Ah yes, recital season. Honestly, it's what I live for. I love the costumes, the makeup, the production, the dress rehearsal and the excitement. A new energy enters the studio around this time of year. It's so tangible you can touch it and if you listen carefully you can hear it, too. Everyone is talking about buying tickets and getting the right color shoes and tights. The dancers are preparing to perform on stage in front of all their loved ones and talk about how many dances they have this year. It's so cute:). Over the years, I can really tell when recital is around the corner based on a few, tiny indicators.
First of all, my storage room is packed full of props, boxes and costumes. I can't even get in there without creating some sort of unnatural avalanche. Second, there are random costume accessories that have been left behind at the studio. We'll find a bow, a glove, a hair flower, someone's Nike (did they even wear shoes home?!) or an entire dance bag. Third, my dancers are MIA. Yes, right before recital, school activities ramp up and don't quit until the final bell rings. It's like crickets in the studio for a few weeks! And last, the line-up goes on the wall. Oh the thrill of seeing small dancers look for their routines just to turn around and announce to the entire studio, "I'm in 3, 14 AND 29." Again, it's so cute:)
But most of all, I know it's recital when I look around and see how much all the dancers have improved since last year. It's really unbelievable! It's amazing how incredibly capable kids can be when given proper instruction and guidance for an entire season. The dancers are everything to us, and we love to share their progress every season at our annual recital. Here's to another great show!!
As all dance parents know it's the season for competition. There are rhinestones and bobby pins EVERYWHERE but your car keys are not to be found. You pray that everything is packed and ready to go from gloves to earrings to butt glue and just when you think you're on time you get a text saying the competition is running 2.5 hours ahead of schedule and you haven't even left the house yet! You are the provider of sustenance and moral support. You help keep the lipstick on lips and off the costumes. Chatting with the other moms over coffee is a reprieve from the dressing room insanity. You sit effortlessly through award ceremonies where the emcee talks so fast you can't follow and you're not even sure your kid is on the stage anyway! But it's all worth it in the end, isn't it? To see your dancer perform with gusto and enthusiasm. To watch your dancer get better and better as the years go by. Building relationships and experiences they will never forget. Yeah, it's all worth it. So hang in there dance moms and dads! Studio directors and teachers KNOW they can't do it alone. Let's keep each other sane and remember to breathe as competition season heats up!
Every season studios have the challenge of placing dancers in the correct classes. I don't face this alone but rely on input from our experienced staff to help guide my instincts. It's truly a family affair because we know how important correct placement is for the dancer's confidence and potential. Most parents trust our guidance but there are always a few that wonder if their child is being over-looked or misplaced. It is their parental duty to look out for their child's best interest when they see other children being moved ahead and THEIR child is left in the same class for another year. I get it. I'm a mom, too. But there is a lot going on behind the scenes that parents don't see. For example, little Susie is being moved up a level in ballet but only did the level for one year AND she's new to the studio. What other parents don't see is that Susie takes 3 ballet classes per week compared to others that only take one class per week. That's makes a HUGE difference. Another reason some children move up faster than others is body facility. Some kids are more flexible or stronger than others and can accomplish dance moves more easily. That doesn't mean that the less flexible or less strong kids won't get it, it just takes a little more time:) Another reason is emotional maturity. How a dancer behaves in class is a strong indicator of whether they will advance to the next level or not. Sometimes, it is the BIGGEST reason we choose to move a child up. The dancer is mature, pays attention and applies corrections. Naturally, anyone who has that attitude in class is going to advance faster than other dancers. And lastly, if the dancer attended summer dance intensives or not. Dancers improve immensely from summer programs and that can give them an edge to move up a level, too.
Just remember, every child grows at a different rate, every child is unique and by that same token, every dancer advances at their own pace. It is our job to guide dancer's energy, attitude and talent on a unique path that is just right for them. And it is your job, parent, not to compare them to anyone but to be their biggest cheerleader and be proud of their accomplishments.
As we close out our 3rd season I can’t help becoming sentimental about our journey. We started Chandler Dance Center to offer something different, something real and assuring. A place where parents trusted us with their kids and believed in our vision. A vision we constantly fall back on of simplicity, affordability and amazing training where caring teachers not only encourage dancers but teach important life skills. Some of our families have been with us since the very beginning and we have watched your little ones grow up. We love you for trusting us to make it in this industry and know that it is because of you we succeeded. You stuck with us during our growing pains and continue to be supportive. And to my mom, dad, sisters and brother whose love and support is incomparable to all earthly possessions.
Now, onward we dance into Season 4 and we just know it's going to be the best season yet! xoxox- Megan
Dance teachers and studio directors are supreme multi-taskers. In fact, they are the kings and queens of juggling and adapting. Here is a small sampling of what your child's dance teacher/director is doing...all the time.
1. Putting in extra hours. Your teacher is probably at the studio every Saturday and Sunday working on choreography and setting dances. Even if they did have a weekend off, they're probably at home choreographing in their living room that doubles as a dance floor.
2. Finding and cutting music, for like hours and hours. Dance teachers and directors look for music nonstop. If you ever hear someone asking Siri in public, "Siri, what song am I listening to?" it's probably a dance teacher. Originality is a driving force for choreographers and that includes their song choices. After a song is found, time and energy is put into editing. Your child's 2:20 minute solo didn't come that way. Music has to be cut and edited carefully. If you haven't done this before, it can be tricky and take several hours.
3. Adapting classes and skills on a daily basis to meet every dancer's needs. In a perfect world, every dance class would be filled with students who are the exact same level, have the same physical capabilities and have zero bad habits. This just isn't the case. Great teachers are capable to teach to an entire room full of diverse dancers.
