Hear it from a Dance Judge

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST?
by Miss Tara

I love it when dancers don’t dance apologetically; when they are dancing full out, and connecting to their audience and music and are committed to their choreography; drawing us in, inviting us to be a part of what they are dancing; projecting to the balcony and beyond.  You can never discount technique, as it is imperative.  However, do not forget about that command of the stage through your presence, preparation, polish and being genially committed to what you are doing will get you places!

One of my favorite parts about judging is that I have the ability to offer feedback to dancers in new ways that may click differently for them. Right away, I want them to know I enjoyed being there and adjudicating their performance. I think that comes across through a positive tone and consistent commentary from introduction to the end of the critique. I always try to give concrete, constructive critiques, instead of making general statements like “stretch your feet,” or “reach from your back.” I give notes on what I think they can improve on but I also let them know what I loved.  Kids and teachers feel better about hearing what needs work when they also hear what they are doing well! I encourage them to keep doing those things and continue to work on the other comments given to bring it to that next level. I always try to give shout-outs to dancers who are drawing my attention and focusing on the positive elements of what I’m watching. If someone is absolutely killing it out there, I definitely want them to know!  I always consider the age of the dancer(s) on stage, and speak to them as I would my own students.  Younger dancers understand things differently than older, more mature teens.  I also think it is helpful to give tips on how to apply the critique I am presenting, and I try to use imagery to convey the message without having the ability to speak directly to the dancers and teachers.  It is important to me that children are able to listen to their critiques and hear something their teacher has not previously said, or at least hear it in a way they have not heard it before 

SPECIAL TIPS FOR FIRST TIME CONTESTANTS

Nothing can replace being prepared so there is no anxiety over the sorts of things that can be prevented.  Remember, we are on your side as a judge.  We want to see you succeed.  Being “judged” sounds so ominous.  We however don’t really get wrapped up in mistakes, but look more at how you recover from them and what you give us a whole.  Have fun, relax, enjoy your gifts as a dancer and share them with the audience and us.  There is only one you – come out and show us what makes you who you are!  I often say to dancers on critiques, “come onto the stage and ask for it!”  We want to give it to you!

HOW DO YOU COMPARE TEACHING AND JUDGING A DANCE COMPETITION

I think the most exciting takeaway for me as a judge has been seeing all of the amazing talent; it is so exhilarating to get to witness the next generation of dancers in action! Judging has also made me a better teacher because sitting at that table forces me to be extremely articulate with my language choices on my critiques; I cannot rely on my abilities to demonstrate or offer feedback. By bringing this clearer, more specific communication into the studio, I think I am able to appeal to a greater variety of learning styles in a given class, which helps all my students. I also get inspired choreographically, and cannot wait to get back in the classroom with my students to inspire them and share my great passion of dance!

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING TASK WHEN JUDGING?

One of the most challenging things is making sure you are talking and offering critiques throughout the entire dance, that are beneficial.  Everyone knows that they need to point their toes more, or reach further.  Coming up with helpful critiques and thinking of things to say in all styles, even if they are not your area of expertise, to further a performance or a dance as a whole is challenging in the short amount of time we have to see the dance. 

TELL US SOMETHING WE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT DANCE COMPETITIONS…

When a judge is judging they have a sheet that tells them the score someone needs to achieve to be awarded a certain place.  Therefore, when they are watching a dance, they use a cheat sheet to tell them what range of numbers they need to enter into their computer to make sure the dancer receives a gold or platinum, etc.  When the scores reach the tabulator, they look over the individual judge’s scores and enters them into the computer to get the final score.  If a dance is .3 or closer to moving to the next highest award level, the tabulator will discuss with the director if the dance should be moved up to the next award level or not.  If the director and tabulator both agree, the dance should be moved to the next award level; they go back to the lowest scoring judge and have them change their scores.  They do this so there is a wide range of awards at the ceremony instead of just all high golds, etc.  Sometimes though, if a studio has say 3 dances that have scored at the highest level already, they may decide to leave the dance alone and award it where it originally placed.

THOUGHTS….

Every weekend, competition judges sit through hundreds of routines. If you want them to remember your performance, you have to show that you are enjoying yourself onstage. You can do 12 pirouettes in a row, but if I do not see your personality, I am not into it.  If you can whip out a clean double with confidence and you are living it up onstage, I love it.

