Q: Every year, some members of my competitive teams are disappointed by which pieces they’ve been selected for. How can I prevent this from happening?
A: This is one of our biggest stresses each year. While we want our dancers to be happy, it’s impossible to please everyone. Here are four things we’ve found that ease this tricky situation.
1. Be up front about your criteria for being chosen for the small-group numbers and solo/duo/trio opportunities. I explain that when guest choreographers come in, they teach these numbers in just three or four hours, which is a huge challenge for less experienced dancers. If a student isn’t quite ready for this, we lay out what she or he must work on to achieve it in the future.
2. Don’t have the choreographers audition your students for their numbers. We choose who will fit where.
3. Make sure every student gets to work with that year’s choreographers in some capacity. Although the solos, duos and trios are reserved for our most talented students, we make sure every senior and advanced company member gets the chance to perform in the larger group works.
4. Build excitement around the large-group pieces that include most of your dancers. We let our dancers know what a great opportunity it is to work with these guest artists. We assign solo, duet and trio opportunities when only the advanced company dancers are present.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.