Taking Responsibility Gives YOU the Power

To every age and level of our dancers we find ourselves constantly saying, “Make the choice.” For little littles the choice may be easy, like participating in the dance game while keeping our hands to ourselves vs. having to stand by the teacher, but we attempt to give responsible options that give the dancer the control to be responsible for the outcome. For older dancers it may be choosing to make the correction vs. being moved to the back of the formation or choosing to listen vs. leaving the classroom. Either way we are teaching these kids that only YOU have responsibility for your own body and your own choices, and that only YOU have the power to define your success or failure based on the choices you make. IMG_0484

Absolutely, 100%, there are things that happen out of our control. Our goal is to teach them that it is not what happens to us that defines us, but how we react to it and take responsibility for the consequences of what happens to us that defines us. For example, if a dancer has missed a class because she was sick that is no fault of her own, and we are not in any way mad or upset that she was sick. However, it may mean that she missed an entire rehearsal of new choreography, and that a private lesson is required or a session at the studio with a friend needs to happen to catch up. It is important for the dancer to realize, though, that we, as the teachers, are not responsible for setting up that lesson or meeting up with that friend to ensure they know their choreography, but that they must make the choice and take the effort required to catch up before the next rehearsal.

Taking responsibility gives you the power to choose your outcomes and pathways to how you define success. It lies in the choice to be proactive, in the choice to do what is right, and in the choice to respect your commitments and your team mates. These are huge life lessons that will follow these dancers throughout their careers and their family lives. We can only hope to have a small influence on how they will handle these situations down the road. Interested in joining us? Spring session starts 1/7. Check out our schedule here.

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A Safe Space

We all go through hard things. We all go through stress. We have to find a place that we feel safe and that we feel heard. Our staff at Lonestar tries to foster a culture where kids can be adventurous and creative, where lifelong friendships are built and where limits can be pushed in a controlled environment. It takes trust and open communication to maintain this, but when school is rough or when family life isn’t everything it’s supposed to be we want our dancers to walk into the studio, get out of their minds and focus on growing and learning. brooklyn teaching

Through technique and choreography they get to mindfully create brain/body awareness, build strength and learn movement that may be new, challenging and different than they are used to. Through improvisation they get to move without boundaries and express on the outside what their insides feel like. The dance classroom is a place where you build trust with other dancers and a place where friends will see you at your best and at your worst. When one of our dancers is struggling, her dance family holds her up. We cheer for each other and also hold each other accountable. We succeed together and we face challenges together.

The dance studio is our safe space. This is an idea we hold sacred and talk about at every staff meeting, in every parent meeting, and at every chance we get when a kid opens up to us. Unfortunately we don’t always uphold this idea, as we are human and mistakes are easy to make, but we, as teachers, always hope to learn and grow when we fail at this particular mission.  Our Fall enrollment is currently closed, but we hope you join us in January! Check out our Fall/Spring schedule here.

What to Expect from your Preschooler’s Class

A few months ago we put together a video explaining a little bit about what you might see through the glass during your pre-schooler’s dance class. Since we have a lot of fresh new faces at the studio this fall, I wanted to take a moment and both link the video as well as highlight a few things that we feel are important.

“Here at Lonestar Dance we offer several different classes for preschoolers, which we consider ages 3-6. All classes take Ballet, and we also mix the Ballet with Hip Hop, Acro, Jazz or Tap.” 

“As a basic structure we try to introduce them [to] things that are more general class structures. Things like follow the leader, standing in a spot that is yours for the class, they start to learn how to listen, they start to learn how to make a circle… some of the things they may not have learned if they have not been in school.” 

“Most classes include some type of warm up… it may include isolations, stretching, and starting with dance basics.”

“We also play movement games… such as our Animal Action game that helps them understand how movement relates to the world around them. “

Watch the full video here:

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We have closed registration for our Fall semester, but we will reopen enrollment on 12/1 for a January 7th start date to our spring classes! Check out our schedule here.

Teaching Open Communication

It’s a common thought at this point in history that we may be getting actively worse at open communication. We are so used to text and email that many people have anxiety about speaking on the phone or speaking face to face, especially if the conversation is conflictive in nature. I’m definitely guilty of being conflict- averse as a general people-pleaser. However, recognizing this in myself, I do try to face problems head on and (while being all too apologetic, I’m sure) not avoid a tough conversation just because it would be easier. In the South we like to keep things smooth and polite, but that doesn’t always yield the best results or relationships for either party.

