It’s OK to Make Mistakes.

As dancers and creatives we all have a little streak of perfectionism running through our DNA.

What’s that you ask? It is the act of striving for flawlessness and in small doses it can be a blessing but, it can also be a curse.

It means that we usually hold ourselves to a high standard, have a strong work ethic, an eye for detail, an insatiable drive to continue to do better and obviously, a passion for our chosen field.

But it can also mean that we often pick ourselves apart, over analyse the details, feel defeated (even after a win!). It can be so destructive that “not trying” becomes the safest option because it feels better not to try than to achieve something “less than perfectly” on the first attempt.

Who has ever kept quiet in class when the teacher has asked a question, even though you are 99.9 percent sure you know the answer? It’s much easier to be quietly right than to be so outwardly and confidently wrong.

These dancers and students will often hide behind a “I don’t care” and “I can’t be bothered” disguise until eventually, someone who was once thriving, falls behind. The pressure of catching up and of not being “the best” is too much, leading a once passionate and dedicated dancer to quit.

The reality is, nothing in life will ever be perfect, there will always be mistakes! You mustn’t them beat you. Mistakes are proof that you are trying, that you are growing and that you are human. Making mistakes teaches us to be resilient and strong. They teach us how to survive in a not so perfect world and when we are not perfect ourselves, we are more forgiving and understanding of our equally imperfect peers.

As someone who is your dance teacher, you will often hear me making corrections, telling you to work harder, encouraging you to practice and being well, a nag. I can see why you would assume  that I am perfect (I mean, look at me *flicks hair*) but the truth is I am very much NOT. Despite the perfectionist gene running hard and fast through my veins, I make mistakes, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Some, I think about for days, weeks, months after they happen. Others, I brush off, acknowledge the lesson learned and move forward.

Here are few not-so-perfect dancing moments that I have lived through and survived to tell the tale. Some of them hurt, some of them ate away at my brain (some still do!), some of them are just plain hilarious but all of them were a lesson that I needed to learn and have made me the strong, resilient, driven, creative person I am today. *flicks hair again*

  • I have forgotten my dance on stage (yes, an entire dance)
  • I have made mistakes on stage (every dance, every performance)
  • I make mistakes in every class I participate in. When I am a student and even when I am teaching!
  • During my first concert, I fell asleep in the change room and missed my last dance of the show and the finale. Side note: I was also so nervous, I threw up before I even arrived at the theatre.
  • During my second concert, I was late on stage and missed about 30 seconds of my dance.
  • I have fallen over on stage.
  • I have cried in class, on multiple occasions, out of sheer frustration.
  • I have shown up to photo day without my costumes.
  • I have shown up to rehearsals with out all of my dance shoes.
  • I have participated in competitions and not placed first. I have even participated and not placed at all.
  • I have participated in dance exams and “only just” passed.
  • I auditioned for an elite full time dance course and got sent home after the first round.
  • I auditioned for a hip hop crew that I love and admire and didn’t get a call back.
  • I have been lectured, yelled at and “told off” from teachers for not working hard enough and not practicing.
  • I have “talked back”, argued and given attitude to my teachers. Whoops. #teenagechloe
  • I have been late to class.
  • I have been removed from choreography because I didn’t know it well enough in time.
  • I have been removed from choreography even though I did know it!
  • I was once in a dance that went for 3 minutes and 25 seconds. I was only in 4 counts of 8 out of the whole dance and half of that time was standing in a pose that was facing the back!
  • I have fallen over on stage.
  • My headpiece has fallen off on stage (multiple times)
  • I have forgotten my positions and where I was travelling to on stage.
  • I have had many, MANY, costume malfunctions on stage.
  • In the year 2000 I cut my own fringe. Ok, not dancing related but I did have to perform on stage with my new “do” and my mum did still buy that year’s dancing photos. My sisters called it my “tufty bits”.
  • I have shown up to comps, rehearsals, photo days and concerts at the wrong time because I didn’t read the notice properly.
  • I have torn my dance tights right before I was supposed to enter the stage.
  • I have spilled food on my costume!
  • I once gave my mum strict instructions on where on my costume she needed to sequin, only to arrive to photo day and it was completely wrong. Sorry mum!
  • I have misplaced costume items.

The list goes on and on! And to think these are ONLY SOME of the mistakes or “failures” I have made on my dancing journey and doesn’t even include my day to day activities as a frazzled twenty-something millennial. Think; forgetting doctors appointments, somehow burning the chicken but also leaving it raw on the inside, that time I got my car stuck on a large concrete pillar – that’s a story for another day. The point is I survived or, I am surviving.

