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Artists Dance Competitions Educators motivation

Ditch these terms

“We’re a recreational studio” or “they are a recreational dancer.” These phrases get used as a crutch to say, ‘we’re not very good’ or ‘they don’t train that much so they don’t have to be good. They’re just recreational.’ Some dancers train more hours per week. Some like to pop in once a week and pursue other endeavors like sports, extracurriculars, band or other passions. The qualifier ‘recreational’ has come to have a diminishing or condescending tone. Do we still need it?

“They’re a competition/competitive dancer.” Do these dancers spend hours every week at the studio to chase that dangling carrot of top adjudication? Is that the motivation? Do we need the qualifier ‘competition’ or ‘competitive’? There’s nothing impressive about it.

Dancers are dancers. Full stop. If you dance, you are a dancer. We get out what we put in, and measuring accomplishment externally, by awards or others’ assessments of us, is far less rewarding than the intrinsic satisfaction we from feeling a little stronger than yesterday.

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Artists Educators

You might be surprised

The dancers that show up on the first day, so excited and posting on social media about their first day, don’t last.

The quiet dancers in the back row, who you’re not sure are that into it, stick around.

The dancer that you put your heart and soul into all year, who progressed tremendously under your tutelage, disappears.

The young dancers that always had a great time in class and were so excited about being there didn’t come back.

The dancers you thought weren’t coming back return after 6 months, 9 months, 2 years…

The best thing we can do is keep showing up as our best selves, plan classes with specific focuses and continue personal growth as artists and humans. Those who are meant to be mentored by us will remain in the room.

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Artists Choreography Educators motivation online learning Training for success

Make it stick

Start today. Don’t start tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. Start now but start small.

Be a student. Always be a student. Those of us who educate dancers do our best work when we take class too. The classes we take will inform the classes we teach, what will move and motivate our students. Work on your tendus. Work on your shuffles. I still am.

And when I get a compliment from my teacher, it still feels really good.

Check out our new project, Tap Educators Intensive! IG: tap_educators_intensive • Website: http://tapeducators.com

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Artists creating Dance Competitions teamwork Training for success

Who cares

Every year there are a few months when competition complaints and criticism of judges are abundant. It’s consistent from year to year, even in this most unique of seasons.

  • The judges don’t know tap.
  • They only want to see tricks.
  • The scoring is all over the place.
  • Do judges take off points for…

What’s interesting is that the kids aren’t the ones who are upset. Honestly the parents (of my students, at least) are never upset either. They are excited to see their kids on stage and to see the growth in ability from one season to the next.

Dancers are there to perform, to understand the rewards of working toward something and to work through the nerves of performing on a stage, in a costume, under lights and in front of an audience and/or complete strangers who will assess them in 2 minutes.

Winning is fun in the moment, but if we don’t win, are we going to hinge our validity, progress, artistry and joy on a snap judgement numerical score given by a stranger that can’t possibly know what it took to get that dancer or group of dancers on stage?

Trust the artistic process and enjoy the ride. Nobody remembers what the score was.

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Dance and Social Media Educators Technology Trends

It’s not what you say

Humans love to complain. We publicly post a dance rant and have 500 of our closest friends chime in on how they hate that too and then list 5 other things that that they can’t stand.

Who doesn’t love instant gratification? There’s that feeling of ultimate satisfaction for about 5 minutes, and then what? All of the sudden dancers start wearing tights and two shoes, age appropriate costumes, they stop filling the music with all tricks and all of the competition judges become perfect? Probably not.

If we put out work we believe in, work that reflects what we want to see on stage and what inspires us, we can find a longer lasting satisfaction than the knee jerk say-what-you-feel-right-now impulses that propel us to take our grumbles to social media for all to commiserate with.

What we say matters far less than how we say it. Expressing what we love to see is equivalent to expressing what we loathe to see, except more will listen if we frame it with a positive spin.

The reason trends exist is because somebody started them and our culture pushes us to conform.