4. Costumes, costumes, costumes. Dance is a year-round production full of sequins, rhinestones and pizazz. We measure, sketch, order, return and curse costumes. We make sure the costumes are age and family appropriate because we are mindful of body image. We wake up in a cold sweat panicking, thinking we may have forgotten to order that extra costume. I'm stressed out just typing this!
5. Loving your dancer as if they were family. Dance teachers care, a lot, about your child. Their well-being is at the forefront of dance classes. Our job is to instill the love of dance in young people, not belittle and badger them mentally and physically until they are injured or quit dancing all together.
6. Making a mental effort to remain positive and encouraging. I see unhealthy negativity in many teachers and directors too often in the dance world.
7. Putting in LONGER hours at competitions and dance conventions. By the time you roll into competition, chances are your teachers and directors have been there since 7am and they will be the last ones to leave. Not to mention they were there the night before and will be there the following morning. Trust me, competition and convention weekends are LONG for us just like you. But we hang in there to make sure everyone has a great time and everything stays organized.
If you haven't thanked your teachers and directors in awhile, now is the time. Not only do you need us, but we need you too:)
As this dance season begins to fade away, many families start exploring their options for next year. Most families stay put, whether they are happy or not and others choose to move on. My advice for those looking for a new dance family is to SHOP AROUND. Do not be easily fooled by appearances like hype and a strong social media presence. Look for substance. Look for a positive environment. Look for happy children. Your job is to protect your child's mental and physical well-being. And remember, directors will tell you your child is amazing and has so much potential just to get you in the door and then throw your dancer in a classroom of 30 kids and think it's great training. Heck, they might even offer you some sort of scholarship to seal the deal. But think of the long term investment. Are their teacher's experienced, caring and positive or does the studio have obvious "favorites" and forgets about the rest of the paying customers? Do you have to sign your life away and compete for them just to take with the better teachers? And most importantly, avoid the DRAMA!
If you've been around dance studios you know what I am talking about. You really need to ask yourself what you want in a studio and then come try Chandler Dance Center:)
#chandlerdancecenter #happiness #positivity #family #love #notjustforthetalented #esteem #trainhard
When I opened Chandler Dance Center I had something unique in mind. Great training and an opportunity for everyone who was willing to work for it. No exclusive "company" where parents who can afford it dive into crazy schedules and commitments. So how can I explain what we're all about? I guess we are perfectly in the middle, in a category all our own. Great training, affordability, small classes and convention and competition opportunities. When I explain what we do I get this dazed and confused look because we are not a traditional "competition" studio. They ask, "When do you have company tryouts?" I explain, "We do not have any companies, but instead offer Elite classes (by audition) and it is from these Elite classes we set competition dances. Small group, large group, duos, trios and solos. There's something for everyone. And not everyone in our Elite classes compete. It's optional. The dancers in Elite classes take class with others who are not Elite." This flexibility was and is a major part of why I opened Chandler Dance Center. Not everyone wants their 10 year-old to be at a dance studio for 25+ hours every week. Not everyone wants to be part of a dance mill where untrained kids are thrown onstage to compete and cry, all in the name of being on "company." What people do want is small class size, great training, supportive staff, flexibility and to be part of a dance family. Still not convinced? Come and see what we're all about, on the house:)
I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. Love the weather, family, giving, lights, FOOD and general happy spirit of everyone. Hate the cold, figuring out what to give to everyone in the family, crowds at the lights, calories the food has and the general stress-filled spirit of everyone. But then, as I sit watching every Christmas movie ever made (Elf is my personal fav) and watching our amazing dancers practice for the Holiday Show I remember why I get jazzed for December. The studio buzzes with excitement as the show closes in on us and it's going to be really good this year. The kids always amaze me with their talent and willingness to rise to my ridiculous expectations and long rehearsals. But seeing the excitement in their eyes and watching their personalities explode on stage is the best gift anyone could ever give me.
There I was, another late night at the studio, contemplating what to write about this time....A student is sitting in the lobby waiting for her ride.
I ask her, "Jordan, what should I write about for this blog?"
Smiling and joyfully she shouts, "ME!"
I laughed and only after she left did I realize she was on to something. I could actually write about her because I know a lot about her. And then it dawned on me that I know a lot about all of the kids at the studio. I know each personality, which means I can play to their strengths. I can joke and have fun with some kids and others are all business all the time. I know which dancer is going to always be prepared and the one that can't manage to get a clean pair of tights in their bag. If something is left at the studio and it ends up in the lost and found I can probably tell you who left the shoe or shirt or the water bottle or the brush...the list just gets longer! I know who made the mess in the dressing room or which dancer is working over time at home on their skills and flexibility. Why do I know so much about them all? I pay attention. Not because I am a particularly detailed person, I just really care about all the dancers that come here. I care about their training, I care about injury prevention, I care about their mental health, I care about making them life-long lovers of dance, I care about their physical health. Kids are special, all kids, not just the few and far between extremely talented kids. Never count a kid out. They will surprise you and then have you second guessing your own judgment. Any kid can be a great dancer, it just takes dedication, patience and observation from caring teachers.
I took some dancers to a one-day convention this past weekend. For many of them it was their first time. The day is long, intense and loud but very productive. I asked the dancers what they thought about the whole experience. One dancer said, "It really opened my eyes." I prodded further and asked her to elaborate. "Just to see how good everyone is and to see how hard they work was really inspiring. The combos were super hard, but now I really want to get better." Music to my ears. This is exactly why taking dancers to conventions is great. On the flip side, attending too many conventions can be hard on the body since they dance on carpet over concrete. And conventions cannot replace valuable technique classes. But taking classes from industry professionals who always have a positive message helps me do my job back at the studio. Taken in stride, dance conventions inspire dancers (and me!) to keep going and realize their dancing dreams.