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Assessment in the K-12 arena is a high priority and instilled requirement. It seems every which way you turn students are always being evaluated for their work as a way to assure the state or national “standard” is being met. The studio sector however is a different animal. With that said, how do you, as studio directors, find a diplomatic way of evaluating paying customers to provide useful feedback for student development? It’s a slippery slope but a necessary one at that for a couple of reasons....

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We all have taught those amazing classes where we leave feeling inspired because the energy in the room that day was so electric. You know, the ones where all your dancers are little sponges and retain everything, are focused, ask questions, connect the dots and dance their hearts out? It can be an incredible teaching and learning experience when everyone is literally in sync and all on the same page; each bringing the same amount of energy and work ethic to the table. This is where progress is achieved, ideas and cultivated, creativity ignited and dancers are made.

There are those days however, where teaching is anything less than inspirational. It’s inevitable if you’ve been teaching long enough, especially if you deal with adolescents. There are days where something as small as their body language during attendance will clue me in as to where my dancers are at that day. Are they yawning? Leaning on the barre? Gazing off into space? On auto-pilot during warmup? Marking? Void of thoughtful questions? Not picking up choreography? Talking over on the sides? Etc. Etc. Etc......

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I am a dance teacher who expects excellence. I make no apologies for that. Neither should you. Whether you want to call it an, "old school," way of thinking or just plain" too tough," on today's young dancers, I disagree. The way in which we set our own expectations should be clear and concise so dancers know exactly what is expected of them at all times.

Expecting excellence from your dancers does not mean, perfection. It doesn't mean being the best dancer in class, nor the best technician, nor the best performer. It doesn't mean that if they can't get a triple pirouette by the time they're 12, they've failed. It doesn't mean that if they're extension isn't as high as their peer next to them, they will never have a dance career or are, "less than," said peer. Expecting excellence doesn't mean they're not entitled to have an off-day or frustrations or insecurities but here's what it does mean....


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With the start of a new dance season, dance educators are so inundated with work we often forget that we too need to take pause. We need to do this every so often in order to refuel our own creative juices and let ourselves become re-inspired. As with any artist, a little respite is a great time to self-reflect on the teaching year; choreography we're excited about starting, things that did or didn’t work in our curriculum last season, changes we’d like to make this season and what new information we can use to reinvigorate ourselves and consequently our students.......

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