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...a great learning opportunity

On Tour with Paul McCartney

I remember the first time I ever competed a solo. It didn’t go well. I’m so thankful for that experience though because it taught me a huge lesson in accountability.

Because I didn’t bring my best that day, I didn’t place well. It was all on me. I was 100% accountable for what happened on the stage that day. And even though the judges can have off days too, I knew in my heart I got what I deserved.

That moment was so pivotal for me.

Recently I’ve heard that people (dance parents specifically) don’t think solos are a learning opportunity.

I have to say I strongly disagree with this statement.

I’m not exactly sure why parents think this but I have 3 theories.

Here ya go…

1. Some people may think, “well if there’s only a certain amount of time to work with the teacher how is my dancer going to get better beyond that?” Let me explain: When you’re paying for a solo the payment is typically for the choreography and a certain amount of rehearsal time to learn it and clean it with the choreographer (not every studio/choreographer is the same). Beyond that certain amount of rehearsal time you are either on your own to practice or you need to pay extra for additional time with the choreographer and studio space.

First off having one-on-one time with a teacher is so valuble. Having the attention just on the dancer even if it's a limited amount of time is worth every penny.

Here’s just a couple ways they can get better on their own if paying for more time is not an option….

~I’m sure the choreographer left the dancer with notes and corrections to work on so you can start there.

~The dancer needs to learn how to apply what they learned in classes to their solo’s.

~If there’s a new jump or turn, look it up online for tips and tricks. I would suggest taking those tips and tricks into your teacher just to make sure they’re safe but the internet is a great tool! Maybe even ask the teacher if they suggest a site or person to look up.

~You can also ask specific questions if the teacher has time in-between classes on any given day.

~You could get together with a more experienced student to get feedback.

Needless to say they have to do the work, problem solve, self motivate and put in the extra effort.

Trust me, I know when my soloist has worked on their solo and when they have not. Those students who put in the work feel way more confident walking onto the stage.

It comes down to this…Having a solo is a big responsibility. How are you going to make the most of it?

2. Parents don’t want to see their dancer hurt or sad when/if they don’t place well at a competition. Yeah, nobody likes to see their child sad but honestly if we don’t give them opportunity to “fail” how are they going to learn to get through setbacks in life? Ok, fail might sound a bit harsh, but are we doing our kids any favours by “protecting” them from possible crappy situations? My solo experience I shared with you above was huge for me and I am so glad I walked out of the theatre that day the way I did. Now is the time to teach our kids and students how to get through those hard times and work though those feelings so they are prepared later on in life.

“If we’re always following our children into the area, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.” ~ Brene Brown

To take this a little further; if/when the dancer doesn’t place well and they’re feeling bad don’t start blaming the judge, choreographer, choreography, studio, teacher, another dancer, the costumes, your hair or any other exterior thing as to why it happened. This is where the accountibility part is huge!

~Don’t blame anyone but rather look at the job you did on the stage that day…. Not when you killed it at the studio the day before but that day.

~What section of the choreogaphy can you work harder on?

~What could you be more consistent with?

~What overall technique needs more attention?

~OR hopefully you got some super helpful notes from the adjudicator or judge and can work on those to get ready for the next performance.

Look, solo’s are a huge responsibility and the dancer is accountable for what happens out on that stage. That’s why at most studios dancers have to earn a solo.

3. Maybe someone says having a solo isn’t a learning opportunity because their child hasn’t been chosen for a solo. Saying it’s not a learning experience might be their way to deflect. We’ll just leave #3 as that…

If you’re not ready to take on the responsibility and be accountable for what happens out there on stage maybe a solo isn’t a good idea. Trust your teachers and trust your instincts but please don’t say solos aren’t a good learning opportunity.

The bottom line is that solo’s are the ultimate exposure to vulnerability. It’s not an easy place to be but man it’s the best place for learning and growth if you’re open to it.


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