Cindy Says: Leadership. Is it checked off in your job description?

Cindy Says: Leadership. Is it checked off in your job description?

By Cindy Ripley on July 10, 2019

Summer brings part of my job that I adore. That means meeting the teachers who attend our NYC workshops from every situation from all over the world. They come from lots of different situations but share the same passion: creating musical theatre with kids. One commonality that always floats to the top? A majority of these directors wear many hats to do their jobs, or at least did at one time. (Yes, that word "delegate" is in the Broadway Junior glossary!)

Many of you have told me that you finally "let others lead", resulting in less stress and the joy of collaboration. This applies to staff and students: watching a student director apprentice and flourish cannot be matched! Needless to say, whether you tell me you "I just do costumes", or "I'm only the choreographer", or "I teach the music", being a leader to all these artistically hungry kids is your primary job. And that is spotlight-worthy and challenging at times.

Here are a few key points to help you hone your leadership vision this summer:

• Greet your students. It can be as they enter the room, it can be with a warm-up in a group, or at the piano with your Harold Hill. How you connect with eyes, body language and timeliness conveys your excitement and commitment. It takes a matter of seconds but sets the stage as well as your backdrop and lets them know you care.

Matching style to self. Observing excellent teachers and directors is an inspiration. Try taking a strong element of a style you admire and modify it to fit into your style. Yes, it takes practice, but as you grasp the essence, your self will always come through. It is a glorious feeling when the task you are communicating is 100% effective and fun for all.

Change it up. Have a student begin the warm-up. Run a blocked scene in one third of the normal space. Run an ensemble number only lip-syncing with no sound. A leader that can accomplish the task in multiple ways sustains rehearsal focus.

Ask a question that elicits a positive motivation in the group. "How many of you would like to polish the final verse, complete the choreography for the opener and have insane fun all before lunch break?

Create energy and enthusiasm. The best way to create energy and enthusiasm is to model positive energy and enthusiasm. That doesn't mean assuming the role of a cheerleader when the next to last run through is going belly-up either. If your attitude is sincere, you as a leader will inspire the cast with the needed energy to move forward.

No matter what your role is doing theatre with children, being a leader for your students, their parents, and your colleagues is integral. It does take endless rehearsals, but its reach is limitless. CR

Read more Cindy Says.