At the end of the day, remember your score is a reflection of someone’s opinion on that particular day. Dance is subjective. Each judge will look at each routine a different way.  Competition doesn’t determine the success you’re going to have or what kind of dancer you’re going to be. Do not let it define who you are as a dancer.  Use competition as a chance to grow as both a performer and as a person. Dance because you believe in what you’re doing. There might be someone who can do more pirouettes than you can, or who has higher extension than you do. However, no one can be more you than you can. So show us you. 

   

– Miss Tara
PDC Dance Instructor & Competition Dance Judge

Platinum Splits Club!

splitsIt’s back…the PDC Splits Club! Flexibility is a major component to dance. A dancer’s flexibility affects form, alignment and proper technique – as well as prevents injury. Our splits club is a chance to promote proper stretching and reward the dancers for working on this inside, and outside of the studio. How do you join?  Our instructors will be observing dancers in class to see who has their splits properly all the way down. Dancers will receive a Splits Club Pin if they can properly do all three splits (right, left and middle). Instructors will be looking for no space between the floor and legs, as well as straight knees. When can we join? The splits club is ongoing and dancers can obtain a pin anytime throughout the season! This encourages dancers to set a goal and continue their stretching routine at home. Dancers can show off their accomplishment by adding the pin to their dance bag or jacket. Happy Stretching!

Good Luck at Auditions

“I hope I get it. I hope I get it! How many people does he need?!”

A classic line – not only from the famous musical, “A Chorus Line”, but it is also something I as a dancer find myself saying quite frequently when auditioning.

As dancers, we are faced with a lot of auditions. And let’s face it – they can be scary. As someone who has made dancing their career, I constantly am thinking things like, “What are they looking for?” “Do I have what it takes?” “Did I prepare properly?”

A college professor of mine once said, “You are who you are and you cannot change that. Not succeeding every time does not make you unsuccessful.” This is some of the most beneficial advice I have ever received. He taught me to not take casting/position results too personally, and to be proud of myself regardless of the outcome.

With auditions approaching, I want to reiterate this advice to you all. Like my professor said, you cannot change who you are. Everyone is talented and unique in his or her own way. That being said, do not let auditions frighten you, but rather excite you. You are being given a chance to show a group of people how wonderful you are, and prove to them why you deserve to work for/with them. If they choose you, be proud of yourself. If they do not however, still be proud – you got out there and made the most of everything. And that is just as honorable.

– Ms. Dori J

dori

A Reason to Stretch

There’s always time, space and a reason to Stretch!

Even though our very busy comp season is over we are always preparing for the next year! Summer time is a great time to grow as a dancer and one of the best ways to do that is to make sure that you stretch during the off season- even though you may not have dance every day, you definitely should continue to stretch.

Of course you want to make sure that this benefits you and not HURT you! Over-stretching can result in long term injury and is not the way to go! Please make sure the everything you are doing with your body is something a teacher has told you to do or can do. We want to strongly urge dancers to not just use YouTube as a source or create their own stretch because everyone’s body is different and some are just not going to be able to bend or stretch that way, or they may have not developed the strength to support it yet. Please make sure that at home stretching is done correctly and with the guidance of your teachers voice in your head 🙂

Please use our video to help guide your dancer through a general stretch and remind them of these few points on why this is beneficial to keep up during the off season!

1. Improves Flexibility:  Every year us teachers get students that want to know “how” to become more flexible! Everyone can improve their flexibility. It is always going to be different person to person (again, why dancers should take exercises from their teachers not YouTube) but stretching is the way to get to your max flexibility. And this is definitely an easy-does-it stretch! Working to improve flexibility needs to be a process and important to do correctly.

2. Range of Motion: Stretching helps show us what our bodies can do. How far we can reach, lengthen and balance. When dancers actually stretch full out they should be able to see and reach their max range of motion and continue to use that in choreography.

3. Improves Posture and Technique: When dancers take the time to make sure they are stretching to their max potential this will improve technique, body alignment and posture.

