Why is my kid in the back row – dealing with dance disappointment.

There are so many things a crazy dance mum can get frustrated about. Why is my kid in the back row? Why wasn’t my dancer chosen for that troupe, why is that girl getting her pointe shoes and mine isn’t, why is that child competing in two age groups and mine is being held back or why is my child in the back row? What can you do about it – shoot off an email, make a phone call, vent to the other mums, think about volunteering at the dance school to try and curry some favor? Before you do any of these things, consider the following

There are so many considerations for where a child is placed in a dance competition routine. First and foremost, a dance group is a team and just like any other team, every member has a role.  Kids are chosen for the front row for a variety of reasons such as reliability, performance skills, and timing  There might be a child in the group who has excellent technical ability, a great face, but when they get on stage, with all the adrenaline, they race the music.  This type of child might be perfect for the center of the second row when they have someone to follow but no good for the front where they will mess up the timing for the whole group  Some children get super nervous and perform so much better when there is someone to follow  Dance teachers know these things and will try to take these kinds of factors into account when spacing a troupe

Often, your child’s position in the troupe depends on their skill level  If the choreography demands 5 people doing a left side aerial and your child has this skill, they will be on the left side in the formation required. This may mean they are in the back left corner for the whole  dance break leading up to the aerial section.  Similarly, patterning often relies on height.  It can be frustrating for the taller child who is always at the back or the smaller child who is always on the end of the line but, again, it comes back to being part of a team

Work ethic in class can also play a role in troupe placement.  If a student has been working super hard in class, applying all their corrections, and making great progress, the reward might be a front-row billing.

There are also times when your child is in the back row because at that moment in time, they just aren’t as good as the front row kids  Maybe they are younger, at a different stage in their development, maybe they have less experience than the other team members or maybe, at this point in time they just aren’t up to the level of some of the other kids. They may have physical issues like limited turnout or hypermobility to overcome. Does this mean they will never catch up? Certainly not! Lisa Curry Kenny, a dance mum whose daughter switched from gymnastics to dance sums up this situation perfectly. She notes that when her daughter swapped from gymnastics to dance she wondered why she was always in the back row.

“When she finished gymnastics and started dancing, she would often ask me why she was always up the back of the group. I explained to her that it was because she was tall, but the more I watched her eisteddfods, the more I realized that it wasn’t necessarily because she was tall, it was because other more experienced dancers were better, more precise, and refined. They really did deserve to be there.

I remember one day telling Morgan if she wanted to dance in the front line, she would have to work harder.. Everyday.”

You can read the rest of the post here.

So what can you do as a crazy dance momma to cope with back row disappointment?

  1. First, ask yourself, is the disappointment your’s or theirs. Kids often know where they stand in terms of class.  They know that they aren’t as flexible as some of the others or that they can’t jump as well. They know why they are in a certain spot on the stage and understand and deal with it. However, when you let them know that their position on the stage is important to YOU, they start to feel like they’ve failed. This, again relate so back to mindsets. Rather than thinking, ‘hey, I’ll really work on my flexibility so I can be as good as those girls’, they start to think, I’ve failed, I can’t succeed, it’s not worth trying, My teacher hates me. 
  2. Encourage your child to set goals. Here is a great goal tracker worksheet to help you with this. Helping your child to learn how to set goals is not only great for dancing but sets them up with a lifelong skill to help them to achieve success.  Talk to them about what their big goal is and then start to talk about what smaller steps they can take to achieve this goal.  So, for example, their big goal might be to be the best dancer they can be.  One of the smaller steps to achieve this might be to improve their flexibility.  Narrowing this down again, they might decide to work on their splits and back flexibility.  From there you can help them to decide on some concrete steps they can take.  For example, they might decide to do the stretching routine they do in class 4 times a week at home. Helping your child to set goals in this way, helps with short-term motivation.  As your child sees improvement they gain more self-confidence and become more motivated to keep working towards the next goal. Enter your email address below to download a great goal sheet.
    1. Encourage your child to use their spare studio time to work on their goals.  Your child is probably at the studio A LOT.  Much of the time they will be busy with classes etc but there might sometimes be moments when they could put their time to good use, such as stretching before class.  Sometimes during rehearsals, there is are times when they may not be involved in what the teacher is working on.  This is a great time to do a bit of extra stretching.   All this extra work, will not go unnoticed by their teacher, an added bonus.
    2. Encourage your child to practice at home, help them to work on their corrections. You can read more about that here. Encourage them to talk to their teacher to find out if there is anything they recommend. They might suggest some exercises to do at home, some additional classes, private lessons.
    3. Stand with the teacher.  In the same way, as a child may yet be equipped to understand that being corrected and being picked on and singled out are not the same thing, they also need time to understand the process of where they are position in a certain dance works. If your child comes home upset about being in the back row or not being included in a certain part of the dance, let them air their grievance but then help them to understand that the teacher doesn’t in fact hate them or think they are a terrible dancer, but rather reiterate that they are playing an important role by being part of the team.  Talk to them about what they think they could do to improve, help them make a plan to achieve this.
    4. Finally, don’t make a big deal about where they are positioned in a dance.  Celebrate them being a member of the team, rejoice in their enjoyment of their competition or performance pieces.  The lessons learned in the dance studio and on the stage are so much greater than whether you are in the front row.  Enjoy the ride and your dancer will take away skills that will make






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