Friday, March 31, 2006

I have to comment on American Idol

There is no shame on being voted off of American Idol. I keep seeing these newspaper reports that say "despite being voted off ...." "even though she was voted off ...." America, please note, only a select few even made it on American Idol .... out of thousands of people who auditioned only a small number made it to the show. That is a HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT and honor to be chosen. They should all be congratulated for 1. Getting off the couch to audition in the first place, 2. Keeping it cool enough to make it through the rounds of auditions, and 3. Having the poise and presence to get up on stage in front of millions of viewers, sing, then have their singing critqued in front of the nation! Shame on anyone who trys to put down anyone who has made it that far.... it's a lot farther than most people would make it!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Links for Dancers

I've added some new links for dancers at the lower left of this page. If you know of any great dance sites, let me know. I'll check them out!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A little dancer who really loves dance.

I was watching a class with many levels of dancers in it, all ages. One girl, however, stood out. She was about 8 years old and had a good body for dance. But even better, you could tell that some day she was going to be a great dancer! She listened to the instructor intently and carefully watched the movements of the person demonstrating, mimicking every move as the instructor did it. Then she went out onto the floor, put a smile on her face and enthusiastically performed the piece. She was pretty good too! I'll be watching to see how she does in coming years. Nice job!

Friday, March 24, 2006

She's just doing it for fun!

Stop! Stop right now! I guess this month I'm just about to tear my hair out listening to people. Was sitting with this mother the other day. Her daughter was 9 years old. "Is she competitive?" I asked. "No, she just dances for fun. Nothing serious." Arrrrrrgh Can you see my face start to mutate? Ok, here's why I have such an attitude.

If competition is not for you, then ok, it's not for you. Not everyone has to compete to be successful. I haven't seen many noncompetitive dancers who have great skills, but there are a few. NYC has a lot of 'already professional' noncompetitive dancers who are amazing, but I haven't really seen it in the suburbs.

But saying she dances "just for fun" is like saying "Don't blame her if she sucks, we're just paying out all this money and wasting the classes time because we're not really serious." "She doesn't really have to pay attention, because it's just for fun." "She doesn't really have to learn safe dancing because it's just for fun." "It's ok if she goes on stage at the end of the year and embarrasses the hell out of herself because it's just for fun." "It's ok to be mediocre because it's just for fun." If it's just for fun then take her to the YMCA! Let me put it more simply. The people I hear saying "It's just for fun." usually have kids who are fat or lazy or kids who have real potential, but because they can't throw a triple pirouette in the first class their parents think they have no skill. Um .... that's why kids take lessons .... to gain skill.

Question: If you are making the effort to pay a qualified teacher to learn dance and you are making the time commitment to show up to class and purchase dance clothes and costumes and practice, why wouldn't you want to gain some skill out of the whole process? Give your kid a chance! Having skill is fun, dancing skillfully is great fun. So why not learn the skill correctly and learn what real fun is all about instead of giving the kid a great excuse to slack off and be less than great!

A child's road to success will always run into a wall. As a parent you will either be a road block or help your child climb over the wall. Making excuses for a child when a child is that young equals "road block". Encourage them to do their best and learn the skill correctly from the start. Please!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Here's a Clue for Beginner Competition Moms

I sat in the room with a bunch of moms last weekend. This was the first year their studio had entered competition. OK, so my daughter has competed for a long time and her day is over. She's moving into the professional world now. However, I engaged in conversation anyways. I asked what studios were at the competition ... they didn't know. I asked who the judges were ... they didn't know. They did know, however, that whatever studios were there were being given an unfair advantage. ARGH! Ok, it happens. However, I am very familiar with the competition they went to and very familiar with the studios that attend that competition every year. Studios that have excellent dancers, strong technique and work exceptionally hard to win what they do. I could imagine nothing unfair about those studios winning ... but wait ... maybe this studio (which I was unfamiliar with) would bring out a stellar performance ... maybe they were better than these other studios that I was familiar with .... Then I went into the classroom and watched their competitive students ........................ I have one thing to say ......

Just shut up until you know what you're talking about. Your students were not anywhere ready to compete and were sloppy, off the music, no smiles, dead arms with no enthusiasm for dance. Unfair? What IS unfair is bringing kids to competition who are not prepared. Judges look for technique (your students had none), neatness (some were neat, others not), musicality (the ability to place dance moves to the music where they belong), style (um, not even close), smiles (none), performance quality (....), oh yes, and how about an effort?

So here is what you need to do to fix it. Stop complaining about how unfair it was that they other studios got all the good medals. Learn who those studios are and what type of routine they do weekly. You'll be humbled. Start doing proper warmups and teaching the kids proper body alighnment from the beginning. Build and stretch muscles, muscle memory ... properly to avoid injuries. Start at the basics again and repeat until students have a good base from which to start. Bring the music tempo down so that students can complete their moves, gradually increasing it as they gain more skill. Stop changing choreography every two seconds for the younger students until they have a base. Prepare before class and know what you're going teach before you walk into class.

