GCD: Management – Dance Company

Dance Company


I have been a part of the YIS High School Dance Company for 4 years now and helping manage the club has been my favourite and most rewarding experience in my high school career. Being the member with the longest experience in dance meant that I got to manage a lot of things in the group like choreographies, costuming and signing the group up for school events.

After our very first dance teacher left the school 2 years ago, Dance Company began losing a lot of members and the club itself began falling apart. We had no systematic way of organising choreographies and performances and we had no one to help us brush up our techniques, so it was really important that there was someone in charge of managing the group. I never really enjoyed or felt confident being in control of things or people but dance company was a different story – when I first began to realise that the club was falling apart, I was determined to do something about it. It upset me to see a club that meant the absolute world to me slowly disappearing, so I began to organise practice schedules, choreographed a few numbers for school events, led warm-ups as well as helped recruit more members. 

Choreographing

This was without a doubt my favorite part of managing the club 🙂 I love being involved in the creative process like choosing the music, coming up with a storyline to go with the dance, and organising costumes for the performance.  I’ve had a handful of experience in choreographing before joining dance company so ideas often came naturally to my head and it never felt so much like “work”.

Working on choreography after class:

But as much as I loved choreographing, it was not easy and definitely not something that could be done in 24 hours – I had to keep in mind that every dancer had their strong and weak areas and make sure I wasn’t including turns and leaps that not everyone could do. I also had to make sure that everyone enjoyed and liked my product. Before every class, I filmed myself dancing each section of the choreography at home or after school in the dance studio, sent it to everyone through a group chat on Facebook and asked for their opinions. It wasn’t often that my ideas were rejected but there were a few times people didn’t like what I made and that was ok 🙂 I made sure to take criticism on board to choreograph a dance routine that everyone enjoyed and appreciated.

Costuming / organising performances

Costuming is an important part of dance because it brings unity and they help deliver a story, much like in theatre. Organising the costumes meant that I had to work with a certain budget and be responsible. Despite my attempts trying to convince the school to help us financially like they do with sport uniforms, we could not receive any outside-help. Sometimes, I could get away with finding stuff in my closet and lending them to my peers but other times, we had to buy costumes online. Because I had to spend my own money on them, I had to be very careful with how much I spent so I needed a way to track my expenses. I demonstrated responsibility and organisational skills by recording my spendings in my diary.

When things got tough…

Whilst managing the club, I’ve encountered some sticky situations like having to confront my friends when they weren’t practicing full-out or having to tell an injured member that she would have to sit out a performance. It was even harder to avoid conflicts like this when some of the members of the club were also my classmates and friends. I knew that I had to treat everyone the same but it was much easier to correct someone who I’d never talked to than my friends. But I knew that I couldn’t ignore the things that needed to be fixed and that if I didn’t complete my responsibilities with integrity and dedication, it was going to be a reflection on not only myself but also our performance and ultimately, the entire group.

I eventually overcame conflicts like this by learning to correct my peers with respect. If a dancer’s timing was repeatedly off during practice, instead of correcting her in front of everyone, I made sure to pull her aside for some one-on-one practice.

Managing the club also required dedication. I constantly had to focus on the big picture – doing what’s best for Dance Company – even on my worst days. After a few weeks of managing choreographies and teaching, I’ve learnt that it’s always the person leading the group that sets the tone and standard for every practice. This meant that even if I arrived to the studio after my worst exam, I had to leave my tears at the door and begin teaching like nothing happened. It was really difficult at first to learn to separate the dance club from everything else that was going on in my life and sometimes I wanted to quit but my passion for dance allowed me to recover in time and to realise how important it was for there to be someone to manage the group. After all, being a part of Dance Company means the world to me and I would hate for the club to fall apart again.

I am very proud of my achievements as a member of the dance company and I feel as though I have done my very best to ensure the team’s success at every occasion.

GCD: Leadership

I Believe in Animal Rights.


Ever since witnessing the  conditions of animal shelters here in Japan, I’ve been determined to make regular visits and encourage adoption amongst my peers.

