The Performance Mentor
Picking a Class for your Child
Title: Your child’s performance classes
I write this little article being a child performer, a choreographer and a parent.
As much as I say, I’m a parent it’s about the child, the young performer and their happiness.
Who’s the class for?
Does your child really want to go to dancing, acting, singing or gymnastics or do you want to relive your childhood dream through your child?
I see so many people who ask what job do I do and when I say choreographer they say “oh I used to dance, if I continued I would have been brilliant” you then see them on the dance floor and they have no rhythm. Maybe it left them with age, or maybe it was all a dream.
Let your child have fun, they do not need to decide their career now.
I see two sets of children in the studio, the ones that are going to class for fun and the ones that it’s in their soul, spirit and they would die if they couldn’t go to class anymore.
At a young age, children are still discovering themselves so they may have not found their calling in life, they may not want to be the next Beyonce, who is a triple treat as she does everything very well. If your child wants to go for fun, find a school for that environment.
Children that want to do shows, exams and start working now, should definitely find a school that has an agency attached to it.
Be supportive but not pushy
Over the last 10 years being in the performing arts is more competitive than ever, you can become a star over night without any talent now. By just being funny and having good personality with funny YouTube videos, or cool Instagram posts. Or modelling as every child is dressed to perfection nowadays and you can live their life via social media. Pushing your child can result in a lot of issues later on in life, as well as a dysfunctional family. But we’re not meant to discuss that are we? If you want the modelling career, you go and get it, they take people all shapes, sizes and ages these days so you make it happen for you. Live your own dream and let your child be a child.
On the other had if your child is begging to go to class or do an activity, always flipping in your house, find the time to help them discover their talents. If you can’t afford to go to class, see if there is a free program. There are still few good community projects on where people are funded to help the communities’ next generation. Trust me if your child has talent, you will find a way to help develop them. My mum only learnt to sew because she couldn’t afford the costumes. Whist my brother only started dancing because she had no money to get the bus home and back again so had to wait outside for me, (turns out would have been cheaper to get the bus ). You find time for what you want and you will create the resources.
Ask your child what they want to do? It may be one class or ten. Also remember children can have short attention spans so the teacher taking the class can either make or kill their energy. Try different teachers or schools.
Go to a tester session, most schools allow you to watch a class first or if they don’t want people watching, they allow you to do a free class first, before you pay for a term, month etc.
Parents in the class
I personally do not like parents in my rehearsals, sorry, I don’t allow parents unless it’s a union thing, chaperon issue etc. I want to be left allow to get on with my work that was how I was taught and how I work. You’re trying to connect with the child and some parents constantly involve themselves, they do not let the child think for themselves some even start dancing. It’s shocking what some parents do, believe me I’ve seen it all. Talking about their child in the middle of the class, then another parent has to outdo the other one, with how amazing their child is, it becomes a battle of the parents. I have the parents outside and then update them afterwards.
Sometimes the child is having an off day or sometimes the child just does not want to go yet, maybe it’s too soon or the style is wrong for them. You can always try in another year or so, they may just be to young etc.
Sometimes your child is a freestyler and doing a set choreographed routine is the most boring thing on this planet, because to them they are not dancing and may as well be at school.
Sometimes a child tries to impress their guardian and does not want to let them down, they may have heard you tell everyone how amazing they are and now the pressure is on.
Children are a lot cleverer than we think. They are a product of their environment, people, TV, as they watch everything.
Back to the topic parents in class, don’t be offended if you’re told to wait outside and when your little ones comes be supportive to hear their experience.
Filming in class
There is this new crazy for filming in class, you need to give your consent for your child to be including as you don’t know where this is being posted. However, if your child is not allowed and all the class does, is film for social media, you may need to consider changing schools because you don’t want to create an issue, insecurity within your child. A child should be allowed to go to a class and they film separately or afterwards. Especially if you’re paying for this service and it’s not free.
Do I pay for a term right away?
No. Attend a few classes to see if they like it then pay up for the term. Should they do one class and never want to go back some schools will not refund your money, as that space could have gone to someone else. They are running a business.
How many classes should we start with?
Start with their favourite class and then after they are settled introduce others till you see what works for them and what doesn’t. Also remember at anytime they may get fed up or want a change so check in with them each term on what they like, what’s exciting, what’s boring and if they want to continue.
Remember some people need time to come into their own style, you can’t go to class today and next month apply for Britain’s Got Talent. Well if you’re uniquely made, you can, but that is a 1%. Remember some dancers trained for years before their big break.
You may discover these classes are not for your child, but they may like modelling or football, swimming etc. So be open minded and have fun as a family.
From Natricia aka the Performance Mentor