January can be a challenging time in a dance studio. You’ve finished your holiday show, and following the build up to that exciting event there’s often a bit of a let down. It’s very easy to suddenly be aware that outside it’s winter, it’s cold and it can be dark by the time after-school dance classes are over. Motivation can lag at this time of year, and as a dance teacher, it’s up to you to inject some excitement back into your class. One helpful tactic is to create another project for your class to work on, though nothing as big as the holiday or year-end show. Those levels of excitement aren’t sustainable for a whole year, and your students need some recovery time after their last performance! A smaller project, one that involves the students from start to finish, can be exactly what’s needed to get your classes focussed again.
With Vancouver hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, this year provides a special opportunity for all Canadians. We’re about to host thousands of athletes and their trainers, support staff and fans in our country. Why not use the Olympics as a project for your dance class? As part of its hosting duties, Vancouver presents the Cultural Olympiad from January 22nd through March 21st. During this time, a wide variety of performances will be staged by Canadian and international artists. An ideal project to bolster enthusiasm in your dance class is to pretend your class is part of the Cultural Olympiad. Think about what your class would like to perform if they had the opportunity to dance for the world, representing Canada. Would it be a new choreography? Would it be a work set to a song by Canadian artists? Would it be a work to showcase your class’ or studio’s heritage? Use this opportunity to talk to your students about what they would like to share about their dancing and themselves. Once all your students are talking about it, you’ll find excitement levels are high, and your students are eager to get back to work.
Consider staging a mini performance of your Olympic work, right before March break. This project gives your class focus, excitement and motivation, and the opportunity to show off to parents – on a small scale – is a great one. Your Olympic show shouldn’t be something as large and intensive as the year-end performance or the holiday show. If it’s presented more as a workshop performance, perhaps without costumes and not on a stage, your students can invest in this project and feel proud of it, without getting stressed. Including your dance class in the momentum building up to the Olympic events is a unique opportunity to feel connected to the rest of Canada, indeed the rest of the world. And it’s a great way to get your dance class through the winter blues.