In our membership agreement and at the end of every teacher letter given at the beginning of the year we say, “Open communication is imperative to success in the classroom for the teacher, dancer and parent,” and we always encourage parents (and dancers!) to discuss any concerns directly with their teachers. For young dancers ages 3-6 it makes sense for the parent to do the majority of the talking, but as early as 7 we start to encourage dancers themselves to be able to voice what is wrong and use their words to explain their feelings or their frustrations. If the teacher doesn’t know there is an issue, we can’t fix it! Conversely, if the dancer or parent can accurately identify the problem then we can use that opportunity to both fix the problem as well as teach a lesson. princesstea6

For example, if a dancer can approach their teacher and say, “I was embarrassed when you called me out in front of the class,” then the teacher can both mentally note to make those corrections more privately moving forward as well as explain to the dancer that making corrections just means we believe you can do it right! Then and there the problem is resolved, as well as a better bond formed between teacher and student. However, if the dancer goes home and tells mom that she was embarrassed and mom has to e-mail her distress, the situation becomes much harder to fix, a teachable moment is lost, and the relationship is strained moving forward.

It takes a lot to trust education of your child to anyone, and we are so glad that you trust us. We try to always keep our lines of communication open, and we hope that you can do the same as both parents and dancers. Turns out the conflictive conversation is almost never as bad as you anticipate it will be, and if both parties can learn to communicate effectively we will create a safe space to continue teaching not only dance, but life lessons. Interested in joining us? We close Fall registration 9/28. Check out our Fall schedule here.

Do something FUN.

Periodically we will post an image on our social media accounts simply asking, “Why do you dance?” The responses are varied, but the most consistent answer is, “Because it is FUN!” Our dancers come to class to learn, but our teachers make sure that it is an enjoyable activity that is a stress reliever as well as an educational experience. Lonestar instructor Anna Starr put it this way in her welcome letter to her dancers this season: mini laugh 1

I believe in using humor, and while I’m very serious about dance – since I hold it so close to my heart – I believe in the importance of enjoying your dance education. Dance should be fun! I truly believe that dance is universal, and it appeals to every type of learner. Dance stimulates the physical/kinesthetic, intellectual/mental, social/emotional, and the artistic/aesthetic developmental intelligences of a child. It is a reflection of, teaches us about, and shapes our view of the world around us.”

We are so grateful have instructors that can show kiddos how to both be serious and have fun! Interested in learning more? Time is running out to register for our fall semester. We still have a few openings, but registration will close 9/28. We will reopen for spring registration after Thanksgiving. Check out our Fall/Spring schedule here.

Dancing Improves Social Skills

There are so many wonderful benefits to dance, including physical exercise, creativity, building neural pathways and building confidence. For today we want to focus on how dance in a group setting can improve social skills. It is extremely important in today’s digital world that we intentionally immerse our kids in social settings, and learning a new skill alongside others will build a foundation for working with others in school or work. fullsizerender-5

Dancing can help children to work as part of a team, as they navigate through new moves and routines. Learning in a group setting can improve relationships between individual students as they master skills together. Having social skills is important in every setting in life, and the relational tools that your child learns while dancing will carry over into school, work, and all of their future interactions. Learning a new routine as a group builds relationships and gives your child confidence in social interactions. Dance can build a strong foundation of working together, being challenged, and solving problems.

Interested in checking out a dance class for your kiddo? We are taking new registrants through the end of September. Check out our schedule here.

Only Comparing You… to You

As we are starting a new semester we have a lot of questions about the idea of “Leveling Up” as dancers enter their 2nd, 3rd, or even 10th year of dance. A lot of parents and dancers assume that if a dancer has completed Level 1 that they are automatically ready for Level 2. Unfortunately that is rarely the case. It can be hard to hear and understand, but most of our dancers stay in a level for 2, or even 3, years before moving on and up. This does not mean that they are stagnant or no longer learning new or valuable skills!img_6285

There is a lot of room to grow in each path and in each level, and honing in on strength, flexibility and basics will only make a dancer better over time. Reviewing the proper preparation for a pirouette and holding your passe on balance will only help your doubles and triples when it’s the appropriate time to work on the more advanced skill. Reviewing tendus and plies at the barre is something that Ballet dancers will do their entire lives, even as professionals. If you move up too quickly you end up cutting corners on your technique, and eventually you’ll hit a wall where you don’t have the proper foundation to back up more advanced skills.

The hardest part of assigning levels, however, usually comes when a friend gets the invite to advance and you feel left behind. This is usually when we have the discussion with the parent or dancer about only comparing you… to you. Sometimes a dance friend or someone similar in age did get the invitation to move up, and that can be discouraging. However, it may be useful to make some notes at the beginning of the year along with setting some specific skill-based goals. That way, you can look at your progress and recognize your own strengths and limitations. Rather than looking at the dancer next to you, we want you to be able to look at the dancer you were last week, last month, or 3 years ago and acknowledge the growth you have attained.

This is just one of the life skills we teach at Lonestar Dance Center. Interested in joining us? Check out our Fall schedule here! Registration is open through September 28th.

