Q: What do you do with parents who constantly complain about where their daughter is placed in choreography?
A: I think most dance teachers can relate to this question. A few years ago, I had a mom who counted how many times her child was in the front row compared to everyone else. I held a meeting with both mom and daughter, which included an honest discussion about everyone’s expectations, that helped defuse the situation.
I understand that every parent wants the best for their child, but how an outside choreographer uses dancers in a piece is subjective. When it comes to in-house teachers and choreographers, we always try to create pieces that highlight all of our dancers in the best way possible. We find this is particularly important in group routines, since they are meant to represent a combination of all the dancers and what they each bring to the group.
Everyone is important; what row they are in and how many times they are featured is not. What each dancer brings to the piece, how invested they are and how much they grow from the experience is what matters. When parents choose to judge their child’s value as a dancer on how many times they’re in the front, it’s unfair to you as a teacher, but more importantly, it’s unfair to their child. Some dancers are stronger performers than others, and they will be featured more often. That is just a fact. A team is made up of many individuals who should be focused on using their abilities to make the team great.