New Year New Attitude

By Kim McCluer, Jan 3rd, 2014


Hello and Happy New Year! I am a little behind on this greeting, the rush of holidays, family fun, travel, and unfortunately flu, has slowed me down some. I have decided to make a wish list for teachers, parents, dancers, and staff for the 2014 TOP season. In some cases it might seem harsh, but those who know me, know that I speak very honestly. Happy New Dance Year and here goes! 1. May the Light of Dance shine in the eyes of every performer on stage from 2 to 22, and may we as adults, teachers and parents do nothing to dim this light. I tend to watch the performers on stage a little differently than most. In 17 years I have seen amazing dancers, every age, every week, and every city! I don’t always watch the technique, not that this isn’t import (TOP of the score sheet). But, I watch the face, the smile and the eyes. The windows to the soul! You can tell when they are nervous, confident, robotic, free spirited, love it or eeeck, hate it! As a dancer, make sure to remember why you started dance in the first place and dance from that place. As a teacher, teach from that place, and as a parent, parent from that place. In most cases, it is the adults that burn our kids out long before school, other interests, or demands of life do. Teachers don’t Abby Lee them to this point. I did my yearly watching of Dance Moms (only a couple of episodes) and you can see that the light is only burning in one of the dancers eyes after 4 years. She hasn’t been beat down, she is naturally gifted. Not all kids are and pushing, belittling or wanting it more than she does is not going to get that on stage. Take it for what it is. “Dance is a lifelong love for some, a childhood hobby for many, and a career for few!” Yes, that is my original quote! 2. May the 6 foot trophy not be your only goal with dance this year! I had more than one teacher call me in October asking about more big trophies for next year. I tell them, stop being concerned about that. And Why? Why aren’t there already enough? Does everyone have to win? Can we not teach our children and most of all our parents, that that big trophy does not represent a year of dance. Children wanting to do it again next year, no matter what size trophy, is what represents a successful dance year! I am going to be honest with you, I don’t like the big trophies. I wish we had never started them. They take away the value and hard work of all the other accomplishments on that stage and sometimes that makes me sad. 3. May the all those with a camera, especially “dance dads” know that we are truly not prohibiting photos for just a “sale”. Every year we have to throw out dads from shows, sometimes with security escorts. They can’t come back all weekend. Over the years, we have had to call police over documented offenders being in the audience with cameras. We have been sent news stories from cities where competition parents have found their kids pictured on terrible web sites. We truly want to protect your kids and also show respect to the hard working teachers, choreographers and costume makers. You can still take pictures in the hall, outside and during awards. Purchasing photos and video are optional. Just think how embarrassed your child is while you and your camera is escorted outside. Those are not Kodak moments I can assure you! 4. May all parents and teacher recognize modafinil the scoring for what it is – OPINION! Nothing more! The TV show The Voice is the best example of that. A singer sings, a chair turns, maybe 2, maybe 3, rarely all and sometimes none. Classic example of opinion, even our esteemed Hollywood stars have differing opinions. It is very possible to go to another competition and win overall one weekend and go to another competition the next and not even place. It is so simple and I have had to explain this to crying moms year-after-year. OPINION, NO two judging teams are ever the same, period. This is not rocket science here folks. I had an amazing dancer stop coming to TOP when she was 16 years old. She had won every year since she was 7, she was, and is, amazing, including the day she….oh let me say it, lost, or what I mean took 2nd to another amazing dancer. She had not lost anywhere since she was 7. At 16 she was amazing, but truly was lacking some passion, not dancing with the heart, thinking her technique through too much. And on one cold, March competition day, 3 judges, not just one, scored her down for this. Her teacher was beside herself, parents in a frenzy. The other dancer was amazing, the other dancer even took at the same studio and guess what, they didn’t come back as a studio for years, citing this one loss. What about the win for the other girl! I tell this story because of what happens after. I get a letter 5 years later from the 2nd place dancer and the 1st place winner, both in college, rekindling a lost friendship. Thanking me for 8 years of fun and friendship, apologizing for parents and teachers and telling me it was the best thing that had happened to both of them. They are both professional dancers in major US city dance companies today. The studio was turned upside down by this, winner that day left the studio, studio stops competing for 4 years, yet in the end the 2nd place finisher is able to see this as a turning point (no pun intended) in her dance and told me in her email that that moment was what made her great as a dancer. At 23 she is still horrified by how the adults acted, but the act of “losing” was a good thing! Imagine that! 5. May all people understand and respect the House rules. Doors open at 7:00 AM means 7:00 AM, not 6:15, 6:45 or the night before at set up. We truly feel bad for your 7 year old standing outside in booty shorts and sequin Ugg boots at 6:45 AM, but in most cases we do not have access to the keys or the authority to open doors by contract with the facility. Please respect our need to get registers open, credit card machines booted up, lights and music on and dressing rooms open and ready for a great day. 6. May the use of props be meaningful and stress free for all. Props, the very word makes a backstage boy cower in fear. Please know that you are responsible for the props. From parking the trucks somewhere to unloading them. We have yet to see a semi for props, but I fear it is coming. My guys will gladly help you put them on stage, but bringing them into the building, setting them up tearing them down and hauling them back out is up to you and those amazing Prop Dads, (what would your studio do without them). But, just a word of advice, go back now and watch your dances with props to make sure the prop has a purpose, not just something to pose on at the beginning and end. I have seen many a score counted down for this misconception. 7. May all of our electronic devices work, from your CDs to iPods, to speakers, lights, computers, online registration, tabulation, credit card machines and everything in between. Be patient with us, we are only the human working these amazing gadgets! 8. May the weather be in our favor. We travel through ice, snow, rain, hail, thunder, lightning, wind, tornadoes, blizzards, floods and occasional sunshine to be in your city. Many dancers, families, and teachers do the same. May we all arrive safely. 9. May friendships that last a lifetime be made this year by the warm loving kids that grace our stages. In today’s society with Facebook, Instagram, cellphones,texting, etc. these friendships can last a lifetime. At TOP, we have had marriage partners, college roommates, professional tour dancers, and future dance moms all meet here. But, this can only happen if you come here for more than just a trophy! I myself, spend every summer at GO Pro/Pre Pro and Kidz Roc with a dance friend that I made when I was 16 years old. She lived a state away, and our paths kept crossing and now we are continuing this dance friendship 30 years later. 10. May 2014 be the year that the eyes shine brighter than ever on our stages! Because we are here to make friends, make personal and professional connections, build our kids up, teach life lessons, watch them grow and shine with the love of Dance!
Happy New Dance Year!