Category: Support

 

What are the judges looking for

They are looking for the basics first of course! They want to be entertained. They want to see something new. While I am in no way “the know it all of judging” – I do know a little, and enough to win.

1. Attitude:

I have seen a number of good dancers blow their chances at a win because of little tiny mistakes. Hot headedness and a parade like attitude is their first mistake. “Breath”

2. Technique.

If you don’t have good technique, expect your score to be low. Even good dancers get dinged for improper technique. Technique is the foundation of every dance known to man and woman kind. If you don’t practice good form in your training – why dance? The worst thing to see is someone slap a routine together and think its all hot only to be disappointed when they get their score sheet back, and see their technique scores hammered.

If you are unsure of how you are doing a particular movement – you should visit the American Ballet Theater’s Dictionary online at:
http://abt.org/education/dictionary/index.html The dictionary has numerous ballet videos in Quick Time format for those wanting to see the correct methods. (The following links are from ABT, and they own exclusive rights.)

Please count out your routine 5,6,7,8 and know where your music cues are. Get with the beat and stay on time. Make it pop! Here are some common technique flaws – how many have you seen on your own score sheets, or are worried about seeing in the future?

-open Jeté more
-Relevé
– Relevé kicks
– Relevé turns
-keep movements continuous
-more flex in splits and extensions
-more Relevé !!!!!!
-Dancers dance on their toes!!!!!!
-more use of floor
-EYE CONTACT
– Relevé on everything! (you’re getting this right?)
-Hit passé’ every time. So many marks are given for this technique error.
-DON”T LOOK AT THE FLOOR, you need eye contact and a smile at least for the beginners.
Fouetté Control, Lift, Execution, Spotting. Etc.. the same with:
Pirouette
Pirouette à la second, grande
Pirouette piquée
A sloppy fouette is a sloppy fouette. Don’t use it if you can’t do it right.

Some competitions base your technical training on the amount of fouettes that you do in a routine. They also judge on combinations,
directional turns, etc. Check the rules before you sign up in a category.

-Leaps:

A leap has a beginning, a middle, and an end! Always begin your leaps with a “prep” or approach. Coordinate arms and legs to give your leaps and jumps height. Remember to keep your back in good form , legs straight, and toes pointed. Land on the balls of your feet and rebound after every leap. When you have mastered these basics, move on to more advanced leaps. Don’t try to do leaps that go beyond your range. Be good to yourself. DON”T LOOK AT THE FLOOR!

-Arms:
E-gads its freak-a-zoid!

Make all your arm movements strong. Hit each movement like it was deliberate – because it is. Don’t just flop it – check it in the mirror. Fluid movements should be defined, not just left for the judges to guess if you meant to pop your wrist or stick your thumbs out. Your hand and finger movements should look as good as the rest of your body. Bent elbows in leaps – freak-a-zoid…. Another common mistake is to SWIM with your arms before you take off into a leap. Arms up from the side please. Lift ….from your
center…eyes forward…leap

-Use of floor!

Starting with x, and ending with 8 (this is an example only for like the first 32 -64 counts of a routine) One thing I learned years ago was that you never stop moving on the floor unless it is a choreographed stop, pause, or transitional movement.. We do, do movements when the music pauses. Those dead spots are great for putting in a nice visual, or formation change.

Consider this the size of half a gym in your middle school or high school. Advanced people use a full gym or stage. If you aren’t moving or at least showing me some form of well choreographed arm/hand/body movements – you aren’t dancing. (Please don’t stop with your hands on swinging hips and wink for 32 counts – unless you are 3 ½ years old).

For teams:

Formations, formations, formations. Don’t go on the floor without running through your formations first. Many teams dance on gym floors. Know that some floors are marked for volleyball, and some are not, some are just marked for basketball. If you have been practicing on a volleyball floor – you will be sorry  if you don’t get your formations for basketball floor down.

Guide right! Use your side peripheral vision to help you spot your position on the floor. It’s so easy even a three year old could do it. The old baby cheer goes like this “line up – guide right” No cheerleading experience necessary.

Our team is here to stay
Dancing dancing the time away
Line Up! Guide Right!
Line Up! Guide Right!
Our team is here to stay

Snap and Pull up on those kicks kiddies. Don’t banana back, you look like an old man when you do.. 🙂

3. . Choreography – what do they want to see?

