Monday, November 23, 2015

How to make the most of your dance class

18 tips to help you benefit as much as you can from the dance classes you take.

Dance season is in full gear. Whether you have chosen ballet, contemporary or any other kind of dance class, just showing up isn’t enough. Here is what you can do before, during and after class, to enjoy more your dance class and take as much as you can out of it!


Before class

1. Be on time!
It is best to arrive at your dance school at least 15-20 minutes before the time your class begins. This way you will have enough time to get ready, warm up and clear your mind before you enter the studio.

Tip: If you arrive late, get ready fast and enter the studio quietly. Don’t interrupt the class to make your excuses –talk to your teacher after class to explain your reasons for being late.

2. Eat a light snack.
It is equally disagreeable to dance on an empty and on a full stomach. Your last meal should be at least 90 minutes before your class. Half an hour before the class you can have a light snack that will give you energy and help you stay focused. Fruit, yoghurt, nuts, cereal bar are some good choices.

3. Make sure you have everything you need.
When you know you have a busy day ahead, pack your dance bag on the evening before. This way you will avoid last minute stressing and looking for your dance stuff, or worse, realizing too late that you didn’t bring your dance pants or ballet shoes.

4. Fix your hair.
Make sure your hair is out of your face and doesn’t distract you during class. For ballet class you need to have it in a bun –for contemporary it can be in a pony tail or braid.

5. Drink water!
Start your class with enough hydration, in order to avoid dehydration fatigue while you dance.


During dance class

6. Focus!
Don’t let your mind stray during class –focus on yourself, your body and your dancing. All other thoughts, plans and problems can wait.
Tip: Leave your phone in your locker.

7. Mark combinations.
Mark along while your teacher is demonstrating a combination or exercise. Marking will help you stay focused, understand more details and remember better the movement sequence.

8. Listen to corrections.
Listen to every correction your teacher gives –whether it is addressed to you or someone else and think of ways to benefit from them.

9. Ask if you have a question.
Dance students usually hesitate to ask questions during class, thinking that they will hold back the class or that their question is stupid. If you really have a relevant question, don’t hesitate: ask! Having questions shows that you are paying attention, reflect and really try to understand.

When not to ask: when you didn’t understand because you were not paying attention or when demonstration time is over and people are already dancing. Also, if you already asked and you still didn’t fully understand, give yourself a chance to try –you might find that your body has understood more than your mind!

10. Observe your dance mates.
While you wait for your turn to dance, don’t get distracted: try to actively observe your dance mates. There is a lot you can learn by watching other people dance.

11. Don’t quit!
Every dancer has their strengths and weaknesses. Try to not let yourself quit when you encounter difficulty. Persistence and repetition will help you move past tough spots.


After class

12. Drink water!
All that sweating and hard work has left your body dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water after class will help your body recover faster from exercising.

13. Take your time.
Give your body some time to recover –stretch to  relax your muscles and let your heart beat gradually return to normal.

14. Take a hot shower.
Hot water relaxes sore muscles and helps you feel less tired. It will also help you sleep better and feel more energized the next morning.

15. Refuel your body.
Within the next hour after class, make sure to eat a balanced meal: it will supply your body with nutrients and facilitate your post-class recovery.

16. Reflect on your dance class.
Spend some time to think about your class: what you learned, observations and corrections you received, things that worked for you or not, things you would like to improve next time. Reflecting on your dancing on your free and setting small goals will help you to be more focused during class.

Tip: Write it down! Keeping written notes will help you remember more from your classes, keep track of your progress and commit more to the goals you set for yourself.


17. Nutrition and rest
We all know that eating and sleeping well promote health of body and mind  and ensure a sense of well-being. Make sure to get enough sleep and to eat well –a few adjustments in your everyday schedule will make a huge difference in your dancing.

18. Consistency
One last advice: be consistent! Skipping classes undermines your progress and can be dangerous for your body. If feasible, it is best to take a minimum of two dance classes per week.

And this concludes our list of tips to help you make the most of your dance classes! What else would you add? What helps you make the most of your dance class?

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