Hi dance family!
It’s been a while! Life has been crazy busy over the last few weeks, between diving into owning my own business, dance judging interstate, working on freelance choreography, and teaching my own students (concert time!!!) it is allll happening! Things got a bit hectic so thank you for sticking with me; I’m happy to say that more dance posts are in the pipeline again now and we are back on track! SO! Without wasting any more time, let’s just jump right in, here is your reminder to what NOT to say to your dance teacher! Of course we are dancers who count in 8’s so it makes sense that there are ‘5,6,7, 8′ points listed below! I hope this post encourages you to think twice next time you are about to say one of these, and remember to try the “instead” option – its all about the little things that make you an awesome student, and keeping your energy in class positive, focused, and respectful!
1. “Can we do *such and such* today?”
While your dance teacher will always be very happy that you are eager to learn/practice, and it is great to show initiative, this one for me is still a no-no (and drives me crazy) for a few reasons. Whether you realise it or not, your lessons are planned by your teacher who spends a lot of time thinking about the lesson and the students in advance and knows exactly what they are doing. Even when it seems like you are “just” stretching or “just”running through a routine, trust that this is for a reason and nothing your coach ever asks you to do is random. It is a little disrespectful if we are in the middle of an exercise and you ask to do something else – it shows that you don’t respect the teacher’s call, or maybe you are just not giving the current exercise your full attention.
Instead: Choose the right time. I always appreciate enthusiasm and do want to know what things you would like to focus on, so please find a time outside of class to come and see me. If you want to focus on specific things or want more practice on something let’s talk that over and see what we can do. I would bet that your coach/dance teacher already knows what it is you’re going to ask and has a method in mind, trust the process!
2. “Can we just mark this one?”
Are you dying?
(Don’t even ask. No coach wants to feel a ‘can’t-be-bothered’ vibe from any dancer while they are trying their best to teach a great class! And no team mate in your class wants your lethergy rubbing off on them! Don’t kill the vibe! If you are getting tired or feeling unfit then that is even more reason to push yourself to dance full out! Don’t give in to he urge to take a rest. It is when you are tired and out of energy and push yourself for just one more leap or just one more kick… that is when you grow. And trust me dancers, whether you realise the benefits quickly or even in a few years time, you will thank your coach later!)
Instead: To your coach if you think you need to: “may I take a drink break please? I’m feeling really tired.” OR to yourself: “You can do this! Push through!”
3. “I need to take it easy today because…”
“Take it easy” just kills me. Two clear options when you are sick/hurt:
A. Do you have an injury or illness that requires time off? Your teacher needs to be told about it before class and will also expect to hear what you are doing about it: when is your physio appointment, have you been treating it, etc.
B. If you can’t walk, you are excused and may sit down. Different teachers will have different views on this, here are mine: Please still come to class if you can (unless you’re contagious): you need to see what the class is doing so you stay up to speed, and your teacher will appreciate you making the effort. But sit down the front and watch/listen. Half heartedly dancing/limping around the dance floor just makes it harder for everyone else. As a choreographer trying to watch the routine I can’t see the overall visual if one person is not dancing properly, you also draw my eye throughout the entire class. The vibe is then also set. One person it marking or taking it easy, before long another person is too, then the energy of the whole team is diminished. Do you reeeeally need to ‘take it easy?’
This is not to say you aren’t allowed to be unwell or injured! Of course let your coach know if something is not right. Just realise if it is something you can dance through, or not, and then which action do you take? Really it should be one or the other.
4. “What time is it?”
I’m sure its common sense as to why this is rude, but I will admit that as a young kid I once got in trouble for asking this! So for the sake of any younger dancers reading the blog I will explain. Just like asking to “mark it”, asking the time implies that you are waiting for the class to end. You aren’t focused, you aren’t enjoying the class, and most of all you don’t want to be there! Maybe when you are older you will have opportunities to teach. Its then, when you are standing there in front of a class of teenagers (or minis who can be just as overwhelming!) that you realise how important the dancers’ attitudes are to the class. There is nothing worse than having a class prepared and be out in front giving it your all, only to see disinterested faces looking back at you.
