By Rebecca Swol
Our fall dance classes have just begun and we are welcoming many new students at all levels. Creating a positive dance experience is a priority for our program. A truly successful dance studio aspires to create an environment to make any dancer that walks through the doors achieve their goals. Going beyond providing solid wooden floors, a dance barre, mirrors and a stage, the key ingredient is the spirit and energy the studio holds. Here are some elements that, when implemented together, help create a positive dance studio environment.
- A welcoming, safe, and organized space: Students want to feel comfortable and know that they can be themselves at their dance studio. Value each individual and make sure they know they are an important member of the team. When students feel welcome and safe, they will be more inclined try new steps and to learn the team building skills it takes to dance alongside others. Also, keep the studio tidy! Keep the dance space and waiting areas neat and clear of clutter. Your students will have an easier time focusing on their dance skills knowing they can move around freely. It will help inspire them, and help them to feel more confident.
- Communication: Leaving time for discussion is key to helping dancers and performers grow. One way to do this is to hold a five minute discussion at the beginning of class. Ask each student how their week went, what their plans are for the weekend, or how they are feeling today. This will help students feel more connected to their teacher and their fellow dancers, and will give you some insight into their lives which can give some indication to their motivation. This is a great way to build community within the group. Not only can you support each other in your common interest of dance, but also in other endeavors such as school or town functions.
- Positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. Dancers will grow the most when they are put in a place that allows mistakes to be made. Trying new steps should be encouraged. Stick with positive reinforcement, support and encouragement. It can be as easy as giving out a special beaded necklace or sticker as an reward for their effort, and it will also serve as reminder that they are on their way to achieving this step. Using constructive criticism will keep students engaged and eager to improve their skills.
A positive attitude is contagious. Set a good example for students in the way you welcome them into your studio, teach them, and talk to them one-on-one. You will see just how greatly your dancers will benefit from a positive and uplifting dance environment, and only then can they truly grow.