Dance Coach Life "Not for Everyone!"
Updated: Jul 30, 2018
So you want to be a Dance Coach? Maybe open up your own Dance Studio? Decided teaching is where it's at for you? What about Drill Team? Do you think you got what it takes to be a decent Dance Team Coach for your local school? Well it's not as easy as it looks. It's not just about shaking those pom poms on the football field for 2 minutes during halftime. Everyone thinks "OH THAT LOOKS EASY!" Anyone could be a Dance Coach and for some school's and small towns seeing their 14 year old in a cute dance team costume with glitter and a bow shaking their hips for 36 counts is all it takes to be an amazing dance team and lead by an even more spectacular dance coach.
I got news for you honey! YOU ARE DEAD WRONG!
There is so much more involved in Coaching a Dance troupe, teaching a dance class or running a successful dance team. First and foremost do you even know what a Piroette is? How about a grand jete? Do you understand what the proper technique there needs to be in the hip alignments when teaching a legitimate kick line routine? Again another great fail I see time and time again in these small town schools with their sub par to very poorly skilled dance team programs. I cringe when I hear their coach yell out "Spin!" or when these girls attempt what should be a very clean long lined kick line that turns into a twisted out of hip placement and off timing hot mess of legs just swinging up into the air and bodies of sloppy arms leaning and hanging on each other like they just might slip with the next lift of the leg or foot off the ground.
Why does it get under my skin so much when I see a group of dancers on a football field attempting what they think is a Hip Hop routine and have done the Whip or Nae Nae for 32 counts? What about those even more cringy dance coaches that allow their girls to booty pop or twerk to the crowd for some raunchy dance screams from the audience that don't take into affect that is by no means a technical step in the culture of Hip Hop dance training. That is club dancing or what I like to call "NASTY" Dancing. No one wants to watch a bunch of tweenagers get their booty on at a halftime show when I'm sitting next to grandpa Jones whose biggest move back in his day was the Twist!
Anybody can Dance. But it takes years of training, skills and education to truly call yourself a Dancer. The same applies for a Dance Coach. Get your training or your nothing but a mom pretending to be a Dance Teacher. - Mickey Fridley
Why does this happen? In 95% of the cases I have found at these small town schools here in Kansas. The Cheerleading and dance programs are usually ran by moms of members or former members of their old schools when shaking a pair of poms and knowing what a herkie jump was the greatest task to be accomplished to make the team.
No disrespect to those parents who are taking on those roles just so their kids can have a program at their small town schools; but come'on people! There are hundreds if not thousands of videos available on the internet know on how to teach dancers to do a proper kick. If your a make shift dance coach by circumstances not by skills, then do your diligence as a coach put the extra man hours into finding reliable Dance Teachers to teach your dancers routines to perform at their halftime shows. Find camps, clinics, workshops for your dancers to attend so that they can find ways to learn proper skills for dancing. Contact a local college team and pay a dance member to come out to your school for a clinic. There are many ways in which to really be a Dance Coach not just pretend to be one!
When selecting your music for your dancers to perform please by God's good mercy PLEASE READ THE LYRICS BEFORE YOU LET THEM BLAST THE SONG CHOICE THROUGH THE SPEAKERS AT A FAMILY CROWD EVENT! Be sure you understand that "Licking the Lolipop" refers to an actual lolipop candy stick and not some other dirty intention! If you are concerned or it makes you question the song the team presents to you - it's probably best you just don't even risk it. Suggestions from my experience use classic oldies to get the crowd involved and safety in knowing that it's not going to have any dirty hidden agendas behind those lyrical meanings.
