Thinking Like A Dancer ….Happy New Year thoughts for a great 2014 dancing year!

ballet class barre


 I am wondering what dance students think about when they are not at dance class ……

Do they think about preparation for dance class? Do they review choreography and technique? I am on the positive side and hope that they do. Sometimes I am overly excited about what I see in class, but there are times that I am gravely disappointed in dancers that I expect more from. Am I expecting too much?

I have been finding lately that many dancers come to class unprepared. Hair not done, pieces of dancewear missing, a missing shoe, dangling earrings on in class (which they are requested to remove). Many are late for barre work because of “dilly dally” or chit chatting or fixing their hair in the dressing/waiting room. I am not understanding why? Do these dancers go this unprepared to school? Are there consequences at school that are not at dance school? Do the dancers consider the dance studio a school?……

Many dancers arrive at their studios directly from school. Which does take some planning on the part of the dancer for them to come completely prepared. I do remember going to dance school directly from school, as a young dancer, myself. My dad would pick me up at the ring of the school bell and my dance clothes where in my dance bag in the car and ready for me to dress at the studio. In some instances, where rehearsals were immediate upon my arrival, I dressed in school before the bell and I was totally ready at the studio or rehearsal hall. My long hair was done properly for dance, prior to attending school those rushed days. I was ready to go.

What makes this decade different? Is it the loose hair that is seen on dancers on TV and video? Is it the many different colors and styles of leotards that the dancewear industry has today? Is it the new bare legged trend we see on dancers? Or is it fashion that the Hip Hop dancers are instilling in the dance profession that dance students think that this attire is acceptable for all dance genres.

On another note ….. some dancers, even whole classes, are not remembering steps, choreography, and even terminology. Where as other classes are right on top of these essential things. I would begin the class week after week repeating and repeating steps, dance combinations (enchainment) and writing them out on the mirror only to start all over again the following class. Where as other classes remember these essentials at the “bat of an eye“! Is distraction a cause? Are some dancers involved in to many activities to be faithful and determined to excel at dance class? Is their thought process that attending a dance studio a social activity and not viewed as a school?

A dance student who wishes to excel in the dance world needs to Think Like A Dancer. They need to be focused and determined to be the best they can be in class.

A good resolution for the New Year is to begin a habit that would be enriching for the dancer while in class. Here are some tips for dancers to think on…..

1) Prepare for class by attire, hair, shoes, dance bag, before hand. The night before if you attend class directly from school. Be sure you have a leotard, tights, proper dance shoes for that next day, hair ties and a brush. Proper warm ups (color and correct fitting) for when it is a bit cold all ready in your dance bag. If you have your class assignments ready for school each day than this should be a breeze for you.

2) Prepare mentally and physically for steps. Practice. Keep a dancer’s notebook for steps and combinations. This practice is beneficial for you and for the entire class so as to keep the class moving forward and not staying stagnant repeating and repeating essentials that were taught weeks before.

3)While in class, listen carefully to the teachers instructions. Dance class is not a time for socialization. The waiting and dressing rooms are a good place for that after class. Dancers need to be attentive while the teacher is instructing. Keep your eye on the teacher to learn the steps.

4) Be alert and attentive in class. One thing every ballet teacher wishes, is that the dancers be in position before the teacher asks and before the music starts. What a pleasure for the teacher to turn around after setting the music and seeing a class of dancers spaced properly and in the correct foot position to begin.

5) Prepare mentally for steps. Think at home on what you have learned in class. Be prepared for your next class. While in class, be thinking the steps so that your brain is ready to implement them. During the preparation music, focus on the step ahead.

6) When the teacher steps back and wants you do dance the enchainment on your own you need to “own” your steps and then wait for corrections, instructions and the famous, “Ok, One more time.…”

In 2014 put your “best foot forward” and make going to dance class worth it for you …you will be happier and grow as a dancer…if you are Thinking Like A Dancer……

Have a great dance year!


One thought on “Thinking Like A Dancer ….Happy New Year thoughts for a great 2014 dancing year!

  1. I am a student teacher in Zimbabwe currently and even I am horrified by the lack of committment and dedication that has happened in the last 15 years that I have danced. It is very sad

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