Taking it One Step at a Time

I can be a somewhat anxious person; mostly it stems from a type-A personality and the desire to have a sense of control. The best tool I’ve discovered when I’m feeling overwhelmed is the idea of taking things “one step at a time.” I just focus on the task I am doing currently, mark it off the list, and move on to the next task. Dance teaches this lesson, pretty literally, and I think it helped shape a lot of the way I look at tackling large projects today. IMG_9554

When you see a dance on stage, with the complicated formations, parts and steps, it is the culmination of hours of progressive learning. You learn 4 counts, then you practice that a few times, then you learn 4 more counts, then you go back and review the first 4 counts, then you put it all together. But if you try to learn too much choreography at once, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s when you go back and review again, add on slowly, and then eventually add formations, complications, staging, etc. If you let your brain think about what the finished project is supposed to look like, when you are struggling with the current step you are learning, it can seem like an impossible task.

I am grateful to my dance teachers for helping me learn this skill of breaking things down into palpable chunks. I’m eager and happy to pass along this lesson! Interested in joining us? Spring classes start January 8th! Click here for a free trial coupon.

Advertisements

Different Kinds of Coaching

One of the best things about really getting into dance as an extracurricular activity is that you rarely just have one teacher (unless you are in combination classes or are enrolled in just one style). I’m mainly speaking about dancers like our Energy Dance Company members, who are required to take dance in multiple styles throughout the week. Not only is this exposing them to the many facets of the World of Dance, but it is exposing them to many different kinds of teachers and coaches. lex pic 1

While we make it a priority to hire teachers who care deeply for our mission of building confidence, our teachers range in levels of strictness, style of communication, behavior modification tactics, etc. A dancer may LOVE one teacher, but be scared of disappointing another. That’s ok. A dancer may click with an instructor’s personality, but have a hard time picking up her choreography. That’s ok too.

Throughout a person’s lifetime he or she will be exposed to different kinds of “coaches.” This could be teachers, professors or bosses. Team leads, project managers, etc. It is an important lesson to learn how to work well with and flourish under different types of personalities. We are all human, and we are all different. That’s what makes each of us special.

Interested in joining our studio? Spring classes start January 8th. Click here for a free trial coupon.

Dancing Can Improve Mental Health

It’s a crazy, upsetting time in our country, and around the world. We can’t seem to go just a few days without stories of useless violence, and, the politics of gun control or mental health services aside, most would agree that it takes someone of an unstable mental health to perform such heinous acts.  I wanted to highlight excerpts from an article put together by the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard University regarding dance and mental health. brain-dance

“Millions of Americans dance, either recreationally or professionally. How many of those who are ballroom dancing, doing the foxtrot, break dancing, or line dancing, realize that they are doing something positive for their bodies—and their brains? Dance, in fact, has such beneficial effects on the brain that it is now being used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological movement disorder.”

“In a 2008 article in Scientific American magazine, a Columbia University neuroscientist posited that synchronizing music and movement—dance, essentially—constitutes a “pleasure double play.” Music stimulates the brain’s reward centers, while dance activates its sensory and motor circuits.”

“There’s no question, anecdotally at least, that music has a very stimulating effect on physical activity,” says Daniel Tarsy, MD, an HMS professor of neurology and director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). “And I think that applies to dance, as well.”

Interested in reading the full article? Check it out here!

Teaching gratefulness.

All of the sudden it’s November, and through all the craziness of Costume Week and the Halloween frenzy we have emerged into the holiday season. Today I will put up our Thankful Turkey, which is a fun tradition each year at Lonestar. We encourage dancers to take a feather and write things for which they are grateful, and then we help the turkey tail grow. It’s a fun, culture-building, community craft, and it’s always entertaining to see the things that a 4 year old appreciates! thankful turkey

More than a craft just once a year, though, we try to always inspire a thankful spirit at our studio. It’s built into our mission of inspiring confidence. A confident person is grateful for the talents she has instead of envious of the talents she doesn’t. A grateful person can appreciate his unique abilities and showcase them in ways that make him stand out. Grateful people are happier with the outcomes of auditions or formation placements instead of whining about what they thought they deserved.

I want my dancers to be grateful they have working limbs, thankful they have parents that pay for their extracurricular activities, happy to have teachers who care about their growth, and to appreciate the rare gift that is finding your passion.

Interested in joining our studio? Spring classes start January 8th. Click here for a free trial coupon.

Building Community

It takes a village, and we love our village dearly! The more involved you get here at the studio, the more the studio will give back to you. The more relationships you and your child will develop with teachers, students and other parents. The more comfortable you will be leaving your child in class to go run and errand or two.

superhero costumes

Your dancer will be even more excited to come to class each week.

This week is a fun week: Halloween Costume Week! Be sure to come dressed up to join in the fun. We are always doing fun-tivities here at the studio, whether it is a Princess Party, spirit contest, social media challenge, or volunteer opportunity. Have you gotten involved yet? We’d love for you to get to know some of the other amazing dance families that are part of our community!

Not enrolled yet? Click here to trial a class for free!

A Good Kind of Tired

You know that good kind of tired you are when it’s been a really productive, but rewarding day? The kind of tired you feel after you work out or finish a big project? I love that dance makes you that kind of tired. It consumes your mind and your body, and, even if there are frustrating moments, you are a good kind of exhausted when you are finished with a rehearsal. moh 2017 4

Dance also teaches you how to push through your exhaustion to discover new sources of energy you didn’t know you had before. Competition weekends are a great example of early mornings, late nights, constant physical activity and emotional hardships. You have to persevere through that feeling of exhaustion and slap on a smile and point your feet for the good of the team. Performing produces a special kind of adrenaline, and even the most tired dancer can convince you from stage that they have boundless amounts of energy.