Energy of “The New”

We are BACK! After a Summer’s-long hiatus from blogging, Fall classes are back in full swing and we will be back each Wednesday with a little insight into the ways that dance affects the lives of our dancers, teachers, parents and onlookers. I usually take this first week of each new school year to come back to our mission (which is inspiring kids to express themselves with confidence), but today I want to talk about the amazing energy we’ve felt at the studio so far this week. Staff photo 18-19

What a special thing to be able to start fresh. As adults, and once we are out of school, it is a privilege that only  the teachers and the seasonal kids’ sports coaches get to experience. The idea that a new season brings a new opportunity for goal-setting, growth, creative challenges and new friendships. I’ve been watching our enrollment build over the last month through our online registration portal, but this is the week it comes to fruition and we get to see how these new groupings will grow together. The energy of our dancers and teachers this week has been so positive that the whole building seems to be glowing with the love of a fresh start.

All this to say thank you. Thank you for being a part of our studio family. Thank you for trusting us with your child’s dance education. Our staff and assistant staff can’t wait to not only teach your kiddo the basic techniques of dance, but also how to love, persevere, respect each other, be responsible, show integrity and walk through life with their heads held high. Not signed up for this season yet? Check out our schedule here! 

Practice Makes Perfect… Right?

*In lieu of a new post this week I wanted to share something I wrote last recital season. This year’s 14th annual recital is this Saturday, June 9th! Check out this post from April 2017… 

“Our 13th annual recital is coming up on June 10th; preparations are in full swing! Costumes and recital notes are all set to go out the first 2 weeks of May, and choreography is wrapping up to give dancers plenty of time to clean and perfect their dances. I’m not going to lie… my brain might explode soon from all the admin work! But, it’s all worth it to see our dancers, from little bitties up to graduating seniors, take the stage with confidence, grace and personality.

With performance art like dance, I find it especially important to set proper expectations for parents regarding what is “perfect,” or “successful,” at recital. If your 3 year old can get up on stage, without you or without a teacher holding their hand, in a foreign place, in a weird outfit, with bright lights on their face, and simply not cry… that’s success. Even if they cry? It’s still upward growth towards confidence and independence. If they do a few tendus and smile at the audience, even if they don’t remember their whole dance? That is amazing! I see our dance parents want so badly for their children to be successful that sometimes they miss the small moments in-between that notate growthrecital 2016 1

If you have an older dancer who is in multiple numbers, think through their day. Before the recitals even start they are learning responsibility by having to pack numerous costume pieces, tights, make up, hair accessories, shoes, etc. Once the show begins they must run onto stage, remember choreography and perform with personality, run off stage, change costumes, and maybe hair, and run back on stage to remember a whole different set of moves with a whole different performance story or quality, and repeat. It is possible that mistakes will be made, but what if we measure success by how quickly they can move past a memory glitch or fall and set their intention forward towards the next routine?

We say that “practice makes perfect,” or “you will perform how you rehearse,” and that can be true. It can also be a load of crock. All dancers would tell you stories of doing a dance for MONTHS, perfecting it, cleaning it, doing it full out, even practicing entries and exits and doing it without the mirror, all to mess it up on stage. It’s a live performance. As we move into recital season, take a moment and appreciate all the things your dancer has learned, is learning, and the growth you’ve seen from last year to this year. Consider all the small moments that have been “perfect” or considered a “success,” and your pride in watching them on stage will multiply ten-fold, regardless of that specific performance on that specific day.

Interested in joining our dance family and being a part of our next performance? Click here for a free trial coupon! We are registering now for Summer camps and classes!”

Becoming Detail-Oriented

Not everyone has an “A-Type,” detail-oriented personality. A lot of us, especially dancers, are big picture thinkers, dreamers, and creators. I am actually more on the control-freak side of the spectrum, but I can appreciate how learning choreography and putting together things for a performance helps the dreamers learn how to be detail-oriented. I’ve blogged before about how dance teaches responsibility. You are responsible for your shoes, your costumes, your choreography, your schedule. But on a much more specific scale, learning how to prepare for a performance or learning choreography is such good practice for any job one day. IMG_0811

In preparing for recital the admin work is crazy! There are about a million things to think of at once, and it will be inevitable that I forget something, even with all my lists. But, I can appreciate in this moment how learning to pack my performance bag for recital as a young dancer prepared me for this eventual job requirement. Did I troubleshoot every scenario? Did I ask for feedback from others to make sure I haven’t forgotten a prop? Do I have a timeline ready to go for recital to day ensure that I’m in the right place at the right time?

On a different note, learning choreography is a another kind of detail exercise for the brain. When “cleaning” a dance, we make sure that everyone looks the same at the same time. Tiny details matter like fingers, focus and toes. This level of attention brings a body awareness that few people have the privilege of learning. This comes into play in my adult life outside of teaching dance when I am exercising, driving, or doing any other activity that requires an acute spatial awareness.

Here’s to hoping that this lesson helps our dancers be great in school, in clubs and in their jobs one day! Interested in joining us? Summer classes start June 18th.