Dear PBD Families,
I am writing to announce an important change to our program. Beginning this year, we will be moving to a year-round program. This means that after June tryouts, our 17-18 teams will begin rehearsals for the season on June 26th rather than in September. This change applies to all teams.
We believe that this change is important for many reasons, including the following:
- Curb Summer Learning Loss: Each season we see such great progress in our students in the winter and spring as we prepare for competitions and our Spring Concert. Unfortunately, that momentum is lost each year as we move into summer, and we spend several months each fall trying to catch up and get the dancers back to where they were before the break. We would love for them to continue to build on their skills without having a setback in their progress.
- Local Competitive Opportunities: There are 3 local competitions that we feel offer very important opportunities for our students. These are the Seattle Star Ball, which is held every August, and the two Quest for the Best competitions, held in September and January. Our current schedule really only allows us to be prepared for the January Quest, which means most of our students miss out on two important competitive opportunities.
- Winter Show: Our coaches are feeling very crunched by our current schedule when it comes to Winter Show preparations. Three short months doesn’t allow enough time to produce a Winter Show that is at the level of quality where we would like it to be, especially for our show teams with so many brand new dancers. Beginning a few months earlier will allow new dancers the time to practice and develop their skills and be fully ready for their first show.
When we presented the idea of a year-round program to families at our last Cookies with Heather, everyone was excited about this opportunity and instantly saw many benefits, but they also raised some concerns. I’d like to address the two primary concerns briefly here, and I will be available at the January Cookies with Heather (1/19 @ 6 PM), and by appointment if you would like to talk one-on-one.
- Summer Vacation/Travel/Break Time: We know that summer is a time for families to get away, recharge, and make wonderful memories together. We don’t want that to change. GO! We are in full support of you enjoying your summer! We are hoping to reduce your kids’ screen time, not their family time. Please plan your summers and do what you would normally do–go to camp, go visit family, find the mountains, etc. We just hope that when you are in town you will participate in team and syllabus and keep those dance skills sharp. Our attendance policy will be extremely flexible during the summer to allow for you to get away. If this, or a future year, is an extraordinary year and you will be gone for the entire summer on safari in Africa or backpacking through Europe, please let us know and we will plan accordingly (after we get over being very jealous). The year-round schedule eliminates the need for boot camps and special workshops for you to plan around. We hope that in some ways this gives you more flexibility. We also have 3 week-long breaks built into the schedule to give you some complete down time: June 19-23rd, July 3-7, Aug 28-Sept 1.
- Added Cost: Many dancers were already participating in summer syllabus, workshops, themed camps, and of course, boot camps. With this in mind, we hope that this is a small financial step for families, and not a big jump. June will still be a half month. July-May will be full months. We believe that year-round team (as opposed to workshops and camps) will give our dancers the best value for money spent. Additionally, we are actively pursing opportunities to help give families a way to earn money towards their accounts by helping with concessions at local sporting events. We hope this will help ease the financial burden where needed.
We hope that you will be patient with us as we try something new. We believe that there are many benefits beyond those listed here for students (including improved academic performance if the research is right!). As always, we are open to your feedback and in doing our best to make your participation at PBD a wonderful experience.
Heather Longhurst (Executive Director, Pacific Ballroom Dance)