Asking for Help

I’m really not good at asking for help. Ask my husband, my staff, my parents, and my collegiate dance coach. Part of it is wanting to stay in control (if you want it done right, do it yourself… right?) and part of it is being a people pleaser. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. But what happens when I don’t ask for help? I get overwhelmed, of course. I take on 12 jobs when I only have time for 10. I hear myself saying, “I can do it myself, thank you,” when what I need to say is, “Yes, help with this project would be so great!”

Another pitfall is that I don’t always end up with the best solution or decision if I’m the only one with the information. Collaborating with others almost always ends with a better project or result than if I do it alone. 2 brains are better than one from troubleshooting to creative thinking to work sharing. IMG_7023This week we officially named Alexis Parmentier as our Energy Dance Company Co-Director, and I already feel like a weight has been lifted. She is already turning things over in her brain and asking questions I wouldn’t have thought to ask. Being a business owner is hard enough; directing a competitive team made up of pre-teen and teenage girls and their parents can sometimes be too much. I’m excited to have help!

Besides my own journey with asking for help, I see dance experiences teach my clients (both moms and dancers) the same lesson. Sometimes you have to ask a friend to help you change backstage. Sometimes you have to ask another mom to help take your kiddo to the competition. Sometimes you have to ask another mom or teacher to help with hair and make up to ensure it is done correctly. Sometimes you have to ask another dancer to meet you over the weekend to review choreography. We are a team. We are a dance family. I am blessed and lucky to have so many eager teachers, moms and family members ready to help. Ready to join our dance family? Click here for a free trial coupon.

A little PSA for myself: if you see a need during studio hours or performances don’t be afraid to just jump in and do what needs doing… I may not ask you directly for the help (I might even say I’m good or don’t need it), but I will ALWAYS appreciate it!

 

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Open Mind, Open Heart

I never actually got to sit down and write about how it went with this year’s show, Matters of the Heart: Connections. I wrote about it getting rained out (lol), but the actual show was a beautiful evening of dancing in a beautiful park in a beautiful city. This was our 4th annual event celebrating self-worth, anti-hate, and dance as an art form that can tell intimate stories and communicate more than just movement.

It all started in 2014 with Sarabeth (then-owner), Brooklyn (then-instructor) and I sitting around a table at competition. Sarabeth mentioned that we could rent out the Zilker Hillside Theatre for a relatively low amount, and remarked how cool it would be to do some kind of anti-bullying awareness show. That conversation turned into the three of us commiserating about how petty and frustrating the attitudes that develop during competition season can be, and maybe this show, at this time of the year, would be a great reminder that dance is art, we are all humans, and how important it is to love and respect others. We figured we were just crazy enough to pull it off, and in our first year pulled together around 25 dancers to do about 15 numbers telling stories about the negative and positive things we experience (ie: gossip vs. acceptance, hate vs. love, etc). We knew the show couldn’t just be a one-time thing. We’ve since added 2 other studios to our show and told stories about being the light in the dark and the diamonds in the rough.Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

This year’s theme for the show, Connections, focused on how we, as humanity, are fundamentally the same. In a time when our country is so very divided, we wanted our students to find our commonalities. Things like the fear of losing someone, the joy we find in making others smile, and the independence we must all find to be successful. Sarabeth, Alexis and I set an opening number on some of our Lonestar dancers that was a simple, spoken word piece that talked through some of these ideas. It was a great opportunity for us to sit down with the girls and ask them their thoughts on the theme. How are we all connected? How are we all different? What are some of the things you have in common with people you don’t even like? What are the most dividing things you can think of, and what are the most uniting? The number turned into a beautiful introduction into the theme of our show, and I hope it’s something the dancers remember for years to come.

What a privilege it is to be able to teach these dancers more than just dance. Interested in joining us? Click here for a free trial coupon. 

