Ten Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Child’s Dance Teacher


Dancer : Maggie Carey
Photo by : Geek With a Lens

Okay, so I have written what dance teachers should never say to students and what students should never say to their dance teachers, so I guess this is the next progression.

The other day a colleague of mine turned to me and sighed, ‘If only all our students were orphans, this job would be so much easier.’  Well, I’m not sure about that, but it did get me thinking that this article was long overdue.

Yes, all these things have been said to me over the years.  When I was a young teacher, I would just stare in shock at these comments.  However, as I grew older and more confident in myself and my profession, I used them as teachable moments to explain to parents why these aren’t exactly appropriate to say to professional dance teachers.  I learned that most of the parents weren’t trying to be rude or offensive; they just didn’t know how their questions and comments sounded.

Do you have a real job?  Excuse me, but you did pay for your child to learn from me.  Teaching dance, or any art form for that matter, is a calling that all of us teachers take very seriously…for us it is a very real job.

I know I don’t know anything about dance, but….  Please, stop right there.  In fact, that’s usually when I hold my hand up.  That’s right you don’t know anything about dance which is why you pay a monthly tuition for me to teach your child.  If I say the child isn’t ready to be moved up a level, have pointe shoes, or dance that role, I am not saying that to be cruel or unfair.  I’m saying those things to keep your child safe and because I know what I’m doing.  If you don’t trust my expertise, judgment and that, just like you, I want what is best for your child, then you really should find another teacher that you deem more trustworthy.

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Broccolini with Garlic


  • 1.5 pounds broccolini
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped



  1. Trim broccolini of ends.
  2. Place stalks into a skillet and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add salt and reduce heat.
  3. Simmer broccolini 6 to 7 minutes, until tender and bright green. Drain the broccolini.
  4. Return empty skillet to stove over medium heat.  Add extra virgin olive oil to pan, then garlic. Cook garlic 2 to 3 minutes. Add broccolini to the pan and coat in garlic and oil then serve.


Buffalo Chicken Salad


  • 1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta plus 1/4 cup, divided (can be made with blue cheese as well, but I prefer feta)
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk (shake well)
  • 4 teaspoons red-wine vinegar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce (add more if you like spicy)
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped


  1. Combine 1/2 cup feta cheese in a small bowl with buttermilk, 2 teaspoons vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; mix well, mashing slightly with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in another bowl; sprinkle with flour and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper and toss until coated.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until just cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in hot sauce and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar and cook, stirring often, until the chicken is coated, about 1 minute.
  4. Combine lettuce, carrots, celery and cucumber in a large bowl; add the reserved dressing and toss to coat. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top each with an equal portion of chicken and 1 tablespoon each of the reserved feta cheese.

Encouraging Open Communication Between Dancers, Parents and Dance Instructors

Dancer : Maddie Welsh
Photo by : Geek With a Lens

Over my years of teaching for a variety of different studios and now co-owning my own, I have learned a lot of things. One of the most important things I have found is that good communication benefits everyone.  If there is a problem, how can it be addressed if it’s not communicated?  Ugly gossip, rumors and misinformation can occur when a parent or student asks a peer instead of coming directly to the teacher for answers.  As a teacher, one of my many jobs is to try to make myself approachable and to disseminate as much information as I can to my students and their parents about the dance world.  Here are some tools I use and things I encourage to make it easier for a dancer or parent to know where they stand as far as their progress goes and what they need to work on in order for them to be successful.

Check Lists.  At the beginning of every school year, I give each student a check list for their level that states clearly and concisely what they need to accomplish to be considered for advancement to the next level.  The check list also includes all ballet vocabulary and each term’s definitions that students need to know in order to advance.   Some of the things on the list are behavioral and some are technique based, but they are all important.  For Creative Movement, some of those things include: being able to separate from their parents, knowing not to hang on the barre, keeping their hands to themselves, demonstrating first and second position and skipping.   For advanced classes, some of those things include: being self-motivated, working on corrections without prompting, demonstrating coordination of upper and lower body including head movements, understanding that every step is important, the ability to reverse petite allegro quickly and performing well on the stage as well as in the classroom.  Every so often, a student will come to me with their check list and tell me they think they have accomplished everything on their list.  Most of the time, this is not the case, but it opens the conversation and gives us something concrete with which to discuss their progress and what they still need to achieve.

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Roasted Shrimp

2lbs of uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined


Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

  1. Preheat the oven for 400 degrees.
  2. Place shrimp on a sheet pan with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  3. Spread them out in a single layer and roast for 6 to 8 minutes until pink and cooked through.


These are amazing and so versatile!  You can add them to whole wheat or quinoa pasta with your favorite sauce, salads with vinaigrette or just eat them plain or on top of brown rice after squeezing some lemon juice over top.