This is just another reason dance is so special. Interested in seeing for yourself? Click here for a free trial coupon.

Integrity- Do the Right Thing

One of our values here at Lonestar Dance Center is Integrity. We strive, and encourage our kids to strive, to always do the right thing. Even when no one is watching. Sometimes we fail at knowing what the right thing is, and in that case we try to learn from our mistakes and do it the right way the next time. To anyone who has ever felt we didn’t do the right thing, we apologize and hope to have learned something from it. It’s a part of our core mission and is one of the value-based lessons we believe dance teaches again and again. meghan class 3

One of the simple examples that always comes up during our value-teaching time is the notion of what happens when the teacher leaves the room. For example, a teacher of a group of 9-10 year olds starts class and gets called outside the door for a quick conversation with a parent. As she is leaving the room she says, “please keep stretching in straddle until I return.” We expect the kids to keep doing what they are asked by an authority figure, even if no one is watching to be sure they do it. It’s an easy lesson for the kids to understand mentally, and one we use in practice frequently.

We also teach Integrity as “making good choices.” I always pose a question to my kiddos. Which is the better choice when you arrive early: making sure the right shoes are on your feet and that your hair is out of your face or talking and laughing with your friends? There is definitely a time and place for socializing (and it isn’t in the classroom), but the better choice is to first make sure you are prepared for class. Come trial a class for free, and see these value lessons in play first-hand!

An Opportunity for Social Responsibility

I love that most businesses and organizations these days have some kind of philanthropic activities, whether that is donating to a cause or volunteering their time. I believe that we all have some kind of social responsibility, regardless of what cause you serve. It is important that we teach this to our young people.

 

Here at Lonestar Dance Center we aim to do at least 1 philanthropic thing per month with our dance community. nami walk 3For September it was attending and volunteering for the NAMIWalks Austin event (National Alliance on Mental Illness) as well as a donation drive for the Easterseals of Central Texas. For October we are having Pink Out Week and a t-shirt design contest to bring awareness to the fight against Breast Cancer, and the t-shirt sales will benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin. In November we will offer a chance for all our kids to publicly display what they are thankful for and highlight the goodness that each of us has in our lives. December brings our 11th Annual Holiday Benefit Performance, raising money for Austin Children’s Services and canned goods for local food pantries.

If you are looking for a fun place to bring your child for an after school activity, to keep them active, and to engage in a community that teaches and highlights social responsibility please come try LDC! We only have 1.5 weeks left of our Fall Enrollment, but we will open up again for January registration. We hope you’ll join us. Trial a free class by clicking here! 

Reflections from a Band Director

My brother-in-law is the Head Band Director for the Graham High School Rompin’ Stompin’ Big Blue Band. He is a great teacher and a great coach, and he shared something on Facebook last week that really struck me. What follows is his post after a bad rehearsal, and I wanted to share it with all of you. The word “band” could so very easily be changed to “dance”, and it’s spot on for how your dancer’s teachers feel after a bad or unfocused rehearsal.

meghan-class-1

All credits due to Josh Kidd 🙂

“This morning, we were not at our best. Believe it or not, for many programs, this morning would have been considered a very good rehearsal. In our program, we value the pursuit of excellence in the smallest details, the tenacity to push through challenging moments, the ability to hold our heads high while recognizing the way we approach our craft, and the realization that the group is bigger than the individual while maintaining a sense of community and togetherness. As you might expect…we didn’t necessarily live up to our ideals. And it’s ok.

 

Some thoughts as I think about tomorrow’s rehearsal:

 

1. Band is fun because we are continually provided the opportunity to perform, entertain, and inspire those around us.

 

2. Band is fun because it is hard. Challenges grow the individual, and we come out stronger in the end because we can look back and admire the journey from the mountaintop.

 

3. Success as a group is founded upon an individual’s ability to contribute to the whole in our weakest moments. Bands are not judged by the contributions of the most talented individuals, but the success of the weakest.

 

4. Each one of us is a valuable part of the greater goal of fashioning a group of individuals into a production that is larger than anything we could create on our own. Each of us have specific jobs.

 

5. Band is home when home isn’t. In our most difficult moments, we are granted the ability to come together and lose ourselves in performance, pushing away all of the struggles outside the sidelines.

 

6. Rough rehearsals, whatever they might look like, happen and only we get to decide what we do with them. We can retreat and let them define our path or refuse to surrender and come back with even more tenacity and resolve. (You know what I choose…I don’t know the meaning of surrender.)

 

7. I have the greatest job in the world because I get to hang out with awesome people like you every morning.”

 

Finding Passion

I love dance. I love to dance, I love watching dance, I love teaching dance. I love the way it makes me feel and the way the body marries the music in meaningful ways. I believe strongly in the values it teaches and in the hard work and the skill-building required to carry it out, but at the end of the day it is my passion. It makes me emotional. I will be moved to tears equally by pieces that are sad and pieces that are happy, if the dancer is living their life during the time they are performing. My husband (lovingly) teases me when we go to a live performance and I cry, even if it is a wildly happy musical. selma tapNothing else stirs emotions like that for me like a live dance or musical theater performance.

Not everyone who comes through our doors will find this same all-consuming passion with dance that many of their teachers have. Some find that passion with music, art, sports, math, etc. We dance teachers have chosen dance as our vocation and our life’s work, but lots of dancers who come to the studio do it because a parent has encouraged them to or because their friends are there. There is no bad reason to be there, and whether a dancer joins a recreational class for just one year or falls madly in love with the art of dance I am happy to be a part of their journey. But if even ONE student of mine finds the real passion that I have found in dance, I succeeded.

Want to see if dance is your passion? Or your child’s? Click here to try a class for free.