Good morning dance friends I hope this day finds you well. It has been a while since I revisited my dream of shaking up the studio dance industry. If you know me, you know I do not believe in coincidences. This week I have had a series of them, I believe it is a higher power guiding me to dust the dream off, ignore the online bullies hiding behind a computer realizing they are jealous of many others and move forward again. I am age 72 but I am not irrelevant. I will never use a walker and a live in a nursing home. No dance teacher ever is.
Yesterday I recommended a book I read recently. The author, once one of my online bullies, has become very disenchanted with the studio dance competition industry. I understand, I did too in 1987. She listed her multiple complaints that happened on a much larger scale in 2015, competitions are a HUGE business. School hopping, parental complaints, and of course the expense of being a member of a private studio dance team traveling to competitions, costumes, team in and out of class uniforms, and tuition fees. For the studio owner/coach/teacher, the toll on one’s career is also overwhelming. The author of the book notes studio dance competitions do not offer a true value to the student and studio only to a third party or parties. True! What if we could change the direction? Want to go on an adventure?
In February 1990, I was a studio owner who was burnt out, exhausted from studio ownership. It was icy, I wasn’t looking where I was going. I fell. I was injured I was almost paralyzed from the neck down. I was forced to change direction and I accepted a position as an English teacher, closed my studio upon the advice of others, and moved on. If I hadn’t I never would have accomplished in public education what I did. When I look back I am reminded of this quote by Steve Jobs “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
The dots, and the stars are beginning to align again for me. I created SKILLS Sport-Dance Games® as an English-Technology teacher at Mashpee High School, home to the Wampanoag Nation, you know the native Americans who helped us create America. I was also the dance team coach. I was asked by my students to attend a cheer-dance competition. Because it was important to them, I agreed and rode the bus with the girls. I hadn’t started the dance team then. Intrigued after the event I began to search the differences between studio dance competitions and cheer dance competitions. The difference, cheer is accepted as a sport, dance isn’t. The competitions are different. There aren’t solos, duo-trios, groups, classes, lines or productions. There is only the TEAM, grades 9-12, rehearsing after school and performing up to three times a year depending on placements. No fancy costuming, although for some events at the college level, that does exist. There are try-outs with specific rules. In a public-school setting, the team-mates attend class together. Yes, there are rivalries, however schools demand sportsmanship, something left out of private dance competitions. It is time for private studio dance to begin a new journey to do the same, during and after COVID.
Next week I will discuss in my group and on my website. Are you ready for SKILLS Sport-Dance Games®? The future is calling, are you ready to answer?