How to Get the Most Out of Your Dance Class. 8 things you can do to have great dance classes
8 things you can do to be sure you have a great class week after week!
Deciding to begin dance classes is a commitment of time, energy and of course money. Often seen as a right of passage for children, dance class can instill so many great qualities in dancers young and old including confidence, grace, cooperative skills, coordination and so much more! But how do you get the most from each dance class every week? Here’s some ideas from our Danceworks staff.
1. Arrive to your Dance Studio early.
Dancers have a better experience when they arrive at the studio with a few minutes to change their shoes and get mentally ready for class. Your dance instructor can see a difference in those students who entered the dance room relaxed and ready and those who rushed in the door during attendance, warm-up or even later. The best way to make sure you’ll get the most from every class is to be sure you are present physically and mentally from the start of class.
2. Dress appropriately for the Dance Lessons.
Be sure to check with your studio or instructor so that you’ll know the appropriate attire for class. Dancers who dress the part have an easier time getting into the correct mindset for class. A leotard and tights are standard, but your studio may have other options as well. I always say, you wouldn’t wear your prom gown to the beach, so you shouldn’t wear street clothes for dance. Looking like a dancer will help get you in the right frame of mind to have a great class.
3. Put your hair up neatly.
This should always be done at home before arriving at the studio. Doing your hair in the studio will surely leave hair on the dance floor for others to clean up and is generally not good manners. Put your hair up neatly in a bun if that is required, or at least a pony-tail or braid. If you have short hair, the front should be pulled back so it will not interfere with turning or hit you in the eyes. Having your hair up in dance class is a matter of safety for yourself and others if it is long. Long hair will also affect your ability to turn unless it is secured tightly to the head. No wonder ballet dancers always wear a bun! Click here to watch a tutorial about how to make a ballet bun.
4. Listen to feedback from your dance instructor.
As a dance educator, it is my job to give feedback to the dancers in front of me. A correction during class is always a compliment. It means that your instructor is noticing you and wants to help you improve. Once a correction is given, especially if it is given specifically to you, the instructor is watching to see if you have processed the information. If you find yourself receiving the same correction time after time, ask yourself what you can do to improve this aspect of your dancing. Accept corrections thoughtfully and try to make a change that shows you understand. Taking a correction, thinking about it, internalizing it and showing effort to make that adjustment is a great way to make sure you are improving week after week.
5. Practice outside of the dance classes.
Many dancers have busy schedules and it is hard to find time to practice outside of class. If class is weekly and the dancer has not even thought about the material in between classes, progress can be very slow. But practice can be built into every day life very easily. I tell my dancers to brush their teeth while holding a balance on releve. Waiting in a line at the supermarket is a great time to get in some footwork or balancing. Standing at the printer at work is when many of my adult students tell me they get in a tap step or two. Waiting for the microwave, the shower to warm up, or any situation that gives you a random thirty seconds can be turned into practice time. If you can’t physically do the steps you want to practice, even thinking them can be a great memory tool. I often tell my dancers, “I know you are busy… so just think the choreography.” Do it while you are trying to fall asleep at night, sitting on the bus, or anywhere else you might have a few minutes of mental down time.
6. Watch other dancers in class.
Often when dancers are going across the floor with a combination, dancers will use their time waiting in line to chat (not a good idea during class) or just zone out. But this is important learning time. You can pick up so much by watching your fellow dancers, what they do beautifully, what they are still working on and what feedback they get from the instructor. Watching others provides an array of great information about technique and helps you to understand why certain corrections are given. You can use that knowledge to help your own dancing improve.
7. Watch yourself.
The mirror is a tool we have in class and it is meant to be used. Don’t look at the floor when you are dancing. Keep your head up and watch what you are doing so you can make your own corrections. Most of us do not like to watch ourselves on video, but it is another great tool in dance class. If your instructor sends a video of the class to help you practice, watch yourself with a critical eye to see what you can improve. You can also video yourself at home to get a better idea of how things are looking versus how they feel. Your instructor may even allow you to video yourself in class, but you should never do this without asking permission from your instructor and fellow dancers.
8. Go easy on yourself.
As dancers, we are often our own worst critics. Keep in mind that all of the dancers are there to learn and grow at their own pace. Just because you are working on something the dancer next to you has mastered doesn’t mean they are “better” than you. Each of us has strengths and challenges in every class. The most important thing is to enjoy your dancing and leave class knowing you are one step closer to reaching your goals.
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