Tag: lifelines


Leadership – who’s really in control?

Learning how to become an effective leader takes time and patience.  Leadership involves listening to what others have to say (on both sides) and being able to come up with solutions that are best for your team and/or studio.  Leadership shouldn’t be self serving.

Sometimes your decisions will be challenged.    It’s when you are challenged that you shouldn’t allow your emotions to show.  If it is an explosive situation and your first instinct is to verbally respond – STOP.  You have to back away from the situation and allow the matter to cool.  The last thing in the world you would want is a confrontation in front of your students, team, parents, or other professionals.

Being positive – especially when things don’t feel that way, is probably the hardest lesson any leader will ever learn.  You have to be able to maintain control without losing control.  Sometimes the situation may be so intense you may think you will break.  Step around itThere are so many more positive opportunities just around that blob of frustration.


A golden rule I learned years ago as a student instructor was   “as we are meeting deadlines, your students are meeting lifelines.  Lifelines are always greater than deadlines”.   Those lifelines are part of building childhoods.  Those childhoods are more important than someone becoming a leader, a this, or that, etc.  Deadlines vs. lifelines – Lifelines win!

Being a leader means being a strong role model (s).  There can be more than one strong role model.   You don’t lose any credibility by allowing someone else to show the steps.   You lose credibility by not having someone there who can perform movements that you may not be able too.  Kids will give up on you quickly if you are wishy-washy, or a  bossy–know- nothing.

When your verbal attempts to tell students fail, you need someone there to help demonstrate the correct steps along with the correct technical terminology.  Not a bossy-know-nothing.

Sometimes we do run into situations where the assistant or student teacher attempts to over step everything you may say or do.  In these instances, you need to take the person aside and make sure they know that in the future – overstepping boundaries will not be allowed.

That being said, respect is a two way street.   Those in the leadership position should understand that the assistant is just as important as they are.  Assistants help with backup when you can’t be there.  You need each other.  A word of caution – never  confront a staff member  in front of students “EVER”.   All you will earn by doing that is their  resentment instead.


If you find that your students are not getting the steps or a movement, show them how it looks – done wrong.  Sometimes showing them how bad it looks when done wrong will make them want to straighten it out.   Once you have done that, offer to help them break up the steps one by one until they get it right.

You are a mirror of what your students will look like.  If you can’t perform the steps correctly –  you aren’t helping them.   Hire someone who can show them the steps.  they should also be using the correct technical dance terms whenever giving verbal instructions.   Continue to practice skill/steps until your team is polished and can perfect the technique.  Don’t allow your students to practice bad habits.


Enthusiasm goes a long way in a classroom setting. If you are sour and always frowning  – that probably won’t buy you a lot of brownie points with your team.  You should be acknowledging your students accomplishments with words like “job well done”, “excellent”, “keep going”, “give it all you got”, etc.   Walk between, and beside your students, don’t just stand in front and bark out orders.    Be checking your teams formations from all angles and give feedback to help students close up weak areas.

Being a leader is a lot of work, so leaders need to be consistent.   How dedicated to dance are you?  Below is a listing of positive and negative signs for teachers.  Where do you or your instructors (leaders) fall ?

The following is borrowed from: Deciding to teach –  Teaching the Stars way.



Drop outs

Classes are growing and dividing

Arrives late – starts class late

Teacher is early

No motivation ideas

Always new motivation ideas

No enthusiasm

Great enthusiasm

Not excited about program

Helps develop programs

Cancels classes frequently

Arranges extra practices for them

Doesn’t explain why classes are cancelled

Attends competitions, conventions, and clinics (always learning new
styles and techniques)

Always tired or sick

Has a back up plan for unforeseen situations – ask others to help

Doesn’t arrange performances

Finds new performances for them

Watches clock

Does special things for students outside of classes

On the phone all the time

Wishes they had more class time

Leaves quickly after class

Stays after to talk to students and/or parents

Lets students go early a lot

Everyone wants that teacher (word of mouth)

To busy with their own children’s needs

Write or dance for online sources – providing informative views that
help students and teachers

Always remember “don’t hire a tap dancer to teach ballet”.