4. Decreases risk of Injury: Stretching does strengthen our muscles, balance and over all coordination helping us from falling- but more importantly it will help lessen the injury if one should fall.

5. Consistency!  Making sure to stay stretched in the summer time is so important because it makes you a consistent dancer year long- and a better dancer! If you only take the time during comp season to train, stretch and practice you will not get better or stay consistent with your skills and technique. Take this summer to build on what you already have going on! 🙂

Warm-Up Video

Stretching Video

– Miss Talya 
tayla-dozois

Prepping for Performance

Prepping for Performance

Performance season is right around the corner…and that means it’s almost time to start packing your show bag, adding the final details to your costumes and shining up your shoes!

Everyone has his or her own “prep” routine. For me, I like to start by making a checklist. On it is each number I am performing in, what I need to wear for said number, and – depending on if there is a quick change – what I need to have prepared to make the transition as easy as possible.

After the checklist is established, I begin to put together my show bag. I find it is important to always have extras of everything – eyelashes, tights, safety pins…I sometimes even bring a second pair of shoes! You never know when something is going break or fall apart, so you want to be prepared. I also always keep a sweatshirt or a blanket in my bag. Dressing rooms can be cold, and you don’t want your muscles to get tight before you perform! Tight muscles can result in pulled muscles, and as dancers, we certainly don’t want to be feeling any less than perfect before we go on stage!

Having your makeup done ahead of time can be a huge time and stress saver as well. Minneapolis is a big city, so we need to be prepared for traffic/weather/unforeseen issues. Doing your makeup in the comfort of your own home, where the lighting is better and you have more time to make touchups will help the day go by much smoother. My opinion only, but putting on false eyelashes in the car is far from pleasurable!

Once you are actually at your performance space, find a place in the dressing room to call your own. It doesn’t have to necessarily be away from fellow teammates or friends, but have a place that YOU can go to. For one, its important to keep all your performance needs together, but it also is important to have this space so you can be “in the zone.” Many of us need to mentally prepare for a performance, so pick a spot that is relaxed and calm. And when you’re there, you should feel totally comfortable and be able to concentrate on the upcoming performance.

These are just a few tips that have helped me over the many years I’ve been a performer myself. Each performer is different – but good preparation makes for a good performance. I shall leave this with one of my favorite quotes by Alexander Graham Bell. He says, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” 🙂

-Ms. Dori

dori

A note from Miss Jillian

Hey PDC Families! – Miss Jillian here, I would like to share with you a little bit about what PASSION means to me, as well as hopefully provide some inspiration as we are midway through the season here at PDC.  

During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I took two years off from dance. I wanted to explore other opportunities as well as participate in school activities more often (we all know that famous saying; “I can’t, I have dance.”) But during these two years, all I could think about was dance, and how much I missed it. I wrote a poem during this time that reflected how I felt, and I would like to share it with you all in hopes of inspiring gratitude and renewed appreciation for being a dancer at PDC. Here goes:

Don’t ever let your passion go

You’ll miss it more than you could know.

You’ll dream about it every night

Until it haunts you to a fright.

Your heart will ache ’cause your smile’s fake,

and the excuses you make will elaborate.

Just when you think the coast is clear,

memories will flash and you’ll hold them near.

That’ll make it harder to forget

but maybe you won’t give up just yet.

For maybe in another time,

Another place

Another rhyme

You’ll get it back, and take it slow

and live as if you never let it go.

I joined a new studio my junior year of high school and continued dancing through graduation, as well as in college, and then went on to dance professionally for the Timberwolves. Dance is indeed a great passion of mine and I am so grateful that I am able to share it with you all here! Lesson learned, sometimes you have to take a step outside your comfort zone to discover what is truly important to you. Whether it be in dance class, or in school, exploring opportunities can be very rewarding in the end!

DSC_0514-2
XoX 
– Miss Jillian

Flexibility and the Dancer

Exploring how the human body works is of particular interest to dancers and no area is more exciting and emotionally charged than flexibility. It’s an important issue for dancers because it not only affects us functionally, but aesthetically as well.

