How to Deal With Your Own Stage Mom
The term "stage parent" carries some seriously bad energy in the dance world. We think of parents aggressively fighting for their children to get cast first, perform more and constantly be in the front of the studio.
A stage mom or dad can become so involved in their child's career that they develop a symbiotic state of nervousness and desire for perfection in every step.
But having a stage parent isn't all bad. There are major benefits to having your own cheerleader. In the competitive dance world, a loving, informed friend who is perpetually on your side is hard to come by and even harder to count on.
Some stage parents are the best: Daniil and Dmitrij Simkin.
When the relationship works, the child finds success doing what he or she truly loves to do as the proud parent looks on with genuine support. But when it doesn't, unexpressed emotions will lead to a massive level of resentment.
So what can you do?
Advice for Parents:
Photo by Rachel Papo for Pointe
-Check in with your son or daughter and make sure they love what they are doing before you push them to do more of it.
-Give them space to learn for themselves. Mistakes make us all grow. You will probably be right in the end (parents often are) but give them room to figure that out for themselves.
-If your child discovers dance is not for them, but they have chosen to participate in a show or signed up for a certain number of classes, discuss the value of following through with their commitments.
-Once they have a job and are of age to do so, let them live on their own. When a child begins intensely training for a dance career, it is hard to develop the social skills necessary to make lasting friendships, especially if their parent is such a powerful lifeline. You can still be there for them, but they need peers to thrive.
-If you have sound advice to give, share it—but do so realizing that you are their parent and not their teacher, partner or artistic director. They know what life is like in the studio every day; you do not.
-Encourage your dancer to be as well-rounded as possible. A full life leads to fuller dancing, not to mention providing a necessary back-up plan.
-Know that with every step they take, you are the source of their beautiful life. Also know that the more you experience your own life, the more you will have to talk about together.
Advice for Dancers:
Photo by Rachel Papo for Pointe
-Frequently assess whether or not you love what you do. If the only times you think about dancing are when you are in the studio or theater, it's possible that a career in the field is just not right for you.
-Be honest with your feelings. If you're no longer passionate about dancing, sit down to talk about it with your parents. Listen to their response and be honest and true to your feelings.
-Do not send your parents in to fight your battles for you with your director. Not only are you missing a valuable learning opportunity, but you are developing a dependency that could prove to be detrimental later on.
-Tell your parents you are grateful for the sacrifices they made for your career. Don't let your dancing represent your thanks. Speaking your thanks will free your dancing to exist on its own.
-As you get older, seek out the space you need to grow. These conversations are always hard. Perhaps you need to take a break from constant communication or limit the scope of information you share. Make time to talk about your parent's life, and keep your work to yourself for a while.
-Remember that love is behind every push and shove, and that parental love will always be there no matter what.
You know Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo as the men who parody your favorite ballet variations—and make it look good. But there's more to the iconic troupe than meets the eye.
A new documentary, Rebels on Pointe, goes behind the scenes of the company, and it's full of juicy tidbits about what it's like to be a Trock. These were some of our favorite moments:
After 30 years of pioneering work in physically integrated dance, AXIS Dance Company co-founder Judith Smith has announced plans to retire from the Oakland, California, company. Throughout her tenure, she strived to get equal recognition for integrated dance and disabled dancers, commissioning work from high-profile choreographers like Bill T. Jones. Her efforts generated huge momentum for expanded training, choreography, education and advocacy for dancers with disabilities.
By phone from her home in Oakland, Smith reflected on how far the field has evolved since the early days of AXIS, and what's yet to be done.
You know that how you care for your body before curtain can impact your performance. But with so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to nail down an exact routine. How much rest is enough? How close to showtime should you eat? We asked the experts.
How do you make your athleisure collection stand out from the pack? Get the ultimate studio-to-street seal of approval by having dancers star in your campaign, of course.
For his second collaboration with activewear brand Carbon38, ready-to-wear designer Jonathan Simkhai traded in his usual top models like Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss for the original Hiplet dancers—and the resulting video is as cool as we'd expect from such a fierce collaboration.
Last week, we highlighted the deliberately, hysterically bad @biscuitballerina Instagram account, created by a then-mysterious dancer with a great sense of humor. This week, the artist behind @biscuitballerina—who turns out to be Royal Ballet of Flanders corps member Shelby Williams—got in touch with us to set the record straight about the intentions of those LOL-worthy posts.
Her photos and videos, with their exaggeratedly cringe-worthy technical flaws, are NOT meant to mock amateur dancers. Instead, Williams is actually hoping the account will help all dancers move past their shortcomings and accept themselves and their dancing.
Everyone knows that training is the cornerstone of a successful career in dance. But as a dance educator, I also take comfort in the fact that high-quality dance training helps shape students into genuinely good people (in addition to creating future artists, which is a wonderful goal in itself.) These are the lessons dance teaches that help make students into better humans:
Improvement Takes Commitment Over Time
In my tap courses at Cal State University, sometimes students are shocked when they can't learn something quickly. In today's world, we're used to getting fast results. You need an answer—Google it. You need to talk to someone—text them. The cooking channel wants your dinner to be easy, the physical trainer wants your workout to be five minutes, Rosetta Stone can have you speaking Mandarin in an hour.
Again and again, dance teaches me that when the filters fall away between people—when the boundaries of geography, religion and politics soften—the beginning and end of our relationships is always human.
In March, I traveled with Keigwin + Company to Cote D'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Tunisia, on a tour sponsored by the US State Department and facilitated by DanceMotion USA/Brooklyn Academy of Music. Our mission was cultural diplomacy: Simply, to share ourselves with diverse communities, to promote common understanding and friendships.
Our last stop was Tunisia. Until that point, we had mostly been learning varieties of traditional African dance, and sharing American modern dance. But Tunisia was different. The dancers already had a solid grasp of contemporary movement invention. Though we didn't speak the same language, we could make movement vocabulary with surprising ease. Everything about our backgrounds was different, but there was this special intersection through dance that seemed to present an open door to collaboration.
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.
Christopher Wheeldon's new Nutcracker for the Joffrey Ballet was huge news when it premiered last winter. The choreographer shifted the setting from the home of a well-off German family to the Chicago world's fair, making the hero the young daughter of a working-class, Polish immigrant sculptress. This month, WTTW Chicago, the city's public broadcasting station, will premiere Making a New American Nutcracker, a new documentary showing how Wheeldon and his high-profile collaborators made the magic happen. Premieres on WTTW11 and wttw.com/watch on Nov. 16 before appearing on public television stations across the country. Check your local listings.
For most dancers, walking into the theater elicits a familiar emotion that's somewhere between the reverence of stepping into a chapel and the comfort of coming home. But each venue has its own aura, and can offer that something special that takes your performance to a new level. Six dancers share which theaters have transported them the most.
GLENN ALLEN SIMS
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Glenn Allen Sims in Alvin Ailey's Masekela Langage. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy AAADT
Favorite theater: Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain
Royal details: "The theater is gorgeous and ornate, with deep red upholstery and gold trim. There is a huge royal box in the center, which takes you back to when kings and queens were watching performances there."
Impressive facilities: Even the dressing rooms are a sight to see: Amenities for the dancers include large, carpeted rooms, and towel service.
The business side of dance can often fall second to the art. Contracts, which usually appear after you've done the hard work of securing a job, can seem like an inconsequential afterthought. You might decide to simply sign without reading the terms—or be understandably confused by all the legalese.
Ultimately, though, contracts can play an important part in setting the expectations for your job. A basic understanding of the legal terms you might see can go a long way in making sure that signing is a positive step toward growing your career.