I recently came across a blog entry on the Huffington Post: "A Letter From Your Dance Teacher," by Keesha Beckford, a modern and jazz dance teacher. In it, Beckford makes some pretty interesting points. She raises concerns about the feeling of entitlement among today's young dancers—the expectation of immediate fame and success without hours and hours of hard work. She says:
"You come from a generation that has been empowered like none before in humanity. You have been taught to question authority - to do your own thing -- from an early age. Many of you have been raised where 'everyone gets a trophy,' and your teachers, parents and coaches, trying to be encouraging, often praised you just because. Furthermore, in the age of the Internet everything is accessible instantly and effortlessly.
When you are asked to work at something because that is simply what one does, many of you ask 'Why should I? So-and-so made this thing and it went mad viral.' A few people are genuine overnight sensations -- results of our spectacle-hungry, media-addicted culture. Most sudden phenoms, however, have been toiling quietly for years before their 'moment.'
Success is a process."
While she definitely has some interesting thoughts and I don't think they're completely unfounded, I can't say I agree with all of them. Yes, there are entitled dancers that aren't willing to put in the hard work that is necessary for true success. But, I'm happy to report that most (if not all) the young dancers we find ourselves watching, interviewing, obsessing over are putting in countless hours in the studio and on the road at conventions, competitions and summer programs.
However, there's another point Beckford makes that I do agree with. She says:
"Your teacher's job is not to make you like her, not to make you want go have coffee or drinks, or to be lifelong or even Facebook friends. Personally, I like it when I become friends with students. But this happens because before anything else the student trusted me -- my skills and knowledge as a dancer and teacher.
If you don't trust your teacher you might find her corrections disrespectful... It is much easier for your teacher to ignore you, and spend time on someone who makes changes quickly. Only a teacher who thinks you have potential would bother to try to help you. Not disrespectful at all -- exactly the opposite.
And that puts the onus on you, to take responsibility for yourself. If you don't understand why you are getting a correction five times per class or why your dancing is not getting the compliments you'd like, ask!"
Dancers, trust your teachers. They care about you—they want you to succeed! Remember your success is their success. And if you're having trouble dealing with criticism, read this article.
Now you tell me—what do you think? Do you agree with her points? Tell us in the comments below!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.