Extreme Focus

We received the best feedback this week from a new adult student trying Tap for the first time. In a social media selfie where she was beaming from ear to ear she spoke about how much focus it took to take a tap class. That for 45 minutes her brain was nowhere but that classroom. You may imagine that kind of focus to be constricting and potentially frustrating, but I absolutely loved that she described it as “freeing.” lex pic 3Speaking of a clear mind and a consuming amount of presence, she reminded me of something I take for granted a lot. That no matter how stressful your day is or what is going on personally or professionally, dance requires your full attention and gives your brain and soul renewal.

As a teacher I don’t always feel this in the classroom, as I am providing this experience for others. And I’m proud and happy to do so! But it’s true; when I get to take a class and be completely consumed and focused it is the best refresh of my mind and spirit. It makes me so happy to be the facilitator of a place that is a refuge for the brain, body and soul! Interested in seeing for yourself? Trial a class for free! 

Advertisements

Dedication and Commitment

One thing that dance teaches is unwavering commitment. Many a dancer has missed a party or a play date because of rehearsal. There are exceptions, but generally the dancers who show up consistently, on time, and ready to work are the ones who get cast most often or move up levels faster. When you sign up for a dance class you are dedicating yourself not only to your own growth, but to a teacher and to classmates that are affected when you miss classes.

 

IMG_6628

This is such an important lesson to learn early in life. Dedication to your job, your education, or your extracurriculars matters. Once you get into college it is “optional” to attend class, but if you don’t attend you likely won’t pass. Once you start a job it may be easy to get shifts covered or use personal days, but you probably won’t get the promotion. And showing up is only half the work. Dancers learn to be hard workers and self motivators, and we would love to help teach that life lesson to your child. Interested in a free trial class? Click here.

Inspiring Confidence

Dance started back this week, and I am SO EXCITED. Not only do I crave a routine (summer is all over the place!), but seeing dancers return to the studio who took the summer off is so special! The new dancers that get to experience dance for the first time come in somewhat nervous, and just after 1 class you see them leave feeling accomplished at trying something new. It’s a special time 🙂IMG_8582

Since it’s a new year, I wanted to come back to the mission and zero in on what we are all about at Lonestar. Our official mission statement is “inspiring kids to express themselves confidently through dance.” This means confidence in their bodies, their minds, and their creativity. I want dancers who pass through our studio to leave as self-assured human beings who can speak out for what is right and be a leader in their environments. We use dance as medium to teach this idea.

Staff members at Lonestar all agree: at the end of the day we want to inspire confidence. This does not always mean happy feelings. Sometimes building confidence means failing a few times and learning how to persevere through it. Sometimes building confidence means being taught respect for instructors, your craft and others. We see dance as a perfect outlet for these lessons, and we’d love to show you. Join us for our 14th season of dancing! For a free trial coupon click here. 

Love.

One of our value words is “love.” Love for what you do, love for yourself, love for your team mates. We teach the definition to our kids as, “the feeling you have about the people or things you care about,” but the kids always have better answers.  With our Tiny, Mini and EDC teams we take each day during their summer intensive lunch hours to go through all our studio values, discuss them, come up with examples, etc. Love is one of my favorites to talk about with them.

For example: this time of year is about the time that our dancers who are together almost every single day are starting to get a little sick of each other. They start to be a little bit snippy, a little bit agitated, and a little bit critical of each other. BUT, mess with one of their friends, and you’ll have 13 other pre-teen and teenage girls chomping at the bit to protect and defend her. IMG_5892.JPGThey have built a lot of trust, seen a lot of good, seen a lot of bad, and learned about each other in a way that few other after-school activities facilitate.

They also start to exhibit such a healthy, strong love for themselves. Not in a conceited way (at least not always…), but in a self-confident way. They feel stronger after a year of dancing together; they can do tricks and perform skills they were not able to a year ago. They love the way dance makes them feel and the way their teachers pour their energy into their passion.

As all of us, teachers, dancers, parents, siblings, start to get a little worn down this time of year, I’m happy we all have love to fall back on.  Interested in starting your dance journey with us? Our summer session starts June 19th! Click here for a free trial coupon. 

The Possibilities are Endless

With recital coming up, we dance teachers are doing lots… and lots… and LOTS of choreography. Sometimes, creatively, we just aren’t ready. Sometimes, we look up and realize that all 15 of our dances kind of look the same. Sometimes, we get stuck and just can’t seem to finish a piece, even though the deadline is, well, now.

In those moments, I, as a choreographer and teacher, have to remind myself that the possibilities are endless. Let’s take a look at it from a mathematical perspective. Even for pre-school ballet choreography, they should at least have 4 ballet skills they can use. Let’s say they have learned a tendu, a plié, a passé and a ron de jambe.  The mathematical concept of permutations tells us that 4x3x2x1= 24 options for just those 4 movements. That’s 24 different ways we, as instructors, can use movement formulaically to create choreography. lex pic 4

Now, for the days I am not feeling creative, formulaic is fine. It’s bread and butter, it’s easy, it still works and still teaches movement. Let’s imagine a day where I AM feeling the music, feeling creative, loving levels, floor-work, and moving in a way that may not be a straightforward skill the dancers already know. Can you imagine the infinite possibilities to make the choreography look unique? Unique to that moment, that song, those dancers?

This is a lesson that dance teaches me over and over as a choreographer. In life, in relationships in your career: When you are feeling stuck, search for the pattern. There is a list, a structure, that you can follow, if you think it through. When you are feeling bold and creative, go for it. The possibilities are endless.

Practice Makes Perfect… Right?

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!

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!

 

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.

Interested in joining us and starting your dance journey? Click here for a free trial coupon!