Not every effort will be a home run, but if we bunt and get a base hit, it’s a promising start.

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Artists Dance and Social Media Technology

Start with this

Everyone can now know what we think about everything, should we choose to share it. There are no longer gatekeepers between us and our audience.

When something happens in our industry that we don’t like, the first instinct is often to take to social media.

“Everyone must know what I think about this.”

What’s the goal, really? What will change if everyone knows how much I dislike something or how against it I am? Will everyone all of the sudden start to do things differently? Will 500 people I don’t know give me life changing advice when they can’t really see it from the inside?

These exchanges very often turn into arguments that nobody ever wins, or mountains of advice and opinions from people who really don’t know us.

If we want to make change, truly meaningful change, we make culture by starting with the people right around us. This is our group, and our group does it like this.

When the impact starts small, it ends up much greater.

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motivation rejection Training for success Uncategorized

You might be terrible

Wanting to learn something new is easy.

Signing up to start learning it is fairly easy.

Getting yourself to step into that first class or lesson isn’t quite as easy. Fear can start to kick in, combined with inhibition and vulnerability with a side of nervousness. But still, let’s say getting to the first class isn’t so difficult.

You get to the first class and what you imagined yourself doing might not be what comes out of you. Well, you say to yourself, this is much harder than it looks.

There’s the rub. What do you do?

Fun fact: it’s ok to not be good at something. You might be terrible at it. Let’s think ahead though.

What happens if you keep going back? You become less terrible. And the next time even less terrible. One day, low and behold, you will be good at it! The rewards are much greater than the frustration and stumbles along the way.

Many have bailed before they got a chance to see what they are able to accomplish. If that inner voice is saying it’s too hard, find that stronger voice that tells you to enjoy the journey. Enjoy being terrible. I’m not here typing this because I’m great. I’m here because I was terrible and I kept going.

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Artists Training for success

You can take it with you

Well-designed monuments, theaters and marketplaces have lasted thousands of years. Ancient Roman architects created structures to withstand nature and time.

As we embark the next year, the memories of the last year will start to fade away.

The one thing that we can take with us, always, is our technique. We can build technique that withstands nature and time, with persistent practice and attention to every detail. The pros still stand at the barre daily, trying to perfect their tendus.

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Artists Educators Training for success

Who are you?

If you are a student in a dance class or audition (remember those?) that is difficult and the challenge makes you uncomfortable, what do you do?

Do you decide that it’s too hard so you won’t bother to try to struggle through to accomplish something new and surprise yourself?

Do you believe your teacher when they confidently tell you that you fit, that you are doing well, that you’ll get it if you stay focused and train?

Do you believe your teacher when they tell you that you aren’t quite at that level, but if you dedicate yourself to training you can get closer to where you want to be? Do you accept the level you are placed in?

Do you decide that you don’t really like this style anyway so you’re going to slack off and resist taking corrections because why bother?

When the choreography is challenging, do you do the extra work to rise up to the level of the material you are given, or do you settle for not really mastering it?

Are you teachable? Trainable? Do you remember the corrections that you got last time and apply them?

If you are a teacher, I bet you can think of students that relate to all of these questions. If you are a student (we are all students, really), it’s important to reflect on this and see where you can do better.

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Artists motivation Training for success

What if it’s too easy

Advanced dancers know how to work in any level class. If the material is simpler, they will work on emotional texture, refining their lines, sustaining movements a little longer. They’ll change a shuffle to riffle, a heel to a toe, try different stylizations with each repetition of the combination. They will make the class their own.

Less advanced dancers in the same situation will say the class is too easy, that they already know this, then proceed to not give their full effort because the class is below their ability level.

Smart dancers will ask for ways they can challenge themselves more if they need some guidance. They may respectfully ask if they can try the class that is a level higher in addition to the class they are placed in. Maybe the teacher isn’t seeing all they are capable of, or maybe the dancer takes the extra classes and works up to the level they desire to be dancing at.

Dancers who get it will show up, be present, ask specific questions and enjoy the process.