Sunday, October 30, 2005

Thanks for your helpful comments!

Yes, musical theater is much different than regular dance! We were actually given the impression for many years that musical theater was a "lesser" form of dance that only loser dancers did. WRONG! Musical theater is absolutely technique driven with the addition of actually using the face and body to "act"! Then add the voice on top of that. It is, in my opinion, the most complete form of dance. Although, all forms of dance have a place. We finally saw musical theater done the right way once we started going to NYC and were just floored at the training necessary to pull it all together! Both of our impressions about musical theater (from what some unnamed dance teacher implied!) changed immediately. It is now my daughter's favorite type of dance.

Choir is a great idea, but not an option for us. However, we do have a great selection of CD's and piano sheet music at a library near us. Still, there can never be enough music to choose from.

Thanks for your helpful comments! Good luck!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Holding Back Dancers - Learn to sing!

Who would have imagined after all these years of tirelessly training in dance, that singing would hold back a dancer! Well more and more dancers are finding that to be the case. No singing ability, no job!

Does my daughter sing? Not a note! Now, however, we have hired a voice teacher, read the "Singing for Dummies" books, purchased mulitple "how to sing" dvd, vhs or whatever is available so she can catch up. Gee, this would be another instance where her "teacher", and I use the term lightly here, might have clued her in to needing to sing in the professional dance world. I am the type of parent that says "If you need it, we'll get it." However, if I am not a professional dancer and I was not involved in the performance profession, how am I supposed to know what training is needed or not needed. Oh yea, that's the part where I hire a "professional" to give my daughter and I "guidance". Nope, well it didn't happen here (except at the last school she attended the year before she turned 18 -- too late!).

However, singing is like ballet. You have to learn the foundation technique before moving onto the more advanced techniques. It is not simply something you "catch up on" as I said earlier. But once you're over 18 and you need a job, "catch up" is what you have do! So parents, if your kids are young. Get them voice lessons before it's too late! If you can't do voice, do band, play the piano ... anything to give them a foundation in music so that they can later take voice. Luckily, my daughter played the tenor saxophone in band and also had piano lessons and ear training. So she isn't entirely in the dark. The music background has helped a lot!

Expensive? Yes. We purchased sheet music, then purchased the cd to listen to the song, dvd if it came from a movie, background music to practice the song with the instramental. That would be "per song". Voice lessons are $25 for one half hour and $45 for an hour. New York City BDC lessons are $20 per hour, but it costs a lot for us to drive two hours, take the train and eat for the day. Then, as all dance parents know, you add that cost onto the cost of dance training and equipment and you have to mortgage your house!

It sure would have been nicer to know about this years earlier!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lazy Dance Teachers

Let me start by saying that we have been very lucky in that the dance teachers that my daughter has taken with were very attentive and professional. However, there have been some, as the commenting blogger pointed out, that are lazy. Laziness seems to take shape in "Recreational" classes. In EVERY recreational class I've heard the teacher say "Well the students take this class because they want to get a little exercise and have fun doing an activity." I think that's fine, however, these teachers follow this statement up with less effort in the Rec classes. They don't correct technique and, from what I've witnessed, get downright sloven in class. Sloppy, sloppy work, appearance and attitudes.

I'm a bit angry about this subject! My daughter was in rec classes for years. When she was young I could not pay for competition classes or more than two classes a month. Most of the little kids took 4 or 5 classes. Ballet, tap, jazz, acro and lyrical. Naturally, those who took 5 classes gained lots of skill and became little "naturals". The teacher would say "See, there's a natural." Not understanding that little Suzie had already been in over 260 hours of class since the age of three! Of course Suzie's a natural! Those 4-5 hour a week kids were also streamlined into the competition classes which are always more intense with lots of focus on technique. I saw this opportunity slipping by because I could only afford two rec classes for her. It was frustrating!

