Any dancer has said it, any teacher has heard it, and every dance mom has thought it. “Am I ready to move to the next level” This is a dangerous question and we’ll explain why.
Our culture is obsessed with numbers. Whether it’s a scale or test score, we use numbers to compare ourselves to others, not our personal goals and development which are and should be completely different from our peers. Dance is no different. There are so many factors that go into leveling. They include and are not limited to previous experience, hours of practice, level of intensity during your practice, knowledge of your form, talent, and dedication. Here is what you need to keep in mind as a dancer or dance mom…
“Levels are promoted not by asking, but rather by dancing at the next level.”
The real issue here is making sure your dancer is safe, challenged, progressing, and mastering their art, not jumping arbitrary hoops to build up a false sense of accomplishment. If you want to be a master craftsman of the challenging skill of dance, you need to be patient and work hard. Your teachers are ALWAYS watching for your success and will promote accordingly.
Now here is where the pain comes in and what to do with it.
Issue: Sally and Peggy are best friends and have danced in levels 1-3 together and now this year Sally is a level 4 and Peggy is a level 3. What should they do and how is this fair?
Solution: If you are Sally or Peggy you have to ask yourself the hard and honest question. Why? Did one work harder? Is one more naturally gifted and is picking up on technique faster? If you are honest you will know that you may have work to do and it may take private lessons, more focus in class, or extra time to develop those skills. Don’t blame the teacher, always ask, what could I have done better and what is my game plan to make up lost ground. The hardest part is knowing that sometimes your hardest isn’t enough… yet. It will pay off, you will need some patience.
Issue: It’s take Katrina 3 years to move from level 2 to level 3. Is it time to switch studios?
Solution: Meet with your teacher on a quarterly basis to get feedback on what the issues may be. More often than not it may be just a few skills that need polishing, or supplemental classes to help build strength. Your teacher wants to protect you and push you so they want you in the next level just as much if not more. Keep communication open and be ready for an honest answer. Be ready to change and push!
Issue: Mom is worried because another mom is bragging about her daughter who skipped a level and is excelling.
Solution: Ignore the mom and focus on your child’s overall well being. Did you spend time with them listening to their needs and desires? Your child’s love for dance is a budding artist who needs expression. Let him/her discuss with you in great lengths how they feel about their dance and leveling and ask how you can help. From there you have to listen and be open.
Keep in mind why levels exist. If you've never danced before compare it to reading. You have to learn your ABC's before you put together words, then sentences, then poetry. You can't start with Shakespeare. You are setting yourself up for failure. Trust the process, be patient and if you have questions, ask your guiding light - the teacher.