Where has all the discipline gone?

Where has all the discipline gone?? By Ashley Mardesic

So many people think of discipline as hard lessons and loud voices. But it’s not really that at all. There is a world of discipline that consists of stuff like pride, effort, respect and many other things that make you a better person and ultimately a better performer.

So many of us try to instil strong morals and a sense of pride in young people these days however it is shocking to see how little pride dancers have in their appearance. Gone are the days when dance class wasn’t a fashion show but a place where a dancer was able to show their true colours through their hard work and skills. My peers and I always had slick hair, clean and tidy outfits that were dance style appropriate, which I will talk about later, and a change of dance wear cause I knew I was going to sweat like crazy in each and every class. Taking pride in your appearance isn’t just a nice thing to do for a dancer, it is a habit that will translate into a better dance education, more job opportunities and ultimately create a more refined and disciplined individual that will stand out in the right ways.

Let’s talk about dance style appropriate attire. Dance is form of expression. A beautiful art that should take you to another place. Costuming is a major part of this and should always be considered heavily when creating a performance. But what about class??? The same principal applies when taking each and every class. We must become the ballerina or hip hopper or jazz dancer each and every class for a total experience. Imagine wearing pyjamas to your wedding you have dreamed about for years. How would you feel?? The point is clothes change your ability to take on each and every class in an authentic way and that is crucial to proper dance training. Moral of the story is you really should be changing your outfit and hair based on the class; regardless of whether they are back to back classes or not…..if you find that hard then it’s a good time to practice your quick change skills. This is a must folks so get to changing!!

Effort comes in many forms both before, during and after class. Yes thats right folks sports training doesn’t end. This is why most people do not become athletes for a career…It’s really hard. So parents, if you want to support your child in a sport you have to keep in mind that they have to be better than the rest. Things like homework on lunch breaks, well prepared meals without white starches or sugars and all their gear ready to go day in and day out is just the beginning. There is also the mental preparation that goes in to training and can be things like going over dances with your iPod in your ear while you are getting ready for bed or doing your splits while doing your homework. You can only be something great if you put in great amounts of effort. Sorry parents and students there is NO OTHER WAY AROUND IT!!! So if this doesn’t suit you then be ok with sport NOT being your thing. And remember it’s totally ok if it isn’t. There is big big world out there with lots of other things to do.

The “during class” effort is really something that needs some attention. So many students do what’s called marking while learning in class. Marking is basically a lazy way of putting your body into positions and formations without exerting too much energy. When you are learning something you should be all in! Your body learns through muscle memory and if you teach it to look like you can’t dance than you will perform it like you can’t dance. It also shows a massive amount of disrespect for the teacher teaching, which will be addressed in the respect section of this post. It also prevents you from learning clean. This is a concept I have tried to drill in to my students but it’s still a work in progress since they really don’t have any real consequences if they don’t. In the world of auditions, I try to explain, choreography will consist of you getting it EXACTLY RIGHT or finding your next audition since you will not be desirable in the eyes of the choreographer. If I put my hand on my waist I expect it to be on the same angle, firmness, fingers open or closed…..you get the idea. And that is just one hand. Hopefully you can now imagine how difficult it is to learn how to learn clean. So if you put in effort from start to finish in each class these habits that make you employable will become just that – HABITS – then you can spend all your energy dancing with your soul instead of worrying about the next step. This is what makes a dancer a true professional. In my opinion anyway:)

Now its time to talk about the dreaded word – RESPECT. Most parents must be rolling their eyes thinking yeah wouldn’t that be nice. Or maybe you have an angel (probably not), and why would you want one. Mistakes are where we learn the most. But where do we draw the line. Well for starters my students are NOT my friend. They should never speak to me like they would anyone else in their life that they see as their peer. I wouldn’t dare open my mouth…that’s right even open it ..while my teacher was teaching. Even if I was gasping for breath or aching in pain I would refrain from drawing any attention to myself since that would mean that I felt I was more important than my class mates and teacher. And I certainly was not. If she asked us a question I would raise my hand if I was 100% sure I knew what I was talking about. Otherwise I was a sponge. There to absorb every single word, action and thought that circles this glorious figure I called a teacher. I lived to impress her and mimicked her every single move. And I became great fast. Because I knew my place. Dance is meant to be learned through total and utter respect for your teacher, the studio and your fellow dancers because if it is not it looses ALL of its beauty. I am sure you wonder how I can say such a thing. Well, in essence everyone can dance. All walks of life, all intelligence levels, all body types…like I said EVERYONE can dance. So what makes a DANCER SPECIAL. It is their true love for the sport that transcends in to every aspect of life. It’s their ability to transform common movements in to stories that move you from your soul. Most importantly it is their ability to control their own bodies and emotions in a way that brings justice to the music, choreographer, team mates and the overall vision. This is not something that just anyone can do. Only a dancer who’s respect far exceeds any other skill will become a choreographers dream.

So please remember the following:

  • Your teacher is not your friend.
  • Dance is about the visuals so people will often judge you at face value. Do you look the part?
  • All of your teachers throughout your dance career will have knowledge that will propel you to greatness if only paired with your effort to apply that knowledge.
  • Sport in its greatest form is a lifestyle not a class.
  • Do everything to the fullest or you are teaching yourself to be less than your potential.
  • Without respect you have no future in this industry because there is a small number of people at the top (who all talk to each other if you didn’t know).
  • Anyone can dance but not everyone is a dancer.

Happy training!