Confessions of a Busy Dance Mom

Do you have one of ‘those’ moms at your studio?

You know, the one who doesn’t read the notices about payments due, rehearsal schedules, or performance times?

Or do you have one who drags their feet and doesn’t sign up until the last minute?

What about the mom who calls you all the time, emails constantly or has a million questions?

You might have more than one at your studio!

Communicating with parents is one of the most frequently reported challenges and problems that dance teachers and studio owners face when it comes to running a successful business.

Guess what? I am one of those moms!

I’m probably a great example of some of the moms at your studio. A mom who can barely find the time to get the lunches packed and get to school on time, let alone read the many papers and emails and notices that come home on a regular basis.

Here’s just a few reasons why:

  • My 3 year old daughter recently refused to go to dance class in anything except her fleeced footed PJ’s and absolutely freaks out at the idea of me putting her hair in a ponytail.
  • My minivan is what I call my ‘mobile office’. Some days it seems like I get in and out of my van to drop-off, pick-up, drop-off, run errands, pick-up about 20 times.
  • I get invited to dozens of events by email: pampered chef parties, scrapbooking events, birthday parties, girls nights out, volunteer days at my kids school, parent committees, the list is endless. If I can RSVP to half, I’m doing well.
  • My dining room table on most days serves as a place to fold laundry.
  • I run from work to soccer practice then to music class. We have school and dance class and work again. Then it’s over to the studio, back to my home office, and school again. My google calendar looks like a puzzle of appointments!

It’s no wonder that communicating with parents is a top concern and complaint of dance teachers and studio owners!

Can you relate? There’s good news here…

Teachers and Studio Owners, increase your success in effectively communicating with parents by keeping them engaged and involved through a variety of modes of communication.

  1. If there is an important date or deadline that I should know about please deliver that communication to me in a variety of ways, more than one time.
    • Post announcements in the studio, announce it after class, post it on the studio website, email me. I need more than one reminder and it’s not that I don’t care, it’s that sometimes I just cannot record that date into my calendar at that moment or the form could be lost among many others.
    • Thank you for going out of your way to let us know about important dates and deadlines.
  2. Ask me what I can do to help. Seriously.
    • Believe it or not, even in the midst of the chaos with a couple of kids most moms want to be involved and help out.
    • Do you need a parent volunteer at the show?
    • Need someone to steam costumes or maybe email moms I know to let them know spots are still open in dance class on Tuesday mornings? If you don’t ask, I think you have it all handled, by all means ask. If I can’t help this time around, I’ll make sure next time.
  3. I’m looking to the internet first, you should be too.
    • With my busy life, one thing has made my life easier: the internet. I like to register my kids for their activities at off hours, I check my email from my smart phone, I Google everything and I’m communicating with my friends and work colleagues on social media.
    • Thanks for keeping your website up to date, posting important news, and keeping in touch online. It really helps me know what is going on at the studio. Even better, I like to let my friends know and I’m happy to share it with them.

Lastly, and MOST importantly: Thank YOU

I am one of ‘those’ moms who may not say it often enough, or perhaps even at all.

Thank you. All I want for my child is to see them succeed and be happy. Thanks for making dance class fun for my kids. I appreciate the time and thoughtfulness you show with your enthusiasm and praise.

Dance class is a highlight of the week for my child. You create that moment each and every week.

From all those moms and parents out there that may not say it, thank you for all that you do to keep the joy and magic of dance alive in the world.

Families Move “Up, Down, & All Around”

As a dance teacher and a stay-at-home mom, I love to make music and movement with my little one part of our daily routine. Stacey Pepper Schwartz is a dance educator and a mom too. With sensitivity and recognition that not all parents feel prepared to facilitate movement experiences with their children at home, she has created a new  DVD, Up, Down, & All Around that guides viewers of all ages through an interactive experience with creative dance. The video embraces the precepts that anyone with a willing spirit and willing body can enjoy moving creatively and benefit from participating and getting active together as a family.

