Over the past month, we’ve been asking dance teachers what they want their students to know. We compiled some words of wisdom, advice, and general thoughts from dance teachers to share with our community of dancers, students, and parents. We found ourselves learning a lot of from these responses!
1. They were in your shoes once.
Regardless of your shoe of choice, your dance teacher has worn them. Meaning they have gone through what you’re going through. Whether it is learning a new combination, making time for practice on top of all your other responsibilities, and just school in general, your teacher once had to navigate their own adolescence. “I know it’s hard to believe, but we were kids once, too! We get how challenging it can be to prioritize dance and everything else in their lives.”
2. Don’t compare yourself to your peers.
When it comes to art, sports, school and dance, it’s really easy to make comparisons between yourself and your peers. You may think dance comes naturally for someone else, or that your classmate is lucky to be so smart – but you have to try and focus on how you apply yourself. As the quote says, you can be proud of yourself and how far you’ve come without comparing yourself to another dancer. If you show up, practice, and give it your all, that is all that matters. As the famous saying goes “comparison is the thief of joy” – and that’s something we all (even us adults) have to remind ourselves of.
3. When they’re not teaching or dancing… they are thinking about it!
We had a few responses in this category and knew we had to share! “I wish my student knew how much behind the scenes stuff went into a lesson plan.” Music choice, arrangement, choreography, positions --- these things take time to build into a lesson. “There are times I am watching a movie – stop – Shazam the song and brainstorm on choreo right then and there!” They also think about their students outside of practice. “Being a teacher means your job doesn’t end after class. We think about if we said the right thing, were too hard on a student, wonder if they need extra help… the list goes on.”
4. They want you to try, even if you fail.
Of course your dance teacher wants you to be successful and the best dancer you can be. But part of being the best you can be comes with making mistakes. “We can tell if a student is putting in effort or just going trying to get through class. All we care about is that they are trying.” So, even if it takes a few more tries to nail a combination or master the choreo, just keep trying. “This can even be applied outside of class as our students become young adults – it’s okay to fail at something new! Life wouldn’t be half as much fun if you couldn’t look back at yourself and laugh.”
5. Corrections from your teacher are a good thing!
“We are NOT picking on you! We know that’s what you’re thinking!” Remember how we said your teacher has been in your shoes? Well, they know it can come across as nit-picking or even annoying when they correct you in practice. In reality, they just want to see you do better! “If you do feel like we are correcting you too much, ask us what you could be working on outside of class, or try taking notes”. Keep in mind, no matter how aggravating it can be, they only want the best for you, and that comes with corrections and advice.
6. Make the most out of practice.
Making the most out of practice comes with being present, being polite, and putting the phone away! “Show up ready, be in the moment, and give 100% whether you are at the barre or are on the stage.” How else can you make the most of practice? Take notes (mentally or physically) and take corrections with grace. “We know our students have other responsibilities, but we promise that committing to giving your all at practice is worth it.”
7. It’s just as important to be strong dance team as it is to be a strong dancer.
The dance world can be a tricky balance between focusing on growing yourself as a dancer and being part of a team. “Part of being on a team is being supportive of your peers.” In the same way we don’t want to compare ourselves to others, we have to remember that just because we think we work harder, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t deserve their achievements. When you see a teammate crush it at practice, congratulate them and be supportive. In short, you can be happy for someone else without feeling jealous. Again, we know this can be hard but it’s a valuable lesson to practice in all areas of our lives.