Parent Handbook

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Dancers show respect for themselves, fellow class members, the art form, and teachers by:

  • Being prompt for class.
  • Being dressed properly for class without underwear under tights and leotards, without jewelry except for small earrings. Use convertible tights for ballet that go into their shoes with holes on the bottom, not footless tights.
  • Ballet shoes sewn. Please tie the strings in a double knot, cut the strings so they are an inch in length. Teach them to tuck strings inside their shoes.
  • Hair for all ballet classes ages six and older should be worn in a bun. All classes should pull their hair up off the neck and out of the face. This allows the instructor to see their entire spinal column and facilitates proper training.
  • Coming to class each week. Each class follows a carefully planned syllabus. New concepts are explained in depth each week. In order for the class to progress, consistent attendance is important.
  • Keeping their hands to themselves during class.
  • Waiting quietly for others to have a turn and for instructions from the teacher.
  • Waiting until the music is finished before entering the classroom if they are late to class.
  • Talk with one another only during share time at the beginning of class
  • Supporting other students’ efforts; never laughing, pointing, whispering, or gossiping.
  • Listening when the teacher speaks; always standing in a “proper dance stance” while listening when the teacher gives combinations or corrections. Being a first time listener.
  • Being prepared for their turn.
  • Always asking before leaving the room for any reason and upon returning entering quietly and going around to the back of the room, never through the dancers who are dancing.
  • Always finishing every exercise, never walking off noisily or showing anger or aggravation.

Dancers show respect for the studio by:

  • Leaving gum, drinks and food outside the dance studios.
  • Never hanging on or leaning on the barres.
  • Never running or doing gymnastics in the lobby.
  • Putting trash in its proper place.
  • Not touching dance room props or entering costume closet, teachers lounge without permission.
  • Turning off cell phones during class.
  • Always keeping all belongings zipped inside their dance bags.
  • Write your child’s name in their shoes. This will help us both in the studio and at performances to find the owner of lost items.

Parents show respect for the dance class, teacher, and studio by:

  • Being careful when dropping off and picking up student, courteous to other parents and not parking in the drop off zone.
  • Never leaving siblings in the waiting room unattended by a parent.
  • Bringing dancers to class on time and picking them up promptly after class. We are only responsible for dancers during their allotted class time.
  • Having students ready for class BEFORE they enter the dance room.
  • Making sure the dancer has had the opportunity to go to the restroom before class.
  • Knocking before entering the classroom if it is in progress. Only interrupt class if absolutely necessary. Go to the office first if it is open.
  • Never coming into the classroom to discipline your child. Allow it to be done by the teacher. If your assistance is needed, the teacher will come out and get you.
  • Not allowing children to stand and hit the viewing windows.
  • Letting us know in advance when possible, if a student will be absent, by emailing salemattendance@gmail.com for the Salem location and lifehouse.saratogaattendance@gmaill.com for Herriman. Put child’s name, their class, the teacher and when they will be absent.
  • Teaching children to never run or scream in the studio, waiting areas, or parking lot.
  • Calling the office to make an appointment to discuss any concerns with the studio director. Do not stop and confront teachers when they are in between classes.
  • Always remembering Lifehouse is a gossip-free environment and talking negatively about others is inappropriate behavior and benefits no one. Take issues directly to the source. Speak truth/find out the truth. Please don’t gossip. If you have a question or need clarification about something at the studio just ask me!
  • Be the parent –express love and support for your child. Leave the coaching and constructive criticism to the teachers.

Preparing for the Stage

Dance is a performing art. In all that we do in class, we are preparing to share our gift with an audience. It is the reward for all of the hard work and effort. As a member of a class or company, you are an important part of the group’s success. Not attending classes consistently and being unprepared for the show is not fair to rest of the cast or group.

Attending run-throughs, tech and dress rehearsals is crucial to the success of the student and the group on the stage. Please do not treat these rehearsals casually. Be on time as we pay for the facilities/tech crew, etc. by the hour. If every group is five minutes late, it can put us hours behind schedule.

There is nothing quite like sharing your best efforts with an appreciative audience. It is what we work toward as artists. Please help your child learn to respect the process of participating in a performing art. It is about more than just your student. It is about the entire group and show.

Dancers should never wear their costumes into the auditorium. They should always wear a bathrobe or cover up when outside the dressing room area. It teaches them to be professional. After the show, there will be an opportunity for students to take their picture in costume.

Closed Dress Rehearsals

At the studio we have closed dress rehearsals. Having a closed dress rehearsal allows the teachers to run the rehearsal in an organized and efficient way without interference. The rehearsals are very organized and the children well supervised.

Closed dress rehearsals enable us to run things just like the show. The auditorium remains quiet and undisturbed. The children feel the professionalism of what they are doing and learn to take responsibility for their behavior and performance. Please be respectful of this policy.

We will have a clearly defined drop off and pick up procedure for you to check in and check out your little one.

Contract for Company

Company members sign a contract to stay with their company through the year-end show. There is a two-month tuition penalty for quitting the year early.

Teacher-Student Relationship

  1. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Find out the other side of the story. Be a truth seeker. Look for how your child can grow from difficult experiences.
  2. We are on your side. Bring forth concerns in a respectful manner. Know we are your child’s biggest fan and want to support them as dancers and as people.
  3. It is our job to hold students accountable to their best effort and to the expectations of the class. Sometimes this is uncomfortable.
  4. Help your children to recognize feedback and correction as a gift—as something positive—something to be sought after. A teacher who really cares about you holds you accountable to your best work. “Most of us would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Learn that correction is a compliment.” Proactive Coaching website.
  5. Confidence comes from learning you can do hard things and make good choices. It comes from taking responsibility for yourself and acting with integrity and truth.