I know one of the teachers you have at that studio. She competed for years and is, not only and exceptional dancer, but she knows how to prepare for competion. Those students do not show even a small amount of the excellence that teacher is capable of sharing with your studio. Your studio needs to ask her advice before you enter competition again.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Thank God for Frank!

He's sometimes harsh, blunt, scary to some, but Frank Hatchett tells it like it is. If you can't dance, you'll know it after attending one of his classes. How? He'll tell you so and then he'll help you do it right! As my daugher puts it ..."You have to be a special kind of person to take Frank's criticism and put it to good use." In other words, if you want it bad, you'll fix yourself! I think we are both greatful for his bluntness because there are just some people who others don't want to offend for one reason or another ... and that dancer just moves through life thinking he or she really has what it takes. Bluntness lets that dancer know they have to improve themselves because the are not up to standards or it kindly pushes them to get a new day job! In the end, Frank is really a very sweet guy .... who tells it like it is. :)

One of most humbling experiences for a dancer or dance studio is to venture out into the wide world of competitive dancing where they're not faced with the best and worst of their hometown, they're faced with the best and worst of the region or nation. You learn very quickly that you and yours are NOT the best dancers in the land! For those who don't get that message .... well that's where Frank comes in ... telling it like it is. After all, he's seen a lot and has been in the dance business since before time began. I don't often get to talk with him because whenever we're in New York, other mothers swarm him for advice about their little darlings. He's always polite and often very helpful in his advice which I'm sure by now he has repeated the same advice and enormous number of times.

The dancers who he has trained are really good. Of course they must be you say ... Well not all dance teachers produce good students. Some great dancers just don't know how to teach. Every dancer that I know danced with Frank has style and can really dance.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dance is filled with a variety of personalities!

When we were at the SYTYCD auditions, there was this guy behind us in line who came to audition. He'd never taken a dance class in his life. Yet, this guy stood nervously in line with dancers who had been training since the age of three and whose parents had stood by them all the way, pushing them to be better and better dancers. This guys parents didn't like the fact that he wasted his time on dancing, and he was auditioning without their knowledge. When the time came to audition, I hear he was amazing (heard from a good source that is a very hard critic). He made the first cut! A great accomplishment for someone who never took a dance class. He didn't make the second cut, but neither did many experienced dancers. It amazes me that he chose to jump into one of the most competitive auditions for his first try. I do hope he enters his first dance class and doesn't give up on his dreams. I'll probably never know what happened to him, but I hope I'll find out that he continued.

I met another guy while I was waiting. He was the oldest guy there and had loads of experience. Dance just dripped off of this guy. I didn't see him dance, but I could tell he was good .... you know .... the stance, slightly turned out when casually walking, super posture, body lifted and tall, bright and enthusiastic attitude, confident. I didn't find out if this guy made it, so I can't wait to see the show so I can find out. He said it was his last chance before the age requirement would prevent him from entering. I thought that was great! Go for it until you can't go for it anymore!

Then there was this other guy who I know to have national and world titles. What a sad case .... very self-important and feeling special about himself. Is he really that good? Yes, I have to say he is very good, but it kills me to say it! I don't like to see people succeed and then smush it in everyone elses faces. It's one thing to be proud of your success, but really .... winning should not give one license to be pompous.

Everyone there had one thing it common. They were all out to take a chance. They were living! They weren't waiting until they were perfect dancers, they weren't sitting on the couch waiting for life to lift them up, they were taking charge of what might be.... inspiring! So if you were at that audition, whether you made it or not, congratulations for trying, for dreaming, for wishing. Don't give up! Keep on trying until something better comes along!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

So you think you can dance auditions

Well, we've been to New York twice since my last post and I'm just exhausted. My daughter went to the SYTYCD auditions and we got there at around 6 a.m. the first morning. It was FREEZING. I mean we're all lucky to still have toes. A few crazy people brought tents and camped out in the cold. They didn't start letting people in until 9 a.m. They let people in a few at a time, so my D didn't get in until 9:30. She got out of that days audition at around 2 p.m. She made it through the first day of audtions and was told to come back the next day at 8:00. We arrived at 7 a.m. and, again, they didn't let us in until 9 - 9:30. This day, parents and friends were allowed to enter the building. It was twice as cold that morning and the wind was blowing. The day was filled with excitement. People smiling and rejoicing and others, of course, feeling sad, rejected and mad. You don't really get the true atmosphere of the situation when watching it on T.V. There are cameras everywhere and multiple people conducting interviews in various parts of the building and a ton of security. We knew a good number of people in line from various competition, audition, workshops, classes, etc. The auditions were different from the norm, so it will be really interesting to see who makes it and who doesn't. I didn't sign anything stopping me from discussing what I know about the auditions, but I'm choosing not to divulge the equalities and inequalities of the process. If you're going to audition, have a great time. We met some really great and talented people. It was a lot of fun! The picture below is the line in back of us.

and this is the picture in front of us. The long sign in the middle of the picture is the front of the line: