How Not To Be A Ballet Parent?

I have been writing and editing this post for months now, wanting to get it “just right”.  First, I have to give a disclaimer.  This is a mental list I’ve complied over the years of being a ballet mom; hundreds of hours sewing shoes, emergency repairing costumes, bunning hair, painting props and a myriad of other tasks. I have volunteered for many “tasks” that I thought were just not my thing, but when no one else offered, it usually ended up on the more “experienced” parents’ plates.  This past year, E had taught a lot more classes and did contribute to this list.  I am NOT judging anyone and I am not trying to show myself as a perfect mom – far from it. There are always extenuating circumstances that cause all of us to do one of these once in a while.  This list was created to help identify any area(s) that you may see in yourself on a regular basis.  Remember the only perfect studio is one where there are no people.

  1. Tell your dancer’s teacher how a class should be run – even if you danced for years, the teacher is the authority in class. Unless you have real concerns about an injury or bullying, let the teacher teach your child. Would you tell your mechanic how to fix your car, or your dentist how to repair your filling?
  2. Insist on spending a long time talking to the teacher after your class – more than likely, there is another class after your child’s, and if you want to clarify some billing or scheduling, this is not the time.  Send an email, or call when there are no classes. The other parents are paying to have their children trained, not to wait for the teacher to have a conference with you.
  3. Bring your child in with the flu – yes, you are paying for classes, but please keep your sick child home so as not to give the bug into the entire studio. A good studio will clean their barres every day, but like a school classroom, it gets used by kids of all ages, and no one wants to get exposed to the flu too.
  4. Bring your child to class unprepared – no ballet shoes? no hair up in a bun? Unless your dancer is older, you need to help your child get ready for class, not the teacher.
  5. Don’t pay your monthly tuition payments on time – we all have bills to pay, so does your dance studio: rent, salaries, utilities, tissues to wipe the snot from your little dancer’s nose, etc.
  6. Drop your dancer off late AND/OR pick up your dancer late – we all have things that make us late on occasion, but don’t make this a regular thing week after week. It disrupts the class and disrespects the students & teachers. It is a place to learn, not get free childcare.
  7. Don’t bring your child class at all – teachers plan their classes based off the students in their class.  Just not showing up for class is telling your child that ballet isn’t important, nor is the teacher and other students. Drop a quick text or email as soon as you know your child will be missing class.  It shouldn’t be the teacher’s job to track you down. Which leads me to the next point…
  8. Complain about missing classes – if your child misses a class or the teacher has to cancel a class (they get sick too), most studios that I know of have a make-up policy in effect – usually allowing your dancer to drop in another similar class, the teacher will add on an extra class on a different day or they will extend several existing classes longer. Insisting on the day and time that only works for you isn’t a make-up policy. Teachers have lives outside of the studio and they have to plan appointments and such during their limited free time. If you have a scheduling conflict or a difference of opinion, take the time to talk to the teacher, but please see #2.
  9. Schedule other non-essential activities during the week of rehearsals before a big performance – there is nothing more frustrating to all the other dancers when there are others in their group dance missing, thus not getting last-minute changes to the choreography. Dancers need their rest, especially during the week of a performance. Rehearsals typically happen in the evening, and it’s important for your dancer to be there.  If it conflicts with your normal evening routine, make every effort to get your dancer there.
  10. Not help during rehearsals – the teacher/director needs to focus on the what’s happening on stage, not what’s going on in the dressing rooms and the audience.  Offer to be the adult watching the other non-performing dancers and to keep the noise down while important choreography changes are happening during rehearsals. A studio should be a community of dancers and parents alike.
  11. Not help during a performance – programs need to be passed out, last-minute costume tears, ripped tights and set failures happen – it shouldn’t be the teachers’ jobs to do these things, they need to focus on the dancers. And if there is more than one performance, volunteer to be a helper, so as to allow other parents to watch the performance.
  12. Not help after a performance, someone else will clean up – We usually have goodies after most of our year-end performances – a wonderful time to see family & friends, take lots of photos and eat some very yummy treats. Then it’s time to leave, right? So what fairies do all the cleanup? It ends up being the teachers and a very VERY small dedicated group of parents. They too have friends & family coming to watch the performance.
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