Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teaching respect and modesty.

Yesterday, I found out that some former students of mine who now go to a different dance studio are talking really badly about me and my studio. As in, typical middle school nasty talking about things they don't know anything about type of talking. Honestly, I don't let it get to me because I'm 26, they are all around 13. I own a business, they are in middle school. I make my decisions based on the philosophy of my studio. They can pick whatever studio they like to dance at, it's their choice. I'm glad they are happy and that's fine. I've NEVER opened my mouth about other studios to my own students because that's just poor taste. Other teachers in my area do not seem to adhere to that same rule, but again that's their own decision. I choose to keep my mouth shut and save my drama for my mama! :)

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 in my studio. It just doesn't. We haven't even talked about the fact that these students left for another studio one time this year, because frankly it doesn't matter. I tell my students picking a studio is like picking a hair dresser, gotta find your best match. Of course I hope it's Studio K, but it might not be. That's OKAY.

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. Most Some dance teachers don't care.

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.


Melissa said...

i completely agree with you on everything you wrote & commend you for being an awesome dance teacher! At the theatre sometimes dance studios rent it out for their performances. there is one company that seems COMPLETELY drama-free to us. The other companies not so much. The girls at this one company (cangelosi dance project) are respectful to their teacher, to their parents, they even thank ME (who they don't know - i sometimes run lights for these types of shows). My friend & i were once talking about how maybe they gossip but we never see it!

I bet if i was in PA, i would think that about your company. ;) I hope my kids love dance one day & i will be so thankful to find a teacher like you! Especially where modesty is concerned!

Laura said...

"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."

HOORAY! You go Kate! You keep doing your thing and teaching those girls (and boys!) about modesty and respect! The world needs more women like YOU!

Anonymous said...

I love your philosophy and I have so much respect for you for how you conduct business! Way to go girl!