Trusting the Process

Trusting the Process

A few months back, I was speaking with the mother of one of our students after a performance, and we were going over the experience. In our discussion, she mentioned the Matheny Manifesto as a contributing factor to how she approaches her daughter’s dance instruction. Her attitude was so positive and refreshing. The trust she placed in my instruction and the studio was inspiring to me and equally humbling. I was curious enough to go look it up and read it for myself. The Matheny Manifesto is a letter written by Christian, former professional baseball player, and current Cardinals’ manager, Mike Matheny, to his potential little league baseball players and their parents. While not everything he says translates from baseball to dance – most of it does! Parents – there are some challenging thoughts in his letter, and I say that to you as a fellow parent. If you are interested, you should look it up and read the original letter. I mention the Matheny Manifesto because the beginning of the school year is always an exciting and intense time at the studio.  While teachers make class recommendations in the early Spring – we do not get to see our recommendations play out until classes start back up in the Fall. I know those recommendations look like just checkmarks, but believe me – each teacher puts a significant amount of thought and energy into each recommendation. The director looks over every form as well, and there are countless conversations between staff as we strive to get every student’s placement just right. There are so many things to consider when placing a...
Responsibility

Responsibility

It is interesting to me is that, year after year, people are surprised at the appropriate, yet in-style costumes our students wear, the variety of good music, and the technical ability and talent that our dancers show at the dance concerts.  A large part of our mission is to teach dancers to share their gifts while using appropriate music, movement & costumes.  When I say that, I think many people imagine dancers wearing dresses as big as tablecloths and dancing to “Kum Ba Yah.”  Not that that would be terrible, but I feel like we do a good job of keeping everything God-honoring while still being fun and not out-dated. I also want to be sure to say something meaningful with each song and dance.  I have seen performances that show beautiful talent and athleticism but express nothing to my soul.  I feel like these can be missed opportunities for those artists to share something meaningful to their audience.  I have seen performances that express something negative or degrading.  These are sad moments.  I hope that our students learn that their dancing gives voice to their souls and that they use that voice with integrity & joy. Jesus is the living water, the ultimate refreshment – when we express ourselves within His will, the result is refreshing for us and for those who see it. So, express yourself – your hurts, your happiness, your anger, your silliness, your love, your prayers, your praise, your worries, your hopes.  God has created you to speak with your whole self, and we pray that you will use this voice with responsibility. It...
Planning (& Practice) Makes Perfect

Planning (& Practice) Makes Perfect

IMPROVING THE OVERALL EXPERIENCE OF TEACHING AND LEARNING DANCE The longer I teach dance and run a dance studio, the more I have learned that not everyone is aware of what goes into the whole process, so I thought I would give an inside peek at what the staff has been working on lately…  It seems like a dance teacher might just walk in, teach a few classes, and go home.  It seems like it should be this simple!  It can be, and that is how I started teaching when I was in college.  But the more I taught, I learned I could be much more effective as a teacher if I planned ahead a bit more.  My students would get a better dance education and would be more well-rounded individuals. So, many years ago, I began writing lesson plans at the start of each month.  After the first year of monthly planning, I realized I could not only plan my classes monthly, but I could lay out the framework for the entire year for each of my classes ahead of time.  I could focus on certain skills each month that progressed in intensity as the year went on.  Then, month by month, I take those lists of skills and develop combinations and exercises that fit the students I have that year.  Also, I could know in August what skills my students would be able to accomplish in the next year’s dance concert.  This made choreographing much simpler and less stressful on me and my students!  Plus, now that I had a framework of skills around which to build...