There's no better way to get to know the dance professor you've been fangirling over all semester than going to their office hours. (Via Getty Images)

Why Dancers Need to Know About the Life-Changing Magic of Office Hours

"Part of my job is to have at least two hours a week where I sit there, waiting for someone to come talk to me," says Heidi Henderson, professor of dance at Connecticut College. But dance students in particular often don't think to go to office hours. Why not? Unless you have a specific problem to address, it can feel weird to just sit and talk with professors. Far from it: "Coming to office hours is a way of going above and beyond," Henderson says. "I notice which students come to talk about dance or life, and I'll note that in recommendation letters." As you'll soon see, office hours encompass much more than just a nice chat.


You Need Advice

The most obvious reason to take advantage of office hours is to get artistic, academic, or professional advice. Tina Curran, director of the University of Texas at Austin's dance education BFA program, suggests you go to office hours throughout college. "The first year is about acclimating to this environment," she says. "The second year is, 'What kind of dancer am I?' Third year is an investigation of choreographers, focus in the field, and exploration of strengths. And fourth year is resumé-building, branding, and making connections." With their years of experience and wisdom, professors can help you with all of that.

You're Struggling in Class

"It's easy to feel resistant to learning new things because you're forced to be a beginner," Henderson says. "I wish you'd come talk to me if you're insecure about the newness of the college dance curriculum. I can reassure you that learning new things always takes time. You're doing better than you think." Office hours are also an ideal time to bring up any in-class accommodations that might help you learn better.

You're Going Through Something

If you're having a rough time (mentally, emotionally, or physically) outside the studio, it can disrupt your work in the studio. "We really want to know about the holistic health of our students and make sure they are safe," Curran says. "It's perfectly appropriate to tell me, 'Hey, this is going on in my life and this is the kind of support I need, or am already getting.'" Office hours shouldn't be confused with therapy, but neither should you feel shy about keeping faculty abreast of anything affecting you as a student and artist.

You Just Want to Talk

Henderson and Curran agree that you don't need to come with anything specific to address. "I love talking about what's going on in the dance world," Henderson says. "From seeing you in class, I already have choreographers and companies I want to direct you toward, that I think would suit you as a mover." "I want to learn about your previous dance experiences, what brought you here, what your journey has been about, what excites you," Curran says. "We want to get to know you."

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

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