I am a dance teacher, a wife, mother and a grandmother I am not that old, but I am old enough to see a difference in the several generations of dance of my days. The current generation is the most talented I have seen in my many years of teaching experience, but unfortunately, some seem to be the most distracted by all the extra activities offered to them today.
They seem to be missing the dedication of past generations of dancers as well as those that came in years before me. I remember a time when the dance students did nothing but eat, sleep and think dance. Don’t get me wrong, the lost dedication it is not all the dancers of the day, but more than past years. In this age of so much video, computers, cell phones and extra activities offered at school, time is lost in the dance room.
In recent years, I am seeing valuable dance talent limited, because of time spent on other activities, that after high school years will get these talented dancers nowhere. True, these activities are social, and being social in high school is an important issue. But, there also must be balance. The valuable dance time missed for these extra activities, could possibly open doors for them in the future, in life long careers. Some may not want to be professional dancers, but as future dance teachers, dance therapists, choreographers, even dance injury specialists and the like. All of these require valuable time in the dance room. In other words, I am not seeing the dedication in some very talented dancers that I have been accustomed to in my early dance teaching years. The dedication seems to be missing and I do believe it is because of distraction. A young dancer can only be spread so thin. There is an old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This phrase is very accurate and it means that “Jack” has done it all, but none of it well……..
Being dedicated also means that you should know as much as possible about the dance style you have chosen, especially its history. You would not be here without those dancers and choreographers that came before you. Learn of its roots. Ballet, tap and jazz, all have very historical and interesting roots. Learn how they have evolved. Learn how different steps can go together to form interesting patterns of choreography. Learn of how they have changed in modern day and age. Can you hold an intelligent conversation about the dance form that you that you love best and have been studying? This too is dedication.
As a dancer in my generation, here is what dedication was and expected of us in class, out of class and by my teachers. This is what I like to see from the dancers of this generation and what phenomenal dancers this generation would produce!
Never walking out a class. Why pay for a class and walk it out. Always dance full out unless directed by your teacher, for choreography patterns.
Never sitting during class (nor should your teacher) unless there is an injury or illness that prevents you from actually dancing. Observing is better than not being there at all. And, observing means giving your full attention to the class. That means no cell phone in class to text with while your class is going on. (Well…. there were no cell phones when I was a dance student) Nor was it a time to do unfinished homework. Being dedicated while sitting is focusing on where you should be in that line or piece of choreography.
While waiting for my turn to go across the floor, or my group in the center of the floor, I was on the side marking the steps in place. Conversing with other dancers while waiting your turn is lost class time for you. Doing this always gave me an edge when it was my turn. I learned the combinations while watching the dancers before me make their mistakes.
Being on time for class, is very important, if anything, I was early. Being ready to dance, dance shoes on, hair up and at the barre when the teacher called us in…..the first time she called.
Warm up was, and still is a serious part of class, not a time to converse with other dancers. Always give your full attention to your warm-up. This is the most important part of class. Conversation in class was kept and still needs to be kept, to dance related issues, anyway.
My dancer friends and I always practiced together when not in class, while at each others homes. We kept what was taught in class fresh in our minds and kept notes. Whenever we were together, dance was the center of our conversation and activities.
When you don’t get chosen for the “special” group or solo, I know I have been there too, it doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. In fact, the very opposite…you work harder. Practice is how you get where you want to be in dance.
And most of all, near to perfect attendance was a priority for me. Please keep that the same for you in your classes. If you miss class, get with someone prior to learn the choreography you don’t know. Class will progress more smoothly for you and your entire class, since review will be kept to a minimum.
And finally, know that dance does not come over night, or over months, or even years.
It happens throughout a lifetime process that is to be adored despite any struggle.
Don’t let present distractions ruin what you could have for a lifetime…….