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Coping Strategies, Tips for Students Joining Dance Late in College Year | Beyond the Barre

Got Late in Enrolling for the Dance Class? Here is what you should know

Planning to enroll in the dance classes? The first question that any instructor, your academic advisor, or the dance professor will ask is- "why do you want to do it now?"

Most of the dance classes started in August, and have come a long way for absolute beginners who have now learned more than just some basic steps, while the advanced dancers have, by far, worked hard to perfect their actions, having moved on to take their performances to next levels. What’s more, some of the students have even performed live in various recitals and fall stage shows like “The Nutcracker."

Where does that leave you, a late starter who has suddenly decided “Better late than never”?

When asked what would you tell a student requesting for entry to a dance course mid-way through the session, here is what Takiyah Nur Amin, Assistant professor of dance The University of North Carolina at Charlotte wrote : (source: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/921-dear-student-sorry-you-re-too-late-to-sign-up-for-my-class)

Dear Student:

Congratulations on getting to this point in your education. Please note the following:

Today marks Week 7 of the semester. We are well past the drop/add period and barrelling toward spring break. Your academic advisor should be working with you on taking a summer course or a class next fall to complete matriculation requirements. At this point, I cannot simply let you into the curriculum, because we are well into the material and I have no mechanism by which to add you.

In the future, if you need to request a permit for a class I hope your reason for the request can be a little more compelling then "let me in so I can graduate." Most of us would like to have students in the class who have some interest in the content. This is especially true if you are asking for entry to a course that would be an elective for you. My goal in the classroom is to help you learn, not to help you complete a checklist to exit the institution. Sigh.

Good luck in your endeavors.

Sincerely,

Confused and Tired Professor Who Fields Lots of Requests for Permits Each Semester from Students Who Don’t Give an Actual Hoot about What I Teach

Being a late bloomer is a difficult thing, both for the student and more so for the teacher.

You could be someone who is new to dance or someone who has had a bit of exposure to learning dance in the past few years. Whichever stage you find yourself in, you have to remember that you are a lot of hard work and even a drag on a regular class routine to a dance instructor. Why?

Here are some of the Issues Teachers may have with you as a Late Starter-

here are some of the issues

1. They joined late because they want to finish a course credit for the year, not for the sake of dance

Dance instructors know an enthusiastic learner from the one who is there “just because." No one wants to deal with someone who was not ready for as grueling a course as dance a couple of months back and now thinks he/she is.

2. No matter what level of skills the newbie are on, they have to start from the scratch

Each dance studio or a dance class have their own set of rules, gently but firmly asserted into the psyche of the students during the initial days. Starting with a newcomer is like starting all over again, with some rules flouted, missed, or ignored, bringing the whole house of discipline down with them.

3. Late starters delay the progress of the whole class

Yes, you read it right. As a late starter, you will be taking the first steps that have already become a routine for the other students. The teacher has to focus more on you, maybe work a little harder. The other students who are cruising so far will have to adjust to accommodate you, and the stop-start will only be a hassle for the whole bunch

4. The team dynamics are affected due to late starters

It’s the responsibility of an instructor to help you ease into the dance team. You will notice that some of the fellow students have already formed groups, hanging out with each other post rehearsals, having performed together at one or the other event. Adding you to a spot is bound to ruffle some feathers, and this may not be good for the overall dynamics of the class.

Late starters need to do a lot of homework before they decide they are up for starting the session midway. They may feel like it will be the dance teacher's responsibility to ensure a smooth transition, but ultimately, it is their hard work and determination that will help them disprove “just-here-for-my-degree” notion that others carry about them.

Here are a few questions late starters must ask themselves

few questions

1. What is your intention?

The hardest thing for any dance student is to adjust their expectations. You have already missed almost half of the year. Whatever is left may not be enough for you to be a proficient dancer. If you enter with the sole purpose of getting famous or dance in the front row, you will be disappointed. If it’s for the sake of learning the dance that you wish to get in, or already possessed skills but were too spoilt for a choice at the beginning of the year, you can successfully be a part of the class.

2. How much time (and energy) can you invest in learning?

The teacher may have graciously accepted you in, but it’s your turn now to prove that you are up for it. You need to begin from scratch. You may have learned dance in your formative years, but as an instructor, unless they see you dance, they cannot take a call on your preparedness and skill. Be prepared to practice- a lot more than the rest of the class. Bring your "A" game every time you step on the dance floor, and be ready with a learner's attitude.

3. Are you ready to make extra effort to blend in faster?

As a dance student in your school or college, now it’s your responsibility to learn during your break days/ off days. Consider joining a dance class on weekends or after school hours. Make sure you catch up on all that has been covered so far with the help of other students. Work extra hard on your fitness to avoid injuries. You should be able to perform better than the last time every time you step into your class.

4. Will your shift towards dancing affect your overall attention levels on other courses?

Dance is just one of the many courses you have to opt for in a year. Chances are you are doing reasonably well in rest of the subjects you started at the beginning. Will your sudden shift to dance makes it difficult for you to keep up with the rest? Make sure you have factored in the extra time you are going to devote to dance, rehearsals, tryouts, and performances- in your schedule. Midway through the year, you cannot let one thing suffer at the cost of the other.

Tips for late starters to have a smooth landing on the dance floor

1. Prepare well in advance:

be prepared to be grilled by everyone, starting from your parents, friends, academic advisor, dance teacher, and other dance students. All are wondering why you want to go in the other direction half-way through the year. They would also want to know why you weren't interested in dance earlier and what has changed now. You should be asking these questions yourself. If you're going to get the permission from a dance instructor, be ready with a right answer, not a flimsy one.

2. Make a well-informed decision:

you may have known some of the students already, use it to network and understand what has already been covered. Blend in, and ask questions. Take their help in learning and practicing what has already been covered. Make copious notes and sit down with some of them to understand the rules and norms of the class and curriculum structure before you take a call.

Here are some parting words of motivation for latecomers to the dance class- If you want it badly, don't let your bottom-of-the-pack status discourage you. Instead, use it to drive you. Being an underdog is not a bad thing, as it can motivate you to work harder. You have got to catch up, and the only way you can push yourself is through hard work and determination to succeed, and more importantly, to want it more than any other person you have ever come across!

John

Danielle Hernandez

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About the Author

Danielle Hernandez has been in the dance industry for over 30 years. She landed her first professional dance job at the age of 11.

Danielle received her acting and musical theater training at the prestigious Musical Theater Works Conservatory, and she graduated from Rutgers University with a major in dance and minor in music.

In addition to training and competing with a dance company in NJ, Danielle also trained at Steps on Broadway, as well as Broadway Dance Center. At the young age of 15, Danielle fell in love with teaching dance and coaching competitive cheer squads and dance teams, bringing them to success with state, regional, and national championship titles

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