Words of Advice from a Professional, with a few Dance Moms additions

Words of Advice for All Levels of Dancers and their Families

Recently, one of the dance team’s favorite tap dancers (Anthony Morigerato, NUVO dance convention) posted a list of 10 “Words of Advice” for dancers heading into convention/competition season. I read this advice and really thought much of it could apply it ALL levels of dancers and their families. I’ve taken Anthony’s list and added a few of my own thoughts and pieces of advice, as a Dance Mom.

1. Be prepared and practiced.
Dance isn’t just one hour per week during class. Dance is stretching at home by doing plie’s while brushing teeth, practicing arm placement in a mirror when done brushing hair, and practicing combo’s once the technique is mastered.

2. Be specific. The details matter.
Everything you do in dance should be a choice. If your dancer doesn’t want to be at the studio, it shows. If your dancer wants to be at the studio, it shows. Dancers that want to be at the studio come in ready to dance and it is evident in their work that they make each minute and step count. Dancers that don’t want to be at the studio make it difficult not only on themselves, but their instructors, and their parents. Listen to your dancer. Don’t force, guide.

3. Be inquisitive.
For dancers, ask questions if you don’t understand a movement. Ask for challenges when you think something is too easy. For parents, ask your dancers what they learned. See what they are retaining. Are they learning the names of steps or are they just showing up and watching themselves in a mirror? Do they seem like they are interested in a style you wouldn’t have guessed them to be interested in (I can attest to this one!)?

4. Be only in competition with yourself and not with others.
Though dance is a class or a team that have performances with multiple people, dance is quite individualized. Think about it – dancers audition, solo. There is no “team audition” unless it’s for a television show. Dancers should ask themselves: How was I successful today and how could I be better? PARENTS. Listen to me. Unless your dancer is already making money dancing on stage or in films somewhere, your dancer is NOT better or worse than any other dancer in the studio. Be a role model for your dancer, show them how to both give and receive compliments. Show them how to focus on improving themselves and bringing others along with them, not in breaking others down because of their own insecurities.

5. Be grateful.
Dancers: Say thank you to your parents, teachers, choreographers, and peers for all that they give to you as often as it comes to mind. Many people are making sacrifices so that way you can be on stage and have the opportunity to dance. Parents: Say thank you to other teachers and choreographers for the time and dedication they give to your dancer. On top of the education they are providing your dancer, they are most likely also providing comfort, friendship, support, and a second place to call “home”.

6. Keep things in perspective.
For team members: Don’t let any panel of judges, award, scholarship, or accolade define you. You are personally so much more than an award. In the end the judges are just three people on a planet of several billion, every person who sees you dance will have their own subjective opinion about what they saw. For all dancers: Use the critiques you receive as an opportunity to hear feedback from an outside eye and try on the corrections for size in your practice and rehearsals. Take the feedback for what it is. Use the things that are helpful to your betterment as a dancer and disregard those things that are not helpful.

7. Be inspired and be kind.
Dancers: Watch the other dancers who perform not with envy, judgement, or jealousy. The witness of another’s proficiency and success should be a source of great inspiration to you. Be kind to all of the dancers you meet. Ask dancers you admire what they do to have such great results, become friends. Make yourself available to other dancers who might ask you the same, become friends. You never know who will be sitting across from you at the audition table when you grow up and go pro. Being kind every step of the way of your journey is most important. Parents: Encourage your dancer to be both open to compliments from other dancers and to give them. Even if your dancer is, in your eyes, the best dancer out there, that doesn’t mean they can’t compliment another dancer that is working their feet off and really showing strides to be as good as your dancer.

8. Be confident.
Dancers: There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Be confident that you are doing the best you can. Be confident to take risks and fall flat on your face. Be confident that success nor failure is ever final. (Roger Babson’s thought not mine) Parents: Remind your dancers that there is a difference in confidence and arrogance. A confident dancer does not need to prove themselves in words, they prove themselves through actions. An arrogant dancer speaks of themselves and verbalizes their “big head”. I’m experiencing this right now with my own dancer. Navigating a growing, achieving dancer down the path emotionally is almost as difficult as navigating them down the physical dance path.

9. Be unique.
Dancers: There is only one you on the entire planet. Take the chance to be totally yourself and dance without any fear. The audience doesn’t know what they want to see until you show them. Show us YOU and not an imitation of someone else. This process of being unique is one of discovery that is always evolving. Parents: Revel in your dancer’s uniqueness. If your dancer wants to break the mold, help them!

10. Be proud and be patient.
Dancers: When you get on stage be proud of the journey you took to be there. Be proud that you grew as a result. Be proud that you did something that not just anyone can get on stage and do. Be patient with the process, it takes time, persistence, and positivity to get where you want to go. Parents: A dancer is not made overnight. A studio does not become perfect overnight. Both take time, nurturing and patience. You should focus on where your dancer is at the beginning of the year and what kind of growth you have seen at the recital. Do not measure your dancers success against another. Success to one family may be that their dancer got on stage AT ALL. Success to another family may be that their dancer participated in three different styles of dance. Be patient with your dancer, remember they are unique, they are building confidence, they are growing.

Note from Ms Mariah – Know that you are not in this journey alone. Everyone at artists in motion is invested in helping your dancer be the best dancer they can be. We are all here to teach, help, guide, and answer questions so please reach out to us if you need us.