Up, Down, & All Around is structured like many creative movement classes and feels very much as if Stacey is leading a class in your living room. After, a short introduction, the program begins with a seated warm-up that isolates and builds awareness of individual body parts, gradually bringing the body to a standing position. Over the next 30 minutes, Stacey directs her participants and viewers through fundamental skill practice and movement exploration. She provides time for students to slow down with some yoga-inspired breathing and balancing, allowing the movers to refocus while building head-tail awareness in the spine and length in the body. Stacey ends things on a high note, allowing each child to pick and show their “favorite thing.” There is even a bonus, create-a-dance activity which demonstrates choreography building through chance as the children pick out a random sequence of movements which are then performed and practiced to spirited accompaniment.

The movement in the DVD is accessible to all experience levels. There is nothing pretentious about the material, the environment, or the contributors. The children involved are eager and having fun, they readily express their own ideas just as children do in class. With the true spirit of a teacher, Stacey validates their ideas and moves on toward her goal without breaking stride. The adults are game too, enjoying the playful opportunity to get active. Real-life moms and dads of some of the child participants, these grown-ups wiggle, gallop, and roll with it.

Musician Steve Blunt plays live throughout the class and two of his recordings are featured as bonus music videos on the disc. His bouncy tunes support the various activities yet stand-alone with singable melodies and lyrics. In fact, you may be humming them long after the DVD ends.

The dance studio is carpeted and the movers fill a space that is also accommodating cameras. Tight quarters do not detract from this particular video, however. Instead, this attribute functions as evidence that the material really can be adapted for any location, including a family’s living room. A few varied camera angles keep the production from becoming static, while bright, colorful costumes and decor create a setting that appeals to both boys and girls.

My husband, son, and I had a wonderful time getting active with the movers in this presentation. My little guy is an active two-year-old. He was able to copy and participate with a bit of encouragement and assistance from us, and it was easy for him to continue moving in his own way to the lively music even when the directions were geared to older children. Versatility is the real strength of Up, Down, & All Around. Parents (or educators) with little experience can pop in the DVD and get every member of the family or classroom up and moving in no time, yet there are opportunities for new discoveries and learning with repeat viewings. Stacey also offers additional program notes (a free download) and other resources at her website,, which help facilitators expound upon and supplement the seed of knowledge and experience planted with this program.

Preview the Video on YouTube

Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs was honored with Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products 2009 Award and 10 Best Active Products 2009 Award. If you would like to purchase Up, Down, & All Around for your family or classroom, visit the Leaping Legs website.

Also, stay tuned here at Dance Advantage!! I was so pleased with Stacey’s video that I asked her if she would be willing to give away some copies to my readers. She generously agreed, so be on the lookout for that giveaway – it’s coming soon!!

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Parents, Which Type of Helicopter Are You?

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I’m a fan of College Parent Central, a blog mainly written for parents of college students. Blogger, Vicki Nelson recently did a three-part series about “Helicopter Parents.” As I read the articles, the dreaded term “stage mom” came to mind. Parents of university-bound students are not the only ones who “hover,” and therefore, Vicki’s positive message about redefining and examining parental involvement in a child’s life certainly has applications in the dance world. So, I thought I’d share these articles with you – just follow the links below. Enjoy!

Affirming “Helicopter Parents”: Redefining the Title

This is the first of three posts that consider the concept of college helicopter parents.  The concept is certainly not new, but it warrants continual examination – and sometimes redefinition.  In this post, we look at the definition of helicopter parents, as well as some of the motivation behind parental hovering.  In our next post, we will examine who helicopter parents are and how they operate, and in our final post, we will consider the consequences of helicoptering and suggest some possible ways in which parents might hover productively.

Is all hovering bad? What are the negatives? The positives?

How involved should a parent be in a child’s dance education?

What are the indicators that a parent’s hovering is producing negative results?

Parents, students, and teachers, I welcome your thoughts on the subject!

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A FREE Download for Parents of Dancers

Photo by Bowena

Photo by Bowena

It often starts innocently with that first preschool dance class. A year or two later, one class becomes two, or three, or four. Before you know it, your entire household’s schedule begins to revolve around classes and rehearsals or competitions. Work, phone calls, and sometimes even meals take place in a studio lobby. Your purse contains bobby pins, hair nets, and bandages. Your taxi (er… car) is littered with stray dance shoes, water bottles, and sequins. Your wallet, on the other hand, is empty! If this sounds familiar, you’re probably a Dance Parent!

