Your dance bag, your responsibility

dance bag memeThis meme popped up on my facebook feed the other day and I couldn’t agree more. However, this also applies to any after school activity. Soccer gear, paint supplies for art class, camping gear for a scouting trip, etc. Your mother should not be responsible for your gear. As my mother always taught me, if you are old enough to attend dance classes, or your chosen extra-curricular activity, you are old enough and responsible enough to make sure that you have both ballet shoes in your dance bag every week.

Your parents are a lot of things: care taker, provider, cook, maid, and taxi service among so many other things. The least you can do as a dance student is to be responsible for your dance bag. Keep your dance things in one place and keep your shoes in your bag all the time when you are at home (except when you are airing your stinky shoes out, but that’s another post), make sure that you have clean dance clothes before class – not when you should be walking out the door. After class, make sure all your dance shoes, skirts, shorts, etc are put back in your bag. Inform your parents of any issues you may have with your attire – are your ballet shoes getting too small? Did one of the laces on your jazz shoes break? Do the booty shorts you wear daily and keep in your bag need washing? (And the answer to that is a resounding yes). Your mom is not in dance class with you so she doesn’t know what’s happening with your dance attire until you bring it home.

Not only that, but your mom is not always going to be backstage at recitals, competitions, and other performances. One of my students, who is more than 3 and therefore is old enough to be in charge of her belongings, has a rough time backstage at recital year after year. Apparently her mom packs her recital things for her and she can never find  the right costume for her next dance. This student is also on the competition team and performs several times a year. I would have hoped that by now she would have found an organizational system for her 10 costume changes as her classmates have. Unfortunately, because mom does the work, my student doesn’t know where her headpieces, tights, and shoes are within the suitcase sized bag she carries. In turn, she can’t make the change from a one piece jazz costume with tan tights and slip-on jazz shoes to pink tights (over or under the tan ones for easy change), one piece tutu dress, and ballet slippers in less than 5 minutes.

So, in conclusion: students, learn to keep your things organized and not only will it take a load off your mom’s already endless list of duties, but it will help you learn responsibility, empower you, and make your life so much easier. Parents, your job is simple here: teach your kids to keep their things together and stick to it. If your kid forgets her ballet shoes, she has to learn to face the consequences, not you.


Put Some Clothes On!

I’m going to jump right into my posts with an issue that is important to me, but often over-looked by parents and students. Every day that I am at the dance studio, I watch students come and go through the studio doors, most of them dressed for class in leotards and tights. Which I appreciate. However, I don’t like seeing young dancers walking around outside the dance studio wearing nothing over their dance attire. Put some clothes on over your leotards. Cover yourself up. Not to shame yourself, not to hide the fact that you’re taking dance lessons, but to be decent in public.

There’s a reason that dancers wear tight fitting garments such as leotards, tights, snug-fitting shorts and tank tops- dance instructors like myself need to see your body. I can’t see if my student is holding her core muscles or if her legs are completely straight if she is wearing baggy pants and a t-shirt. Studios have dress code policies so that students may get the best training possible, which involves being able to clearly see what muscles are being used and not being distracted by ill-fitting clothes. I am one to enforce that dress code and ask all my students to remove their “junk”- anything that doesn’t fit into the leotard, tights, and booty shorts or ballet skirt dress code.

However, there is no need for the general public to see your daughter wearing the equivalent of a one piece swimsuit to the grocery store as you grab that last needed item for dinner. Or generally walking the few feet from the parking lot inside the studio building. I would hope that you wouldn’t allow your child to walk around outside the pool deck without at the very least a towel to cover them. Same concept applies for dance wear.

I’m not asking you to send your 3 year old to her first dance lessons donning layers upon layers over her cute tutu that she’s so proud to wear. Nor am I asking the teenagers to put the clothes they wore to school over their dance attire. If you choose to do those, more power to you. What I’m asking is more simple. Teach your daughter to throw a simple sundress over the leotard like they would a swimsuit. Buy your kid some yoga pants and a studio tank top/t-shirt/sweatshirt/jacket for easy off and on before and after class. It can be that simple, but it makes a huge difference.

And no, just a winter coat over the tutu doesn’t count- which I see almost daily when its cold out. Yes, your child needs a coat when its 34 degrees outside. But guess what, they also need pants. That child-sized Northface jacket isn’t helping keep her legs warm or cover them up. It also won’t help when your child is warm from an hour’s worth of exercise and then the cold winter air shocks her body temperature. Your child needs a top and a bottom to cover up, a full outfit over their dance attire.

So parents, I urge you to dress your child for class THEN to dress them to go out in public before you leave the house. After all, they are going out in public FIRST.