Compassionate Teamwork

I took a sick day this week for the first time in a long, long time. And by sick day I mean I answered a few e-mails and that was it. Didn’t even do admin work from the couch; just slept most of the day. I may get subs here and there for conflicts, overscheduling, or just plain needing an evening off, but it’s been a while since I’ve had to have my classes covered because I couldn’t peel myself off the couch. It was a crappy day (I feel better now!). IMG_6882

The best part, though, is the compassion I felt from my coworkers who filled in the gaps. A couple of teachers worked together to cover my classes and made sure I didn’t worry about a thing while they taught for me. I know that a couple of other teachers stepped up and dealt with parents and the oversight of the studio while I was out. I’m sure there were questions and concerns that needed to be addressed,  but, for the most part, they let me sleep.

While there are many other jobs in many other industries where the compassion and teamwork would be the same, I have the distinct pleasure of knowing that this staff was raised knowing the same kind of teamwork I knew. The kind of teamwork where you hurry to fix formations and cover the missing piece when someone gets hurt . The kind of teamwork where someone will meet with you on a weekend to review what you missed the day you were out sick. The studio is a place that holds you up, and the dance classroom is a place where we creatively fill in the gaps when necessary. Because of dance we can think quickly on our feet and improvise our roles when required. I’m grateful to be supported and surrounded by that kind of staff and community.

Interested in starting your dance journey? Click here to trial a class for free.

Not Everything Goes as Planned

As dancers we are in a constant state of improvisation. Even if the routine is perfectly cleaned and practiced it’s inevitable that on the day of the performance someone is sick, someone is hurt, or the floor is too dang slippery to do that aerial in jazz shoes. What else can you do but forge on and figure it out? Improvise, fix the problem. Don’t fall apart. You cannot quit or give up just because it isn’t going exactly how you thought it might go.

Case in point: we were all set to go for our annual anti-bullying show last Saturday, Matters of the Heart. The show is out at the Zilker Hillside Theatre, and, guess what? It was RAINING. I held off and held off to make the rain cancelation call, because moving the show to the rain date meant new schedules, new rehearsals, new plans, and possibly having dancers who could no longer perform in the show. It also meant my parents and sister, who had driven in from North West Texas, would not be able to experience it. I even had my husband, Cole, drive all the way down to Zilker from Pflugerville, where we were waiting patiently with everything packed into trucks and cars, to confirm that the conditions would be much too soggy to do the show.rise up

When it came time, it was clear that my plan had no bearing on how this was going to go down. The rain not only continued, it got worse. Lucky for me, I was in the presence of 4 other dance teachers and directors who were able to help quickly amend the plan. 4 other strong women who were able to identify the possible pitfalls and problems of a new plan and help put it into action quickly and efficiently. New rehearsal schedules and call times were drawn up for the rain date, and everything is back on track for what we hope is a beautiful evening.

So whether it’s as simple as changing a lesson plan because you are missing too many dancers to set more choreography that day or having to reschedule an entire show, I’m grateful that dance continues to teach me how to persevere and keep my head up. Slap that smile on girl, because the audience doesn’t know you aren’t doing what you planned all along.

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Passing Along Teamwork

**Today’s Blog Post written by instructor Alexis Parmentier.

I heard a lot of “there is no I in TEAM” growing up.

Dance taught me about teamwork. Whether that meant trying to get along with girls I didn’t see eye to eye with, or collaborating with my peers; teamwork was a key element of being a dancer. I had many teenage girl moments where I wasn’t always feeling my best, or wasn’t always in the mood to be in the studio, but I was a team player. There was never a class that I took growing up that didn’t involve some sort of teamwork. FullSizeRender (6)

It was a choice I personally had to make. I had to choose to love and care for the girls I was on a team with. I had to choose to understand them, or try to, We were all on one company and we were all equal. We were all there because we had a passion for dancing.

This also applied to the classes I took that didn’t involve all of my company friends. I had to make the choice to love on them and be a team in each and every class.

Promptness, Respect, Responsibility, and Teamwork are just the tip of the iceberg of what dance has taught me. Dance is not only about expressing who you are, it is about learning traits and qualities that will help you bloom into a lovely young adult!

