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.

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Pushing Yourself vs. Listening to Yourself

Dance teaches us something about finding the physical, mental and emotional balance of pushing yourself vs. listening to yourself. In dance, your body is your tool. In order to grow, you often have to push your body right up to the limit of injury, without going over. When we are doing something like stretching, we have to help dancers understand the difference between “uncomfortable” and “painful.”

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When we are doing cardio to improve endurance, we have to teach dancers how to find their breath and keep going without passing out. We find ourselves equally saying “push yourself” as well as “listen to your body,” and have to start helping dancers identify (very early on) when it is acceptable to sit down and rest because your body or brain needs a break vs. when sitting down is giving up on yourself or being lazy.

We continue to struggle with this concept as adults, and I see and hear others talk about it all the time. We often push ourselves to the point of being physically sick or mentally drained, and then have to step back and recognize our limitations. It is a hard challenge to learn to recalibrate and find that balance before we wear ourselves too thin again. In the smallest way, I hope that the lessons our dancers are learning in the classroom are helping them to find this balance early in life, so that they can be well-adjusted, productive, balanced adults.

Interested in joining us? Summer classes start June 18th! 

Teaching Loyalty

Up on our wall in our studio hallway we have our values in block letters to remind parents, teachers and dancers of the concepts and lessons we hold most dear. Loyalty made the wall, but what is it? Why does it matter? What can we do, as a business and as teachers and mentors, to earn trust and loyalty from our dancers and families as well as pass along the lesson? princesstea6

Definitions found on loyalty include words like “support,” “devotion,” and “faithfulness.” It is often used in the context of patriotism, and can conjure mixed emotions when referencing a nation or a leader. But, let’s take it down much smaller than that and discuss how we can teach young people to be loyal to their friends. Boiled down, loyalty is showing a high level of respect by showing up, time and again, for those who invest in you.

Loyalty is relational. There are some words on our wall such as “Integrity” and “Responsibility” that deal much more with the individual, but, much like “Respect” and “Teamwork,” I consider loyalty part of a relationship. It requires a trust that, if I am loyal to you, you will be loyal to me, and the relationship will be mutually positive or beneficial. As with any relational concept, loyalty can be severely damaged when trust in the other is questioned, or when the relationship no longer seems positive. The key lesson we want our young dancers to walk away with, however, is how to define those moments and see the world with a little more clarity. Just because someone has made you mad it does not mean you end the relationship (try telling this to a group of teenagers… it’s a work in progress). A loyal friend comes back to the table, with humility, and is eager to resolve the issue. It isn’t always easy, but it is usually worth it.

Interested in joining us? Summer classes start June 18th!