Keep focused, you can do it! Classes are just not that long, you will be finished when the teacher dismisses you!
Instead: There is nothing else you can ask in this case, but check your thoughts and why you are wondering about the time? Maybe you’re hungry and need to have a better snack before class? Or maybe you are bored because you aren’t paying attention and staying focused. Nothing in dance is boring if you are thinking about it correctly, even a demi plié needs focus.
5. “I know”
This one is for the teenagers. If you were already stretching your feet you would not be being told to stretch your feet! “I know” or the infuriating “Yep” or (god forbid) even the faintest eye roll in response to a correction or instruction is not going to get you anywhere – except maybe out the door! Keep the back chat to yourself and take every correction on board. Your teacher is a teacher for a reason, they can spot your flaws easy and call you out only because and they want you to improve. You may be the best 13 year old dancer on the planet but you don’t know everything. It is not a personal attack. It is not being said to purposely annoy you. Just stretch your feet.
Instead: “Yes Miss Brittany”, “OK”, “I don’t understand what you mean” is also totally fine, OR you can say nothing at all, and by applying the note straight away your teacher knows you are listening and working on it.
6. “I don’t know this part”
If you were away last week, dancing til halfway through the routine and then just standing there in the middle yelling out “I was away I don’t know this bit!!!” while everyone else dances around you trying not to crash into you is one of your teacher’s least favourite things. (Don’t laugh mums, this happens weekly!) Trust me, I can already tell that you don’t know it, I can see that for myself!
Instead: Jump off to the side during the part you don’t know and start copying and learning! No one in the room wants to spend another 20 mins of the class going over what we already did last lesson. If you are old enough to take the initiative, you should find a friend (bonus points if this happens before class, hallelujah!) and ask her to show you what you missed. Time is precious, people!
7. “She’s not doing it right!”
This is mostly for the younger dancers. The teacher can see everyone, and if Suzie isn’t pulling up her knee we don’t need you to tell us, and Suzie certainly doesn’t need you to announce it to the whole class!
Instead: The golden rule for Minis: (and one we can all remember at every age) worry about yourself! Eyes on the mirror please Sally, your knee isn’t perfect either!
8. Folded arms
True this isn’t technically something you say… but it kind of is! We dancers know that the body is capable of speaking a thousand words with one movement. Please think about your body language teenagers! If you were standing in front of a group of 15 yr olds what would you want to see looking back at you?
Instead: Stand up straight on both feet, uncross your arms, un-glaze your eyes, and look like you are paying attention, this will not only fool your teacher but you will end up tricking yourself into being focused too!
BONUS: 5 Things you should always say:
- Hello – to your teacher and all your classmates, acknowledge everyone (not just your best friends) this gets your class off to a positive start and is just good manners.
- Thank you – whether it was the most amazing class you have ever taken or the most boring, thank your teacher. They have given you their time and attention and deserve respect.
- Yes – to everything! Nothing is lost by giving it a try, and by the same token, nothing is gained! Ditch the attitude, or self doubt, or embarrassment, or laziness. Whatever it is, it’s holding you back! Start saying yes!
- Great job – notice when your classmate is being praised by the teacher, or when they improve or try something new. A quick clap or few words of encouragement no only makes them feel great (with almost no effort from you) but it keeps the vibe of the whole class positive. It all adds up.
- In general, just be respectful and remember that your relationship with your coach is a two way street: you will get out of it what you put in, and neither one of us can make you successful on our own. Team work makes the dream work. Communicate when you aren’t sure of something, ask questions, engage and respond, let us know if something is wrong and keep us in the loop with how you feel you are are progressing. Realise the mutual respect and a happy relationship between you are your coach is a foundation for eeeeverything. Work hard for your coach and they will work hard for you, every single time.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this! I hope it impacts your next class – happy dancing!