It is SO exciting to get into warmer weather, and look forward to the summer and next year! A big part of this planning is recommending classes and getting evaluations ready for families. Please read this post for behind-the-scenes information about our recommendation and evaluation process.
Our instructors at The Pointe have done an incredible job preparing thoughtful evaluations and recommendations for each student! We are dedicated to helping every student be successful, reach their unique goals, and ensure that they get the most out of their dance journey. It has been an amazing year of growth and progress for our students so far, and we could not be more proud of their accomplishments.
Which classes get recommendations – and how do we get them?
Graded Technique classes have recommendations emailed home on March 12. These are classes with the level listed right after the genre (Ballet 1, Jazz 3, Tap 4, etc). Beginning Ballet, Tap, and Jazz will also receive evaluations by email. Dance & Discover students progress by age until first grade. All-Boys Hip Hop dancers progress in those classes by age as well.
The Pointe’s Unique Evaluation Process
Our faculty and staff are dedicated to utilizing a trusted curriculum and evaluation system. These elements set our dance studio apart from the rest. We use one of the most detailed evaluation reports in our industry, because we know that students and parents value feedback. By giving as much information to students and parents as possible, we partner together to help our students achieve their unique goals.
Dancers in Graded Technique classes also received midyear evaluations, and those in Level 4+ also were invited to participate in a self-evaluation that was also reviewed by their teachers. While our spring evaluations are the most detailed written feedback that goes home, they include pieces of feedback that have been given throughout classes and in those earlier evaluations this year.
Every instructor fills out an evaluation form for each class using our syllabus for each level. The evaluation forms have three sections: Attitude/Attendance, General Technique, and Key Skills. Each item receives a 1 for a new skill/needs work, 2 for developing skill, and 3 for a mastered or completed skill.
The attitude section includes attendance, work ethic, listening, showing respect to other dancers and the instructor, etc. The technique section covers fundamentals of that dance style (for example, in ballet: straight knees, pointed feet, tall posture, and musicality). The third section covers specific skills to that class level (for example, a key skill in Ballet 3 is a double pirouette). Following these, teachers write comments and their recommendations for classes for the next season. Our teachers really pour their hearts into these recommendations and truly want nothing but success for each and every individual student.
Dance skills are unique to evaluate because there are several elements to consider when evaluating if a dancer has achieved mastery of the skill. For example, in basketball, while there is a best practice for shooting form, ultimately if the ball makes it through the hoop, the team gets points. Dance just doesn’t operate the same way: in a pirouette, simply picking up the leg and making a rotation is not all that it takes! To successfully perform a pirouette, dancers must start from the correct preparation position, quickly rise to a straight knee and high relevé on the standing leg while bringing the working leg to a lifted and turned-out passé position (with pointed, not sickled foot), pulling the second arm into first position, holding tall posture by engaging the core, and quickly “spotting” with the head, then landing smoothly with control into the correct landing position. Any elements missing here impact a dancer’s ability to have “mastered” a skill. The details make dance so beautiful and breathtaking to watch – and difficult to achieve mastery! Professional dancers still consider themselves “working on” the basics – plié, tendu, etc.
One goal of our instructors is for students to know objectively how they are progressing. Students take written feedback to heart when it’s sometimes easy to forget feedback given during classes.
Tips for Parents to Make Evaluations Positive
Parents, please remember that most students spend at least two years in every Graded Technique level. Sometimes, dancers who have progressed quickly through the early levels catch up to that average of two years in levels later on. Every dancer’s journey is completely unique. Your dancer may not progress at the same rate as their friends or classmates, and that’s OK!
We email recommendations home because we know that dancers (and, therefore, their parents) may have an emotional reaction. I remember going through exciting audition or evaluation results as a kid (often as a list taped up on the wall!) and wanting to yell with excitement, but knowing that wasn’t appropriate. I also remember getting disappointing results and wanting to cry, but not wanting to cry around my friends. It was so awkward! We want to be sure students are able to process those feelings at home with you.
