Balancing Act

You’re devoted to your dance studio, but you’ve also dreamed of joining your high school’s dance team for as long as you can remember. Worried you won’t be able to balance your commitment to your studio with dance team responsibilities? Don’t stress! Get advice from three dancers who made it work—and the dance team coaches and studio owners who helped them do it.

How do I tell my studio owner I’ve decided to join my high school team, too?

First and foremost, it’s vital you let your studio owner and your dance team coach know you plan to continue dancing with both groups. “Tell your studio owner in person so she doesn’t hear it from someone else and think you were trying to keep it a secret,” says Highlands Ranch High School pom coach Amanda Humphrey. “Be honest—inform her of your future commitments, so she’s aware of your schedule.”

Sarah Gates, a freshman on HRHS pom team and a dancer at Starstruck Academy of Dance in Centennial, CO, says the best approach is to explain to your studio teacher why being involved with your high school team is important to you. “I love dance team because I get to be involved in school and dance with my classmates. It also gives me opportunities to perform more often—which helps boost my performance in studio competitions,” Sarah says.

Chandler Wolfe (right) at USA Spirit Nationals (photo courtesy Chandler Wolfe)

I have a studio performance and a dance team competition scheduled for the same time. What should I do?

“Determine which commitment will be hurt the most by your absence, and try to attend that one,” says Kasia Kerridge, a senior on HRHS pom team and a dancer at Starstruck Academy of Dance and Metropolitan Academy of Dance in Colorado. “And let your teacher or coach know as soon as you discover a conflict.”

You also should realize that your absence could mean getting pulled from a piece. Melenie Reynolds, owner of Impact Dance in Mesa, AZ, currently teaches six dancers who are also involved with their high school pom teams. She says, “If there’s a major conflict, we let the dancer make the choice. If she chooses to miss, it’s her decision to be temporarily—or permanently—replaced in a piece.”

There may be financial penalties to consider, as well. “Our policy is if someone fills in for you at competition, you pay their competition fees,” Reynolds says.

My teammates are upset with me for missing a performance. Help!

“Explain to them why you were absent, and be sure to always give 110 percent when you’re with the team,” says Chandler Wolfe, a junior on Mountain View High School’s Toro pom line and dancer at Impact Dance. Kasia agrees: “If you have to make up classes to prove to your team you can pull your own weight, do that.”

Lisa Holtz Odell, owner of Starstruck Academy of Dance in Colorado, suggests going out of your way to show your commitment to both teams. “In addition to making up every class you miss, meet with another dancer after missing rehearsal to be sure you’re completely caught up.”

Wolfe (front right) competing with her studio, Impact Dance (photo courtesy Chandler Wolfe)

The two-team schedule is so intense. How do I find time for homework, family and friends?

Kasia writes down a plan for her day and checks things off as she goes. Similarly, Chandler uses the calendar on her phone and sets reminders throughout the day so she doesn’t forget anything.

Sarah works on homework anytime she has a spare moment at the studio. “Starstruck has rooms where we can hang out and study between rehearsals,” she says. “I find the busier I am, the more focused I become.”

And your social life? Chandler says time can always be found, even if only a couple minutes. “The best way to make room for your social life is to never procrastinate on your school work,” she says. And don’t forget that your teammates will become some of your best friends—and a huge part of your social life.

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