Dancing ClassOver the past few months whilst travelling around teaching workshops and masterclasses with Tapatak Oz, I have been hearing a common question from dance teachers all around the country and that is – “why can’t my students and their parents understand the commitment involved when working in a group/troupe situation?”
Whilst most students show much enthusiasm when a visiting choreographer or teacher visits their school, sometimes this commitment doesn’t follow through into the daily grind of class and rehearsals once the excitement of learning a new routine has worn off.
What parents and students may not realise is that learning the choreography is only the start of the process. It is only the foundation – with the hard work just beginning!
To reach the standard of which a group is truly capable, it is important that all students involved continue to show 100% focus at all classes and rehearsals that follow the initial “learning the chore phase”!
In order for the teachers to get a good result it is imperative that all students involved in the routine remember that they are part of a team! And as such they need to be considerate of all their other team members and their coach/teacher at all times.
Sometimes I think perhaps students and parents do not realize the far reaching impact of one person missing a rehearsal, as they do not see the bigger picture, so I have put together a list of MUST DOS for anyone who takes on the responsibility of joining their dance school’s troupe!
This of course is not meant for schools where troupe is “just for fun” – which is fine! This is for schools who aim to be competitive and/or achieve the best that they can be!
If you want to be part of a winning team – than you have to commit and put in a “winning “ amount of energy and enthusiasm.
But before you all scream that it is not about winning – true – I agree – but if you are wanting to win when competing with yourselves, which is being “the best YOU can be” – then this is what you need to understand and to do:
1. Attend ALL CLASSES and rehearsals for the group – missing a lesson makes the practice a waste of time for all others who did attend, as the work covered will need to be repeated when the missing student reappears in class! This is frustrating for teachers and students alike and makes it impossible to achieve a quality routine! Not to mention the total “waste of time” for all those who consistently do show up. Be respectful of everyone else’s time. We are all busy – so why should someone else’s time be deemed as less valuable then yours?!
2. Give 100% effort in style and personality at every lesson . The only way to develop your performance skills ( style, personality, story telling, energy level, dynamics) is to practice doing this in class. It will then become second nature and you will develop a stronger presence on stage as a group. Then as you all improve the teacher will be able to guide you to even greater heights, improving week after week after week. There is always something more to achieve – so don’t settle for anything less than your BEST in every class! You might be surprised at just how much you can achieve – whilst still having FUN!!!!
3. Always participate in rehearsal and class – sitting out in class is not in the spirit of a team! If you are not reliable and able to “pull yourself together” for the sake of your team in class and rehearsal, then the teacher can not rely on you for performance either. If you have been given a special part in a routine or are in a very visible position, this is a responsibility that you must honour and appreciate.
If you are missing, lazy or regularly unwell and unable to participate 100% at rehearsal – your “special moment” or “visible spot” in the choreography will be given to another student who is more reliable and appreciative of the opportunity! This is the only fair and reasonable way to conduct rehearsals!
So – just because the routine was choreographed with certain people in certain positions and doing certain focal points in the routine, does not mean that you are automatically entitled to that spot forever!
If you do not honour that position, by being reliable and hard working – the chance will be given to another student by the teacher rehearsing the group! Remember – you reap what you sow!
4. Make sure that that you know all the steps and choreography. This is each individuals own responsibility!! “Faking” steps is not the sign of a strong team. Those who are confident should always be willing to assist the younger or less experienced members of the team to help them achieve their best. And those who are not feeling as confident, should always be willing to ask for help. We all need help sometimes – and success in a team is when everyone pulls together for the benefit of the group! So if you see someone struggling with a step – go and help them out BEFORE class starts while you are waiting! And if you need help – do not be afraid to ask!!! Everyone will feel a special bond when they know that every person in the team/routine is truly doing their best and trying their hardest for the group.
5. School commitments – if you have a clash of commitments, you must notify the teacher ASAP! Not the day before! If a number of students are going to be away due to obligations at school ( which is sometimes unavoidable) then rehearsals need to be changed – as without the whole team the rehearsal is a waste of time and will need to be repeated! Attending a friend’s birthday party or a rock concert are not acceptable reasons to miss a rehearsal. You must honour the commitment already made to your team and competition group! Life is about choices – and sometimes you simply can not do everything! If you choose to go to a party or a rock concert instead of attending your rehearsal – then you should expect to lose your spot in the group. If the teacher does remove you, this decision will reflect the choice that the teacher has had to make, in response to your choice – for the betterment of the group as a whole! In life, all the choices we make have repercussions – so take responsibility for yourself and do the right thing! You can’t have your cake and eat it too!
6. Canon – this is a very challenging part of any routine and can either make them look “great” or a “mess”! Know your counts and practice to perfect all your canon – it is your responsibility to know your own counts and to be confident!! This is another reason that everyone needs to attend rehearsal and be available for ALL performances of a group. Changing canon to accommodate “missing” team members can totally ruin a group and often negates all the hard work that has been spent perfecting the initial canon. It is incredibly frustrating to perfect a canon and then have a student “text” the teacher the day before that he/she won’t be coming to the competition the next day……..what???!!! Emergency rehearsals are called and all the poor team members left standing are forced to change their canon / and or spacing in an attempt to fill the gaps where Little Johnny used to be. This is upsetting to all involved!
7. Patterning and spacing – again this is a facet of a group that adds a lot to its effect and professional look! If you are constantly spending your rehearsal time re patterning the routine to suit team member’s outside commitments, you are losing valuable time when you could be polishing the routine. It is never going to look slick if people are forever learning new spaces and positions. Not to mention the strain it can place on the teacher, as where a student is placed in a routine can be determined by many factors including ability, reliability, height, hair colour and a whole raft of things! It is just not as simple as moving someone to the right or left!
So – I hope this article has gone some way to helping parents and students understand why such a commitment is necessary when working at a high level.
Fair enough – some people want to “just have fun” – and that is OK too. But if you want to be included in troupes that are aiming to represent your dance school and are aiming to achieve a quality product that is “the best you can be” – then you have to be willing to put the effort in.
Like they say – no pain, no gain! It is just not realistic to expect a good result when you don’t put in the prerequisite effort!
You may say – “ But I have only missed one rehearsal this whole term”. Indeed that may be true, but if you have a group of twenty people and each person only misses one lesson in the ten week Term, you very quickly end up with a situation when the teacher has NEVER had the entire group rehearsing at the same time. In fact there would most likely be two people missing each week! This is nightmare scenario for a teacher!
So – look at the bigger picture and remember that most dance teachers work incredibly hard to make as many people in the class as happy as possible. They aim to be fair in the most part, so try to play by the rules and understand why the rules are in place!
Make sure you are taking responsibility for yourselves in class and rehearsals and DO YOUR BEST all the time.
You will be surprised at how much you will improve and achieve….whilst having heaps of FUN!!!
And a team that has all members giving 100% is a HAPPY TEAM!

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    This article was brilliant. I have been running a dance studio for 19 years and everthing that you said Christine was exactly to the point. I consistantly say all these things all the time to my Parents and students so it was great to actually read it in an article. Thankyou.

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    Hi Fiona,
    That is exactly why I wrote the article. So many teachers all over were mentioning the same frustrations to me. The feedback on this article has been huge with teachers everywhere emailing me to tell me they have now posted it on their Dance School Message Boards!
    I hope it helps parents and students to understand what the rehearsal process involves!

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