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From My Inbox:
My dancer is part of a dance company that competes. She is in 9th grade and the group of girls she competes with have danced together for years. It has been brought to my attention from a friend and fellow Dance Mom that I have a habit of offering performance advice to the girls and it has ruffled some feathers. I adore these girls and any advice given is with the best of intentions for their benefit. In my opinion, our dance teachers are sometimes so busy (we are at a large studio) that they hardly have time to prep the girls or give feedback because there are so many dances from our studio. So am I wrong? Is it better for them to not get feedback after a performance or a few pointers before they go on stage? -T
Thank you so much for your question. This is one of those questions where I wish we could sit and have a conversation because, let’s face it, reading things online can sometimes sound pretty blunt, so I want you to read this with thinking of chatting with a friend while sitting on a porch on a sunny day with a glass of sweet tea or water or a smoothie – you get the idea. Okay, now we’re ready. The short answer is “No, it is not okay”. Two things came to mind when I read the question. One, if you are not confident in the staff enough to feel the need to offer advice and critiques, then perhaps you are at the wrong studio. Competitions can be stressful and going into them feeling prepared is important. Think about why you don’t feel they are prepared.
Did they just finish the dances?
Have they not been cleaned?
Did you have a proper dress rehearsal?
Are dancers all held to the same attendance policy?
Does everyone know the dance(s)?
Are the dancers doing well and are your expectations unreasonable?
Are you realizing once you are at a competition that these dancers don’t train as much as others, and that creates stress? Does your dancer desire to dance like girls that train more? Is the stress coming from realizing where you are may not be the best fit anymore?
Are the dancers unreasonably nervous prior to taking the stage – do they not feel prepared?
What is your definition of prepared? Is it winning or is it feeling confident that they did their personal best?
My guess is there is something leading up to the dance competitions that are contributing to your feelings of unpreparedness and desire to offer advice. Unless you always had a secret desire to be a dance teacher! Think about the questions above and assess if it is a personal thing or if there are valid reasons for concerns. Competing is expensive. No parent wants to shell out money to put dances on a stage that aren’t ready to go. This I can attest to!
As for feedback after a performance, other than saying “Good job” or saying something brief, it is not the time or place to offer feedback. The dance is done. It’s time for the dancers to focus on the next performance. Feedback is best saved for the following week, with the dance teacher, in the studio when the dancers listen to judges’ critiques and then can take what they’ve just heard and make corrections.
I can honestly say, when you have faith in your dance studio staff, none of that comes into play. Certainly, my dancer may say how did we do or ask me about a certain part of her solo, and I will answer, but I keep things positive while being honest. I can’t imagine offering advice to my dancer’s team or critiquing them. I can tell you just from knowing them and having my own just-turned fourteen-year-old dancer, that would not go over well with any dancer, parent, or dance teacher for that matter. Plus, if you don’t have a degree and you aren’t teaching and continuing to train each year yourself, you don’t have the ability to offer the correct advice.
Two, remember that you don’t know all of the girls in a dance setting. Maybe you know them well because they come to hang out at your house, but knowing them in a training situation is different. Maybe someone has been working on something all year, and for whatever reason, it is not happening the way she would like – one comment from a parent when she’s not expecting it, could affect her upcoming performances. It’s not worth it. The girl you think is so tough may be having a really tough time with something you are completely unaware of, the girl that the judges adore – maybe she puts too much pressure on herself to be perfect. It’s a tough age. Leave the critiques and advice to the dance teachers who are trained – if they are not trained, then by all means, find a studio that employs teachers with dance degrees or extensive professional training.
Enjoy your role as a Dance Mom. Tell them they look beautiful, you enjoyed their performance, or something to build them up. Tell them if you hear people around you commenting that they liked their dance, costume, song, etc. They will get critiques from dance teachers, dance judges, and sometimes even their peers. Believe me, they will hear where they need to improve, but sometimes what they need is a little more encouragement. Enjoy your role as a Dance Mom and let the teachers do the teaching. Having her where she needs to be on time, well-rested, and ready to go is the perfect way to contribute to being well-prepared for the day. Feed her, encourage her, laugh with the other Moms, and celebrate the performances your dancer’s studio puts on stage. Do what you do best and let the teachers handle the rest.
Hope this helps!