When I sign up my beloved children for classes of any kind, I expect qualified instructors and a reasonable regard for safety. I don’t think that makes me an entitled helicopter parent. It’s my job to see that my kids make it to adulthood. (And I will fight tigers with my bare hands to make sure that happens.)
Recently a situation at a dance studio raised my mama-bear hackles. There, children do acro tricks, such as aerials and standing back tucks, in their competition routines, but without instruction and supervision from a certified or highly knowledgeable acro teacher. Call me a nervous Nellie if you like, but we are talking about flips here, not tendus.
Acro or tumbling, like pointe, is a genre that comes with additional risk. So it seems to me that teachers should be qualified to teach, spot, troubleshoot, and supervise tumbling before kids are asked to do a single aerial trick. And if that’s not happening, as a parent I have to ask: where is the studio owner’s oversight? Where is the concern for children’s safety? And what happens if something goes wrong?
The excuse that “everyone does aerials in their competition routines” doesn’t mean that teachers with little or no acro knowledge should throw these skills into choreography. Find some other way to impress the judges. As a mom, I know I’ll breathe easier.
As it so happens, in our August issue we’ll tackle this very subject. Debra Danese has written a great piece on starting an acro program; it covers safety, curriculum, trick progressions, equipment, insurance, and teacher training. I hope you’ll check it out. —Tamsin Nutter