So, the next time you make a mistake or something feels less-than-perfect; take a deep breath and a step back. Was it important? Was it in your control? What have you learned from this? Are there any consequences? And instead of BEATING yourself up about it, BUILD yourself up. Congratulate yourself for taking a chance,  acknowledge your strengths, have a moment of despair and then dust yourself off.

Mistakes are proof that you are trying, that you are learning and that you are human. Remember, it’s ok to make mistakes but it’s never ok not to try. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR.

By Chloe Jobson – A Serial Mistake Maker.

My dance teacher is picking on me!

Uh oh… Your son or daughter, who absolutely loves dancing, has come out of class looking frustrated and upset. You ask them what’s wrong and they mutter the words no parent wants to hear…

“My teacher is picking on me!”

Your heart sinks. Your mind races and your inner mama-bear gets ready to roar and jump to your child’s defense.

Well hang on a sec, hold your horses. Let’s think logically and figure out exactly what your darling dancer means. In the playground at school, if someone is being “picked on” it generally means that another individual is going out of their way to annoy or tease or bully this person. This kind of behavior is deliberate with the intent to upset the other person.

In my years of dance teaching, I am yet to come across another teacher or principal who has taken such a dislike to a student that they would put so much time and energy into making that child upset.

A dance teacher is generally somebody who is very passionate about dance and who equally loves working with children, they may even have their own! Dance teachers are joyous, energetic people. They have taken an active interest and invested their time and energy into the growth and development of your child and the hundreds of children that they will meet in their dance teaching career. They are one of the lucky few whose passion and career came together. It would be a bit out of character if they started “picking” on children now, wouldn’t it?

What your child probably means is, they often hear the teacher say their name in class. This is actually a positive thing and great teachers make a conscious effort to say every single student’s name multiple times a lesson so they feel included in the class and important to their teacher. Your child might feel like their name is the only one being called out but that is likely because they are only tuned in to hearing their own name and not their classmates.

But why do they keep getting called upon? Here are some reasons your child might be being “picked on” by their teacher.

  1. CORRECTIONS: It doesn’t matter if your child wants a career in dance or comes to class for fun. A teacher’s job is to TEACH dance. This means correcting mistakes so that your child, the student, can LEARN. It is important the teacher corrects mistakes so that your child can progress and make improvements week to week. It also helps to reduce the risk of injury when your teacher makes a correction on your child’s technique. Often, it would not be safe for a student to continually perform something incorrectly. Sometimes these corrections can be generalized to the whole class however, often children are progressing at different rates and need and deserve individualised attention from their teacher. They also pay attention and remember corrections more when they are directed to them and not the whole class.  An example of what your child might hear is: “Stretch those feet Sally”, “Don’t forget to bend your knees before you jump Tess” OR “Mary, keep in time with the music”. If your child says they are being “picked on” they are probably just receiving corrections which is a positive thing and means they are learning. If your child’s maths teacher asked them what 2+2 is and your child answered 5, their maths teacher is going to correct them. Are they being “picked on” or is Mr. Maths doing his job?

  2. “MY TEACHER YELLS AT ME”: There is probably some truth to that. Sometimes the teacher will give their students corrections in a quiet and gentle manner. Other times they need to be firm and direct, so that the students understand the importance. Being loud or changing their tone of voice will emphasise the key points they want their students to remember. In general, dance teachers are loud and excitable people. If your dance teacher yells, it is because they are extremely passionate and they are trying to get all of the energy, excitement and joy they feel  out of their bodies and into their students! Also remember that quite often in a dance class environment, the teacher will be competing with loud music, chatty kids, the air-con or fans and even tap shoes, so they may yell or talk loudly because they want your child to hear and understand them. A dance teacher who yells is a dance teacher who cares. The important thing to remember is that they are not yelling AT your child but out towards the whole class so that everybody can hear them.

  3. POTENTIAL: Perhaps your child is progressing just that little bit faster than their classmates and has moved beyond the generalised corrections that are given to the whole class. Perhaps their teacher recognises your child’s potential and wants to give them a challenge. Your child might say “Miss Chloe keeps telling me to kick my legs higher and keep my back tall but she never tells my friend Alice!” Well Alice might not be up to that. Alice might still be focusing on stretched feet and knees and your child has already shown improvements in that area and is ready for more. If your child isn’t given corrections or being “picked on” in their words, they might become bored at dance because they don’t feel challenged.

  4. YOUR CHILD IS DISTRACTED: There is so much stimulation in the dance room; loud music, their favourite songs, their dance friends, pretty pictures on the wall, students coming and going. Your child might get caught up in a conversation with their classmates or be thinking about what’s for dinner or how much homework they have to do when they get home. A good dance teacher can always tell when a  student isn’t focused or not listening. The teacher might say your child’s name or speak to them directly to bring their focus back to the dance class.

