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.
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.