As a dance teacher, you will probably see hundreds of young dancers in your career. They will be boys and girls with a range of different personalities, and you will love them all. Sometimes, these same dancers who enjoy spending time in your studio and learning from your expertise might experience things outside of class that affect their performance. You may not know what these things are, but you can teach your students how to express their problems and use dance to work toward feeling better.
You Are Strong
Your dancer might feel like they are helpless in their situation. Whether it is a bully at school or even just the feeling that they aren’t doing their best in dance, they may feel as though what they are doing doesn’t meet the expectations of others. Show them this is hardly the case by showing them their own inner strength.
There are several ways to do this. You can compliment their ability in class. During stretches, you can use them as an example of what you want to see. You can even pull them aside and tell them about their exemplary strength. Whatever the focus, it is important to show your dancer that there are aspects of their skill that they are doing especially well at whether it is their performance strength or even the strength of their ability to put emotion into a performance.
Expression is Key
An important lesson for all dancers to learn, no matter what they have going on, is that dance is not just learning steps and understanding the rhythms in a song. Dance is expression, and that expression bridges the gap between the dancer and the audience as well as between the dancer and herself.
If you have a dancer that you think is feeling unable to express herself this, pay careful attention to your class’s of expression. You could even use a quick freestyle as a warm-up. Give them five minutes to put something together. Tell them that their freestyle is not meant to impress anyone, only that it is meant to be a conversation with themselves and express emotion. This will enhance the whole group’s understanding of expression in their dance, and it will also allow them to express emotions they might not have known how to otherwise.
No matter what we are facing, an important thing to realize is that everything takes time whether it is improving your skills or expressing an emotion. One dance will not make a dancer feel 100% if a family member has passed away or even if they got a bad score on a test. Let your dancers know that their art is a healing one and that over time they will feel better. All they have to do is keep dancing along to the music one beat at a time.
Learning from life experiences is important for everyone. As dancers, life experiences can translate into more meaningful performances. They also help us (dancers or not) grow. Make sure that your dancers know that as they get older, they will learn new things. And, these new things will improve their dancing and their lives. Our experiences shape us and help us deal with the future in ways we might not have known to otherwise.
Teach your dancers a difficult step. After they have learned the step, they might complain about how hard it was or how they are glad to finally know it. Explain to them that there are plenty of difficult steps that they will learn, but each time they learn a new one, they grow a little bit.
Teaching your dancers these lessons might seem difficult or even impossible. They might even seem too simple, but really, the smallest interactions can have the greatest impacts. The important thing is to try and to help your students become the best dancers and people they can be.