What gets to me though is that no one is teaching these girls respect. I try to teach my students that they are to be respectful of other studios in the area, complimenting them on things, being polite and supportive if they go to a recital, that kind of stuff. I'm not crazy, I know my girls probably gossip and bad mouth other studios at school but it doesn't happen
Respect is a big part of my dance studio. I try to teach them to respect each other and respect themselves. I've gotten on my dancers cases before for being rude to their parents (you would not believe how I've heard some kids talk to their moms!), rude to each other, rude to me. They need to speak with respect and learn to communicate their problems. I know that teaching 140 girls and 2 boys is, of course, going to lend itself to drama and gossip, but I'm trying each day to teach them to, if nothing else, think before they speak.
Respect for themselves...that's such an interesting point. One of the HARDEST parts of being a dance teacher is choosing modesty in costumes and dance moves.
I'm sure you've seen the video this screen cap above came from. 5 little girls (ages 7 to 9!) dancing to Single Ladies. Great song, lots of potential for a great dance. These girls are AWESOME dancers, super talented and extremely technically correct. The problem though...the costumes! What?! "Burlesque" is a very lenient description of what they are wearing. The moves are totally inappropriate for elementary kids. Little girls should be dressed like little girls. End of story.
Modesty is a dying trend. I'm not asking my students to be "prudes," I'm just asking them to cover up the important parts. (ha!) They all wear body liners under their costumes. That's a flesh colored leotard that covers them so no matter where they have to change or what costume malfunctions might occur, they are safe. :) We don't do bikini style costumes for lots of reasons. The biggest one is I'd have angry dads chasing me down if I put my girls in that type of costume. Bra tops are NOT dance costumes, people. I also am very conscious of my dancers' body types. Not everyone is able to wear bra tops and look good. I never would have been able to in high school because of my large chest. I would have been so embarrassed if my teacher had picked an outfit in that style. ALL my dancers who are in middle and high school have body image issues. Putting them in a skimpy bra top and tiny shorts or a skirt is only going to enhance those issues. They will spend more time worrying about how they look and if they are "jiggling" then thinking about their dance.
It's not okay to put kids on stage in less than a bathing suit. It's not. A dance teacher has a responsibility to her students to choose appropriate costumes. It's is my job to demonstrate that they can look pretty and dance beautifully in modest, appropriate costumes. It is unprofessional and irresponsible for me to choose anything less. I owe it to my students and to myself.