Honestly, I worry about the continuance of dance as an oral art form, about the ignorance of adults who pay for training from unqualified instructors, and the sight of small children on stage shaking their bodies in midriffs and boas like strippers. Seriously, a little perspective here from parents would go a long, long way!
I never intended to be a dance teacher. Unbelievably, the issue wasn’t even broached as I made my way through a BFA Degree in ballet – that having teaching credentials probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. But like so many American institutions of higher learning, no one was counseling me individually to explain that, with only a few hundred dancer jobs in this country, this really would be excellent insurance as a way to pay the bills.
Skip forward a few years, shortly before I married. An opportunity arose that I was too young to realize was folly – teaching in a large inner city school – and since the current teacher couldn’t wait to be on her way, my career was launched.
I never really looked back. In spite of the tough conditions of that first job, I stayed almost ten years. This was hardly the dance environment in which I was trained, and few of these kids would ever be dancers, but there was no doubt then or now that the arts change lives.
A few decades later, I’m still using that BFA in ballet. I have taught for public and private k-12 schools, fine art schools and competition dance schools, I have taught in conservatory programs, colleges, and universities. Mostly I teach ballet, some modern, character, history, and conditioning. I even teach some jazz and musical theatre if it’s some type of overview course. I try not to teach yoga because it’s my sacred form that I selfishly keep for myself. It’s still changing lives although I know there are few jobs for the well-trained and parents seldom humble themselves enough to ask the right questions. At the college level, I daily see students who have spent thousands of dollar$$$ on poor training who will never be able to do anything dance related because of it. At the K-12 level, I see studios across the country fraudulently accepting money in exchange for little more than babysitting with music. This isn’t helping the art form, childhood obesity, or adult job satisfaction.
Often, parents are just glad they’re moving and not smoking out back behind the dumpster – I get that – I have three children of my own. But I’m still surprised there isn’t more discretion on the part of the parents, even if instructors aren’t using good judgement.