August 25, 2021
Dear MDU Families,
Thank you for a great kick-off to our 24th season of “More Than Just Great Dancing!”. We are now a full week into our season and it has been amazing to see kids and families back in the building.
As the leader of our studio community, I have the great joy of seeing the excitement of the kids and teacher returning to class. I also have the great responsibility of navigating a continuously changing situation as it relates to Covid-19.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, MDU has provided clear communication and real-time decision-making. This has allowed us to offer continuous programming with only .0002% incidence of Covid-19 while providing consistent access to the benefits of dance such as physical fitness, social-emotional health, and mental wellness. That’s the joy part!
Now for the responsibility part. At MDU, we make all of our Covid-related decisions based on a variety of inputs, including local and national sources, as well as industry and studio data. I wake up every morning, search the data, and track the trends. I also consult with our county, speak with other community leaders, and pray for wisdom. I’m pleased to say that MDU is still doing extremely well in terms of cases as shared above. That’s why we began our fall season by continuing our summer policy of mask recommendation, not a requirement. Our community, however, is not doing as well. The cases reported yesterday morning were double what they were the week prior and the 7-day average is one we have not seen since February.
In my Welcome Letter from one week ago, I shared that we would escalate our policies if cases continue to rise. As such, beginning today (8/25/21), the following mitigation measures are being implemented:
We will continue monitoring the situation week by week and will make you aware of any changes. If community cases continue to rise, potential escalation of policies may include closing the lobby to reduce traffic, further limiting class sizes, greater physical distancing requirements in classes, and/or masking requirements for all ages.
In closing, I fully understand this message will cause relief for some and disappointment for others. Some will think it’s too much and others may think it’s not enough. This is the nature of the times we live in. But, it’s also in our nature to adapt and to support each other. Our kids are mirrors of our reactions and emotions, so let’s focus on what’s positive! In a time when our community is welcoming Afghan refugees who have lost all, we have much to be thankful for. Thank YOU for your support!
Graded Levels are Helpful for Growing Kids
At first glance, it may seem difficult or impossible to give a grade in dance or to assign a level to dance development. After all, the arts are subjective, and each dancer interprets each dance differently. Ultimately, however, graded dance levels are doable—in fact, they’re essential for dancers at all levels.
The primary reason for graded levels is for the safety of dancers. Dancers must master each level before it is safe to proceed to the next, as new techniques and movements build upon each other. Dancers who don’t master essential skills in one level before moving to the next may not only struggle to keep up and lose confidence, they also face a greater risk of injury.
That’s why it’s not uncommon for a dancer to remain at the same level for a couple years. Dancers advance as they develop strength and demonstrate correct technique to show physical and mental mastery of each dance level.
As with any discipline, dancers will progress at their own individual rates. Some skills will come easier for some than others, and some skills will come more easily to an individual dancer at some times than others, depending upon their physical development. Every dancer is different and will achieve various levels at different times.
Dance instructors work hard to create guidelines that will accurately assess a dancer’s technique, alignment, movement, and other skills. Grading methods are carefully designed to match the dancer’s physical development and the difficulty of each level.
Outside of the studio, an artistic director watching a dancer audition is not going to see levels or grades. Dancers don’t submit their dancing transcripts when they audition. Artistic directors will instead see how the dancer performs then and there. They’ll also see how the dancer interacts with others onstage and what kind of team player she will be. And guess what? They’ll write down scores to assess each dancer…just like grades.
The best way for your dancer to advance in dance? Show up. Good attendance is often the number one factor in achieving higher scores. It’s also important to trust your dance teachers. Instructors are trained to evaluate and understand each dancer’s physical development. If adjustments need to be made, instructors will advise the parents of a different placement.
The most important thing for dancers (and parents) to do is to remember that all things come with time and to always enjoy the dance along the way.
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