  5. POOR BEHAVIOR: Yes, maybe your child’s behavior is not perfect all the time. This doesn’t mean that they are a bad kid, a terrible dancer or that their teacher doesn’t like them. While dancing is fun, it comes with a set of rules and disciplines. Respect needs to be shown to the teacher, the dance room and their classmates. This means being polite, not talking while the teacher is addressing the class or the music is on, not “playing” during class and wearing correct uniform. Dance class is about so much more than just learning steps and tricks. Your child will learn social skills, work ethic and the importance of teamwork. When your child misbehaves or doesn’t adhere to the classrooms set rules, their teacher will pull them up. They might say “Lisa, where is your uniform today?” “Please don’t speak while I do Matthew” or “Erin, the dance studio is not a playground, please don’t run around.” The teacher may say these gently at first but if they need to remind your child repeatedly, it may be necessary to be firm. Dance class is a structured activity that can take children a little while to adjust to. It is quite normal kids to slip up and forget the rules and get carried away having fun with their friends, so don’t stress too much if you think this might be the case. If the dance teacher believes your child’s behaviour has become too disruptive or dangerous for dance class, they will have a private conversation with you about addressing this behaviour at home. Until then, just leave it to the pros.

When I was a student, I like many others, complained that I was “picked on” by my teachers. Every class there was correction after correction, nothing was ever perfect. I viewed this as a negative thing. That was until i entered a class where I was completely ignored. Made to feel invisible for 1.5 hours a week, every week. I’m not sure if this was intentional or just negligence but now when I take class, I appreciate every correction directed to me and the whole class and I ask for more if I feel like i’m not getting enough. When I’m teaching, I attempt to make sure every student knows that I can see them and that I care by giving encouraging, constructive and individual attention to each of my students. This principle is instilled in each of the Main St Funk teachers. Without it being actively enforced, the MSF team are naturally invested into every single student that walks through our studio doors.

It is well-known that dancers are some of the most mentally strong and resilient athletes and it all starts at their very first dance class. So next time your child thinks that they are being picked on, dig a little deeper. They might just be super lucky and have an awesome dance teacher. Someone who is passionate, someone who cares and someone who believes in your child because behind every great dancer is a dance teacher who picked on them.

By Chloe Jobson.

 

How to be a Team Player at Dancing.

Dance; while the very word triggers images of solo dancers fleeting across the stage and the art of perfecting your performance and technique takes a lot of independent and individual discipline and drive, dancing is actually very much a team sport.

Producing a fabulous group performance takes equal drive, dedication and passion from every single dancer and being a great team player a part of an even greater team will soar your dancing to new heights.

Let’s think about what happens when you play a team sport.

  • You don’t get to play in the footy grand final if you haven’t been to training all year.
  • You don’t get to be in the starting 5 in the basketball game if you haven’t been pulling your weight.
  • You don’t walk down the netball court while your team mates sprint past you.
  • You don’t question your soccer uniform or get to choose your team colours. You get what you get and everyone wears their team colours with pride.
  • If you are late on game day, you don’t get to play. 

    So, here’s how to be a team player at dancing.

  • If you plan on participating in the concert you need to be prepared by coming to class.
  • If you want to stand out on stage, you need to give it your all.
  • Don’t let your class mates dance harder than you. Match their energy and drive.
  • Be proud and patriotic. Your dance uniform is important. It promotes unity and a strong work ethic. Wear it with pride.
  • Be punctual. If you are late to class, rehearsal or concert days, you miss warm ups, important information and on busy event days, you could even miss your turn to dance!! Being on time is vital to having a positive experience dancing.

    Did you know that in our code of conduct (agreed to upon enrollment) it states:

    “Main St Funk believes that a dance class should feel like a team where everyone is treated equally and works equally as hard. No one student is the star and no student is left behind.”
    This is because we endeavour to raise hard-working, team players who love to dance!
    As we settle in to preparing our performance day routines, let’s keep thinking of our dance class as our team. Let’s keep being patriotic and proud. Let’s keep encouraging and cheering on our team mates and let’s SOAR together to new dancing heights.

GO TEAM MSF!

How To Practice For Your Upcoming Performance.

Teacher at the end of class: “Make sure you practice!”
Student: “Yeah, right. When?”

“Practice” – It’s a daunting word. What comes to mind when your dance teacher suggests that you practice at home? A montage of sweat and tears? A marathon of turns and leaps that never ends? Hours upon hours of hard work that leaves you feeling sore and defeated? Actually, when your teacher suggests that you practice at home, that’s not what they mean.

