We’ve all heard the story- a goldfish will only grow as large as the bowl that it lives in will allow.
A few concerned parents have asked me recently about placement levels for their dancing children. Some really seem to want to push their kids into the highest possible level, age restrictions or current ability be damned. Others take a more hesitant approach. So which is the better talent pool for these little guppies to swim around in; the higher level where they will likely not be one of the better ones in class or a slower, lower level?
I think it all chalks up to personality. I personally was almost always the youngest in dance classes growing up, which was definitely the right choice for me. Being surrounded by other dancers that were better gave me an example to live up to, made me fight harder for attention and to keep up, and helped me develop observational skills, adaptability, and forced confidence. But I am also pig-headed, stubborn, competitive, and probably always had the (perhaps undeserved) notion that I had the capability within me to match my superiors. When I noticed that I was far from the best it made me dig in my heels and work harder. I’ve seen other students that notice their own weaknesses and feel defeated, which is never the goal. I think that dancing should always be a challenge but a positive one where individuals can feel progression, accomplishment, fun, and growth.
I wish all parents would understand that level placement is so much more than ability; It is about the best possible environment for every individual’s training as a technician, artist, and empowered human. Dance is, the higher you go, a competitive, comparative environment which some find daunting. The ones strongest in nature will find it inspiring.
Always aspiring to beauty- I love the ‘Lean With It’ series by Chicago photographer Paul Octavius. Now that’s adaptability!