Within minutes of entering a dance studio I gain a sense of the energy, culture and values in place.
During one workshop, I couldn’t help but notice two nine-year old girls on the floor in front of me.
One girl held the ankles of another who was lying on her back, counting her ab crunches: “23, 24, 25… Done! Now, let’s go check and see how your abs look,” she said.
They ran over to the mirror with such enthusiasm, I thought they might run right into it. The one who had just completed the crunches enthusiastically asked her friend, “Do you see a difference?”
“Yes, it’s almost there,” her friend replied. “I can almost see your six pack. Let's go do some more.”
Cute? Maybe. Alarming? IDK.
I’ve done hundreds of in-studio workshops. I can usually anticipate what my experience is going to be like based on the way students present themselves. Their attire gives me some clues about how attentive they’ll be during instruction.
Dress codes make an impact on the learning experience, as I can often tell where their focus is and isn’t. Here's my (unscientific) observations:
Studio A. It's about that look.
They have professionally manicured nails, recently arched eyebrows, trendy haircuts/color, full-on makeup, and their abs are constantly on display. These adolescents and young teens wear a lot of beachwear to class. Bootie, string bikini bottoms and halters with two triangles covering about two inches of skin on each side.
Studio B. It's a free for all.
Dancers do their own thing. Their hair is all over the place, they wear street clothes: baggy pants, oversized sweats, hats, trendy tee shirts and whatever jewelry that expresses their current mood.
Studio C. Simplicity rules.
Pink tights, black leotards, and their hair is worn neatly in ballet buns, absolutely no jewelry – end of story. This uniformity establishes a professional image for the studio. Additionally, it's a way to sublimate family income.
Mirrors used for correcting technique and not for comparing outfits create a more relaxed experienced as students have one less distraction. The focus is on dance and not on maintaining standards set by other students.