Saturday, February 28, 2015

Adult beginners -starting with dance as an adult F.A.Q.

Starting dance as an adult with no previous experience might seem intimidating, too hard, impossible even… But it doesn’t have to be so! We often get inquiries from adults who love dance but hesitate to try it. We have answered the most common of them below!

Will I have to attend the kids’ classes?

Of course not! Kids and adults need very different ways of dance teaching –so not only you don’t have to attend kids’ classes but you also shouldn’t! Nowadays, lot’s of dance schools and studios offer adult beginner classes in different dance styles –search around for one and go try it!

What is a ballet class like?

A ballet class always starts with warm-up and exercises at the barre. Barre exercises usually take up half of the class duration. At the barre you will learn the basic ballet steps, which will come up again later in the center work. Using the barre helps us to focus on correct body posture and alignement while performing the exercises.

In the second part of the class we move on to center work, where students spread out in space, facing the mirror. Here we revise some of the steps we did at the barre –but without the support of the barre this time- and we move on to travelling steps, small jumps, turns etc. Gradually, the exercises get more complex and faster.

What is a contemporary dance class like?

Every contemporary dance class can be different –it depends on the teacher and their background- but there are some common basic principles and teaching methods. A contemporary class always starts with a warm-up –which can be done lying on the floor or standing up- and moves on with exercises, small movement phrases and longer dancing combinations. Some issues that can come up in a contemporary dance class are the use of gravity, successive and organic movement, variations in speeds and dynamics, the right use of our body, in order to dance safely.

Is it necessary to have taken ballet before I start contemporary dance?

No, as they have evolved to be two very different dance styles. Of course, any experience in any dance style –or even in another body practice- can be helpful when beginning with a new dance style. So, someone with ballet experience might find it easier to follow a contemporary class. But that does not in any way mean that ballet experience is necessary in order to take classes in any other dance style.

Can I start in the middle of the school year or should I wait and start in September?

You should start right now! For sure it’s not simple to adjust to a class that is already running for a few months, but is totally feasible, as long as you want to do it. Since you have probably been thinking about it for a while, don’t postpone it –go try a class now. This way when September comes you will already have some dancing experience!

Are the other students going to be much more advanced than me?

In a dance class students are usually at slightly different levels, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t all follow the class and learn from it. In beginners’ classes there are usually people with no previous dancing experience, people with some experience, people who have taken dance in the past and are now restarting… This is not something you should be worried about –everybody is taking the class for themselves and their own pleasure anyway!

What should I wear?

For the contemporary class choose comfortable, soft cloths (e.g. sweat pants and a t-shirt) and a pair of non-slippery socks. A long sleeved blouse or sweater might also come in handy.

For the ballet class it is best to avoid loose clothing. In your first class you can wear any kind of tights. When you are sure that you are going to continue taking classes it is advised to invest in some specialized ballet items –leotard, tights and canvas ballet slippers for the ladies and black tights (long or short), white fitted t-shirt and black ballet slippers for the gentlemen.

If you have any questions on class attire and where to get it, ask your teacher!

I tried a class and it was hard… Are you sure I can do it?

Everything that we have no experience in is difficult in the beginning… Think of learning a new language for example. In the beginning exercises and combinations might seem too complicated or too fast or too difficult to remember. Or you might feel that you lack flexibility or strength. It is completely normal: all these things improve with time and practice. Even the best dancers were at this point once! Remember that the more you take classes, the more your body will learn and you will be able to perform better. So don’t get disappointed and give up –give yourself the time you need to start enjoying dance!

Also, talk with your teacher after class –he will certainly have some advice to help you!

I have already taken some dance classes. Should I go to a more advanced class?

Our advice is to try each class and then decide which one suits your needs better. The best class for you is the one where you feel that you are learning new stuff and getting better in what you already know, without being overly challenging for your body limits. Dance is a process that takes time –no need to rush to advance in the next level. Once again, talk with your teacher –with his experience and objectivity he will be able to help you decide.

Will I be able to dance professionally or teach dance?

To this question some people might answer yes, some maybe and some unarguably no. The truth is that no one can answer this question with certainty, as the factors that come to play are many and very unpredictable.

Our advice is, if you decide to take up dancing, do it because you really enjoy the classes and the whole process and not because you are after a career. Hard work and perseverance might lead you there… but it also might not. So, it is best that you enjoy every moment of your dancing process and not rush for fast results. And vice versa, don’ t get disappointed by difficulties, judgments and failures. After all even Misty Copeland has been rejected!

So, look for a beginners’ class and try it out today! We will be glad to hear your experience and answer any other questions you might have!

We wish you the best for your start!

Read also: Panet Dance -a visitor's guide to contemporary dance!

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