A beautiful choreographed routine is a well thought out routine. Don’t just put it together because the movement is cool. If a movement doesn’t fit the song “please don’t use it”. I would rather see a CLEAN routine with good technique than a routine that is too difficult for the dancers.

When you choreograph – choreograph your facials as you go – DON’T wait! Practice with your facials.

Be aware of over use of tricks or repetitive motions.
When you choreograph ask yourself a few questions

a. How many Leaps & Jumps= ___
b. Turns & Spins=___
c. Hip Hop Funky steps=_____
d. Flash poses=__ ___
e. Kicks=_ _
f. Floor transitions=__ ___
g. Gymnastics =__ ___
h. Facials- Presentation- -How many & where _____

i. Please don’t use the same movement over and over and over and over – You get the hint.

j. use of floor in many directions – cover more area

k. New movements to wow the judges (I’m for that if clean and not over done)

l. Variety

m. Originality

n. Difficulty (is the routine to difficult for you?) It’s okay to change it.

o. More facial changes (a,e,i,o,u – head nods, winks) make sure they match the music. Please do not do facials as you walk onto the
stage (overkill). Just smile and nod when you stop to pose for

the beginning. I prefer a smile and/or a sultry look when appropriate.

Know a little about your competition. Just a thought. You should be as graceful a winner as a loser.

4. Costumes and makeup, etc: Costumes, and frills do not make the dance. This is a hard one for a lot of people. You can have the most expensive costume on the floor, but if you don’t have technique, presentation, and a tooooo die for routine and all the goodies that go with it – you wasted your money. Pick costumes that accent your figure – no flabby belly rolls hanging out, and no butt cracks in the back “please”. No robust breasts that overwhelm the senses “glaring back at you – warning, warning a fall out is
eminent”. Pick a costume that is flattering to you and that will accent your particular dance. Costumes – especially competition costumes need to have that little extra touch to them – but come on, draw the line somewhere. ORIGINAL is good too.  A number of competitions require you to take your jewelry off. Check your rule sheet.

– Hair, as long as it fits the style – do your own thing. Warning – some judges just aren’t as up on new trends as others may be. I hate to say these types of judges are dinosaurs – but……. in dinosaur land – do as the dinosaurs do.

-If they wax the floor you need something for the bottom of your shoes – right before you go on like, Rosin, hair spray, water or spit! Nothing like sitting in front of the judges when you should be moving.
– Plan for the worst with your choreography. What if I forget? KEEP GOING, don’t stop moving. Let me say that again, don’t stop moving, even if your hair falls out, and you want to cry, and the floor is so slick you could butter toast with it. Poop happens. Keep moving.

Gymnastics: There is a debate on that one out there. I don’t plan to get into it. We use gymnastics – but a good rule of thumb is “Use it sparingly, and in the right places”. Variety is always the key.

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Momma Drama II

I guess if they hate me, they are leaving someone else alone. Ever been there? Ha ha.. I have, many times. Guess I have this problem with the “truth”. People on the other end of the “truth” have a hard time hearing it.

You have to love those mommies that linger in the practice gyms and yell out over the top of the directors and the instructors. What I’ve learned about those lingering mommies through the years is that:

– lingering mommies better be front and center when the real deal “the dance” is being performed. Chances are the student no longer can hear the director or instructor because Momma has to be sought out.

-Watch their little faces as they look around on the floor for a focus point. Where is momma? Not where is coach or teacher, but rather “where is momma”.

Drama mamma re-visited.

It’s not that mom’s deliberately want to take over, they just haven’t burned out yet. They haven’t gotten to the point that they ALLOW the directors and instructors to take charge. They some how think that by injecting their ideas at a competition, that – that will somehow make it all smoother. NOT!

Words of advice for moms. You need to be the best cheerleader for your young dancer that you can be. But unfortunately you have to do that on the side lines. Just like football, you can’t be on the field. You can’t be there to hold their hands. They have to experience it to learn. It’s hard
for moms to learn.

I burned out early. Somewhere in the 4th grade. But back then the coach really knew what she was doing. She had a lot invested in the studio where my child was. She was a wonderful lady, and a hell of a good coach. Not only would she yell at all those precious darlings, she did it with bull horn. You know those big horns like the cheerleaders use to get their message heard. Had a whistle one year.

Here is quick example of when you may have pushed to far.

