps required to make an activity a way of life.
Examples of habits for our students may be:
Working Towards a Technical Goal
A Conditioning Plan
Time Management & Organization
Examples of habits for Instructors/Studio Owners may be:
Healthier Lifestyle Habits
Business/Work- Oriented Goals
Improved Time Management
Whatever you are working towards, commit to achieving the level of success that will positively impact your quality of life. It will make a difference!
This year, what’s a new skill you’d like to learn or acquire that will improve your teaching or business? There are an abundance of tutorials and opportunities available to learn something new via the internet.
Maybe you would like to revitalize your website, social media, or logo?
Would you like to improve your video or music editing capabilities?
Maybe you would like to have new teaching tips for acro or ballet or tap?
Or maybe a few DIY repairs will polish and freshen up your facility?
Are you interested in tweaking your staff and studio culture for the year ahead?
Research- discover the material that is available to you.
It is easy to become complacent in comfort- challenge yourself! Once you are open to learning more, the sky is the limit.
A popular excuse for not learning new things is lack of time- take the time. Make the time. It will be worth it!
Unsure about where to start? Check out the following sites:
It doesn’t matter whether you’re performing in your first recital or attending your grandchild’s seasonal show – once you fall in love with dance, it will stay with you forever. Any performer, choreographer, teacher or studio owner will tell you that dance isn’t just an art form. It’s a way of life! You know you’re a dancer when:
1. Your joints are constantly popping
It’s completely normal to you to crack your ankles, hips and neck, right? Maybe not to average people, but to dancers, it’s a daily occurrence.
2. You critique dancers on reality shows
Your friends might be impressed with the contestants on “So You Think You Can Dance,” but you see past their tricks and recognize when their form is seriously lacking.
3. You secretly love sparkly makeup
Some people scoff at glittery makeup or proclaim it to be tacky, but you feel a wave of nostalgia whenever you’re near sparkles. After all, a little glitter never hurt anyone.
4. You start counting with 5, 6, 7, 8
Forget 1, 2, 3, 4. The only way you know how to count off is with “5, 6, 7, 8!” It can make taking pictures a little tricky, but you’ve probably bonded with other dancers because of it.
5. You love the recital pics on #TBT
If you’re on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you know that Throwback Thursdays are a chance to post your old recital pictures. The more elaborate the costumes, the better!
6. The smell of hairspray gives you recital flashbacks
When you get a whiff of hairspray, you’re instantly transported back to recital season, when bobby pins were everywhere and buns had to be just right.
7. You apply falsies like a pro
It’s no secret that false eyelashes are tricky for even the best makeup masters. However, after years of applying stage makeup, you’re likely better than the best when it comes to sticking on falsies.
8. It drives you crazy when an instructor is off beat
If you’ve taken any type of fitness or recreational dance class, you know it’s maddening when the teacher is off-beat. It’s probably hard for you to resist the urge to get everyone back on the beat by counting out “5, 6, 7, 8.”
9. You’re a whiz with double-sided tape
Ladies who have ever needed to secure a dance costume to prevent wardrobe malfunctions know the best tricks for securing tricky tops and sagging skirts. Their weapon of choice? Double-sided tape, of course.
10. You’re the first to correct anyone who says dance is easy
No, dance is not easy. Yes, it is a sport, and yes, dancers are athletes!