How do I measure my progress as a dancer?

As my directors and I were discussing how to measure a student’s progress in a meeting, my jazz director came up with the perfect word to describe what has become a strong foundation in my beliefs about dance. This word is mastery. We want our students to understand that the goal isn’t just to do movement or to take class, but to master the elements that build a strong dancer. We want them to strive to work correctly. This builds truth in a dancer’s body and movement. It is what makes dance beautiful–when you see someone who has fine tuned their instrument so that it is moving in truth—with proper alignment, form and technique. This also allows the dancer to build strength, flexibility, advance their skills and leads to a higher level of artistry.

One of the benefits of not competing is that we get to really focus on the students training. There is no pressure to push them to do skills they do not have the foundation to perform correctly. In the long run, this methodical, building block approach to training builds a stronger artist.

The following is from our jazz teacher-training manual written by Ms. Ashley. It illustrates the culture we hope to establish in our students from a very young age:

You have to learn the rules, before you can bend the rules! It is our job to teach our students the rules inside and out. “Plié is the first thing you learn and the last thing you master” (Suzanne Farrell). It is impossible to achieve perfection. So requiring our students to execute a plié perfectly is unrealistic. However, we should always demand excellence. Do not allow students to settle and believe they do not need to work anymore because they have learned something already. There is always room for improvement. Our students should strive to execute each step better than the time before. The end goal being: mastery.

We must remind the students, we cannot run from our problems. Moving on to more complex steps when you have not mastered the basics will not make your problems go away. Often the issues are magnified with more difficult steps. We must teach our students the importance of mastering the basics.

“Enjoy the process of learning to dance. The process of our profession, and not its final achievement, is the heart and soul of dance” (Jacques d’Amboise). Sometimes, mastering steps and creating muscle memory can be arduous and tiring. We must continue to encourage, inspire and push our students to keep working towards mastery. This will allow our students to build an appreciation for hard work that will carry into their life after dance. Class work should always be about mastery not just keeping up.

In dance as in life, all things come with practice. I think each day of our lives is about us practicing to live true principles and to become better people. We are the healthiest emotionally when we view life as a practice and not a destination.

Each day we try to do a little bit better then the day before with a lot of self-compassion and patience. We also shouldn’t fear labor and can come to appreciate the joy that comes from doing things that are hard and cause us to stretch. The same principle applies to dance.

Looking for external sources to validate our progress

Mastery of technique, good alignment, and executing steps correctly are the true measure of advancement. Just like developing true character, success as a dancer comes from within the individual. Here are a few examples:

  • Students who work just as hard when a teacher’s focus is across the room from them, than when the teacher is looking directly at the student.
  • Students who retain corrections from week to week, are mindful of them and motivated to fix them even if it means discomfort. We cannot improve if we are not dedicated to applying feedback
  • Coming to class consistently. Often students complain to us about their lack of improvement and when we examine the rolls, they miss a lot of class. Consistency in coming to class is key to developing strength and muscle memory.
  • Pushing yourself physically and mentally—working outside of your comfort zone, expanding the boundaries of your comfort zone each week. I read a blog post by another studio director. She shared an experience of telling a mother that her daughter had really started to progress because she had finally learned to work. A week later the studio director received a note from the mother. The mother said at first she was offended by the teacher’s words and felt like the director was calling her daughter lazy. However, when she brought up the conversation with her daughter who was the student, her daughter laughed and said, “Yep, I’ve finally learned what it really means to work and push myself this year.” It is human nature to stay in our boundaries of comfort, but true growth comes from working outside of those boundaries. This is hard for most children to learn.
  • Stretching or doing conditioning exercises outside of class. Practicing and going over things at home and coming to class prepared each week retaining what was taught the class prior so the teacher can move on and not review what was previously taught and forgotten.
  • Students who learn to worry about themselves! Successful students stay positive mentally. They do not compare their current abilities or limitations to other students in the class. They focus on their own progress week to week and believe in themselves—that through hard work and dedication they can progress and improve.

If a student’s doing the above things, they will not only advance as a dancer, they will develop character and discover the meaning of true self-worth. I understand I am asking my students to live to a higher law by learning to look within themselves instead of to external sources for signs of success. I promise that any dancer, who is doing the above things, will overtime reach their potential as an artist. The end result of this training philosophy is a truly competent dancer, all the other sources of external validation are superficial and do not lead to true greatness.

Dress Code

 At Lifehouse, we ask that our dancers dress in a way that shows respect for yourself and a respect for others. We commit to dressing in a way that benefits the art form we participate in.

  • Dancers should be well groomed at the studio and performances.  Clothing and shoes should be clean, free of holes, functional and fit well.
  • Attire should help to facilitate your training.  For ballet, jazz and contemporary classes, clothes should be form fitting to allow the teacher to see your skeletal and musculature structure so they can give you corrections.  No t-shirts, or baggy shorts allowed.
  • Hair should be out of the face and not distracting for the dancer.  Hair should not have to be “fixed” during class.
  • No jewelry.  A small stud earring is permitted.
  • No bare midriffs.  Shorts should cover the buttocks at all times including when bending over.

Required Uniform

  • Ballet:  Pink tights, leotard, pink ballet shoes, hair in a bun.
  • Jazz and Contemporary:  Leotard or tight athletic top, leggings or dance shorts.  (Must be form fitting), hair out of face
  • Tap:  Something you can move in.  T-shirts are acceptable
  • Hip Hop:  Shorts or leggings and a t-shirt or athletic top, athletic shoes.
  • Musical Theatre:  Clothes that allow for freedom of movement.