During my transition from middle school to high school, one thing I looked forward to the most was joining the Animal Relief Club. I couldn’t wait to work with people that truly cared about animal welfare as much as I did and having been involved in a few projects concerning animal welfare in the past, I felt like I had a lot to offer to the group.

Earlier in 2016, I submitted a proposal regarding a leadership role that I wanted to take in the group and starting October, I became one of the leaders of the Animal Relief Club.

Why I led the group:

For many years, ARC was limited to focussing on helping animals locally (i.e: homeless dogs) and although this was understandable given that we were on a tight budget and there was very little we could do as a small group, I always wanted to contribute to something bigger like the promotion of animal welfare on a more global scale. Witnessing homeless dogs forced to live in the tiniest cages with collars caved into their neck was terrifying but what hurt more was the thought of millions of other animals in the world chained up in even poorer conditions.

Since taking on the leadership role, I made a list of things I wanted to achieve as a group and ticked them off as I completed them:

Proudest achievement
– My proudest achievement as a leader of ARC was educating my peers on issues concerning animal welfare. When I first joined the group, so much of the activities we did as ARC involved local shelters and homeless dogs and sometimes, it upset me a little that our service group was only known as “the group for walking dogs”. Before joining ARC, I was involved in a couple of animal welfare projects outside of school such as participating in an 8km marathon with Animal Rescue Chiba, and throughout my life, I have also been surrounded by a lot of people who care about animals, including my family. Therefore,  I had a lot of background knowledge on issues concerning animal rights before joining the group and the very first thing I wanted to do as a leader was share my experience with the group. Throughout our weekly meetings, I educated the group on issues like animal testing, factory farming, and introduced the group to organisations like Animal Rescue Chiba, Animal Refuge Kansai and World Associations of Zoos and Aquariums. As we became more knowledgeable about animal welfare outside of Japan and outside of dog shelters, we began to integrate more activities in the group like signing petitions and promoting cruelty-free brands at YIS.

– Another one of my proudest achievement was organising a “Lush Sale” at school to promote cruelty-free products. This was our very first event focussed on an issue outside of local shelters and I’m very proud that I could bring something new to the group, especially given how successful the event was.

What it means to be a leader:

Mastering the leadership role in ARC required lots of fear-conquering – as much as I loved the group and being part of it and supporting such a good cause, I couldn’t imagine myself standing up in front of the classroom every week. But conquering my fears every week was what also made the experience so much more meaningful and rewarding 🙂

  • Speaking – This was my biggest fear as a leader. When I first started leading the group, I always tried to avoid and work my way around anything that involved talking in front of everyone. I would show up to the classroom before anyone else could, write instructions on the whiteboard and just watch people follow through the instructions.  But eventually, I started feeling ashamed and embarrassed that as a leader and as someone who’s supposed to be actively engaged and be a role model for everyone else, I couldn’t even put in a bit of effort to stand up and talk. To conquer my fear of speaking in front of everyone, I began to use presentations to help me gain a little bit of confidence. I would write down instructions and goals for the meeting on a keynote presentation and project it on the whiteboard – this meant that the classroom lights had to be switched off for the presentation to be visible and this meant that I couldn’t really see the students’ face – this was probably one of the strategies that worked best for me because I realised that a lot of my fear of speaking came from having to make eye contact with the audience. Leading ARC not only helped me gain confidence in speaking but it also allowed me to speak more openly about my thoughts on animal welfare and I felt more personally-involved in the group 🙂 And I found myself becoming much more closer with other members of the group and this also meant that we got much more done during our meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Criticism – One of the biggest challenges of being a leader was being prepared for criticism and one of the most important skills I learnt through my experience with leading ARC was remaining calm and treating other members of the group with respect and understanding. Every meeting consisted of some kind of criticism and sometimes, they were hurtful and they affected my confidence a lot, but they were also what drove me to strive in the group and to accomplish great things – if I received criticism on a particular event proposal, I took the criticism on board to come up with even better ideas – this was how I also came up with the LUSH idea 🙂 

     

    Leading the Animal Relief Club was one of my most memorable experiences of service at YIS.