#FromTheSQJudgesChair – Inspiring Passion
December 13th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
Keeping your students interested in dance can be challenging (especially with certain age groups). How can you keep your students interested and inspired to continue to love dance? In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing how to pass on your passion for dance to your students. How can we not only educate but, spark love in the art form? How can we inspire passion?
Hopefully, if a student started taking class in the first place, they had an initial liking and were drawn to dance. After the time commitment, hard work and other factors, you might start to see that liking slip away. How can we pull them back in? One of the best ways I know how to inspire passion is to expose your students to more dance. I suggest taking them to go see a show, attend a dance convention or take an open class at a professional studio (i.e. Broadway Dance Center or Steps on Broadway). While these suggestions might be expensive, it is important for your students to see what they could be. It’s much easier to love dance when you see someone do it flawlessly. Take the opportunity to step back and let your dancers see for themselves all the different styles, genres and teachers out there. Simply exposing them to various professional forums of dance can reignite your students’ passion to work hard, focus and excel.
Especially in the competition world, a great way to spark your students’ continued interest in dance is to cultivate a strong bond between your dancers. Utilize team building exercises to create friendships and positive group moral. Team building also helps involve everyone. It doesn’t matter if you can do a double leg-turn or just a kick ball-change. It makes them realize that the group is a team and they compete as a team. It’s a great way to involve everyone and raise self-esteem, no matter what level they are at.
Another idea like, “Bring a Friend to Class Day”, can not only help inspire new students to join your team but, can also create new friendships between your dancers. While this program is popular among younger dancers, it can be difficult to get older students in the door. Therefore, offer an incentive. You could offer discounted/free class, apparel or shoes. You could also offer a social media shout-out. (They love that stuff!). To a student, sometimes being a part of something can be the fuel you need to get them to sign up for classes. If your studio can show them that they fit in, then you’ve sparked their passion to learn.
For younger students, their imagination is unfiltered, so, use it! Use their unlimited imagination to inspire a love for dance. Use storytelling through movement. Younger students don’t always focus on technique however, they do focus on movement. They just want to dance and move through the space. When you give them a back story to dance to, they light up. You can see the gears working in their brains as they create a story. For example, for passés, tell your class “Everyone pretend your foot is squirrel and your leg is a tree! Now, make the squirrel run up and down the tree!” They will love the imagery and execute the skill with joy. This involves them as a creator and you as their guide. Guiding them through their own stories will inspire them to love dance (and technique).
While it can be challenging to inspire passion when toes are blistered, knees are bruised and muscles are sore, you can still make your students love dance. Yes, you must work hard for something great but, don’t let them realize how hard they are working. Disguise it with exposure to professionals, team building and storytelling. You’ll be able to hang on to dancers for years to come. Now, go start inspiring!
Marissa Staniec is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.
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