If you are a family that has welcomed dance into your household and your hearts, you may have had no idea when you began this adventure that it could become so all-consuming! You receive direction, advice, and even… ahem… orders (nicely stated orders) from other parents, teachers, and even your own child. Yet, despite all of this input, there may still remain the questions and concerns of a parent whose focus is the welfare, health, and happiness of their own child.

Objective Answers

lisahowellIt can be difficult to know where to turn for objective answers to these questions. Fortunately, I’m happy to announce a resource that contains some excellent information and solutions to the frequent concerns of dance parents everywhere. The offer is a free, download-able manual, written by Lisa Howell of The Ballet Blog specifically for parents of dancers. I recently highlighted some of Lisa’s work with Deborah Vogel of The Body Series. Lisa is a physiotherapist in Australia that works specifically with dancers. However, her mission and message reach a worldwide audience through her work online. She is the author of several manuals and resources that are aimed at helping students stay healthy and injury free and arming teachers with a strong base of information with which to guide their dancers toward this aim.

Her Parent’s Manual is certainly geared to those parents who have daughters embarking on a serious and intense study of dance, and particularly ballet. However, much of the information is quite useful for recreational students that take multiple classes, male students, or students taking classes in other disciplines. This is due to the wide variety of topics covered in this 100+ page e-book, which begins with lots of nutrition guidelines and concerns, goes on to speak about the physical development of a dancer, discusses injuries and their prevention, psychological issues in dance and dance training, choosing a school or teacher, and frequently asked questions about beginning pointe work.

A Knowledgeable Parent

Photo by Scott Robinson

Photo by Scott Robinson

Parents play a huge and important role in the education of dance students. A knowledgeable parent is one prepared to make decisions, offer mindful support, and ask informed questions. Ms. Howell’s manual is a quality resource that offers knowledge on important topics. I have read the material and appreciate Ms. Howell’s other work. She offers informative and professional guidance to the dance community.

The Parent’s Manual is not only great for parents but can be a useful tool for teachers in communicating with the parents of dancers. In fact, I have referenced Ms. Howell’s materials in my teaching and when working with parents. That is why I feel comfortable in sharing this resource with you.

To be clear, there are other materials available for purchase at Lisa Howell’s website. I am not receiving any compensation for sales on these items. The Parent’s Manual has been made available for free to dance parents (and teachers) and I  simply hope you will take advantage of the information offered. I also want to be clear that Lisa is asking that you submit your name and email address in order to reach the link for downloading this e-book. You will be subscribed to newsletter updates which will often contain articles and answers to readers’ questions. I have enjoyed the information contained in these articles, however, you can unsubscribe from these additional emails easily via a clearly marked link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Okay, here’s the link:

Click Here to Download

Lisa Howell’s Perfect Pointe Parent’s Manual

Let’s Hear it for the Boys!

photo by ravenmaven

photo by ravenmaven

A while back I did a post entitled Encouraging Boys to Dance. It had a good response and I was even asked to submit an edited version for the PTA (National Parent Teacher Association) website.  It is my firm belief that boys should be encouraged to dance by dance teachers and parents in particular. After all, there are many who would discourage them – we should be making it an easier choice for young guys who may have an interest in the art form.  Sadly, many dance schools seem completely geared toward females (maybe without even realizing it), effectively turning young men away.  Dancers thrive in an environment where they feel comfortable to be themselves and safe from judgment or abuse.  Therefore, dance schools and parents must make an effort to provide this environment for boys in dance.

Check it out!

I recently came upon two blogs which are the primary purpose of this post.  They are excellent resources for male dancers and their parents.  The first is My Son Can Dance, a chronicle of one dance mom’s experiences with raising a boy who dances.  Teachers, dance moms, and male dancers should definitely take note of this site! The second is Boys and Ballet, essentially a collection of news articles from around the globe that feature boys or men in the dance world (specifically ballet but other genres are occasionally featured) – an excellent resource that can act as a source of encouragement for young men involved in dance.

While we’re on the subject…

Here are some other links:


Children’s Books (great for your studio waiting room or home library)

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