The Evolution of Competitive Dance

The Evolution of Competitive Dance

Just a few decades ago, as competitive dance emerged as a leading influence in the dance community, the structure was virtually the same across events.  There was one level of competition and three possible outcomes: first place, second place, or third place.  First place would net the winner a trophy, while second and third place winners sometimes received ribbons … or nothing at all.

Gradually over time, competitions began feeding into the growing societal mentality that most, if not all, participants should walk away with some kind of special recognition.  Awards grew beyond gold, silver, and bronze to include descriptions like “titanium,” “platinum,” “high gold,” “elite,” and more.  It became harder to discern which award, exactly, meant “first place.”

In order to make every child (and parent) feel good and want to return to the event, competitions were diluting the value of winning.  Out of this shift, we now see a pretty confusing set of categories and awards across events!  And it’s becoming more and more common to see a waning work ethic among young dancers, who don’t see any reason to work harder if they’re just going to win anyway.

At The Dance Corner, we know that real life is NOT like this!  We know that life beyond dance competitions is different.  Not everyone will get into their first-choice college; not everyone will get every job they interview for; and not everyone will succeed in every relationship.  Everyone doesn’t always win at everything … and that’s actually OK, because there is always something to learn.

We understand that as dance educators, if we don’t push back against the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset, then it will have a negative impact on our students.  It’s important to us to teach them that even though they may be recognized at a competition, those results do not equal their worth or potential as human beings.  They are so much more!

Our philosophy on competition is that it provides an incredible performance experience for our students, allows them to work towards a goal, and exposes them to unique scholarship opportunities.  We LOVE providing this outlet for our students!  But we also want to emphasize that “winning” is not the most important part, because winning at many competitions means something different now than it used to.

Success, at The Dance Corner, is all about hard work.  It’s about making your best effort, bouncing back when something goes wrong, being a good friend, treating others with kindness, and building teamwork.  We believe that a commitment to dance develops all of these qualities, which is a personal reward much more fulfilling than any triple-platinum, high gold, elite plastic trophy can ever accomplish.

Why is the Dress Code Important?

Why is the Dress Code Important?

It’s a common question to hear from dance parents and students alike: What purpose does the dress code actually serve? We’re glad you asked! The Dance Corner’s dress code was established for a few very important reasons:

  • Safety
    The number one factor in establishing a dress code is for all students’ safety in class. A basic leotard and tights, along with hair pulled back and the appropriate shoes, ensures that there are no extraneous clothes or jewelry that can become hazardous. The dress code also helps teachers see that students are using the right muscles and alignment in order to learn the correct movements in class.
  • Modesty
    At The Dance Corner, we want every student to feel good about trying his or her best in class. Following the dress code helps us make sure that everyone is appropriately covered … but not so covered that their movement is restricted! We know that kids can sometimes feel self-conscious, and we want to encourage their confidence by helping them feel comfortable with what they wear in the studio.
  • Respect
    A dress code is one way students show respect for their peers and their teachers. It demonstrates an understanding of how a dance class operates, with minimal distractions and the ability to move easily for any combination of steps or choreography. It shows that the students are prepared to learn and are willing to save their fashion statements for outside of class.
  • Practicality
    Because leotards and tights also often serve as a versatile base layer for costuming, it makes sense that students become accustomed to them during class time. Just as swimmers wear swimsuits and basketball players wear jerseys, dancers wear leotards and tights to have the freedom of movement required to practice correctly and efficiently.

Everyone benefits with the dress code in place: dancers can learn comfortably and instructors can teach efficiently! At The Dance Corner, we take pride in our dress code and are happy to help you with questions at any time.

The Gifts of Gratitude

The Gifts of Gratitude

The dictionary defines gratitude as an expression of being grateful and showing deep appreciation for a benefit or kindness. What it doesn’t say is that gratitude itself is a gift! In fact, here at The Dance Corner, we believe there are many gifts that gratitude offers—to yourself and to others.

For example, did you know that showing gratitude actually benefits your health, both physically and emotionally? Research has shown that for adults and children alike, being consciously thankful can ease stress, improve sleep, boost self-esteem, and offer protection from negativity.

And gratitude propels you to pay it forward. If you’re grateful for your friendships, then in turn you are kind to others. If you are grateful for the food you eat, then you feel compelled to share. If you’re grateful for the joy of dance, then you lift up those around you with your joy!

Gratitude is an endless gift, because you can both accept it and give it away, over and over again. It is an awesome power. So during this season of giving and beyond, we hope you’ll join us in recognizing the gifts that being thankful brings, and to let gratitude guide your heart.

January 15th, 2019|Tags: , , |

Why Quitting Isn’t the Answer

Why Quitting Isn’t the Answer

Has your child ever come to you and said they want to quit something? Maybe it was a board game or a homework assignment, or a project they started and weren’t motivated to finish. Maybe it was an activity you signed them up for after school; maybe it was even dance.

Although it tugs at our hearts when a student says they want to quit dancing, we know there are bound to be moments in any educational environment when a child feels frustrated or wants to stop. In dance, they might feel like they’re not catching on to the steps quickly enough, or they think they’re behind because their attendance has been erratic. Maybe they express boredom or say they’re “too tired.” Occasionally they may develop anxiety about something very specific, like the way their shoes fit or how they feel shy around their classmates. Any of these situations can make a young dancer want to quit, but we believe that more often not, quitting is not actually the answer!

