#BOYSDANCETOO – Why we choose to provide co-educational dance classes.

A wonderful thing is happening in suburban dance schools around Melbourne, and the world…more and more boys are taking dance classes! This is fantastic for the ever-growing dance industry but more so for the young males who will receive all the benefits that learning to dance has to offer. If you’re not sure of the benefits of dance here is a super quick summary:

  • Fitness and agility
  • Strength
  • Healthy muscles and bones
  • Confidence
  • Self-expression
  • Mental Strength
  • And more! The list is never-ending.

Slowly but surely the “girls do ballet and boys do football” stigma is being squashed and many parents are embracing dance as an engaging and beneficial way for their sons to release their never-ending energy, express themselves and have fun.

Once he has voiced an interest in dance and music, mum and dad usually set out on a hunt for a “Boys Only Hip Hop Class” and “Dance Classes for Boys”…. but why? In 2019 when the fight for equality is high and there is a strong push for embracing every individual and all of their quirks, and all stereotypes and stigmas are being thrown out the window, why do boys need a dance class all to themselves? At Main St Funk we say, they don’t. We pride ourselves on providing co-educational dance classes to boys and girls of all ages and experience levels, not just because we aim to be fair and equal but because there are clear benefits to both genders in a co-educational dance class environment.

So what are they?

  1. It builds trust, respect, and boundaries and prepares them for the future.
    Upon leaving the dance studio, your child will re-enter a world that is 50 percent female and 50 percent male. They will interact with the opposite gender for the most part of every day of their lives; school, work, friends, family, playgrounds, the shops…what benefit is there in separating them at dance class? Learning together in an intimate environment such as a dance studio allows both parties to gain a better understanding of each other. They will know how to speak appropriately to each other, they will learn to understand each individual’s boundaries and it will teach them to be more empathetic to the opposite gender. Learning together builds trust between the two genders and diffuses the idea that we should be wary of people who are different to us; no more “cooties” or “boy germs”. Dance class can often be a “hands on” environment, boys will learn how to treat and respect women, which is such an important quality today and one that all boys should be learning. 

  2. A career in dance means a career with girls.
    If your son’s love for dance develops so strongly that he decides to turn his passion into a career, he will have no choice but to dance with girls. Tertiary level full-time dance courses are typically not gender specific. Which means if your son was to further his training on a more professional level he would be spending close to 40 hours a week in a dance studio, with women. That would be a pretty big shock to the system for someone who has only danced in a male-only environment. What’s more, a lot of professional dance gigs are diverse in gender and if your son is not capable of working with female dancers, it could cost him a job, his reputation, and even his career.

  3. Partnerwork.
    As mentioned above, most performance opportunities, whether it be a  corporate gig or a role in a show, are co-gender. Many choreographers love to feature partner work and lifts (think the famous lift in Dirty Dancing). Older boys, in a co-educational dance class, will have the opportunity to learn partner work and add lifts to their lists of skills. If you can tell an audition panel that you are confident and familiar with safely performing lifts and stunts and dancing with a partner, you are already at an advantage and will stand out amongst dancers who do not share the same skillset as you.  This is also an advantage for female dancers. If there are males in your dance class, you have the opportunity to learn new skills and tricks that might not typically be available in an all-girl environment.

  4. Boys and girls learn from each other.
    Throughout my years as a dance teacher, I have experienced both co-ed and boys only classes. Generally speaking, the boys only classes were rowdier and less structured. Girls, on the other hand, are more naturally adapted to the structure and routine of a dance class, it’s in their nature. Even though the boy students so needed and would benefit from structure and routine, it was harder to implement into a class environment where the pack mentality was “it’s playtime”. In a co-ed environment, the students are influenced by the other children in the class. In particular, the boys gained a quicker understanding of the way a dance class is structured and why it is structured that way. When the rest of the class is following suit in warm up and activities and remembering choreography the boys caught on and did the same. They were still having fun but receiving the benefits of dance class much quicker! In the same way, girls are also influenced by male students. Boys bring the energy up and create a positive vibe in the studio, which as you’ve heard MSF teachers say before “energy is contagious” Boys are naturally brave and will give new steps or activities a go without much hesitation, this “go for it” attitude rubs off on the other students. Lots of boys love the opportunity to lead by example and be a role model. In a co-ed environment, they often rise to the challenge by setting a great example and encouraging their classmates. Voila! Now we have a high energy, productive class where kids are having fun and trying new things. Thanks, boys and girls!

