It is easy for dance teachers to bemoan the lack of positive attitude in dance classes, and the waning discipline of students. Dance classes have seen many changes – such as seeing the decline in pianists for classes – and it seems attitudes and discipline within the studio have also faltered, especially in ballet classes. The majority of students are still quiet and conscientious, however those at the other end of the spectrum are more prevalent today it seems.
Dance studio attitudes continue to be important, instilling manners and positive mindsets into students. Whilst some attend because their parents would like them to do so, many young dancers continue to dream of becoming a professional. The millennial generation understands what they must do to achieve, but many just fulfil the minimum required to attain this level of success. Be it a ballet syllabus or a school exam, goals – for some – are purely surface level, and do not instil perseverance or hard work. There is such intense competition in the dance world that this mindset will just not deliver.
From technique class to performances, dance cannot just be about making shapes in space; hard work is a prerequisite of the industry, as well as talent that leaves an impression on the teacher, audition panel and audience. Skills and talent are no doubt praised, but by pairing them with the right attitude, character and work ethic will mean that the dancer is well on the way to their goals. Talent can only propel a dancer so far yet there is so much emphasis on this part of the dancer only.
There are more dancers today than ever before, and whilst opportunities for them have also increased, the number of dancers has not risen at the same rate. It is important to stand out for the right reasons, and bring more to the job than just high kicks. Creating hard working dancers is an important task for a teacher, educating them and encouraging them to develop their own passion. The dance community is small and it is imperative we view the bigger picture.