Summer intensive season is just around the corner, which means it’s time to begin prepping your students for the do’s and don’ts of program etiquette. Of course your students know how to behave within the classroom (you’ve raised them right), but there are a few curveballs coming there way during their five weeks of intense training that you may need to give them a heads up for. After all, they’re a representation of you and your dance studio every time they step out of your doors. Let’s help them put their best foot forward!
We spoke with Pacific Northwest Ballet School managing director Denise Bolstad to get her advice for gracious summer program attendance. Be sure to share this with your dancers!
1. Prepare your students to be good roommates.
“For many of the students coming to our intensive, this is their first time having a roommate. It would be helpful if dance teachers prepared them for what this entails. Decipher whatever special sleeping and living needs you may have with your parents, and then communicate them to your roommate or dorm advisor. Are you the kind of person who sleeps with a light on? Do you have trouble falling asleep by curfew? Do you have personal health habits that may affect someone living with you? Communicate, and be sensitive to the needs of others. Don’t borrow each other’s stuff without asking. Lastly, don’t be afraid to come forward if you have a roommate who’s been negative or makes you feel uncomfortable. It will keep you safe, and in the end, you’re really helping that person.”
2. Prepare your students to be gracious and patient with level placement.
“At PNB, our levels are not necessarily based on level of talent, but rather they are based on age and strength. That’s generally really hard for the kids and parents to settle in with. If they are in level 5 but they really think they should be in level 6, that is a really big deal to them, but from our viewpoint it really shouldn’t be. We look at placement very closely, and put students in the level we know they are going to be successful in.
“If your dancers are frustrated with their level, encourage them to wait a few weeks before coming to us and speaking respectfully about it. Classes really ramp up over the five weeks, and they may be pleasantly surprised by the difficulty of their classes. In the end, anyone can have a good class, and all of our teachers teach all of our levels. They aren’t missing out on anything.”
3. Remind your students that there is no acceptance of tardiness.
“Be prepared to go from class to class in a timely fashion. You simply can never be late. Make sure your roommates are awake and ready to go when you leave to get on the bus. Look out for one another.”
4. Teach your students to adhere to dress and grooming standards.
“The dress code here is just your standard leotard, clean tights with no holes, no dirty shoes, and neat and tidy hair. Help your students develop good hygiene habits by reminding them to shower and wear deodorant. These are long days, if you don’t. Remind your students to wash their clothes regularly.”
5. Encourage your students to participate in the school’s planned outings.
“Each year there are outings that the students do together. Recommend your dancers participate in them so they can enjoy the full experience. Remind them to reach out and encourage others to join them. Everyone should participate and feel included. If you see someone who hangs by themselves, ask them to join your group.”
6. Double down on your no cell phones in the studios speech.
“It’s important your dancers understand that it’s disrespectful to bring their phones in the studio. What’s more, teach them that they cannot take a photo of another person without their permission. If we find out about that, we will potentially send them home. They have to be very careful with what they think is acceptable. Be very careful about what you post on social media.”