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Tap Master Class Etiquette

Published on July 11th 2019 by Hillary-Marie

‘Tis the tap festival season, which means master classes galore. Today, I’m going to talk about tap master class etiquette, but if you’re looking for more information on tap festivals including a list of tap festivals, check out Episode 004: What is a tap festival?

Etiquette is “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.'' 

Etiquette is a HUGE part of dance culture.

My students at Grooves Unlimited are very well versed in master class etiquette because we host master classes with guest artists at minimum, every other month. But whenever it’s time for me to take FutureSTEP Tap Company to the first tap festival of the season, I always review master class etiquette with them because I have new dancers, but also because it doesn’t hurt to give everyone a review, especially when we’re out of our own environment.

Here is a list of Tap Master Class Etiquette that I usually review with my students at Grooves Unlimited:

  • To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is unacceptable. So first thing’s first, be early.
  • You should be ready to dance before the teacher even walks in the door. Be on your feet, be on the floor, be ready to dance. Do not make them invite you to the floor.
  • Next, do not talk in class unless called on. Don’t talk to each other and if you have a question for the teacher, don’t blurt it out, raise your hand.
  • Do not rehearse your choreography in class. Class is about learning the material that is presented to you, not about practicing the material that you already know. Save rehearsal for rehearsal.
  • Do not raise your hand or interrupt to ask to go to the bathroom. There’s nothing worse as a teacher than being deep in an explanation and asking dancers if they have a question, and being asked to go to the bathroom. Just go quickly, quietly, and discretely.
  • Do not take a water break unless you’ve been offered one, and do not raise your hand and ask. You can survive a 2-hour master class without a sip of water should the teacher decide to work all the way through the class.
  • You shouldn’t leave the floor for the duration of your class unless you absolutely have to and if you must, move quickly, quietly and discreetly.
  • Under no circumstances should you take your phone out of your bag and record unless you have been given permission to go. Check out Episode 008:So You Think You Can Film in Class for more on my thoughts about that. Not only do I tell them that they need permission to film, but I tell them not to ask to film during or after the class. Do not ask. Many teachers get very upset by this question. If they’re open to you filming, they’re likely to offer for you to do at the end of the class, so wait patiently and find out.
  • Taking notes in a notebook is fine, but it’s best to wait until after class.
  • If you receive a correction, say thank you. There’s no greater compliment than a teacher taking the time to offer a correction. Be sure to say thank you and hold onto it so you can continue to work on it after the class.
  • Clap at the end of each class. 
  • Clap when the teacher demonstrates. 
  • Walk up to the teacher and thank them personally. Look them in the eye and say thanks, shake their hand or give them a hug if you know them.
  • Take photos with them – on a side note, please don’t ask for boomerangs, and then ask to redo them when you don’t like them.
  • Ask the teacher to sign you shoes if you’d like - but if you ask this, be sure to have a silver sharpie of your own on hand .
  • If you want the teacher to sign your shirt, please not while you’re sweaty and wearing it. Perhaps have a special shirt clean, dry and ready with a Sharpie for all of the faculty to sign in a special place in your bag.
  • Last but not least, I let my students know that if they see me in class with them, to please direct their questions to the teacher and not me, as I’ll be a student. You can check out more about that in Episode 021: How to Turn Off Your Teacher Brain, where I discuss how teachers can protect their time as students in the studio, and how to turn off that inner critic when in someone else’s class. 

Other reminders to give your students include:

  • Have fun
  • Give 200%
  • Stay present
  • Watch your body language, and your verbal language, even when you mess up. But no slouching on the barres or leaning on the walls, especially when going across the floor. Do not sit down unless you are asked to and be careful of negative body language like having your arms folded or hands on your hips. 

Fun Fact: If you ever had your hands on your hips in Prof. Robert Reed’s class, he would call you out in front of the class and ask if you’re a superhero.

  • Mind your windows and your space. Master classes can often get crowded and everyone’s trying to learn, so be respectful of the people around you by minding your windows and not floating.

Last but not least,

  • If there was a musician in class accompanying, you need to thank them.
  • If the producer of the event is in the class, you need to thank them as well

I know this list feels like a lot of “don’t do this, or this, or this, or this” but the reason this etiquette exists is to create an environment that is conducive to learning. It really makes a big difference and as a guest artist at other studios, festivals and events, it can be extremely frustrating to teach a class where this etiquette has not been taught.  And like I said at the beginning, I give a reminder to my students every time we go to an event. A little reminder can go a long way to everyone having an extra awesome learning experience.  

So now I want to hear from you. 

What etiquette speeches do you share with your students, or what etiquette speech did your teacher share with you? Or were you never given one and had to learn the hard way? Share with us in the iTapOnline Community Facebook group or in the comments below!

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