Summer naturally pushes the re-set button for young dancers. The competition and recital seasons have finished, and the next season seems a long way off. Now what? I sat down with Dance Mom Devo contributor and professional dancer, Meghan Way Stinson to get the inside scoop on how dancers should be spending their summer months.
Should we take time off? Do we need to try summer intensives?
“Take a break for a week or two, but not too long,” Meghan says. “Do at least one intensive. Experience something new somewhere else. There’s a lot of value to going off on your own. It causes you to have more independence. I learned more clearly when I wasn’t surrounded by my usual people…something extra not with my studio.” Meghan explained how she was able to grow when she was outside of her usual bubble. “Even for an intermediate dancer with any kind of hope of dancing as a career, it’s important to give them an experience like LA, NYC, Chicago. It helps shape your dreams for the future.” Meghan’s mom took her out of town for an intensive for the first time at the age of 14. She said it’s fun to go with a small group of kids or with a friend.
Does it matter where you go or who you study with?
“When they’re younger, it’s not as important. It’s about the experience. As they get older, they need to define what they want to do with dance to narrow down possibilities. If you want to audition in LA, go take a class in LA,” Meghan advises.
How would the average dance mom know where to look or find these opportunities?
Meghan recommends consulting the following resources:
ALL GENRES // http://www.dancemedia.com/who-what-wear?resource=summer
BALLET & POINTE // http://pointemagazine.com/dance-resources/2017-summer-intensive-guide/
One of our family’s favorites is Dupree intensives and conventions.
“Be wise about your finances. Don’t make your summer all about dance. Spend time with your family. What you’re investing now doesn’t necessarily mean there will be financial payoff.”
What about private lessons at your home studio?
Most studios offer summer technique, which helps dancers work on the basics. Our home studio, Lifesong Studio in Grapevine,Texas, gives dancers the opportunity to try new genres and to build stamina with conditioning. “Private lessons can pay off or not. It could be helpful if your dancer knows they’re weak in a certain area, like working on turns. Having more of a specific focus will allow you to use your time and money better.”
How should parents communicate with the dance teacher regarding what needs to be worked on during a private lesson?
Meghan says, “For dancers ages 12 and under, mom should be simple and to the point. Don’t try to be the expert. Ask the teacher, ‘What does my daughter need to focus on?’ For dancers age 13 and up, it’s a good experience for the child to talk to teacher about what the teacher wants to focus on. Dancers don’t always know what they’re strong and weak at. It’s good for them to be able to say it. Knowing where your weak spots are will allow you to improve.”
Any advice on how to prepare for auditions coming up in the fall?
“Don’t try to prepare for auditions a few weeks before. Be thinking about it the whole year before. Work hard throughout the whole year. You will progress faster. Go over goals for the year at home. What are 5 things you want to accomplish this year? What do you want to work on? Not awards, but skill-based. It’s ok to say ‘I want to be in the overalls.’ Keeping that in mind motivates you to work harder in classes. Don’t focus on the recognition but being better in yourself. Listen to the critiques. Competition gives you specific feedback to work on. For the audition itself, consider an outfit she feels great in so she will have confidence.” (We like Just Dance Customs for beautiful, well-fitting dancewear.)
As a parent, the most important thing you can do to prepare your kids is to pray with them and for them. When you talk about goals or what your family wants to accomplish, pray together, and watch what God will do!
“Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, NLT).
Did you enjoy these tips? Keep an eye on LoriBerry.com and Dance Mom Devo for more insight.