Where Can Dance Lead Me?

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By Ashley Collingwood

Many dancers focus their career on performance, but many young professionals remain unaware of the variety of career choices in dance. With all of the knowledge a young dancer gathers during training in the art form, it can be utilized later on in several ways. Aside from knowing proper technique, dancers should be educated in terminology, the business aspect of dance, the stage, dance criticism, history, anatomy, as well as performance quality. This allows a dancer to be well rounded in the field of dance- opening doors to different career choices in the dance world.

A lot of dancers end up teaching and/or choreographing for a living. These options allow a dancer to be creative and share their love of dance with others. A professional can teach children at dance studios, conventions, or end up choreographing for major dance companies or productions. The insight in terminology, anatomy, and performance quality aids the professional teacher and choreographer to pass information along.

There is always a business aspect behind each job. Managers, directors, talent agents, and dance studio owners are all required. Within manager positions, there are business, company, production, and stage managers. Both artistic and rehearsal directors are necessities for companies to set the artistic direction and keep the choreography pure to the choreographer’s vision. Talent agents seek talent for gigs, while dance studio owners have to be organized and maintain the function of their studio. Although all of these jobs expect knowledge in business and leadership, it is important to know dance as an art form as well.

With every show, there is a behind the scenes crew. Without this crew, a performance would be nearly impossible. The technical production employees are great assets to this industry. Lighting and scenic designers help make a performance possible. With every performance, costumes, hair and makeup top it off. Although some costuming is more elaborate than others, it seems to complete a performance no matter what. Many productions are in need of professional costume designers, hair stylists, and makeup artists to contribute their creativity.

Three other interesting options for careers are in journalism, dance therapy, and massage therapy. When getting into journalism, a dancer can use his or her knowledge to write reviews on performances, trends, or tips. Dancers are creative beings, so writing is a perfect way to express that. Dance therapy, on a completely different line of the spectrum is good for dancers who work well with people and interested in the psychotherapeutic use of movement. A dancer may also be interested in massage therapy. A dancer’s awareness of his or her body, as well as an understanding of anatomy and physiology, can make massage therapy a great career option.

Not all jobs require a degree. However, being well educated is helpful when in the pursuit of different options throughout the dance field. These are just a handful of ideas to look into while determining a future dance career. Ways to try on these options include auditioning, developing leadership skills, experience, and determination. Continue to explore the field of dance!

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Stop Chewing Gum! No Talking! Pay Attention!

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By Kristin Kraining

These are just a few of the phrases I blurt out to my nine and ten year old students during almost every dance practice. Discipline. It sounds a lot easier and simpler than it really is. To have a successful dance class, the dance instructor must constantly focus on discipline. I have found this to be the most difficult part of teaching – not learning new steps, memorizing a dance, practicing at home or staying on tempo. Even if it is challenging to maintain discipline, it is essential. Being consistent with the dancers is the only way teaching can be effective.

My first mistake occurred at the beginning of the year, when I did not sit down with the dancers and inform them of my class rules and expectations. For example, I should have clearly told them that there is no talking after class starts unless the dancer raises a hand and the dancer must come to class dressedappropriately, or the dancer will be sent home.

Ultimately, the best thing a teacher can do to ensure that the dancers understand all class guidelines is to prepare an agreement form before the season begins that clearly specifies all the rules. The form should also include a list of consequences for tardiness, absences, not wearing appropriate attire, etc. The discipline system with its clearly stated rules and consequences must be consistently implemented. If not, the teacher will experience difficulties similar to the ones I faced at the end of the year. When those problems arise, parents will be disappointed in you as an effective teacher and will think that you are unfair and unprofessional. The most effective way to keep the discipline and teaching system working efficiently is to make a written record of all incidents and keep those records in the dancer’s file.

Unlike maintaining constant discipline, something that did come easily to me was providing treats! I made sure to mix it up and give the dancers a little reward after a competition, long practice or during a holiday week.

In a teacher’s first years of dance instruction, there will always be mistakes. By acknowledging and learning from each mistake, a teacher will constantly improve and become the most professional and successful instructor possible. As a result, the class will respect the instructor, develop high expectations for themselves, and work their hardest to make their way to the top!

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Building Self-Esteem

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Courtesy of Just For Kix “Coaches CD” ©2000
Compiled by Cindy Clough

When children dance, they have a “golden opportunity” to develop a positive self-image. But, this won’t happen if parents don’t do their part. Here are some ideas to help build your child’s self-esteem on and off the dance floor:

  • Keep it positive. When you find something to criticize, find four other things to praise.
  • Instill humor. Help kids laugh at their mistakes.
  • Develop team spirit. Help your child think “we” not “me.”
  • Step into your child’s shoes. See the sport through her eyes. Listen and understand her feelings and wants.
  • Involve yourself. Volunteer. Ask your child questions. Help her practice at home.
  • Notice any and all progress, in both skill and effort.
  • Praise specifics. Don’t say: “Mary you are a good sport.” Say “I liked the way you greeted the other team after the competition.”
  • Offer a good example. Be a good sport yourself.
  • Remember to have fun. Fun, not winning, is what’s most important to children.
  • Set reasonable expectations. Don’t under estimate what your child can do, or pressure her to do what she can’t.
  • Adapted and reprinted from Parents Make The Difference.

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