Bullying is a huge problem in virtually all different walks of life. In settings such as a school classroom or sports team where large numbers of young people are grouped together, it tends to rear its ugly head on a regular basis. As teens and kids get even more interconnected online, the problem seems to have exploded in recent years.
Perhaps you’ve noticed a disturbing trend of bullying taking place right in your very own dance studio. As the mature adults in the situation, it’s up to the director and dance class instructors to recognize bullying for what it is and do all they can to nip it in the bud. Here are some actions and attitudes you can look out for when it comes to recognizing bullying behavior in your dance studio, as well as some tips for encouraging a more caring, accepting atmosphere among your students.
What Does Bullying Look Like in the World of Dance?
Bullying in the dance studio can either be overt or subtle. It comes in many forms, from a simple rolling the eyes or giggles after a classmate makes a mistake in their technique to outright mocking and exclusion. Here are some attitudes to be on the lookout for when it comes to identifying potential bullies in your class.
Since dance is often a competitive activity, it’s only natural for there to be a comparison among dancers. Sometimes a dancer will measure her success by how quickly she is progressing compared to the rest of the students in the class. While this tendency is common and often harmless, it can become hurtful when it is taken to extremes or when negative comparisons are allowed to be expressed in an unchecked manner.
For example, laughter and degrading comments after a sub-par performance, even in practice, should never be tolerated. Dance students should avoid correcting a less advanced student’s technique in front of a group. If a correction does take place, it should be done by the instructor or in a private, constructive manner by a more advanced student so as not to embarrass the one being corrected. Individual students constantly bragging and claiming to be the best should be avoided. Such self-aggrandizing behavior is bad for overall morale.
Being left out is one of the worst feelings in the world. Unfortunately, whether it’s in school or at dance class, exclusivity seems to be an everyday occurrence. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of this kind of ostracism, you know how much it hurts. It can take place during the warm-up time or in the dressing room when students refuse to include one or more other students in their friendly conversations, or outside the studio when some are left out of social interactions. Such exclusive behavior also makes learning group dance routines and participating in group competitions less of a unified effort. Those who bear the brunt of the ostracism are more likely to quit than those who feel accepted.
These bullying behaviors can wreak havoc on your dance studio. In the next article in this series we’ll point out a few more problem actions and attitudes you should confront if they show up in your studio.