Tiffany Wrightson – August 2014
All photos by Lim Li-Hsien.
I love group competitions. I love the challenge of choreographing for 30-plus talented young dancers, and seeing the item come together over the weeks. I love to see the thrill on our children’s faces when they perform the group number and hear the response from the audience, knowing that what they created on stage can only be achieved by the group, and not by themselves individually. I love that they have this visceral experience of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
Our children are wonderful team players. We talk about team spirit frequently in our group rehearsals and the children know the importance of supporting and cooperating with each other to achieve a common goal. Whether they are patterned in a particular routine into the first or fourth line, placed at the middle or the side, or given a solo feature or not, they are aware that they are an integral part of the routine’s success, and that the routine would not be as successful without them. I’m heartened that many of our kids are driven by the team’s success, and will never be caught putting in anything less than their best, simply because they don’t want to let their group mates down, even though they may feel tired individually. Each dancer knows how important their role is within the group. That’s the power of team spirit, and is a virtuous cycle of motivation for the kids.
Here are some ways our children have demonstrated great team spirit, and I urge all parents to notice, encourage, and celebrate such behaviour, and continue to model such active participation for them!
1. Stepping up to help
In every group, we invariably have dancers who’ve missed classes and rehearsals because of illness, travel, and performance opportunities (did you guys catch Emilia and Patrick outstanding performances in the Sound of Music in the past few weeks?). Given our tight rehearsal schedule, it would be virtually impossible to catch everyone up on the choreography and steps, if not for their teammates helping each other to do so. The bonus is that when they help each other, they become more familiar with the choreography and more fluid with the steps.
At this point, I would like to give a shout-out to our parent volunteers for the upcoming Asia Pacific Dance Competition. You’ve stepped up to help Team Jitterbugs and are a great role model for our children! Thank you Callin, I-Hsin, Janice, Jasmine, Jolene, Karen Yong, Karen Lim, Li-Hsien, Lindy, Mary, Nancy, Nicola, Nicki, Sieu Yen, Sobbina, and Yvonne! And thank you to all our other parents who pitch in to help when needed – we are grateful!
2. Getting the group together for extra practice
We see this more in our older duos, trios, and ensembles, where the smaller team size makes coordination of schedules more practical, and where the teens rely less on their parents to get together. (Remember that we have Open Studio time for all our kids!)
When the groups come together for their own practice, it is a demonstration of their growing maturity because they are taking responsibility for their own performance. Rather than complain about a teammate not pulling his or her own weight in a group, they choose to come together to level everybody up. This is an important life skill. If your child expresses frustration about another team mate pulling down the team, redirect his or her energy towards “well, what would you like to do about it?”. Remind him or her of his or her larger team goal, and what he or she is prepared to do to help the team achieve that goal.
The flip side to groups coming together for extra practice is the sacrifice that some may have to make in order to accommodate their team mates’ schedules. The kids learn how to give and take and to support each other. I’m also well aware that sometimes the sacrifice extends to the parents who may have to rearrange your own schedules to support your child. Kudos to all our super supportive parents!
3. Bringing great energy to the group
I think that one of the most under-appreciated qualities is a person’s ability to bring great positive energy to a team. Positive or negative energy is infectious. How a team mate shows up for class or practice can set the tone for the entire practice. If a team mate shows up grumpy, everyone else would be tip-toeing around him or her on tenterhooks; if a team mate shows up ready and raring to go, those around him or her will be inspired to match the energy. This is one area where our children still have room to grow in, and most are unaware of the impact their moods have on their team mates, and that in most cases, they can choose to focus on the positive. I am nonetheless grateful that many of our children do show up for class and practice focused, ready, and raring to go!
4. Just being there to support each other
The Jitterbugs Swingapore® Kids Program is really one big family, where our children and parents are friends with each other. For our performers, nothing beats knowing that their friends and team mates are in the audience rooting for them. I love it that our children, including those who were not competing, were watching and supporting their classmates at the recent CSTD Singapore Solo Competitions.
The CSTD Asia Pacific Dance Competition is just around the corner, and a great opportunity for us to show our support for our competitors and show the Team Jitterbugs spirit. If you’ve missed the opportunity to purchase tickets through us, there will be tickets at the door. Let’s fill Kallang Theatre with our great energy. Go Team Jitterbugs!