You paint your fence white, and you leave one section to be done later. You have plenty of time to finish it before the sun sets, so you take a tea break.

Well, you come home from your break to find that your neighbor has painted the remaining fence green, because it matches their landscape. They just simple thought you had forgotten that section. Besides “isn’t green pretty”?

Things like this happen in dance too. It deals with creative rights. I can see solo’s being redone here and there. I can see team dances getting adjusted to the team level. What is hard for people who actually are at the ground level, studying and designing the works to deal with, is “the green fence drama”.

Yes the truth hurts. But….if you are a director or instructor of a young team, you have to have someone say the “truth” eventually. The earlier you tell the truth – the quicker you can deal with any momma posse. Not saying you will have one – but…… yeah……

The upturn on this re-visting of momma drama is just to make sure that you young directors and instructors stay on your toes. You have the right to control your team. If you let the parents take over they will. They will run you into the ground, and then blame you. You have to stand up and defend your position. There will be parent who try to control other parents as well – beware the momma posse. On a whole most parents are reasonable and use commen sense. But…in a competition setting that can change.

You shouldn’t have to walk on pens and needles around your parents. That is something “the first something” that you will need to nail in the bud. You are in charge! You will have to tell the “truth ladies”, and it will hurt. Sometimes it’s you who hurts.

Trust is earned, so be strong and don’t back down. Your little girls need you. Go be with them as they dance.

I was a dang good drama momma in my days. So when I tell someone the “truth” You know it’s gonna hurt. Who knows, 10 or 15 years from now – you might have to tell some young mom the “truth” too.

Lock and load ladies.

Drama Momma I

 

 

Guess you can’t really have a site without first addressing one of hardest topics of all – “drama momma”… “momma drama”….

This little article is not meant to demean anyone. I
‘m not pointing fingers or tagging anyone in a thread as being one. It’s just a fact that in the world of dance you have Drama.

I haven’t seen anyone else stepping up to the plate to talk about the issue, so I’m assuming none of you have drama, right?  Right…..

This is an old article fist posted March 19, 2009 at 6:18pm .  So, if you feel this article is talking about you – maybe you should consider the advice it contains, and seek to make changes in your life.   I began writing about people like Abby Lee, before she and her fellow actors became a reality show phenomenon.  Mamma drama, or the term, stage parent, are nothing new.

I was told not to go easy… so here goes….

The following  statement is meant to warm you up, and welcome you to the land of mama drama.

Well the blood sucking venomous cow! Don’t go waging your finger in my face. My baby is above your rules.

Life in the dance world doesn’t have to be filled with drama every single day. With that being said, some of you are laughing at me already. You should be careful however; I might be describing you within this text.

Offended already? Not yet? No?  You might be thinking I’m a stupid know-it all old crow who talks to dinosaurs.  Good!  You keep thinking that, and  let’s get down to business then.

Any mom or dad that has a child in dance should know a little about the world of stage/dance competition before signing their little darlings up for class. You may innocently think that your family (child) is above the drama.

Why would you think that? Because you are spiritual maybe?  Or your political views, family values, etc., are stead fast? You know you represent the elite amongst the crowd – and rise far above simple drama.

Why you are so good and so helpful to all the new parents – without even being asked to help. You help in many ways. You begin by explaining to any new parent you meet your experiences with little you-know-who, and the other parental units in the group that need to be avoided. You explain the difficulties of the past, and then tell them they are lucky it isn’t happening  now.

Did you just fall for that crap? If you did – I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Anyone who starts off with the statement “do you know so-and-so”?  RUN… RUN away really fast!

Most seasoned dance parents know that if they have their child signed up for classes everyday of the week, and in all the advanced classes, they are now somehow entitled. Hummm, entitled to what?

Maybe it gives them an advantage as far as what classes they are in, but it doesn’t give them a reason to bad mouth, or isolate others.  Doesn’t mean you get the lead or the Presidents position either.  It’s based on merit only!

You may have your child on the bare minimum plan, one class “period”. Surely no drama can take place in one class right? You have a mamma, then you have drama.

Next day the phone of the studio is ringing off the wall with some angry parent wanting to know why you are destroying the precious psyche of their little darling.

It only takes one person – one little tiny person to kick off world war #4 on the dance floor.  Say that real fast “world war #4 on the dance floor!” It generally begins with, so- and-so said this and so-and-so did that.

