The dance studio is a second home to dancers and their experience in class has the ability to shape their self-image at a pivotal time in their lives. Many current dance professionals remember a time when the dance industry was less than body positive and the pursuit of perfection was paved with stress, fear and self-doubt. The fact is: we can do better! By using the right teaching techniques, encouraging individuality, and leading by example we can give our students the highest level of training without giving them a complex.
How do we teach students in a way that makes them hungry for more knowledge rather than leaving them feeling self-critical and frustrated? Instead of shaming students for making mistakes, correction can be encouraging while sharing the exact same information. A positive teaching environment does not mean a lack of correction; it’s all about the delivery. The classroom should be a place where knowledge is shared, and students can feel empowered and inspired to put in the hard work it takes to be successful. Students who are passionate about dance and confident enough to try new things are often the hardest workers in class. If we as teachers can build our students up, they are more likely to develop a strong work ethic in class and dance full out. With the resources available to teachers in this day and age, we have fine-tuned our teaching skills in a way that makes the environment of fear and intimidation a thing of the past.
The art of dance has really evolved over time. Uniqueness and individuality has truly become mainstream thanks to television and the internet. When teaching students to improvise, for example, they are taught to embrace what makes them unique and special. This gives students the ability to use the mirror to recognize their individual power instead of focusing on comparison to others. Though they will not be great at everything they do, students can find their own niche and avoid feeling defeated in class. The goal is for students to look in the mirror and recognize their great qualities rather than ask the question “why don’t I look like the others”.
As a teacher, being a model of self-love and body positivity is crucial. We are role models to young students who look to us as examples of how to act and they will instinctively mimic behavior that they see. In class, affirmations can be used to help mold powerful young dancers as well as encourage perseverance in times of struggle. “I am powerful, I am strong, and I can do anything I put my mind to”- what better affirmation to ask students to repeat when the air is heavy with sweat and students are tired. Simple practices like this can help students develop a positive inner voice that they can rely on for their entire life. Pushing past self-doubt and learning to focus on the positive is an important life skill that we are in the position to teach every day in class!
MOVE by Morelli staff members recognize the power that a teacher has to shape the lives of our students. We are in the business of sharing our love of dance and music and making our students feel great about themselves, so they can blossom into who they were meant to be. With the most qualified staff around and a shared vision of empowerment, we are changing the game of dance and music training and rejecting the ways of the past. The performing arts are for everyone, and we are proud to share it with hundreds of kids in Colorado.