Today is a good day and I want to discuss with you dancers a topic that has bothered me for a long time. If you are participating in a workshop or even a higher level dance class then you may have experienced that in the end your teacher divide the students into groups. Nothing wrong with that – more space to dance and you get to see the choreography more properly when others perform it, plus you get more used to have eyes on you when dancing. We are all good so far. But now, here is the thing. Have you ever experienced that after a few rounds of groups the teacher picks out specific dancers in the class and says, “I want to see her, him, you, you and her”?
Now there are pros and cons with everything and I’m sure that the teacher’s doing this believes they have a good reason. That’s also why I am writing this post – I want to discuss, I want to understand, I want to make my opinion heard because to be honest. I think my opinions are pretty dang great.
I’m not that negative. I can see why this could be a good thing. When a choreographer teaches us dancers his or her choreography – it is our job to make the choreographer’s vision come true. In this way, taking out “the favourites” is a way of showing people who succeeded and inspire of more ways to make the vision come to life. Also, it is a way of preparing dancers of the rough path of working in the dance business. Because you will get so many no’s and in this way you’ll probably get more used to it. I mean, it might get less traumatized. You’ll might even get that extra push and motivation to hunt that yes.
Well even though it could be a good hunt for some, it most likely breaks some confidence for many more. Imagine really enjoying a class and doing your best, then when it time to the teacher’s pick – you weren’t good enough. At least, that’s often what pops into a dancer’s head when that happens. Dancing is an art, everyone has they´re own journey and it shouldn’t be up to a teacher to say who is the “best” since no one really can be. Since everyone is developing in different areas and in different paces. The picking and choosing easily creates a wall between the students – who is the best and the ones who was not picked.
In my opinion it doesn’t matter if I am in the position of being picked or standing on the side, it still doesn’t feel okay. The students are cheering, clapping and supporting everyone. Which is lovely! But looking closely there are always many faces that effuse disappointment and some even get a bit chocked for not getting picked. Even though everyone tries to hide it. Of course, all students have a wish to get picked. Who wouldn’t be flattered of that confirmation from their teacher? But does it belong in a class/workshop where you should get a deeper love for this wonderful art of movement? Where you should leave inspired and become one step closer to be a greater dancer? From my point of view as a teacher, I don’t think so.
There are other ways of doing this. Give your dancers feedback to genuinely become better, make several small groups so everyone get picked, have audition workshops/classes so everyone who actually wants to get the experience and knowledge gets it. Be pedagogical and make your studio walls a safe environment filled with inspiration, sharing of knowledge, feedback, providing challenges and a joy for dance. Everyone can more than they know if they have the right help and the right mindset, so give your student’s at least a good platform to start at. They deserve it.