Dear Dance Student
Dear dance student, Most of my blog posts are fairly warm and fuzzy with lots of holistic love and inspiration. This blog comes from a place of fierce love and respect for my time, effort, and desire for a cohesive dance class experience. I know that I deserve respect from any dancer who attends my class, regardless of their experience level or who they study with. When you make the choice to attend a dance class there are guidelines for your participation and behavior.
If you are not familiar with the guidelines for dance classroom etiquette, here some that I believe are important for dance students to know:
- Honor the class description
- Know the time, cost, place (location of class), payment method(s), required commitment, items to bring, and experience level mentioned. It is your job as a student to familiarize yourself with these things. The instructor has a lot to manage with running and planning a class, it saves time and energy if you have already familiarized yourself with expectations and logistical details. If you are unsure about anything, ask the instructor.
- Do NOT drop into a class that is specific about needing instructor approval, ever. If you have done this and the teacher let you stay, be thankful and realize that you did not honor a very specific request. If you have dance experience, yet have not studied with the instructor, contact them and let them know you want to attend. The instructor can plan for your participation and you’ll have a great experience in the class.
- Ask questions of the instructor, not other students
- Arrive early, communicate via email/message/phone the week before the class, or speak directly with the instructor as soon as class ends. Some instructors may need to leave promptly when class ends, make your questions known ASAP.
- Asking other students or studio staff may only give you a partial answer based on their knowledge. Always confirm with the instructor when you have a need or a question.
- Direct communication works best. If you don't let instructor know that you you have questions, the instructor has no way of knowing, mind reading is not part of a dance teacher's skill-set.
- Be ready when class starts
- If the class starts at 10 am, that means you are ready for the instructor to begin teaching at 10 am. You are properly dressed, checked in, and ready to go. This means you respect the class space and the instructor’s time. If, for some reason the instructor is late (it happens) you can acquaint yourself with the other dancers and still be ready to go when the instructor arrives.
- If you are late and the instructor brings this to your attention, don't argue with the instructor. If you need a time allowance for transit, childcare, or any other reason, let the instructor know and then make your entrance/exit quietly. Instructors will appreciate your respect for the class space.
- Be respectful before/during/after class
- If you realize the class is not suitable for you, don’t ruin another student’s experience. Deep sighs, eye rolling, or other means of showing displeasure are not appropriate. Not for kids and certainly not for adults. If you feel the need to exit the class, do so without disruption.
- Do not instruct other students during class. If a fellow student has questions, encourage them to ask the instructor, or ask it yourself. Instructors love questions and can address them as best fits the class flow.
- Sharing other events/classes. Ask the instructor about a proper time to share that information. Dance community is a fabulous thing and it's likely your teacher will want to share about other events.
- Instructor feedback. Contact the instructor after class and ask if they ware interested in your feedback about the class. Perhaps it’s hard for you to hear over the music, or you feel like there was a safety issue. Bring those up with the instructor.
Some other notes for dance students to keep in mind:
- Instructors are human – Your dance instructor is not a perfect, super-human machine. They may forget things, might mess up a move, or otherwise drop the ball on something. They also know that students are human and make mistakes. Allow your instructor to help when you make mistakes, and allow space for your instructor to make them as well. It builds respect, trust, and community in the dance classroom.
- Taking critique – Dance is an artistic endeavor. This means that critique is part of the process. It’s not an assault on who you are as a human being, it’s a specific item to bring awareness so you can improve your form or presentation. If you get the same critique from different teachers, make note that it’s something you’ll want to improve upon.
- Take ownership of your behavior - If your instructor brings up behavior issues, be accountable and honest. It’s likely unpleasant to hear, it is unpleasant for the instructor to give, and is a moment of growth for the relationship of student and teacher. I don’t recommend responding angrily by tearing apart the instructor, class, studio, or methods. Doing that ensures you will not be welcome in that teacher’s class ever again.
When you attend a class it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own experience and think that everything in the class is all about you. It’s not. A dance class is an ecosystem that needs each of its participants to have done their work and come prepared, even for a drop-in class.
As a dance instructor, I work hard to give material to help dancers grow and expand their horizons. I love answering questions, I love working with brand new and experienced dancers. I deeply care about each students experience and appreciate when students follow these guidelines to the best of their abilities.