Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to Turn Criticism into Smiles

By Beth Wheeler

Our dancers receive adjudications at competition often in the form of audio files - so the girls literally listen to the judges comment about their dancing. Many judges are very positive but just as many are "critics" and some can be quite negative.

There's no way I have the time to listen and edit each tape from each judge for each dance at each competition. For years I just didn't have the kids listen -such a shame as we WANT the kids to get input from these other teachers. Once we began tagging we realized that translating negative language would be an important skill to learn and so here's what we do.

As we listen to the tapes, our dancers use tally marks or stickers to note each "good" or "yay" comment as a tag. In another column our dancers write the negative comments translating to tag points. If a judge says "pretty costume" = Tag! "nice smile" = Tag! "Your knee is bent in your leap" = tag point is... Stretch knee. "You shouldn't be looking at the floor" = tag point is... Look at the audience.

The dancers have gotten so quick and comfortable at translation that they do it subconsciously. So much so that it's not uncommon for them to smile if I get grumpy at them. When I slip and use a negative, they're smiling cuz they're hearing the tag point! Not an excuse to get grumpy of course - just really nice to know that where ever they are in the world, they're translating.

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