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4 Life Changing Days of High Octane Education and Inspiration Las Vegas Summer of 2023 HERE!

Empowering Your Students Through Leadership Training


Teacher article


Dance Teachers

“You don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how great you are. You inspire them by showing them how great they are!”

Robyn Benincasa, World Champion Adventure Racer

I just love the above quote and have been using it a lot recently. One of the best life-enhancing tools and gifts we can give out students is how to be a good leader. Yes, as the teacher we are the leaders of our students but if we can get them to lead each other in a positive way then something really special begins to happen.

I wrote in another post about an issue that we had at our studio with one of our students in our advanced company group who was trying to be a leader but had become a bit overbearing with some of the new dancers in the group. The real problems started when some of the parents got involved. All of a sudden, this whole thing turned sideways and accusations of bullying were being thrown around. We had to have a strong intervention with the entire group including the parents to clear the air and to hit the reset button. What it also did was to reinforce to us that now, possibly more than ever, we need to show our students not only the importance of leading but also how to lead.

I am sure you have had someone who has led you at some point in your life. Just about every successful person I know has had at least one person. However, it is not just mentors or the teachers who have led us it is also our peers.

I have shared with my students two instances in my life where my peer leaders helped lift me up. When I was in high school, I played football. While I was a freshman, I was on the Junior Varsity team and one day we had a scrimmage with the varsity team. I made a few good plays and the Seniors were yelling my name saying “Hey Sirico, nice play you are going be good dude!” WOW!… That helped elevate me and made me a better player almost instantly. More so than any of my coaches could have done at that moment. But I am so thankful to my coaches for putting me in that position and for creating an atmosphere to cultivate that sense of belonging.

The other story I shared with my students is when I was a student age 19 and I was in NYC taking classes at Broadway Dance Center and I was in Charles “Chuck” Kelley’s advanced jazz class at 4:00pm on a Monday. I was still raw and working towards being a professional. This class was loaded with about 50 dancers and just about everyone in that class was working on Broadway or in other shows in the city. It was a bit intimidating at the time but also very exhilarating. That day Chuck taught us a very challenging routine and at the end of the class it was his tradition to pick a few dancers out to showcase the dance in front of the class. I was one of three dancers chosen to do the dance. When we finished the entire class went crazy! After the class the other dancers came up to me and congratulated me and said they really loved watching me dance. WOW!… once again that lifted me up and made me a better dancer that day, instantly! Again, I was very thankful that Chuck picked me out and gave me the opportunity to show what I could do in his advanced class.

I shared these stories with my students to show them how important they are to each other. That they can lift each other up not by fake or false praise but to share their REAL feelings with each other and to let someone know when you think that what they are doing is special. Those words are like water to someone who has been out in the desert for days.

I encourage you to talk to your students on the importance of this. To change the focus from themselves to others and how empowering this can be. The fact of the matter is that if they want to be a great leader then it is important to be someone who people want to follow. That takes place when the lens they are looking through is turned from themselves and onto others. A great life skill to learn in today’s “me first” society.

I also encourage you to find ways to let your students showcase what they do well. It may not be a full routine.  Maybe they have great balance, stretch or they are great turners or leapers or just great movers and performers. Find a way to let the leaders in your classes, lead!

Creating an atmosphere where the classmate leaders lift others up in all of their classes will not only raise up everyone’s level but also everyone’s spirits!

Here’s to your success!

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Steve Sirico

Steve Sirico

Steve is co-founder of Dance Teacher Web the number one online resource for dance teachers and studio owners worldwide.He is Co-Director of the very successful D'Valda and Sirico Dance and Music Center in Fairfield, CT for the past thirty plus years. His students have gone on to very successful careers in dance, music and theater. Originally from Norwalk, Ct, Steve excelled in track and football. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a sports scholarship. Deciding to switch and make his career in the world of dance, he studied initially with Mikki Williams and then in New York with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett. He has appeared in a number of theatre productions such as Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and Mame in New York and around the country and in industrials and television shows. He was contracted to appear as the lead dancer in the Valerie Peters Special a television show filmed in Tampa, Florida. After meeting Angela DValda during the filming they formed the Adagio act of DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and co-author of a Partner syllabus both of which are used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America, He has also co-authored two books one for dance teachers and one for studio owners in the "It's Your Turn" Book series. He is available for master classes, private business consulting and teacher training development

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