Eventually, after about seven years of dance, I began to make more money and she began to take 5 plus hours of dance a week, sometimes reaching 10 plus hours. She also began to compete in all the major dance areas, but was far behind the others technically. To get back to my rant on Rec Classes .... if the lazy teachers took the attitude that they were being PAID to teach kids dance .... CORRECTLY!!!!! My daughter wouldn't have been sooooo far behind. She might have been a little behind because she wouldn't have been in as intense of a class, but at least she would have a basic GOOD foundation in technique.

Now, she has EXCELLENT technique..... all credit to her hard work and sucking the information out of the brains of dance teachers whether they liked it or not! Credit also to some very caring dance teachers who did corrective dance surgery on her technique! But wouldn't it have been nice if she was just taught correctly in the first place?

Follow-up on Stage Moms from a fellow blogger

A fellow blogger wrote this in my comments section:
Drama Mom said...
I totally agree and would like to add that it has been my experience that most of the time dance instructors want to work with the most "naturally" talented students because it is much easier to teach someone that is natural. It is laziness. Like a teacher who only wants to work with the smartest children.... lazy....

Also, to me, a stage mom is someone that is doing it for themselves and not the child. Performing should be the desire of the child not the mom. If she is pushing her terrified child out on the stage or reprimanding her for not winning. That is my definition of a stage mom.
We both are obviously like minded on this subject. It is really silly to me when I hear teachers talk about "natural" talent or people saying that Olympians are born. Well my daughter also does figure skating and gymnastics. Those kids are at the skating rink or at the gym DAILY ...... FOR HOURS! That is NOT natural talent. That talent is earned and learned. Where she skates many National and World Gold Medal winners also skate. They practice hard every day. It's true that genetics may help bring an olympian along, but even a "born" olymic champion won't become that champion without hard work.

For the kids who people see as not having natural talent, they most often have not been introduced to the dance or sport until they were older and simply won't have as much practice as those who are percieved to have natural talent. I've seen plenty of nontalented kids study for a few years and blow right by natural talents! So there!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Full Day in NYC

We did visit the LaDuca dance shoe store. Wow! We could have purchased every shoe in the place. Beautiful dance shoes. The softest leather! The MOST flexible shoe! Really top rate stuff. The store was located in the garment district and I couldn't have been happier walking by all those cloth stores! We had to buzz the door to get inside and the woman who helped us was incredibly professional. She laid velvet cloth on the floor so that the shoes wouldn't be damaged from the floor when my daughter tried them on. Clearly, the shoe is superior.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Off to NYC again this morning.

Here we go again. Into the city! In the rain. This will be a new experience. We're going to check out LaDuca Shoes today. About $250.00 for their cheapest shoe. How exciting (sarcasm). It really is in a way, to learn new things about the dance world and how we'll never buy Capezio again. Goodbye cheap dance shoes! It really was interesting, however, to learn that LaDuca is one of the only shoes that allows dancers to point the toes completely. I also learned that the heel of the character shoe is much wider and helps to support the dancer for leaps and turns. It all makes so much sense I wonder what all these other dance shoe manufacturers were thinking. Anyway, gotta go.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Don't Bash Competition Dancers!

My daughter has attended several dance conventions. At one convention, the owner of the event took a good 20 minutes to bash competition dance saying that it was just big business and that the wrong focus is put on dance. Also, emphasizing that dance is about performance and competition is not performance. Less experienced dance parents nodded their heads agreeingly and joined in to the grand competition bashing. I disagree. I think that dance competition is extremely helpful to dance and dancers! Here's why: 1. Competition gives students the opportunity to get up on stage MANY times a year. Most "performance based" noncompetition studios that we've attended don't give a lot of "performance" opportunities (no the mall doesn't count). 2. Preparing for competition gives students practice with organization skills - getting costumes, makeup, dance shoes, directions ready (but only if parents don't do the entire thing for them - which they shouldn't). 3. Competition is vital to networking. My daughter has competed nationally. She sees dancers from all over the country again and again at different conventions. She now sees many of those dancers at professional auditions. They talk about other dance opportunities within the professional world. Students from studios that only "perform" often don't leave their geographic area and won't have anywhere near the networking opportunites that competition kids do. 4. Students getting to know other competition students, get to see the personality of one another and can later, evaluate whether the personalities can work together in a professional environment. 5. In addition to networking, most professsional dancers go off to NYC or LA to dance. No one can afford apartments and most dancers have to room with someone. It is much easier to find a dance roomie if you already know someone. 6. I would like to also note that three of the four finalists on "So you think you can dance" were competition dancers. They all rose to the challenge because they had been practicing being challenged for years. They all did an excellent job!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Mirrors ....FINALLY!