COSTUMES! Oh my lord can someone please educate these so called Dance Coaches on what proper costuming should be! I'm so sick and tired of seeing an 8 year olds' or 15 year old's "NO NO PLACES" in their raunchy crotch shot dance costumes. I am not comfortable when I see girls who are clearly over weight cramming themselves into something that gives them an obvious mushroom muffin top look. I really don't have a desire to watch another routine with girls camel toes staring me in the face. If it's not going to be attractive for everyone on the team to wear then that's not the costume for your TEAM! AND FOR THE LOVE OF MERCY WILL YOU PLEASE PUT ON A PAIR OF DANCE TIGHTS IF YOUR GOING TO WEAR A DRESS OF ANY KIND! I'm so tired of looking at old softball scars, bumps, bruises and cellulite jiggle around for the world to see.
MAKEUP! MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS WILL SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW TOO AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE WEARING MAKEUP! So over the years I've noticed that Makeup is not a priority actually overall appearance as a whole has dropped by the waste side when it comes to giving a great DANCE TEAM PRESENCE! when taking the field so to speak. What the heck?! Do you not realize how washed out your dancers faces look under those stadium or gymnasium lights? They clearly need to learn to use a blush brush and the importance of lipstick is to actually see that your dancers have smiles on their face. The darker the shade of lipstick the better you can see those sparkly faces shine for everyone to see! So sorry pink or pale lip gloss doesn't really do the trick. Now their is much debate on what you should do with the eyes? For myself I guess you can call me old school but I demand that any dancer that has ever danced for me in the 20 plus years I've coached never take the stage, field or the floor without wearing a pair of false eyelashes. I live and die by them. THE BIGGER THE BETTER. Why? For me it's a theatrical thing. I love expressions. I'm a performance based coach. I love dancers who give lots of energy, expressions and performance attacks then those that simply hold their arms up for sets of 8 counts in T motions without one wink or smile or even a tiny smirk. BORING! YOU MAKE DANCE SEEM MISERABLE AND YOU LOOK AWFUL without a little pizazz on your face to highlight and brighten those beautiful expressions. So if your an expressionless team with no performance skills whats so ever then I guess makeup would be a bad idea as it would just highlight those awful and weak performance facials that are non existent anyway.
Finally to those Dance Team Coaches that let their school dancers do whatever they feel like with their hair let me remind you that in almost every state in the nation there are know legal standards for SPIRIT SQUADS and what their hair should be on the field! Make sure you read those standards and abide by them. Not only does it give your team a clean uniformed look it also gives you better lines when doing your dances especially if their are head nods or taps in the routine . (And if you have no idea what I'm talking about again - DO SOME EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH - TAKE A CLASS OR WATCH A VIDEO you will only benefit your team and be a better coach if you humble yourself to learn what a real dance coach already knows!)
Okay so you got the basics on what you think a dance coach is by figuring out what not to do and what to do on just your training, performing and general presentation of your squad on the dance floor. Well that ain't nothing compared to what I'm about to talk about what it takes to be a real Dance Coach next....
PARENT RELATIONSHIPS - Do you even know all your parents by name? How about your personal relationship in being able to say to your dance parents "HEY SALLY JO IS DOING AN EXCELLENT JOB IN DANCE BUT IF SHE WANTS A COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP SHE MIGHT WANT TO WORK ON THOSE PONCHE'S AND FUETE TURNS IN SECOND."....
(Once again do you even know what I'm talking about? KNOWLEDGE IS POWER YALL!)
Part of any dance coaches job is making sure you take the time to get to know not just your dancers but their parents as well. Heck their the ones footing the bill plus, their the ones allowing their children to take away time from their school work, other sports and family activities to spend time with you. So you better make sure that time is spent wisely and productively. NO DANCER WILL EVER MAKE A SCHOLARSHIP AT A COLLEGE UNLESS THEY KNOW THE BARE MINIMUM BASICS IN BALLET, JAZZ & HIP HOP TECHINIQUE PERIOD. Pom Pom is not a required skill it's a prop used for a jazz routine that focuses on turns and leaps not the angles in which a pom pom is shaken.
