DANCE STUDIO & DANCE TEAM
The Balancing Act
As a blossoming dancer in grade school, the dancers often look up to the high school girls. Whether they are the amazing dancers on Senior Company or the talented dancers representing their high school dance team, the young dancers’ mantra is “that will be me some day”.
Unfortunately, many times dance studios or high school programs make it impossible to do both. Victoria Dance Productions believes it is not only possible, it is important to make it work!
TECHNIQUE IS KEY
At the studio, the students are learning first the basics and then the more integral techniques and skills of dance. Ballet technique is the heart of many dance styles, including jazz, lyrical, musical theater and modern. This base allows dancers to rapidly grow in multiple dance styles, including hip hop, tap and acro. They develop the strength, the body positioning, as well as the learning tools needed to excel at dance.
Performance and competition dancers also begin learning important life skills. They learn responsibility to their teammates (Did I practice enough? Am I being the best I can be?), time responsibilities (5 minutes early is on time and on time is late!), and respect for each other’s skills, attributes, time and talents.
These teams develop strong bonds with dancers from many school districts. They practice, travel, and perform together. They succeed and fail, laugh and cry together. These events create friendships and memories that will last forever.
Some studios, like Victoria Dance Productions, place high importance on having a true family atmosphere. The dancers have friends on all of the teams. Both the students and the parents do social activities outside of the studio to create true bonds. The attributes of respect, kindness and even forgiveness, for when times are not perfect, are cultivated and learned.This family feeling is important and hard to duplicate.
DANCERS ARE ATHLETES
Yes, athletes! From a young age, our VDP dancers begin learning about health and nutrition. That it is important to properly fuel our bodies so we can participate fully in all dance, and other, classes and activities. This fuel helps develop strong bodies and brains to let each child be their best athletic and scholastic self.
As athletes, part of the fun of developing strong dance stills is to represent your high school in our sport, dance! Minnesota has an incredible legacy of amazing dance teams. Getting to be a part of them is a privilege. It also teaches the dancers teamwork and responsibility, while allowing the dancers to share their art with their high school friends.
Both studio dance and high school dance team create strong athletes, lasting friendships and forever memories for their dancers. So why choose one or the other?
GET BUSY YOUNG
Each year, our schools prep their students for what is to come. Addition one year leads to multiplication the next. A little bit of homework in grade school teaches the students important study skills and time management for when they are older and more is demanded of them. Each year prepares you for the next.
Most dancers start relatively young. As they age, they spend more time honing their skills and preparing for the next level. When high school arrives, some athletes choose to give up studio dance to for high school dance team. This choice does not serve our dancers well for two main reasons –
As high school students prepare for college, it is important that they learn to manage their time. Time to study, time to practice, time to eat, time to relax, time to sleep! When our dancers get to college, they will know how to juggle all of these things, plus the extra events college sends their way – friends, sororities/fraternities, clubs, sports, jobs – whatever it may be. Keeping our student athletes busy helps them prepare for their futures after high school graduation.
We also see that some students stop many of their outside activities because “it’s a big year” in high school. They decide to only do high school dance as the time commitment is generally smaller than competitive studio dance. As an athlete, you can never stop developing your technique. Just like the professional ballet companies take ballet barre for 2 hours everyday for their entire lives, our high school athletes need studio dance to continually improve their skills, strength, and technique. It is important that they learn “TO” dance, not just “A” dance.
This is especially true of dancers in state qualifying high school dance team programs. Just making a high school squad does not mean the athlete will perform on the gym floor. Dancers need to continually increase their skills and technique in order to earn a spot on the dance team competition floor. Additionally, as a Junior Varsity dancer, it is important to work harder than any dancer on the team if you hope to be promoted to the Varsity squad. Age does not make you a varsity athlete – technical skill, style and training are necessary throughout the year – in order to be promoted.
At this level, this training needs to be year round. While drop in classes are great and add entertainment to our training, they do not provide the consistency that a weekly class, with the same instructor each week provides. The same instructor for 36-40 weeks a year allows the dancers to be corrected and challenged with consistent themes and programs. It allows the instructor to get to know each student’s strengths, weaknesses and goals, allowing the dancer to truly excel.
So how does a dancer have it all? How do they compete with their high schools, while still developing their dance technique and preparing themselves for their futures? Step one is to find a dance studio that works WITH your high school dance team program. Some studios understand the importance of doing both programs and happily work with their high school to set a schedule that can work for everyone.
Secondly, choose a dance studio that is flexible! Some dancers can take 8 hours of studio dance with the 10 hours of high school dance, but some cannot! That’s where Victoria Dance Productions has developed a culture of life balance. High level dance can be achieved without sacrificing all of life’s important events. We do this by:
- Allowing our high school students to compete in as few as one studio competition routine and still be an involved, important part of the competition program.
- You choose the balance – School, family, God and dance – where does your family put the emphasis? No matter where dance falls in your percentages or how you balance out these areas for your dancer, VDP has a program to develop highly skilled dancers.
- Teaching priorities – In the fall and winter, VDP’s schedules are more flexible. In the fall, do the high school musical, even if you miss a class or two at the studio. But come spring, let VDP be the first priority as it is competition season. It is another form of teaching this Life Balance skill to our youth.
As post college adults, we cherish our high school and college memories. We are grateful to have had these experiences and we want them for our VDP family too! It is why we have made Life Balance not just an ideal, but the true core of our program. Our dancers truly can have it all.