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.

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. 

10 Life Hacks To Stay Motivated During Winter (For Dance Kids and Parents!)

Winter is here! Tis the season for hot chocolates by the fireplace, early nights in, flannelette pajamas and electric blankets. Tis’ also the season when typically our enthusiasm for dance class, exercise and commitments in general begin to falter.  To ensure you get the most out of your dancing this year it is important to stay on top of things, even when a night in under the heater with mum’s best soup recipe is calling your name.

Here are 10 simple and easy life hacks to help dance students and dance parents stay motivated about coming to class during winter.

  1. CAR POOL: Just like having a gym buddy, if you’ve got a friend relying on you and keeping you accountable you’re less likely to be tempted to stay home under the blankets. Take it in turns with your trusted dance parent friend so that every second week you get the night off but your dancer still makes it to class.
  2. DON’T GO HOME: Pack all of your dancing clothes and shoes in the morning and leave them in the car. Head straight to dancing after school. This cuts out some travel time too!
  3. HOT FOOD: Snacks before and after dancing (or during if you’ve got a long night of classes) are important to fuel our bodies. Hot food like steamed veggies and soup are great ways to warm you up from the inside out and are super healthy. Cook up a big batch, label it “dancing food” and pop in the freezer, ready to heat up each dancing night. This is great for students and parents and siblings that might be waiting around at the studio.
  4. HOT DRINKS: Probably not suitable for during class but great for before and after. Herbal tea or hot water with lemon will warm you up, keep you hydrated and give you a natural energy boost before class. Mums and dads who wait around, treat yourself to a take away coffee or hot chocolate, fill up a thermos from home OR help yourself to the tea and coffee at the studio. Re-fills are encouraged!!!
  5. LAYERS: You can wear lots of layers and still be dressed appropriately for dance class. Fitted is best for ballet, contemporary and jazz AND it being close-fitting to your body, is actually warmer. EG: ballet stockings, leotard (long sleeve leo if you can!) leggings, ballet crossover or fitted long sleeve top, woolly ballet shrug, leg warmers! You can always remove layers as you warm up in class AND why not wear your track pants, ug boots and Main St Funk hoodie over the top for to and from class!? Little people, could even bring their pajamas to pop on after class. Then you can jump straight into your nice warm bed when you get home.
  6. BLANKETS: Dance studios are typically pretty cold if you are not the one dancing and working up a sweat. Mums, dads and kids that wait around, leave a little blanket or rug in the car to pop over your knees while you’re sitting at dancing.
  7. HOT SHOWERS: Yes, before class!! It will refresh your body and mind after a long day at school or work and warm and relax your muscles. Put your dancing gear on as soon as you get out of the shower.
  8. HEAT PACKS/WATER BOTTLES: Keep your hands, feet or wherever warm with a heat pack or hot water bottle while you are sitting around the studio. These are also great for relieving sore muscles and joints.
  9. DON’T BE LATE, BE EARLY!: Warming up at the start of class is always important but particularly during winter when our muscles have tightened in the cold and our bodies take a little  longer to warm up. If you can get to class early, start your own warm up. Star jumps and jogging on the spot are great ways to get to the blood pumping and spinal rolls to mobilise the spine.
  10. THINK AHEAD: Think about what missing a class might mean for you and your team. Typically, when a dance student starts to fall behind on choreography or work they start to become even less motivated to come to class and eventually it all becomes too much to try to catch up. Dancing is a team sport!!! Encourage each other, hold each other accountable and be a team player that your team mates can count on. We are all in this (crazy Melbourne weather) together! 

Looking forward to seeing you all in class, dancing away the winter blues. Do you have a life hack that keeps you motivated during winter? We would love to hear it and I’m sure our dancing family would too! 

By Chloe Jobson – Chronically “feels the cold” but has danced through many winters.

Dance VS Study

Why can’t we have both??

It’s a tale as old as time and it goes a little something like this: “I have decided to take a break from dance this year because I need to focus on my school work.” At first glance it appears this young student is making a wise, mature and grown up decision, one that I am sure would not have come lightly.  

