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Dance Teachers: Here’s How to Become a Person Who Can Handle Criticism


Teacher article


Dance Teachers

As a Dance Teacher, the ability to take constructive criticism can make or break us especially in today’s environment. The reality is no one is indifferent to criticism, it causes us to respond either positively or negatively.

Growing up I played a lot of sports and took dance classes. In those day’s criticism was front and center. My high school football coach was a screamer. I can assure you that repeated mistakes didn’t happen very often and if they did you certainly knew about it. If feelings were hurt you got over it, quickly!

My first dance teachers Mikki Williams and Chuck Kelley didn’t sugar coat it when I did something wrong either. I personally liked that approach but I also understand that way is not for everyone.

So, the first thing we all must realize is that not all criticism will be delivered in the form we are used to or like. And that’s ok as long as you understand that and you can then process criticism and get to the main objective...

To fix what needs to be fixed!

To be honest I am thankful I learned early on in life to accept criticism as a gift whether it was forceful or not! I found that each person who criticized me ultimately saw something in me that I needed to see in myself. And I was taught that would make me better.

I also believe that if we want our students to have that kind of mind set shouldn’t we also live by those same rules? So, if the studio director gives you constructive criticism how do you receive it? Here is something to consider. If anyone takes the time to say something, shouldn’t you at least explore the idea of what they are saying before you just dismiss it or get offended or mad about it?

As a dance studio owner our customers through the years have told us all kinds of things. Some were really good ideas others not so much but we have instilled an environment where we can at least be open to something that may help us do what we do better.

Tips for taking criticism

1.    Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Is it given to build you up or tear you down? Ask yourself in what spirit was it given? Was it given before? Why was it given? Once you answer these questions you will see which version of criticism it was. Most folks give it to be constructive.

2.    Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you develop the ability to laugh at yourself, you really will be much more relaxed when given criticism. Keep in mind great leaders are criticized all the time. Do you give constructive criticism to your best dancers?

3.    Watch your own attitude towards criticism. A negative attitude towards criticism can be more destructive than the criticism itself. Your attitude towards your own criticism will be picked up by your students. Your students will reflect you!

Look, we all want to be told we are doing a great job and that we are wonderful. And hopefully that should be the primary voices you are hearing. But to be the best we have to accept the fact that we can get better at whatever it is we are doing. That will keep it fresh and help you to stay at the top of your game.

Here’s to your success!



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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