Next day the phone of the studio is ringing off the wall with some angry parent wanting to know why you are destroying the precious psyche of their little darling.  As an instructor, you are totally oblivious to the whole affair, but you try to reasonably assure the frantic parent you will look into the matter. You agree to sit in on the class and observe.

I find that it is easy to spot the weak teachers from the strong. The weak teachers quickly put the little darling trouble maker up front.  The “I’m in the special spot -I’m in front and your not,” spot. Of course this poor teacher has unknowingly just fed into the fire storm rolling down hill in his or her direction.

Next day, another call comes into the studio. As you listen you almost can feel the anger of the parent  through the very fibers of the phone line. You are bombarded with negative comments like “you play favorites at that studio”, and “you let your friends brat’s control everything”, and “your kid gets everything even when I’m paying your big fat bill each month”.

Ever wonder why it is hard to get the director on the phone? See above….

Let’s play a game.

Suppose we have 7, 8, 9, 10 or more, of these special little dancing darlings in a class. It’s time to give out positions and learn the brand new transitions to those positions. Well, let me tell you, NATURE has a pecking order. It’s the primeval instinct that is born into the survival of the fittest – it’s called competition.  I can just hear it. Mommie she put me in the back for the opening.”

Frankly, there is a lot of special treatment handed out at studios. I’d like to think it is because of the hard work and dedication of those students who are successfully following directions and thus improving. But, it isn’t always true, and that is unfortunate.

It is also hard to work with students when you have your own child on the front line. Any of you who do have children in your own studio know it is true. When your child fails to accomplish good things – It is a double edge sword for sure. You love dance, and your kid doesn’t. It can quickly become a battle field.

The number of times I’ve watched a studio owner put their own child up front even when they couldn’t get the simply movements down – is numerous. All I could do was secretly hope their phone rang off the wall the next day.  Well, maybe I will just meet one of those newbie moms at the door and warn them about it. NOT!

I love this thing called dance, don’t you?

Now you understand I’m just looking at some of the negatives. But, unfortunately, things like this really happen. As good as you may want things to turn out, the potential for mamma drama, or drama in general can ruin the best of days. Don’t let it.

If someone is taking advantage of your child, it is the responsibility of the parent to look into the matter. It doesn’t matter if you own a studio or not. But, to all those blood sucking venomous cows who are just trying to live their lives out though their children, it’s time to stop. Your children deserve to live their lives and learn lessons in the world for themselves. I’m talking about the simple lessons in life  like, “you can’t have the front because you pitch a fit and call your mommie”. And mommies, you can’t micro-manager everything they do. It isn’t healthy.

Parents need to learn that their job is to be the cheerleader. You do have a role. You are their greatest fan. You have to cheer them on, even when you know the outcome may mean they didn’t win at a competition, or get the lead in the dance. They might not have even made the cut. The important thing is that your child tried to do something, and that should be rewarded with praise.

Parents sometimes push their young children out onto the stage without thinking about the fears and anxiety that comes with that event. Stage fright is real. Some kids love it – others don’t. As parents, we really shouldn’t ask our kids to do more than we ourselves would be willing to do.

Parents need to actively sit on the side lines and let their children grow up. You can’t jump in there and beat up the 2nd grade teacher because she moved our child to the side or back, or made them sit in the naughty chair, and call their parent.

At some time in the dance game, you will be surprised with something you might not be expecting. Usher in the teenage years.

Experienced teenage dancers should have their acts down pretty good by this time. Doesn’t mean they don’t sharpen their claws however. The thing with this age group “teen something” is it really isn’t much different from 3rd grade.

The biggest difference for girls is PMS, and many of them let you know about it too. I’m not so conservative that I can’t say “GET OVER YOUR PMS”!  If you have a doctor’s note “fine”.  If not, you are expected to be on the dance floor ready to go.  Besides Menopause trumps PMS.  I’m on it 24/7 – wanta go there with me?!….. I didn’t think so.

I had to explain to a group of cheerleaders about the benefits of good hygiene one time. They were appalled when we got to the part about smelly tights. Did their moms just stop talking to them? I wondered..…

If you dance or do any type of sport, you will have smelly tights. Boys too. Deodorant can save a lot of students from embarrassment. I don’t wait for the other students to pick on a member of the group – I let them ALL know up front where they can find deodorant samples at the front counter area. “Please take a sample home with you – and use it!”