In the dance biz, functional mobility is part of a triad along with balance and strength that develop incrementally. There are many factors that affect flexibility including hormones, growth rate, hydration, genetics/talent, diet, lifestyle, stress, and tension. This is a relief for many dancers to learn – it isn’t that they’re lazy, not as good as others, or don’t practice enough. The human body is massively intelligent. A growing child needs stability more than mobility in most cases. As they become more proficient in their movement skills – stronger and more coordinated, they are able to relax more and mobility increases.

Fascia (which envelops, separates, and binds together muscles, organs, and other soft structures of the body) has several properties including elasticity, plasticity, and viscosity. Fascia also develops tension that limits mobility. Because the entire fascial body is interconnected, a single restriction in one area of the body (surgery adhesion, injury, poor posture, inactivity, tension, etc) will emanate into other parts of the body causing fascia to ‘felt’, reducing movability – think early morning stiffness after the body has been at rest all night. For a dancer, this inflexibility can be confusing and frustrating.

In technique classes at PDC, we teach flexibility practices to ensure students know proper approaches to safe stretching.  We teach dancers when to safely stretch, why warm-up prior to stretching is critical, and multiple at-home skills to improve agility. In almost every ballet class, dancers write in their journals about strength, flexibility, and balance goals and ways to achieve them. They’re instructed that all 3 develop simultaneously and work in one area improves all three.

So for those looking to improve and be a more proficient dancer, there really aren’t any shortcuts. Training and class time is the easy answer to developing an organized, strong, and supple body, resistant to injury. And with the proper information and the motivation, we are confident that success will follow for each of our dancers.
-Miss Carol, Platinum Ballet Artistic Director 

Platinum Splits Club

PDC Button (1)

Platinum Dance Center is super excited to introduce the PDC Splits Club! Flexibility is a major component to dance. A dancer’s flexibility affects form, alignment and proper technique – as well as prevents injury. Our splits club is a chance to promote proper stretching and reward the dancers for working on this inside, and outside of the studio. How do you join?  Our instructors will be observing dancers in class to see who has their splits properly all the way down. Dancers will receive a Splits Club Pin if they can properly do all three splits (right, left and middle). Instructors will be looking for no space between the floor and legs, as well as straight knees. When can we join? The splits club is ongoing and dancers can obtain a pin anytime throughout the season! This encourages dancers to set a goal and continue their stretching routine at home. Dancers can show off their accomplishment by adding the pin to their dance bag or jacket. Happy Stretching!

Free Dance Classes?!

Hello dancers & parents – Miss Lexi here! I wanted to share somethings about an article I recently read written by a dad on why he doesn’t pay for dance lessons for his daughters anymore…Now don’t get too excited, he actually really does pay his dance bill, but he has a different way of looking at it and I love it! It all started because this dad was asked by a friend why do you pay so much for dance? It made him realize he could care less about dance, but what he pays for is so much more than dance. At PDC, we strive to teach our students More Than Just Great Dancing. The more is instilling values in young students and using dance as an outlet to do so. The more is what kept and is keeping dance a part of my life for going on 27 years. The more is what teaches us life lessons that go beyond dance…and yes, the more, to me, is the most important.
I talked to a dance mom yesterday about how it seems her dancer is at the studio more during the week than at home. It reminded me that families are trusting the dance studio as a safe place for their dancers to grow-up, and that we constantly need to keep our eye on the more. When I hear dancers using their manners, see them sharing with a friend, being kind to a new student, and helping pick-up around the studio – I feel just as proud, if not more, as when I witness a dancer nail a turn combination or finally get their splits flat! Even better –  when I notice a dancer get right back up and try again after failing, when dancers are finishing what they started even when they feel like giving up, and when they notice their hard work pay off by accomplishing a goal…these are the extra proud moments for us teachers because we know these moments will go beyond dance.  As dancers graduate and move on with their lives, they may not choose to use their dance talent as a career. If we can set these kids up for success in other ways, we are doing our job of providing more and we are just using dance to get there!
Ask me what I remember from my young dancing days, and it wasn’t the triple titanium platinum trophy I won at nationals, it wasn’t the names of songs I danced to or the costumes I wore, and it wasn’t the fact that I got a solo/special part and was in the front row in a routine. The things I remember are: my parents being proud of me, realizing at a young age that I wanted to make dance a career and setting that as a goal, being a leader in my high school dance program, and creating life-long friendships. Lessons I learned from dance are: self-confidence, the importance of practicing and working hard, to be on time, good leadership traits, success does not happen overnight, you can do anything you put your mind to, stand up for yourself, positivity and happiness!
I know it may not have been easy for my parents to look past the dance bill and see how much more weekly dance lessons was providing me or would provide me in the future, but I definitely know they have realized it now. Shad Martin, in his article on why he doesn’t pay for dance anymore ends by saying: “I don’t pay for dance, I pay for the opportunities that dance provides my daughters to develop attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives and give them opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far I think that it is a great investment!” I would have to agree with him – well said and cheers to the MORE!

