Always Be A Student, For The Sake Of Your Dancer
I don’t need to be a parent to know that it’s the hardest job in the world. Literally. I know this because my mom had to deal with me, and my adolescence was no cakewalk for my dear mother. I’m aware that parents have a million and one things to do on the daily basis. And if you are a full blown dance mom (or dad), then you probably spend too much of your time at the studio when you could be at home with your family or having “you” time. That said, with the precious little time you have on your hands, there are a few basic things you can do to help your child take the next step in the dance industry. Just as students sit down to do homework every night, I am giving you two assignments to continuously work on to help your child succeed in this Instagram world.
1. Learn How To Use Technology
Every few months, my mom calls me and asks me to explain, yet again, how to upload pictures from her computer to Facebook. At her request, I wrote down the directions for uploading pictures. Yet, I inevitably get the same call asking for the same instructions. This drives me crazy! For all the help my mother has given me, I am happy to return the favor. My primary concern, however, is that we live in an ever-changing world dominated by technology. We all must learn to use that technology, or we will be left behind.
You may be thinking, “So what? What does this have to do with helping my dancer?” Well, do you know the best way to record a video on your smartphone that gives your dancer great quality for a reel or Instagram? After that, could you edit the video into your child’s reel? And could you then upload the video to your child’s social media accounts? Do you know how to tag relevant people (e.g., choreographers and teachers) in the description and on the actual photo or video on Instagram? Wait. Let’s backtrack. Do you know how to use Instagram?
Some of you probably have dancers who are old enough to manage their own social media accounts. For the rest of you, however, you can and should help your child develop a social media presence. The fact of the matter is, if your child aspires to dance professionally, he/she will need to be on social media. So you should learn the ropes. Wherever you are at with technology, it’s okay. Taking 10 minutes each day to learn and advance your skills will only benefit all of you in the long run. Additionally, try to keep up with social media trends (i.e., which platforms are growing, which existing ones are changing or rebranding, which new ones are launching, and which ones are most applicable to your child’s career). You don’t have to be an expert by tomorrow.
2. Do Your Research
I know that “doing research” is a very general piece of advice. So what do I mean by that? First, maybe find different dance intensives or programs in your area in which your child could participate. Maybe it’s a summer program. Second, search for nearby, upcoming conventions that your dancer could attend. Third, map out your dancers general plans for the next year. This could mean (1) finding out what kind of headshots your dancer needs for his/her age, (2) learning how to write a dance resume, (3) researching the types of clips that belong in a reel, (4) investigating college dance programs, (5) where to find auditions and so on and so forth. There are plenty of other research topics to dig into, but these few are a good place to start. Understand that these research questions will be different for everyone depending on what they want to do with their dance career. Once you get comfortable with this sort of research, pass the skill on to your dancer. They will need to be able to do this research on their own in the near future. They will need to make decisions about where to go to school—that is, if they want to attend college—and about what sort of dance career they want to pursue. Once they’ve made those choices, they will have to continue researching classes, events, and auditions to advance their careers. Preparation is key. The best thing your dancers can do for themselves is stay informed. And that is something you can teach them to do. Get them started and set an example.
While I gave my mom a hard time at the beginning of this blog she did great when it came to doing research for me. Except, she didn’t use the internet to do research. Not at first at least. She used Dance Spirit magazine! She didn’t know how to surf the web, to be honest, she still doesn’t! Every month my magazine would come in the mail and she would use sticky notes to flag conventions, competitions, or summer programs that we would need to look into. We would then type in the web address and go from there. Yes, type in the web address. She didn’t know how to use Google. When I was older, I did this for myself. But at that younger age she did it for me. Trust me when I say, if my mom can do it you can do it too!
You’re here, reading this article right now. That means you are already on the right path! I know you all want the best for your kids, no matter what they choose in life. Saving time is everything. I’m not saying to cut corners. In this industry if you don’t have that solid foundation your house will fall down. I know you want them to be happy and successful. The best way to help them is to get a head start. Make those materials (i.e., headshot, resume, reel, and social media accounts). If your dancer is prepared and ahead of the curve, the rest will come a bit more easily. If you are completely overwhelmed, I’m sorry to make you feel that way. But please know I already wrote a handful of blogs that cover some topics to get you started. I’m here for you. Hollywood Dance Experience is here for you! I know parents don’t get told this enough, but you are doing great! Keep going and you got this!