  5. It promotes equality and fairness.
    Whether your child is male or female, young or old, beginner or advanced, at Main St Funk we treat all of our students as equals. We don’t want to tell boys that they can only participate in one particular style of class a week. We don’t want our female students to just accept that boys are entitled to a class that is exclusive and special just for them. Boys and girls, you are all important to us and we want you to feel comfortable in all of the many classes and opportunities we have available to you. And really, in 2019 when everyone is fighting for equality and acceptance, why are dance schools moving backward and continuing to segregate boys from girls? A good dance teacher should be able to cater to all of the individuals in the classroom and create a dynamic learning environment that benefits every student. It doesn’t matter if the class is co-educational or not, there will always be a variety of learning styles and personalities that the teacher needs to adapt to.

And so, the short version of this blog: “Why Should You Enrol Your Son Into A Co-Ed Dance Class?” A co-educational dance class will encourage your son to be a team player and to have a strong work ethic. Not only will he learn some killer dance moves but he will grow into a respectful, approachable and trustworthy young man who has an open mind and is prepared to live, work and dance in a diverse world where both genders play an important role.

During my time as a dance student I made many friends, lots of whom were male. So at the very least, a co-educational dance class might mean your child makes a few extra friends that they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to.

Right now, your son is probably just dancing for fun and to let off some of that after-school steam but at Main St Funk we see the bigger picture.

By Chloe Jobson – Co-Owner at Main St Funk Dance School and dance teacher to boys and girls for over 12 years.

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. 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Reasons Hip Hop Dancers Should take a Ballet Class.

When you think of hip hop and ballet, you might imagine them on opposing ends of the dancing spectrum. They are apples and oranges. They are north and south. They are black and white and there is no grey area. As dancers it is our duty to identify with only one and not the other.

I can hear the chant of young hip hop dancers way off in the distance… “Yo, I’m just a hip hop dancer. Ballet ain’t my thang.” Or something to that effect. Once upon a time I shared that attitude and would have fully had your back bro. However, ballet has since won me over.

When I was growing up, dancing was a consistent part of my life but there was little room in my schedule or my heart for ballet. I took class for a year or two here and there but never with the consistent and disciplined attitude of an A+ ballet student. I was a self proclaimed “anti-ballerina”, leotards and tights made me feel self-conscious and I was often heard telling people “I wasn’t built for ballet.” No, I didn’t (and still don’t) have amazing feet or great turn out and I’m not super flexible. Nor do I possess any of the ideal physical traits of your stereotypical ballerina. But, I have a new mantra now. “Nobody was built for ballet. Ballet was built for us.”

In 2012, I began my Diploma of Dance Teaching and Management course. One look at the timetable was enough to give me nightmares. Three 1.5 hour classes of ballet a week for two years and no hip hop! I walked into that ballet studio tentatively, frightened and admittedly a little bit “too cool” for this. 2 years later I walked away as a changed dancer and student. It’s now 2017, I am training in hip hop and urban dance styles full time but I still take at least one ballet class a week and I encourage you, young hip hopper, to do the same. If you can’t take my word for it, read on for 4 reasons why.

1. Body Alignment

One of the first ballet classes I had at TAFE was unlike any dance class I’ve ever had.  For the first half of the class we just stood. There was no dancing. My ballet teacher walked around correcting and adjusting and talking us through what correct body alignment should look and feel like. “Who knew I had been standing wrong for the past 19 years!?” I remember muttering under my breath. But I had been “standing wrong” and had I not taken that class that year, maybe I would have never known. Body alignment is the optimal placement of the body that ensures our muscles aren’t working unnecessarily hard to achieve everyday movements like walking and lifting as well as dancing. Injuries, headaches and soreness often originate from a misalignment. My alignment has since improved but is a work in progress and re-training your body is something that takes time and focus and strength! When we are young and still growing, our bodies are easier to mould and re-train. This is why I always recommend my young dancers start ballet as soon as they can.