The mirrors were finally installed! If you have a young child who might want to go into dance, buy mirrors NOW! What a difference it has made in my daughter's dancing! Much different from using mirrors in the studio. I think it must have to do with the private time of experimenting in front of the mirror without ten thousand students watching and/or interrupting. Great time for perfecting body placement. We bought two 5X6 foot mirrors. So the whole wall is covered. It's great! The good and bad news is that now I am faced with a full-body image of MYSELF!!! Hahaha.... Well it's inspiring me to exercise more...:)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Only in New York Part II

The audition took about five hours, so I was on that concrete slab a very long time. I was sitting adjacent to a fire hydrant. I looked up and saw this blind guy walking his dog. He took off the harness so that the dog could do his business and the dog promtly got busy. Now, I'm from the country, so I'm no stranger to deficating dogs, but we don't clean up after the dogs way out here in the wilderness..... so I wondered to myself ..... does New York make blind guys pick up poop? What if he can't see the poop? .... must be an icky situation....

Anyway, the maintenance guys that took care of the block buildings were just coming out the door for their lunch breaks .... this was right before the dog got busy.... It became apparent to me that this was not the first time they saw this particular blind man and his dog. I watched them as they watched the blind guy and glared down his deficating dog. They walked three quarters of a block and kept turning around and laughing to eachother. Interesting, I thought ... and wondered what the whole story really was...... Then my previous question was finally answered. New York, does, indeed, make blind men pick up poop.

The guy pulled out his bag and began the process.... I found myself increasingly interested in the process of picking up poop without being able to see the poop. I laughed at myself as I wondered ... "I wonder if he heard where the poop dropped ..." Then, of course, immediately discounted the idea of blind mans poop sonar. It's strange how your mind works when you're bored. Well, he was very good at locating the poop, but did miss a plop .... He left and the next part of the story continued ...

In New York, there are street sweepers everywhere.... Just guys hired to sweep up cigarette butts and bits of trash. Well, one such street sweeper entered the poop zone..... I found myself wondering, as he daintily swept up cigarette butts around the poop, if he would, in fact, sweep the poop into his little sweeper container.... the final answer is no .... and that is the end of my odd day of waiting.

Only in New York! Part I

New York City is the one place you can sit on the sidewalk for hours and be entirely entertained! I was waiting for my daughter to finish an audition the other day and grabbed a slab of concrete. The police drove by a few times, one on a motorcycle driving down the sidewalk, a couple of cruisers and a tow truck ..... About an hour later I saw the bike cop and the tow truck trying to draw this parked, little white car out from its parking spot where it was wedged tightly between a truck and another car to the front. Quite skillfully, the police officer grabbed the front tires of the car with a chain, drove a bit with the towtruck and the front of the little white car ripped away from its spot and was ready to the towed.

Just at that moment. A skinny man ran out from a building and started pleading with the police officers. (I noticed that the car had Michigan plates) The poor guy was crying and pleading with them not to tow his car. The car, from my view, was still "all four tires on the ground" and the officers could have just recognized that they guy was from out of town and just didn't get the parking sitch in New York..... but nope, after 15 minutes of pleading and tears, they lifted the car onto the tow and drove away .... leaving the guy standing in the street watching after his car. Only in New York!