The PROFESSIONAL Staff at Ultimate Dance Florida is extremely careful and dedicated to choosing the correct class level and placement for each student. It is very important to remember that all students are individuals with very different talents, skills, and ability levels and they will not all progress at the same rate. In maintaining a high quality of dance and music education, it is therefore sometimes impossible to keep the same students together in a class year after year. Many students may need extra help and a slightly slower pace to help them master new skills that may come easily to others. This is carefully considered when placing students in a class. The most important thing is that the student "enjoys" the class and "feels comfortable" in it and is "happy". A "happy" learning environment is sure to yield progress.
Remember, it is very common to see two children of the same age and with the
same number of years of dance or music training with extremely different capabilities.
Ultimate Dance Florida is a very progressive school and all of our classes are challenging in different ways.
We know this is a very "wordy" document, but for philosphy concerning our studio, please read it!
1. PLEASE DO NOT BE A "COMPETITIVE" PARENT and want your child in a certain class because you think it's more advanced or a "harder" class. Class placement is the teacher's/director's decision. After all, that's what he/she is trained to do. We cannot stress enough that since every child is not equally talented, they cannot all show the same progress rate. In addition, dance teachers know from experience that some children progress faster as part of the "top half" of a class, while others progress faster in the "bottom/younger/newer" half of a class. Unlike academics, where progress can sometimes be measured with a score or a grade, dance progress cannot be measured as simply. There are many factors that cannot be judged by the untrained eye - flexibility, natural ability for movement, the speed at which a dancer picks up choreography, his/her ear for music & beat, his/her performance quality, command of a room or stage, and also the actual skill level & step vocabulary he/she posesses. Many students "know" many steps, but do not yet have the technique or musicality to execute them with style, which is key in dance. (In other words, we don't just move dancers "up" because they "know" or "can do the step," but base our choices as much if not more on the quality of how it is done - whether it can be done in combination, with style, and with control.) These are the things that make dance an art, not just a sport.
2. BEWARE OF BECOMING THE CLASSIC "STAGE MOTHER" or "STAGE FATHER" who pushes her children beyond their capabilities just to be able to talk about the "difficult" classes that they are taking or how "advanced" their children are. Children of these types of parents usually become so frustrated with their dancing that they "quit" and never realize that dancing is supposed to be "fun". These children almost always perceive themselves as "failures" because they can never live up to their parents "impossible" expectations for them. What a shame - dance builds grace, confidence, posture and balance, and is a lot of fun - not every child who dances for a year or fifteen years will become a professional, but the memories & benefits last a lifetime!
3. ATTENTION NEW STUDENTS AND PARENTS Please beware of using phrases like, "my child has had x number of years of training at x School of Dance and was in their most advanced classes. Therefore, she should be in your most advanced classes too!" This may or may not be true. There is no certification required in this country to open a dance school and because of this, the training of our Nation's teachers ranges from excellent to horrible. Ultimate Dance and Music has established itself as an institution of "excellence in the performing arts" and is recognized nationally as such. Annette Alvarez-Gutches is certified by both Dance Masters of America and Florida Dance Masters, the largest and most prestigious dance teacher organizations in the United States. The entire staff teaches from their many years of dance and music experience and performance training. Many are members of professional performing arts organizations as well. Please give the Director and teachers the opportunity to observe your child in classes, so that he or she may be placed at the proper working level, and understand that placement can change throughout a season.
4. PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT The teacher’s judgement must be respected first and foremost. It is normal for every parent to view his or her child as "the best dancer in the class", but remember, the teacher is looking at your child through trained, expert eyes. If your teacher's judgement is not respected in all areas of your child's dance training, your child should not be studying with him or her!
5. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS The number of times a student studies per week, and his/her attendance may also have an important influence on how quickly he or she progresses. For instance, a student who has studied jazz dancing for five years on a once a week basis may find himself/herself in a class with a student who has studied jazz for only one or two years but has also been taking ballet and tap classes. Naturally, the second student has been dancing more intensively and this will tend to speed up progress. On the other hand, there are limits to how many classes dancers should take. Even with intensive- level dancers who push their bodies to accomplish many difficult skills, it is important to have AT LEAST two free days during the week with no classes to avoid physical and/or psychological burnout or injury. We sometimes find that many students who have taken ballet for several years are usually able to work at a higher level in tap and jazz than those that have had little or no ballet training. This is because ballet encompasses all the fundamentals of dance movement.
6. SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES Ultimate Dance and Music prides itself on having a "friendly" and "family-like" atmosphere with enough strong dancers & teachers to help each dancer develop into the best that he or she can and wants to be. From time to time, our teachers must make decisions whereby certain students are chosen for solos, competition groups, special parts or special auditions. These decisions are not easily made and are thought out carefully. The parents and teachers must work together to help students understand that not all students can be chosen for all things. When the teachers think that a particular student is ready for a certain endeavor, the parents will be informed. We want our students to be "happy for" and not "jealous of" each other. It is our intention to teach the students to learn from each other and to be motivated by each other. We at Ultimate Dance and Music sincerely try to give as many students as are ready, "special dance experiences". Again we stress - all students are not equally talented, but there is always a place for dancers of all levels!
7. ABOUT THE POWERHOUSE DANCE TEAM In the past twenty five years, the dance world has changed immensely. Dance competitions and conventions have become a major force in the dance world, and we feel (along with America’s other top schools) that when handled correctly without undue pressure, competitions are a fun and exciting way for the dancers to show off their abilities and hard work, to be educated by seeing other top-level students, and to become friends with well-known teachers, performers, and choreographers.
The Team provides this opportunity for students (ages 5-18) who wish to take part in an accelerated program of study, and also perform locally and compete regionally and nationally. New members are selected each summer through our audition process and receive written invitations to join. Those who accept then participate in Summer Training/Dance Intensive, study all forms of dance for up to ten hours a week during the dance year, and also work on choreography, putting together the innovative and precise routines that they have become known for in preparation for performances and competitions.
In just a few years, the Team have earned a reputation as one of the top "competition teams" in the area, winning praise from top professionals and other teachers for our technique, performance quality, costumes, and choreography. Just as important is the recognition we have received for our "age-appropriate" dances and for having the "best sportmanship", truly happy for all the dancers they compete with and against!
That being said, we consider the Team as a group of DANCERS that compete - not as a "competition team." They are prepared throughout their time with us for all that a future dance career may bring their way, and we have many master teachers & choreographers, coaches, and alternative activities & classes that help us accomplish this, in addition to the Team's Director Miss Annette, who is constantly on the lookout for new music, costuming, training methods, and experiences for her dancers. There is always something new around the corner for these dancers at our studio- and the preparedness and flexibility that develops in them is the #1 skill needed for being a future professional!
Being a Team dancer is NOT automatic after a certain number of years of dancing. Instead, it is based on evidence of natural dance potential, hard work and concentration in class, a good attitude towards correction and towards classmates, and a high level of family support as evidenced by near-perfect attendance, little or no tardiness, and on-time tuition payments. These elements are crucial to succeeding as an individual Team member and for the overall success of the Team.
Auditions to join or continue in the Team held every summer and Orientation Meetings are attended by all prospective members and parents. EVERY Team dancer MUST participate in a mandatory Summer Dance classes and Intensive.
Each year, several students with extensive dance backgrounds join our studio. It is critical that parents of such dancers contact us in June or even earlier so we can evaluate their potential for the Team and orient them to the rules and responsibilities of being a Team member! We are proud to be very different from all of the other schools in the area.
8. CONCLUSION. We encourage all of our students to work hard to become the best dancers that they can be, but they must work at a level which is suitable for them. Many students are easily discouraged when they are placed in too difficult a class. We want dance to be a happy and glorious experience for each student.
REMEMBER, GOOD DANCE TRAINING IS BASED ON TRUST IN THE TEACHER THAT HE/SHE ALWAYS HAS THE STUDENT'S BEST INTEREST AT HEART, AND THAT IS OUR #1 PRIORTY HERE AT ULTIMATE DANCE and MUSIC!