By: Olivia Mode-Cater
I am officially done with performances for this season! It’s a big relief to have gotten all my students to the finish line and it’s been wonderful to bask in the post-performance glow. It’s during these couple of days after performances that I’m the most reflective. I think about the dancers’ and families’ reactions and I try analyze what went right and what could’ve gone better. Here are my two main takeaways for this past show:
What I Can Improve Upon:
I need to ask parents/staff for help backstage on the day of the performance. I had many high school students who volunteered to help me with the younger ones and to get everyone ready. We were organized and everyone knew their role; however, I found that my high school volunteers still needed an adult figure to give them more direction and to rally them when necessary. I could give that to them only some of the time because my attention was being pulled in many directions. If I had one adult, who knew everything that I needed done backstage, the time leading up to the performance would’ve gone more smoothly.
What I Did Well:
I think one of things I do best as a teacher is highlighting my students’ strengths. For this performance, I had students of all ages and of varying exposures to dance. For some, this was their first time ever dancing in front of others, while other students are very seasoned performers. When choreographing my pieces, I did everything possible to make my students feel confident in the movement. Because I had mixed levels in one class, I created many group sections, so I could differentiate the material to match my students’ skill level. For instance, if there were skills that my dancers had not mastered yet, I didn’t include them in their sections. Instead, I gave them other challenging things that they can do well. For my more experienced dancers, I put them together for a few counts of eight so they could show off more technical movements. I also embedded many skills my dancers learned outside of my class like acting and gymnastic tricks. By the end of the show, each child felt like they had a moment to shine in a way that was appropriate and authentic to them. I could see the sense of pride on their faces after the performance and knew that this strategy is something I must keep doing.
Reflection is always the key to development and improvement. After performances are over, I definitely recommend dance teachers taking some time to recognize the things that went well and the things that could’ve gone better. We tend to always nitpick and dwell on the bad things. We need to learn from our mistakes and reflect on them, but be sure to also celebrate your accomplishments. The things you do well are the reasons why your students love moving with you and come back year after year. So, keep those good things and just add to them!