We hope these evaluations serve as practice for kids to handle both exciting news and disappointments with grace. Class placement may seem hugely important right now, but in a dancer’s career, placement for one year does not make a huge impact. All of our advanced dancers have had disappointing recommendation or audition results, and they grew to the next level of skill and passion after working through that. This can equip kids with strength and the ability to have a difficult conversation that will be an asset to them throughout their life! Managing disappointments is a life skill that can only be learned through experience. Dance class recommendations are a safe and healthy opportunity to practice that skill.
Navigating Disappointment (I’ve been there, too!)
I felt so defeated when I made the “C Team” in middle school basketball. That was the lowest team, my friends made the “A Team”, and I cried. I cried a LOT. In fact, I wanted to quit when I saw the team lists posted. My parents reassured me that the mission in basketball (or any activity) is being a part of a team, improving my skills, and the name of the team doesn’t impact that mission. After SO MANY tears, I reluctantly continued and one week later, the name of my team didn’t matter anymore. Because of my placement, I was able to score several points in our “C Team” games. I realized when watching the “A Team” that I NEVER would have had the chance to get off the bench during games – or if I did, I wouldn’t have been set up to succeed.
Later, I realized that my expectation to play at the same level as my friends who had been playing basketball competitively for years wasn’t fair. I was a just-for-fun, sometimes-play-basketball-outside-with-friends player. There is NOTHING wrong with that – but it wasn’t fair of me to expect to shoot and block as well as my friends who put in the hours of practice. In dance, students who take more classes will progress through the curriculum more quickly than those who take fewer classes. That’s completely okay! We LOVE the fact that our studio has a great place for dancers at every commitment level – from one class a week to dancing almost every day. Because our Graded Technique classes are set up to progress by skill, dancers may find themselves in a wider age range and having a different journey through the curriculum than their friends who have a different commitment level.
Ask any advanced dancer at the studio or any teacher – we’ve all been there (most of us more than once). Just personally, in addition to being placed in the bottom 8th grade basketball team, I’ve had disappointing audition or placement results in the dance studio, at dance competitions, in middle and high school show choir, middle and high school theatre, my college dance program, scholarship applications, and professional opportunities. Looking back, I am thankful for the disappointments I faced growing up – they taught me how to manage disappointment, decide what’s most important, and move forward towards my goals. I certainly had some big (huge) emotional reactions at the time – but now, I’ve built a muscle for navigating disappointments that serves me well as a teacher and business owner, I expect it will serve me well as a parent, too.
All of our teaching staff shares one goal: the success of each and every student. Our recommendations for each student will help them be successful in dance.
Next Steps: After Reading the Evaluations
If you or your dancer has a question about their recommendation, please have them ask their teacher when we return from spring break! Written or typed comments about movement quality can be hard to understand. If your student needs some clarification on their comments or evaluations, we’re happy to help! Learning to ask for feedback is a great skill to have in a career. This provides a safe opportunity to practice and develop that skill.
If your dancer feels disappointed by their evaluation, encourage them to turn that into fuel. Some private lessons or doubling up on a class for the summer and extra practice on specific skills at home can change a recommendation! Ask your instructor for their guidance and help in planning. These evaluations show recommendations based on performance today. With a focused plan and some extra work, they can change! A conversation with your instructor can equip your dancer with the knowledge they need to meet the requirements for the next level.
We know that channeling your emotions (and your dancer’s emotions) into a fiery email can be a first instinct – and we kindly ask parents to step back, remember that your dance teachers are people who love your kids and want the best for them, and wait until emotions have cooled down before sending any communication. Our staff will be on spring break and away from their studio email – we suggest waiting until the studio reopens on March 19 to ask any questions. Instructors are happy to explain comments to their students at the next class!
Register for Summer and the New Season!
We will post the 2022-2023 schedule soon, and begin automatic re-enrollment to be sure our families get a spot in the class times that work the best for their schedules. Summer registration for classes and camps is open NOW – the best thing a dancer can do to reach their goals is to keep dancing!
We are so thankful for you and your dancer. We can work together to make this evaluation process a positive one! Instructors would be happy to make a plan with your dancer to help them reach their goals and will be there to help after we return from spring break.
Check out these new flyers with more information about class recommendations, dance genres, and some FAQ’s.