Maybe this is a thought that has been niggling at your brain, maybe this is a decision you have already made or one that you are considering strongly. But who is it that made you believe that you couldn’t continue with dance while being so focused on your schooling? Your parents? Your school teachers? Your peers? Whoever they are, they have your best interests at heart. However, if you dig a little deeper you might find that if you decide to stick to your extra-curricular activities, it can only benefit you in the long run.

We all know the physical benefits of staying active rather than being cooped up inside, studying all day – and the psychological benefits of taking a breather and a moment to escape the stresses of senior level schooling by doing something creative and fun. But what else?…

It is said that VCE and high school are preparing the youth of today for the “real world”. A mythical place that secondary students are repeatedly told about and apparently only comes into existence when you finish Year 12. I have been living in this so called “real world” for 7 years now and it saddens me when I hear teenagers say that have been discouraged from continuing dance so they can focus solely on their studies, in preparation for what we think happens outside of the school grounds.

I wish more people were telling you what you CAN do, what you’re capable of and of the mountains that you can (and inevitably will one day have to) climb. Tackling school whilst staying committed to something you love is just a small mound compared to the obstacles you will jump in your lifetime.

The real world is an extremely exciting, wonderful place where dreams do come true if you work hard enough but it is also a place that is very, very, busy!

Deciding that you will pick one thing and one thing only to focus on forever, or for a year, is unfortunately not an option. The real world is quite the juggling act.

Upon leaving high school many of you will enter university or TAFE. Your new level of independence will mean that you will probably secure yourself a part time job. You might choose to move out of home to live closer to your new school. Your new group of friends means that your social calendar is booked out.

Suddenly, on top of your assignments and studying, you have to work and probably take on more shifts, you have to find time to cook, clean and pay bills and of course…exercise! Eventually you will land your dream, full time job, one that comes with this thing called “deadlines” and before you know it, you might be responsible for a family of your own, on top of all of that!

It sounds pretty daunting. But, if you’re someone who has decided to stick with your dance training or extra-curricular activities, you will be teaching your mind and body those awesome time-management skills that we so need to survive. You are well and truly ahead of the game.

You will be used to timetabling your week to include all of the important and fun things that you want to make time for. While your colleagues will tell you that they don’t have time to exercise or socialise, you already know that you are more than capable of putting aside a few hours a week to get moving and have fun.

The next time someone encourages you to quit something you love to focus on your school work “in preparation for the real world”, I want you to ask them what they do when they finish at their 9-5 job. My bet is that they have  families to look after, bills to pay, a hobby or two and a list of responsibilities they will tell you is a mile long.

Multi-tasking and time management are vital to our survival and they are not skills that magically appear when you step out of the school gates for the final time. They need to be taught and practiced (just like dance steps!)

If you love dancing and you want to continue with it and you want to smash your VCE scores too, you absolutely CAN do it all and if you put your heart and soul into it, in the passionate way that dancers are known for, you absolutely WILL succeed.

Just look at MSF co-founder Carla Jobson. Not only did she tackle VCE whilst staying committed to dance, she passed with a VCE enter score of 95.45 and was College Vice Captain, all in the same year.

Now Kristie and Carla share Main St Funk with their little sister (me) while they both maintain their passion for their “day-time careers” which they studied long and hard for (primary school teaching and digital consulting); they are both loving and committed mums and they still make time to stay fit and see their friends.

If they can do it, so can you! It’s ok to be passionate, driven and willing to succeed in more than just “one thing”. Who says you have to choose? Let’s show the real world what you’re made of!

By Chloe Jobson – Co-Owner of Main St Funk Dance School Epping

P.S: If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by your workload, why not chat to your dance teachers? They have been there and done that (and would probably do it all again if they were given the chance) and they are experts at making time, so they will always have time for you.

vcepic
A few of our gorgeous senior students. Some of  you have already completed your schooling and some of you are still going strong. Please know that no matter what choices you make or where life takes you, we will always be proud of you and there will always be a place for you at Main St Funk.