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Passing Along Responsibility

**Today’s blog post written by instructor Alexis Parmentier.

Dance taught me a lot about responsibility. Whether I was making sure I knew what my dance schedule was week to week, or knowing what I needed to wear and bring to dance, I was in charge of being responsible. Being responsible meant I needed to practice choreography at home, & also take responsibility of myself. That meant that I needed to take responsibility of making sure I was taking care of ME.

I needed to make sure I was stretching at home. I needed to make sure I was icing my feet when necessary or doing certain stretches when my body was sore. I had to make sure I was giving my body the nutrition it needed or drinking plenty of water. I needed to make sure I was taking a break from time to time, enjoying my youth. I was responsible for myself. fullsizerender-5

As time passed and I got older, responsibility grew into making sure I was at dance on time. I had to make sure I was remembering and practicing choreography even more. I needed to be responsible of time management. I had to allow time for homework and dance. I wanted to be a dancer who applied what I was learning in one of my classes, to all of my classes. I had the key to my responsibility now. Once I learned that lesson, I knew that I wanted to see responsible dancers in my classes.

“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.” -Hal Elrod

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Passing Along Respect

*Today’s blog post written by Lonestar instructor Alexis Parmentier.

Aretha Franklin said it pretty well.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

The second thing that is expected of my students is respect. Having respect for your teacher but also the other peers in your dance class. Walking in as a first time dance student, dance is brand new to you. You could know a few others in the class OR you could feel completely alone. Regardless, you have to build a new relationship with the others you are in the class with and your teacher. You don’t know if the friends you are about to meet are introverts or extroverts. You don’t know what their home life is.

All you should know is that you need to have respect for them.

With that said, respect flows both ways in a classroom. As a teacher, I know that if I am respectful to my dancers, I expect the same from them. fullsizerender-4Respect is the most important quality to have as a teacher. Having respect for other dancers skill level and their experience is also key to being a dancer. One dancer may have more skills than the others, but being respectful and patient is so important. It is a healthy quality to have as a teacher!

As a dancer, you also have to have respect for yourself. Respect to take care of your body in and out of the studio. Respectful to what you are feeding your body before & after dancing. Respecting the advice your dance teacher is giving to you. You are in charge of you and you have to take care of your muscles in and out of the studio.

Respect is one of the core values here at Lonestar, and is another one of the traits we want our dancers to walk away with after taking classes with us. Ready to join us? Click here for a free trial class.

Passing Along Promptness

**This week’s blog post written by Lonestar Instructor Alexis Parmentier.

As a kid I knew that if God wanted me to do something with my life, it would be a blessing I felt he was leading me towards. As an adult, I can full heartedly say that God has blessed me with dancing as a gift and he has lead me to teach dance to the younger generation. The traits that I have learned growing up as a dancer will be traits I carry with me my whole life, and something I will pass down to future generations.

Thinking back to when I was a student, I learned the value of responsibility, promptness, respect, teamwork, and so many other qualities that have made me who I am today. By learning these things, I now know what I’d like to expect from my own students.img_6444

As I grew up, I learned more and more about what each of my teachers appreciated. Whether it be dress code, respect, or promptness, I started to note how I could serve them in little ways when I was going to dance class.

For me, as a teacher, promptness is the first thing I pay attention to when it comes to class. Being on time and ready to dance when the class is starting is so important. I take time every day to lesson plan before coming to the studio to teach my dancers.  In order to knock out stretching, improving on skills, learning new ones, & working on choreography, we have to start right when the start of class comes around. If a dancer comes late to class, it takes away from the other dancers when I have to ensure the late dancer is warm and focused. If I am giving undivided attention to one dancer by warming them up or reviewing what has already been taught, it takes away from the class as a whole.

From walking in the door, to taking attendance & wanting to knock out all of my plans, I have to be punctual, and I expect the same from those I mentor! Just another thing dance is teaching our students each and every week. Interested in joining us? Click here for a free trial.

