Coaching and performing with a dance team can be a fun and rewarding experience. It can also be a lot of work, and can sometimes lead to conflict and problems if you or the team members forget to follow certain rules and guidelines. Start out on the right foot by following a few simple guidelines.
Establish the rules from the beginning. Have written rules and notices of what you expect from the team and what they can expect from you. Hand these rules out to each member and discuss them in an open meeting. Let all members voice an opinion, but stick firmly to the rules and regulations you have incorporated.
Be specific about team practices. Make sure that you are on time and expect the team to be, too, unless they have a good reason for being late or missing a practice. Practice sessions should not be overly long or the dancers will get burned out. Make the practice a fun, as well as a learning, experience.
Practice with the team. Never sit on the sidelines and bark orders. Dance coaches should be a part of the team, and should practice the routines right along with members. They learn the choreography by watching, so the coach should know every step and should be performing those steps in front of the team.
Stand in front of the team but facing away from them. Only attempt to teach 2 or 3 moves of a new routine at a time. Walk them slowly through those first few steps. Continue those steps until every member can do them in unison. Once that is accomplished, expand on the steps, adding a few at a time until everyone can do the entire routine.
Walk around the team as they practice, but only after they are comfortable doing the entire routine without your leadership. Stand back and see if all of them are in step and performing as one. If you see a problem, stop the music and address the issue by walking through all of the steps again.
Be consistent, but also have fun and allow the team members to enjoy themselves. If one member is having problems with steps, offer help, not criticism. Work with that person on a one-on-one basis during a break or at a different time.
Offer encouragement to those who try hard.
If someone is really not getting it, talk to that person privately. Never embarrass anyone in front of other team members.
Donna Thacker has been a writer/photographer for over 15 years. She held the position of associate editor/writer/photographer at Biker Ally Magazine. She currently is a photojournalist for The Biking Life, and has been featured on the front page of The Greenville Advocate, The Hillsboro Journal and The Sorento News. Thacker also designed and published several booklets of historical interest for local organizations.