(Gosh! I sound pretty crusty on this subject. Sorry. I just get tired of seeing potential dancers waste their talents away on some stupid school program when in just one year I could have given them the skills they needed to where after they graduated they weren't slaving away at burger king to pay for their tuition they would be dancing for their tuition. Just saying. You get what you give and if your dance coach can't give your dancer the skills they need to even make a junior college team then what the heck are you doing as a parent letting them waste your child's time just so they can look cute for 2 minutes once a week at a halftime show?!?)
We are obligated as any coach to train your athletes with the skills they need to move forward in life. It's no different than History, English or Math teacher. If you don't know how to read and write then how can you pay your bills? Same applies for our jobs as dance coaches. Every year we set up a game plan with ALL OUR JUNIOR LEVEL DANCERS - asking them if they would like to dance in college? Would they be interested in attending a workshop or two for some pre-professional training if they wanted to audition to be a dancer on a cruise ship or at a Theme park like Disneyworld? If you don't even know how to prepare them for a college dance scholarship then why are you even giving these kids and parents false hopes of knowing what your doing as a dance coach! AGAIN DO YOUR RESEARCH! IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBLITY AS A COACH TO KNOW THAT SOME OF YOUR DANCERS DON'T HAVE THE ATHLETIC SKILL TO GET A SCHOLARSHIP TO COLLEGE IN BASKETBALL AND DANCE MIGHT BE THEIR ONLY TICKET TO AFFORD COLLEGE - SO WHY NOT TRAIN YOURSELF SO THAT YOU CAN BE A BETTER ASSET TO KIDS WHO USE DANCE AS THEIR TICKET OUT OF THEIR SMALL TOWNS?!? You all offend me when you belittle cheerleading and dance teams in these small towns as a mediocre oh just look at me I'm pretty and popular meaning then actually giving these kids skills necessary to be competitive for a college future.
(DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON WHY SOME HS DANCE TEAMS REFUSE TO COMPETE!)
ANOTHER INSANITY I DON'T GET! TOTALLY ONCE AGAIN PREPARING YOUR DANCERS FOR NOT HAVING SNOWBALL CHANCE IN HATIES IN GETTING THAT COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP!
So you still think because you liked the latest Missy Elliot Music Video dance moves you got what it takes to actually take on a position let alone a title of being a DANCE COACH. Then you best be getting your dance training on! Get to your local studios and figure out what a paus due barre is before you pick up that first pom pom! And remember even if you have all the training in the world as a dancer that still doesn't make you know what it means to be a real coach or dance teacher. It's got to come from your gut, from your soul that you are in the long haul for each and everyone of your dancers. From the kid who can barely excute a tandu or rise on releve to the one doing a quad of leg spins - you have to commit yourself to every dancer and their future in what your educating them. Stop picking your favorites or just giving up when your team doesn't win every national championship title they go for. IT'S ABOUT WHAT YOUR TEACHING THOSE DANCERS ON AND OFF THAT FLOOR - It's not about looking cute for the most popular boy at school during a pep rally routine - it's about knowing it took me a month to figure out how to land a proper spinning disc! Be a coach of hearts, minds, spirits for each dancer you coach and give them the tools it takes to succeed for real - not for pretend. And you parents that let your kids waste their time just looking cute for 2 minutes on the football field - SHAME ON YOU! You wouldn't let your son waste his time with a football coach that never had been tackled before or knows what a touch back means - why wouldn't you expect the same of your daughters on their dance teams and of their coaches? IT'S TIME WE ALL DEMAND AND DESERVE TO BE TREATED THE SAME ON THAT FIELD AS THE ATHLETES ARE - WHERE ARE THE ALL COUNTY AND ALL STATE LISTINGS FOR OUR DANCE TEAMS AND CHEERLEADING SQUADS? Yea... It's a trickle down effect. If you think we're just a bunch of tutu twirling pretty girls to entertain us during halftime like we did back in the 70's then we will never get the respect we deserve and many a potential dancer spent 4 years twirling around to look pretty. Pretty pitiful!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT .... Now take a bite and do your jobs! Or get off my dance floor!