It is one thing to leave the studio smelling like something the cat drug in; it is another to show up already smelling that way. Do your best with that one.

Kids are cruel. One little hair out of place, a rip in a garment and you are scarred for the week. I love the poster of the ballet point shoes that are beat up and tore. I think every studio should have that poster hanging at the front door. Clean nice neat shoes are a sure sign of a weak studio, and weak dancers. The more beat up – the better. Many studio dancers don’t dance with shoes at all! Most use  PAWS,  Foot Undies, an old sock, or just go barefoot (except for ballet).

Clothing on young dancers varies depending on what genre of dance you are teaching. Ballet is one of the strictest, and for good reason. Leotards, tights, proper shoes, and hair back – that is proper for ballet. There should be no jewelry, or minimum at the least. From ballet, clothing can vary.

It’s easier to have everyone wearing the same thing. The warm up outfits don’t have to be ugly either. There are so many options that students and studios can choose from. Rule of thumb “get input from the students on costumes” – they DO know style.  You can always turn down inappropriate clothing.

I have TROUBLE with students who show up with their butts showing, guts hanging out sporting the latest belly ring fashion, or tops that have to be adjusted every 6 to 8 counts. Not cool. I’m not too hip on tattoo’s either. Body art should be washable.

If I wanted to view someone’s art I’d visit an art gallery. I prefer a team that looks like a team rather than a group all competing for a chance to glorify their solo body art. If it can’t be covered by the costume or shoes don’t get it.

“Well you blood sucking venomous cow!” Yep, that would be me. I’ve heard worse.

Drama Mama’s come in many sizes, shapes, personalities, and economical social cliché’s. No group is immune.

Some words from the past:

  • “Well, don’t you just think you’re miss hottsey-tottsey?”
  • “Crawl down off that cross and give someone else a turn.”
  • “I hear she’s sleeping around.”
  • “Little miss perfect – got caught.”
  • “I’m going to take you to the school board”
  • “My child deserves home coming queen”
  • “She/he is a back stabbing little beep”
  • “I’ll show them!”
  • “I’m back baby”
  • “My child is the best jock”
  • “My, my, my tie is on so tight, the blood vessel in my neck might pop!”

Some of you are thinking “are you the real deal?” “Would I want my child around you,” “is she this way in class,” “and is this how it really is?” “My sweet little baby is so much better than this. I may home school”.

Well, I’m not that way. But if you are offended by what you have read here, competition studio dance or drill, may not be the way for you go. This is how it can be. But, it doesn’t have to be.

If you don’t know ANY warning signs, you may be setting little Julie or John up for a bad experience. Growing up is tough, and some parents have a hard time adjusting to that fact.

You should also Read

Momma Drama II “Re-Visited”
Stage Moms and “call security” Stage Dads.

 

Some would argue that if you get control at the beginning and set up ground rules “it just isn’t allowed” that makes it not happen. People… It happens.  Yes control at the beginning is GOOD, but it will not keep all of the drama out.

One thing I can state, is that I don’t have small children in dance anymore. I don’t eat, sleep, and drink my college student’s life for them either. I’d like too !  Darn, I guess I have to trust that they actually learned how to maneuver through the blood sucking venomous cows on campus and off.

Many parents would love to be at college with their children.  They would be the best helicopter parents you ever seen. Unfortunately for them however, the administrative staff usually discovers where the parent  landing pads are, and turn the lights out on it.  They can’t seem to land anymore.

Oh empty nest! It’s almost as bad as third grade.

Love your dancers; trust them to make the best decisions. Don’t micro manager everything that happens in their lives. Let them live. Set them free and they will come back to you. After all, you’re their biggest fan. They love you. They just want you to be proud of them.  Getting boo boo’s on the knee is part of growing up.

Dance is a discipline.  Your child will have to learn that.

There is a thing called the unforgivable momma – drama. As a teacher the hardest thing is to hold someone else’s baby when they cry and they tell you their mommie hates them because they are stupid. They have the bruises too. I have called Department of Child and Family Services. Yes I have.

From a well seasoned drama momma survior,  to all my blood sucking venomous cow friends! I don’t really miss you!

Ha ha..Yea I guess I do.. Some of you..

Jan

You should also Read

Momma Drama I

Momma Drama II “Re-Visited”
Stage Moms and “call security” Stage Dads.