As much as we wish otherwise, bullying is something all dance teachers have to deal with at some point in their career. Unfortunately, it just seems to come with the growing pains of aspiring artists (sigh 🙄).
Because it’s such a tricky thing to manage, we reached out to dance teachers on Facebook to see how they choose to handle unkindness at their studios.
Check out what these three teachers had to say, and let us know the things you do at your studio to stop bullying in our comments!
1. Misa Oga Hansen, Artistic Director at MOGA Conservatory of Dance
“From a young age, I teach all of my students that it’s impossible to separate the person you are from the dancer you are. I love how Alonzo King eloquently articulates, ‘Dance training can’t be separate from life training. Everything that comes into our lives is training. The qualities we admire in great dancing are the same qualities we admire in human beings: honesty, courage, fearlessness, generosity, wisdom, depth, compassion and humanity.’
“I explain to the dancers that it really shows in their dancing when they are not a kind person. I tell them they can’t be a great dancer without being a good person first, and audience members appreciate those good and kind dancers. We improve the most when we are humble, generous and compassionate! Since (hopefully) the dancers are there because they want to be a better dancer, it really helps in framing it that way, so they are kind AND they work hard!”
2. Britt McKenna Flores, Owner/Director of Stomp It Out Cloggers
“Make sure that as a teacher, you never engage in it—students watch you so closely, and if you ever say anything bad about a parent or dancer, they think it’s OK to do the same. If it ever does happen in my studio, I make sure that the dancer knows it’s not cool and that they will be asked to leave our studio if it happens again. Kindness always wins.”
3. Elizabeth Martineau, Teacher at Lightbox Dance-All Star Cheer-Tumbling
“To stop bullying I do some team-building exercises once a month. The dancers write in their journals about what’s going on in their lives, and if they want to, they can be vulnerable and share them with each other (most of the time they do). Next, they improv as a company with direction from me and end holding hands in a circle, where we talk about how we need each other and how we feel about each other. I feel deeply that if they are open with themselves and with each other, dancers will develop so much love and respect that there will be no bullying. In the last three years of doing this, I have only had one bullying instance. I personally talked to that dancer on her level. She felt horrible and never did it again. It’s all about trust, vulnerability and having hard conversations. Those together can stop the bullying.”