START STRONG…END STRONG

START STRONGEND STRONG

image1Hi Dancers! Miss Talya here writing to you all, hoping that you will find this blog post helpful to get yourselves into gear for the new season! We all know that starting everything at once is tough.. you’ve got a new school schedule, dance schedule, homework, other sports, etc. We’ve all been there! But this is one of the most crucial times in your dance season. You are still learning the final parts of your dances and teachers are piecing it all together to make the vision come to life- so don’t slack now! Start preparing yourself to be the strongest you can be right away! Here are some tips to hopefully help you and remind you how to treat the beginning of such an exciting year… if you start strong you will only end stronger!!

*START FRESH! Clean out that locker, clean out your dance bag, get a new bun holder or maybe a leo. But do something to make you feel and understand that this is a new season, with new (and old) friends, new dances, new costumes, new results, new challenges, new memories, new goals. I know we are already in our 2nd week of classes but if you haven’t done it yet I would suggest it! 🙂

*FULL OUT NOW! It doesn’t benefit you or your team to “mark” or go light when you are learning choreography. You will need to know it 100% so practice it all the time 100% to make sure that you don’t have a tough time getting through the dance in November.

Dancers– you need to remember that everything in your dance IS IN your dance! You will need to do the skills, the choreography and bring the energy full out on stage. The only way to master that is to do it full out NOW! By the time you hit that stage you can just have so much fun and enjoy your performance instead of worrying about landing that triple or hit that arm on 6!

*BALLET! You can never have too much Ballet in your life 🙂 But let’s also be realistic… ballet doesn’t improve you overnight. It is something that takes time and repetition. So start now to see improvements by the end. You will notice improvements along the way and you when you finally land the quad pirouette you will be proud of all those hours spent in a leo and tights 🙂 Be involved, attentive, focused in ballet NOW and it will stick for the rest of the season.

*ORGANIZED. Starting your season organized is the best way to set your self up for success. Come into the studio prepared for that night’s class(es), know your choreography and know your corrections. Treat dance the same way you would school… and comps are your “tests”. You can’t study the day of a test and expect an “A” right? Well, why would you do expect the same at a dance competition? Getting ready for those moments on stage start NOW at the very beginning of the season all the way to the end… and it becomes your responsibility, just like homework from school, to know your material when you come into class.

*KNOW YOUR LIMITS. This blog isn’t called start strong…end injured…mid season. No- dancers you need to take care of yourselves. You don’t want to start any classes without warming up and stretching, you don’t want to plop into the splits and you don’t want to try an aerial even though you have never done one. KNOW WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW AND PUSH FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. This goes without saying, or so it should, but with multiple injuries every year we have to remind dancers. It’s the beginning of the year- you know what is expected of you in your dances… work towards it but don’t force it.

*SET A GOAL. And I don’t mean a goal like… Winning triple platinum diamond elite top first. I mean a goal you have control over. Comp dancers don’t have control over our awards… we CAN work to produce the best routine possible and we CAN work hard to earn that Triple platinum diamond elite top first. But I mean a personal goal… something that you can always go back to work on and feel accomplished (even if no one sees or knows it). Be proud of the the goals you accomplished last year or this summer… now set your barre (hehe 🙂 ) higher. Reach further. Try new things 🙂

Those are some things that helped me over the years as a comp dancer and a professional dancer… and believe it or not these are things that I STILL live by and dance taught me that.

As with most things you just need to start routines and discipline from the get go to see real consistent exciting results, and dance is one of them 🙂

Start strong…end strong… and next year you’ll be even stronger 🙂