2. Strength

“Dancers are the athletes of god.” Yes they are. They are fit, fierce and strong, and when I started taking ballet I noticed my strength and fitness levels gradually improving over time. Thanks to our good friend the plie, my legs became stronger and I could jump higher and dance lower into the ground – how many times a class do you hear your hip hop teacher remind you to bend your knees? I found new strength in my arms, I could hit cleaner lines in my choreography and I had a better understanding of the muscles involved in holding those positions. The feedback I received from my hip hop teachers was that I was hitting their choreography harder than ever. My core strength improved which meant I could turn faster, balance for longer and I had better control. For the record, my ballet teacher never asked me to do a sit up or hold the plank position. Mentally I was stronger too. It took some time for me to learn to not take corrections so personally and to train my mind to embrace each correction as a positive and a chance to improve. Once upon a time a teacher’s critique would have left me feeling low and defeated but ballet has given me a thick skin and the mindset to take on board constructive feedback in dance class and in life.

3. Focus and Discipline

When I was a younger there was no better feeling than learning a new set of choreography and smashing it out from to start to finish. Picking up steps came easy to me and I rarely felt challenged. But that was because I was missing a crucial point. The challenge was right in front of me, I just couldn’t see it.  I didn’t understand the concept of perfecting each step in a way that would mimic the choreographer’s demonstration or vision with technical precision and correct technique and so each correction or suggestion that I should practice or go over the steps was met with frustration. “But I know it!…” My focus, not unlike many eager hip hop dancers I come across, was the choreography and not the mechanics behind the execution. A ballet teacher once said to me that dancing will never be easy and if it feels easy you are probably doing it wrong. It was in her class when I discovered she was right. I remember walking into her class one day feeling extra confident. I had finally memorised a particularly difficult Rond De Jambe exercise at the barre and I stood at the front of class determined to prove myself. At the end of the exercise she was frustrated and listed all of the things that needed work. It was a long list. At the time I was convinced she was nit-picking and she was out to get me. I had after all “remembered” the whole exercise however, I hadn’t given any thought to straightening my supportive leg, or maintaining my turn out, or keeping my hips facing the front when rotating my legs to the back and the list goes on and on. Now I understand that each dance step, no matter how simple it may seem, requires effort from the body and mind. I limit talking and laughing during class (although we are allowed to have fun, it is dancing after all!). I try not to just copy the movements of the choreographer, I listen to the way they describe each action and what muscles they are using and where their weight is sitting. I try to apply each correction given to me and my peers and I go over things so my mind and my body can remember what to do. Even the simplest warm up exercise deserves your full focus and it was ballet that taught me that.

4. Choreography and Performance

Ballet opened up a whole new realm of movement for me and my “made of wood” body. My sharp and somewhat linear dancing was contrasted to the round and continuous movement I had to adapt to in ballet. My body learned to extend, to be soft and gentle, to turn and to jump and to use the floor. Suddenly, I had so much more material to use when I was choreographing routines for me and my students. Ballet taught me to embrace dynamics, to go from smooth to sharp and from long extensions into short and snappy movements. Choreography became more fun for me and I’m sure (or I hope) more interesting for my audience to watch. As far as performance goes, ballet played a huge part in squashing the “competition kid” smile out of me and taught me instead the importance of presence. A great performer can just stand on stage and have the audience enthralled. It’s the eye line, the jut of the chin, the sly smirk, and the connection with the audience. Plastering a smile on my face and glueing my eyes to the lighting box at the back of the auditorium was a habit that was hard to break and one that, admittedly I still need to work on, but  my ballet teacher’s constant sing-song reminder of “head and eyes girls!” still rings through my head when I’m in class, on stage or teaching.

It’s now 3 years since I graduated from that course. Ballet, hip hop and all genres of dance continue to challenge me and even though I am a teacher, there is still so much for me to learn. I maintain that “ballet was built for us.” It really is the foundation of all dance, designed to push us, inspire us, break us at times and allow us to be the best versions of ourselves whether you are a dancer in training or not. In short, ballet gave me the big kick up the butt I needed and I am forever in debt to that wonderful ballet teacher who gave me some much needed tough love.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you at the barre!

By Chloe Jobson – Main St Funk.