Most dance teachers recognize that students, just like them, have a life full of action and activities outside of dance and trying to fit in yet another responsibility in your week can be stressful. Your dance teachers are also well-educated and passionate about the benefits that can come from practicing at home. Students who practice are generally more confident in class and on stage. It means they can have a more progressive year of dancing because instead of having to “re-learn” what they learnt in the previous class, they can move forward, on to the next step or skill. They can work on refining their technique and performance skills instead of spending class time trying to remember the choreography AND the more you practice, the faster your muscle memory develops, meaning you will pick up new dances quicker and remember them more than if you weren’t practicing at all.

So, how can we fit dance practice (outside of our scheduled class time) into our weeks?

  1. TIMING:

    If you can practice every single day of the week that’s great. But, not realistic or sustainable and actually, not really beneficial as our bodies and brains would soon become burnt out and fatigued. Sit down and look at your schedule and decide on a realistic expectation that you can set for yourself. Perhaps you can practice three times a week? A Sunday afternoon when you have lots of free time, after school on a night when you don’t have to rush off to another activity and maybe one night right before bed? Remember that you don’t need to spend hours at a time practicing. Think about how much time you actually spend on your routine in class. Once you take away a warm up, technique work and skills, a cool down, that leaves about 20-30 minutes for choreography. So if you can manage three 20 minute practices a week, you are already doing an extra hour of dancing! It’s a good idea to squeeze in a quick practice right after your dance class, while the choreography is fresh in your head and right before dance class, so that you can progress on to the next block of choreography quickly.

  2. BREAK IT UP: 

    Practicing a whole routine, remembering every step and finding corrections for yourself sounds like a daunting process. Why not break your dance up into sections and practice one bit at a time? Perhaps there is a part of your dance that is particularly challenging for you, focus on that until you feel confident with it and only then, move on to the next section. You don’t even have to practice specific choreography. Perhaps there is a tricky turn, skill or just one transition that you need to work on. It’s amazing how everything can fall into place once you have jumped over one hurdle.

  3. VISUALIZE & LISTEN:

    This one is especially good for those weeks when your body is sore and exhausted from all of your other activities. Or perhaps you are run down and not well enough to exert all of your energy dancing. Pop your headphones in and listen to your song. Close your eyes and imagine yourself doing the steps. Also, imagine your classmates with you so that you can remember your choreography and formations in relation to your teammates. Visualizing yourself performing on stage in costume and under the lights is a great way to reignite your passion for a piece of choreography that might be becoming stale or “boring” as you have been working on it for a few months. Picture what you want to look like when you are on stage in front of your family and friends. What does your performance face look like? Practice this in front of a mirror! Or a friend if you are feeling brave. Just listening to your song over and over without any added distractions can help you understand the musicality better, which is important for timing and unison in a group dance. Next time you’re in class, ask your teacher for a copy of the music or the title and artist so that you can have it at home. You can listen to your song on the way to school, while you are doing chores or just in your down time.

     

  4. WRITE THINGS DOWN:

    It’s understandable if from time to time you get home from dancing and think “What did we do??”. Take a notebook into class and write down keywords or new things that you learn so that when you are practicing you can jog your memory. Make note of any corrections your teacher gives to you personally or to the whole class. Ask the teacher if there is anything specific they think you need to work on. Write it down in a way that you will understand. Write down the things that you think you are awesome at as well and practice those too!

  5. WATCH:

    So now that you can remember all of the steps to your choreography. That means there is no point to practicing right? ….Wrong! There is always something to work on. Why not film yourself performing your choreography and then sit back and watch. Sometimes dancing can look so much different than what it feels like. You might notice you aren’t fully straightening your legs and stretching your feet and ankles even though it feels like you are. Or if you’re a hip hopper, maybe it’s the opposite and you are not bending your knees and dancing into the ground as much as you thought. Make some notes about what you see. What do you do well? What can you work on? Imagine you are the teacher and you are correcting your student. What would you tell them?

  6. PRACTICE PRACTICING:

    Like any good habit, practicing will take time to work into your routine and the more you do it, the better you will get at it. Everybody has a different learning process so find the method that fits your lifestyle and learning style best. When you practice, tell people! The encouragement and good feedback you will receive, will fuel you to keep practicing AND that energy is contagious, it will encourage your teammates to practice too.

There is no right or wrong way to practice your dancing at home and your dancing can only get better if you give it a go! We challenge you all to apply these 6 tips to your practicing schedule and get ready to watch your dancing sky rocket! What have you got to lose?

By Chloe Jobson: A chronic nagger who can often be found rocking back and fourth uttering the words “please practice” over and over.