At the End of the Day

**Today’s Blog Post written by Lonestar Dance Center instructor Kolbey Gonzales.

After the work day is all said and done, most people go home to relax, cook dinner, spend time with loved ones, and empty their mind from experiences that happened throughout the day. When it comes to educators- the end of our day doesn’t exactly fall into that description. At the end of my day, I find myself driving home and immediately thinking about my kids. I sit and ponder to myself, “What could I have done better today?,” “Was he or she okay?,” “Did I give my best?”, “I wonder what they thought about my lesson?” There are so many questions that I ask myself concerning the children that I teach and it never stops.

As an educator you don’t come home and shut your brain off. Believe me, there are so many times I wish I could do that. It’s such a blessing in disguise that I can’t though, because at the end of the day, the kids that walk in and out of my classroom are so important to me. I consistently want to be my best for them. When I come home, I take the time to say hello to my boyfriend and our dog, cook dinner (if he hasn’t already), and jump back into work. I’ll tell him stories that happened during my classes, cut music, look for recital or competition costumes, and figure out what I plan to do the next day. fullsizerender-3It seriously never stops. I honestly get so tickled at myself when I go shopping for makeup and remember that one of my students likes a certain eyeshadow palate that she showed me on her phone, or when I see something bright pink I casually think, “Oh, she would love this!” I know one of my students loves when I wear highlighter on my cheekbones, so I’ll throw some on to see if she notices, and it almost turns into a game.

It’s the small things like this that makes being a teacher so special. Not only are you putting your skill to use by teaching, but at the end of the day your kids end up teaching you just a little bit more- in such an extraordinary way. There are days when I walk out of the studio and think, “Man I nailed that lesson plan today!” But after slowly reconsidering my boastfulness, I think again “was it me, or my students who brought it the extra mile?” I don’t think there are enough words to describe what it’s like being a dance educator, or an educator period. Every day is a different day and like Forrest Gump himself said, “You never know what you’re going to get.” That’s what makes what we do so amazing, and we have so much potential to change a child’s life. Just like our former teachers did for us; ultimately they were the reason we wanted to pick such an honorable career.

Being an educator isn’t about having summers off, school vacation scheduling, or even the perk of a stable job choice. It’s about making a difference not only for the kids that you see daily, but for yourself. Sure, there are days you won’t be thanked,  days you’ll wonder if you’re in the right profession, and days that you feel like giving up. When that happens, think of the child you could possibly be letting down. As teachers, our attitude is a direct reflection of our classroom and all it takes is one negative comment to turn a hard working kid into one who doesn’t care. So at the end of the day, the best thing to do is remember they are JUST kids. They may be going through some things that we will never understand or ever know about. They will forgive you, as long as you forgive them because every day is a new day for opportunity. An opportunity for enlightenment, that “Ah, hah” moment, or when you get to see pure excitement and passion written all over your kiddos faces when they finally understand, or excel at something. At the end of the day, think of those moments and realize that what we are doing now isn’t just some temporary affair. We are establishing values and characteristics of good people that can be exerted for a lifetime. So think, at the end of the day how do you want to be remembered by the kids, who you remember constantly?

Collaborating with your Competitors

Dance studios are an interesting business plan. Not only are your time investors not your monetary investors, but you are trying to apply value to something that has a lot of hidden, intrinsic values that aren’t always seen right away. Another way that it is unique is how we interact with our direct competitors. You see, at the end of the day, we are all extremely passionate about the same thing.

936_7k4a0405I do care very much how my business performs; I need to pay my bills and my employees and pay myself enough to feel valued in my workplace. I do want to attract clients to my studio over another studio so we can continue providing this service. But in the dance community we would all rather a student be dancing somewhere and growing as a person through the art of dance than not dancing at all.

At conventions we studio owners and directors take classes and improve ourselves together. At competitions we cheer each other on. We even collaborate in shows for the greater good. We build bridges across these boundaries in hopes that our dancers learn how to network, make friends and use their art and their passions in an amazing way. Interested in starting your dance journey? Click here for a free trial.