Quick disclaimer: Before we give you our dance-related advice, it’s important to note that sometimes the feelings your child expresses about quitting are indeed a symptom of something deeper. Because you know your child best, take stock of whether those feelings might require a check in with your pediatrician. We always want to support what is best for your child’s health.

Now when it comes to our experience at The Dance Corner, when we encounter students who express a desire to quit, it is often because they are feeling challenged in a new and unfamiliar way—perhaps in a physical way or an emotional way. Your child may need extra support from us and from you in order to figure out how to move past the discomfort and persevere. An extra dose of optimism, too, can reassure your dancer that they are capable of overcoming whatever speed bumps get in their way!

With dance, quitting rarely solves the challenge at hand. A child who feels behind in class or wants to improve a skill can often make improvements by expressing their feelings with the teacher, getting advice for practicing at home, or even scheduling a few private lessons. Just being heard can be a catalyst to change! A child who expresses boredom may be better-suited for a different class or different dance style, or the boredom can sometimes signal an unwillingness to work hard—a challenge that must be answered with effort. And a child who says they are feeling anxious should have the opportunity to work through that rough patch with a combination of personalized tactics and steady support.

When you think about the challenges your child will encounter as they grow up, you want them to have the stick-to-itiveness required to succeed at anything they desire, whether it’s dance or anything else. At The Dance Corner, we’ve seen countless students over the years gain more skill, more maturity, more self-respect, and more joy after facing an obstacle or a frustration, and choosing to overcome it.

We want you to know that our doors are always open to you and your child so we can problem-solve together. Quitting may not be the answer, but asking for help is always welcome. We’re here to make sure your child’s journey in dance sets them up for success in all aspects of life!

January 15th, 2019|Tags: , , , |

New Teacher? No Problem!

New Teacher? No Problem!

Having a new teacher in class can be an awesome experience for any student, and especially a dance student! Because dance is passed down from generation to generation and learned from person to person, every teacher’s perspective brings something special to the classroom. Whether it’s the way they introduce a concept or how they explain a correction, a new teacher’s unique viewpoint can offer unexpected “lightbulb moments” in a child’s learning experience.

Just like classes at school, our dance classes may have new teachers in place at the beginning of the season, at the new semester, or if a teacher requires a substitute during the year. Here at The Dance Corner, we understand that having a new dance teacher can be fun for some students and nerve-wracking for others.

It’s important to remember that if your child is feeling anxious about having a new teacher, those feelings are completely normal! And there are a few things you can talk to your child about to ease their mind and make the transition smooth:

  • New teachers are going to be different—but in a positive way
    Going into class with an open mind is key to having a positive experience with a new teacher! Talk to your child about the kinds of things they might learn from a new teacher, or what they want to know about that person. Remind them that the previous teachers they’ve loved were once new to them too! With time, this new relationship will develop and feel more secure.
  • Having a new teacher is great practice for school
    It’s reassuring for your child to know that this won’t be the only time in their life that they meet a new teacher. The dance classroom is a great place to practice getting to know someone new, because we all already have something special in common: We love to dance! Finding those shared likes right away helps build the teacher-student bond no matter where you are.
  • A new teacher is eager to get to know their students
    We know that any new teacher at The Dance Corner is going to be excited to get to know the dancers in their class! Talk to your child about how to show that they want to make a good impression, perhaps by raising their hand to answer a question or giving the teacher an extra “thank you” when class time is over. A new teacher will appreciate the extra effort as they are getting to know each student.

We also suggest that you explain to your child that their teacher is probably a little nervous too! And everyone will feel more comfortable once the dancing begins. Dance unites us all in a pretty amazing way. It helps us connect as humans and gives us the confidence to try new things and welcome new people into our lives!

January 15th, 2019|Tags: , , , |

What is Age-Appropriate Movement?

What is Age-Appropriate Movement?

Why is it so important that The Dance Corner offers age-appropriate movement for its students?  Because your child’s safety depends on it!

Safe movements for young dancers are dependent on their ages and rate of physical growth. For example, growth plates in the skeleton—the growing tissues that help bones become strong—don’t reach full maturity until a child’s teen years.

This is one reason why an eight-year-old dancer will still be introduced to age-appropriate movements even if she has been dancing for six years. The Dance Corner’s instructors understand that certain skills may not be safe for her to practice just yet.

To develop proper technique and a love for dance, we help all our students build a strong dance foundation over time.

At The Dance Corner, we take pride in knowing that our teaching methods must include different approaches for different ages. Our faculty take great care in their teacher education to learn how to instruct children of all ages with the most-relevant tools and resources. Our curricula allow us to ensure the pace of learning is just right at each level.

Here are some examples you may notice from your child’s class:

  • With little dancers, we focus on developing gross motor skills, such as marching, galloping, and hopping—not intricate technique
  • Our younger dancers also work on non-locomotor movements such as bending, turning, stretching, and balancing on one foot
  • Since the muscles that support a child’s hip joints are still developing, we never force a child’s “turnout” (the rotated position many dance steps are performed from)
  • As our dancers grow, we introduce strength and flexibility exercises only at developmentally appropriate times
  • We ensure our dancers of all ages know to never overstretch their muscles, either in class or when they stretch on their own time

Your child’s safe physical development in dance is a top priority in our classrooms, and it is a privilege for us to be a part of their personal growth in the classroom. We appreciate your trust in us as we help your child progress in dance, step by step!

January 15th, 2019|Tags: , , , |
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