If you’ve been feelin stuck as a dancer and are not sure what you need to do to progress, here are 4 habits you can create that make you a better dancer.
We have been asked this question more than a few times over the years. Here’s how we became the best versions of the dancers we want to be and learn choreography more efficiently.
1A – Pratice at home, or better yet, teach the choreography to someone you know, or most importantly, back to yourself
One of the most instrumental tools of getting better is practicing at home. If you can find 10 to 15 minutes within 24 hours at home to go over the routine you learned in class, it will help you improve your movement quality as well as your ability to learn/retain choreography at a much faster rate.
Sometimes, we place a lot of pressure on learning every bit of choreography in class that we forget to focus on what is most important, and that is to dance. At times, there is so much over stimulation in class that you can miss key details or transitional steps that help the choreography to flow seamlessly.
I can almost guarantee that when you practice at home, you might forget a few steps at first…the rule of thumb is to practice within 24 hrs to keep the routine fresh in your body/mind. Every day or 25 hrs that passes without practicing a routine you freshly learned, you lose key sections of the routine, especially parts that challenged you in class.
Taking yourself through what you learned helps you to find your blind spots in your learning process as well. If you can’t remember a step, it usually means you weren’t being intentional with your movement at that point, or you were distracted (in some capacity) and missed a few steps. One of the best tools to help you remember the routine is to teach it back to yourself or to someone you know if they are open to learning it.
So teach your momma, your sister, your brother, your daughter, your best friend the awesome dance you learned if they are open to it. If not, pretend you are teaching it back to yourself, and you are your favorite student.
2nd, aka 1B – Practice in the mirror
Sometimes, we believe that when we learn choreography, we look exactly how we feel. However, before you lock any movement into your body, take a second and dance in front of a mirror or even record yourself dancing so you can watch it back. I know that might make you a little nervous or anxious, but we promise it is the 1B to practicing at home. We cannot explain how many times we thought we were doing a move correctly or we thought we were giving full effort and the lie detector test determined that was a lie in the mirror or when we saw the video.
Though you shouldn’t go crazy over details, the mirror will help you adjust your body until you are familiar with how a move is supposed to feel, look, or flow. You will become more familiar with details like levels, what part of your body you are isolating, your hands, your angles, textures, etc…
3rd – Use YouTube!
Ask questions about the origins of the steps and grooves you learned in class. Then, do some research on YouTube to find those steps/grooves and use the tutorial to sharpen your skills. Also, watch even more dance videos.
We know you already watch dance videos if you love dance but continue to watch even more. If it’s a video you enjoy, then try to find the foundations we teach in class in the performance. Or if you see something you like, take notes or mentally make a note and ask us what the dancer is doing to achieve that visual or feel. As you learn from our instructions, it helps to see similar moves on other dancers’ bodies. Also, we learn so much when we are still and observant.
4. Attend dance jams or dance battles or dance ciphers
One of the most incredible tools that helped us in our own journey was going to multiple dance jams and battles. When you are able to see what you are learning in person from a spectator perspective, then it becomes more of a reality. It inspires you to keep working. Why? Because the energy of dance inspires you! The characters, execution, intention, and enjoyment of the art make you want to master your own movement. These jams or battles once happened with regularity in Buffalo, but it has fizzled out over the years. However, over the past 2 years, a couple of jams, sessions, and battles have been popping up all over Buffalo. We share them when they do, so pay attention to our social media accounts and attend one when we post them. We promise it will be extremely helpful. You might even see one of your instructors there.
If getting better is something you are interested in, then incorporating these 4 habits into your post class regiment along with taking more classes on regular basis will definitely build the dancer you see in yourself faster than just coming home and waiting for the next class. These are habits we live by, and if there were blogs that existed like this when we started, we would be even better than we are today. Just imagine that. Now it’s time for you to take these jewels and evolve who you are as a dancer.