What does working hard look like?

Hi dancers!

Today I wanted to write about hard work!  Working hard is important in all aspects of our life, from school to jobs to relationships.  In dance class working hard is important,  to get the most out of class and to demonstrate to the teacher that you’re ready for another challenge.  Sometimes though, I think that working hard means different things for students and teachers.  To me, working hard doesn’t mean being the best in the class, or showing off your perfect double pirouette when other dancers are still practicing single turns.  Here are a couple ways students show me that they are working hard:

Before Class-

  • I can tell you’re ready for a productive class when you come in to the studio on time and prepared. This means hair done, coat off, dance shoes on, with a smile!
  • Once you’re in the studio, are you showing your teacher that you’re ready for class to begin?  You can do this by standing at the barre quietly for ballet class, or standing in the center if your class starts with a center warmup.  Does your warmup always start standing?  If so, and you’re lying on the floor when I turn on the music, I’m not sure you’re ready to begin.  I love when my dancers greet their friends and teachers at the start of class, but you can show me you’re ready to dance by saving your longer catch-up sessions for later!

During Class-

  • Dancers can show me they are working hard by listening, following direction, and taking corrections.
  • Remember, you are not invisible to the teacher just because it isn’t your turn to go across the floor.  Are you standing on the side being respectful of the other dancers, and listening to corrections the teacher is giving them (they might apply to your dancing too!)?  Are you practicing the combination, or reversing it to do the other side?  I notice these things, and they show me that you’re engaged in class and working hard.
  • Are you abiding by the teacher’s rules?  If the teacher wants you to take sweatshirts and sweatpants off after warmups, are you doing this without asking?  If the rule is no jewelry, are you taking it off without being asked?  Are you waiting for appropriate moments for water breaks?  These are important signals to the teacher that you respect their classroom.
  • If your teacher gives you a correction, it is because he or she wants to help you, and knows you are capable of improving!  Show us that you are going to work on applying that correction by responding “thank you” to corrections that you receive.  Saying nothing makes us question whether or not you heard us, saying “I know” makes us wonder why you didn’t do it the first time, and making excuses indicates that you’re not willing to work on improving.
  • Ask questions!  Teachers love thoughtful questions about the material we are working on!  Now, that doesn’t mean asking “why is the sky blue” when we’re doing tendus, but asking questions is a great way to show us that you are paying attention and engaged.  The only exception?  If I just spent a couple minutes going over the arms for our across the floor combination, and you ask “wait, what are the arms again?  I wasn’t paying attention.”  Uh oh!
  • Answer questions!  Nobody likes to talk to themselves.  If your teachers asks “do you have any questions?” or “should we do that again?” or “do you need to go over that?” pretty please, answer us!  Most of the times, it’s just a simple yes or no.  But when these questions are met with crickets, we’re not sure what to do.  Are you asleep?  So confused you don’t know what to say?  Mad at us?  Answer us, and we can help you.  If you need to go over something again, just say so!  We’re asking these questions because we want to know what is going to help YOU the most.
  • Do your best!  If I ask for 8 pushups, and that’s not where you’re at, that’s okay! But are you showing me that you’re willing to work on it?  Do as many as you can, and then hold a plank.  Do all 8, but as modified pushups if you need to.  Told to work on your split?  Don’t just sit there!  Work on it the best you can!  Ask for advice on stretches or grab some yoga blocks to help you hold it.  Just because you can’t do something NOW doesn’t mean you never WILL.  But trust me, if you’re getting water or asking to go to the bathroom or blowing your nose every single time I know that you know that pushups are coming….I’m on to you.  I’d MUCH rather you do what you can than not try at all.

After Class:

  • Say thank you to your teacher!  Say good job, see you next week, have a good night, etc to your dance friends!
  • Keep up the good work at home by reviewing your choreography!  We know you’ve got a lot of other stuff going on!  But just a few minutes over the course of the week between classes to think about new choreography, formations, or questions you might have for next class makes such a big difference!  And we’re always here for you so if you do think of a question and you see we have a minute to spare-ask!  We’ll be happy to go over something with you.

All of these things translate into all aspects of your life, from school to jobs.  Remember actions speak louder than words-so don’t tell us you’re working hard-show us!

What are you doing to show your teacher that you’re ready to work hard in class?  Comment and let us know!

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