You’ve paid for choreography, you are excited for the new year and you find out your dancer doesn’t like her solo. Now what? Check out what our dance teachers had to say as they tackle this tough question.
My daughter is 12 and has just completed her solo choreography. At our studio, we do not have any input on the style of dance or music choice. We love her teacher and she has choreographed wonderful solos for my daughter in the past. This year she wanted to go in a completely different direction with my dancer’s solo. Well, my daughter hates her solo and does not want to tell her teacher because she doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. What should I do? She feels like she is going to do horrible. I’ll admit, it’s a lot of money to compete solos, so I would like for her to “love” it. Any advice for getting her to embrace this very unique choreography she’s been given?
As a studio owner and choreographer this can be very touchy. Artists can be so connected with their work that any negative reaction can seem personal and I can see where you and your daughter are both coming from. For me, I always want my dancers to love what they are dancing to and love how they are moving too. A choreographer’s job is to provide a service to their paying costumer. If you and your daughter are not comfortable I would first let her know how much you both appreciate all of the hard work she has put in. It is important that you acknowledge and show appreciation for the work that she has put in first. I would then let her know that the level of comfort and confidence is missing from your daughter in this particular solo. If there are any theme ideas or concepts then I would let her know that as well. I will say that it is important for dancers to be well rounded and sometimes that means they need to be pushed outside of their comfort zone. This may be a great opportunity for your daughter to do something she hasn’t done, dedicate herself to the process and create a more diverse skill set for dance performance.
Different styles and tough choreography are often frustrating when first learning what the teacher is giving. Even after a few months, the dance still could be hard to grasp and frustrating, especially if the dancer is a perfectionist or is comfortable in the previous styles she has done prior to this. Personally, I think challenging a dancer and going in a different direction speaks volumes of what the teacher thinks of your daughter! The teacher believes she can pull it off and mature with it. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have taken a chance with it. That alone should give your daughter a confidence boost and reason to make the dance work! Also, like EVERYTHING in life, practice make perfect. Perhaps have her execute the dance in different ways. One time do the dance really choppy and staccato. The next time make it more of a lyrical quality and strive for “pretty”. The next time make it strong and athletic with heavy accents in different sections. This will not only get her moving in a different way, but also may help her ENJOY it more by making certain sections fit her body and style.
It’s so hard as a parent to watch your child do something they love and all of a sudden their heart is not in it. I respect your daughter for learning the solo first and trying it. I also commend your daughter for wanting to be respectful to her teacher – she’s setting a fine example! I would suggest a few things. First off, you have trusted and liked this teacher in past years and therefore trust she knows what’s she is doing. She knows the strengths and talent of your daughter and most likely wanted to challenge her. Her teacher no doubt believes she can take on this challenge. Explaining it to your daughter in this manner may build her confidence in this solo and help her dig deep down to see this piece in a new way. She could also look at it as: “What does this piece look like from an audience perspective?” That can put a whole new way of thinking into a dance. Listen to the words – can she relate to them at all or connect to them? Also is she a able to have any say on her costume? If so this is another way for her to connect to the piece as well. In the end, it’s 1 solo and a new experience. Encourage her to embrace it while it lasts. Help her to keep a positive attitude and outlook because that, too, is important to her teacher. Remember: the judges will be able to tell if she is enjoying herself as well! Enjoy this year and focus on the new experiences and the positives!
Hmmmm, this is tough, but I’m going to have to side with the teacher on this one. There are so many reasons why your daughter’s choreographer has chosen THIS piece for your daughter. That being said, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to approach your teacher/choreographer gently and diplomatically and see if she would meet with you and your daughter so the three of you could connect and just see how everyone is feeling. If your teacher is anything like me, I can tell right away when my dancers are less than thrilled with a piece of choreography. It’s a good bet that the teacher/choreographer is trying to help your daughter transition out of her comfort zone and is giving her something new and different because she deserves the challenge. Remember, you’re bringing your daughter to the studio because THEY are the professionals. Many choreographers know that judges see the same stuff all season long and something different will always stand out for a judge that has seen 500 solos in a weekend. In the end, trust that your daughter’s teachers have her best interest at heart. Good luck with your season!