With the new dance season upon us, there are many things that young dancers need to consider and steps they should take in order to make the best of the season. Thinking in advance about things like time management between school, dance, and other activities, as well as the physical and mental preparation that will be needed for classes, rehearsals and competitions will go a long way toward having a more successful year.
But there’s one important factor that impacts everyone involved – the studio, the instructors, the dancers and their families – and that’s schedule conflicts and missed classes or rehearsals.
Having been the director of a competition team for 20 years, I am well aware of how scheduling conflicts with active young people and busy families can become a challenge during the rehearsal process.
For this reason, I decided to check in with Lisa Schumann, owner and director of Dance Expression dance arts in Hamburg, NJ, to get her advice on how best to handle these situations.
According to Lisa: “There’s no doubt that schedules for young dancers get really busy once they start an intensive program in the fall. As a result, it becomes very important for the family to go over their entire calendar for the upcoming season and consider trying to “schedule in” potential conflicts, from September through the Nationals, which are held the following July.”
If dance families make an effort to “calendar” all of their upcoming family events (weddings, communions, bat mitzvahs, etc.) and school activities (band and choral concerts, sports, senior trips, National Honor Society, etc.) in advance, they can work out their compromises and still meet the requirements for classes, rehearsals and performance dates.
Lisa says that by letting the studio director know which dates are critical (for the dancer), sometimes choices for regional events can be adjusted so that several dancers aren't trying to be in two places at once or requiring the studio to use understudies.
Of course, this does not mean that dancers in an intensive program aren't expected to meet their requirements. However, she points out that a little flexibility in the director’s planning can go a long way.
The commitment by the performance company dancer is not just their own commitment, but it also becomes the commitment of the entire family. Lisa points out that it's very important for studio directors to help their dance families plan in advance for a full year, so that they can arrange for help, child care, transportation, etc. What is the result? Hopefully, there is little or no drama for anyone involved as the season unfolds.
Lisa concludes: “The more that young dancers and their families prepare and plan, the less stress that will be involved and the more everyone will enjoy the dance year ahead.”
Jason Warley (author), is a dance instructor and choreographer with more than 20 years experience in dance education. He is also the owner of, Man In Motion - a network of male dance professionals that provides dance instructors and choreographers, arranges master classes and workshops, and secures emergency dance teacher subs in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area.