Life Skills You Develop From Being A Dancer

After class, on your sweaty, post-adrenaline-high walk back to your car, you marvel at the dance community and how far you have come since that fateful day you happened upon that one workshop.

You’ve received your team shirt, your team nickname, and started eating instant ramen to afford the comp fees and costumes.

Somewhere in between 9PM and 2AM the night before that big show, it hits you;  there is so much more to dance than just learning steps and formations.

Here are 5 valuable things you have learned from being a dancer.

1. When to step up – and when to step back

You aren’t the only person on your dance team. Having to share the spotlight means you begin to build awareness of the role that you play amongst the 40+ people you dance with.

Being on a dance team encourages us to challenge ourselves with introspection, and to be comfortable with switching between being heard/seen, and stepping back to let others shine.

On any team, there are those who may be more gregarious and outspoken as well as those who are shier and more reserved.

We also know that a team full of outspoken dancers tends to bring about inefficiency, so it becomes an important skill to build to learn when to speak up (stepping up), and when to listen (stepping back).

This goes for class-takers as well: switching lines while taking class, letting other people stand in the front if you’ve learned the choreography before, and pushing yourself to stand in front for groups (if you know you tend to shy away from center stage) – these are all good practices in learning to step up/step back.

2. Grit

Between taking classes and workshops, casting for pieces, and getting feedback from your choreographer/director/coordinator comes with the territory of dejection.

As much as we still lament about these things at post-practice outings with our teammates, we learn to develop thicker skin.

Grit is exactly that – building strength of character and resolve.

Learning to take these feelings of dejection in stride helps us build such resilience; being able to receive feedback with open ears and an open heart is crucial to success.

Here’s an amazing TED talk about how grit is the key to success:

3. A sense of oneness with those around you/a sense of community

It’s all about that home away from home – on a team, we learn to develop a strong sense of family; we look for one another, spend copious amounts of time with one another, and and grow to become protective over one another. In class, there is a sense of looking out for one another.

Asking the person next to us what that last move was, being respectful to other class-takers, sitting down if we’re in the front few rows while the choreographer demonstrates his/her musicality are all evidences of a sense of community within a class setting.

We learn to build rapport with others and the importance of gelling well with others.

4. An eye for detail

We practice the art of mimicry of movement. We undergo thorough team cleaning. We look at class or performance footage with a sinking realization our arms didn’t extend like we thought they did, or our angles weren’t as crisp as we would’ve liked. Over time, we build a hyper-awareness of what the choreographer is doing compared to what our body is doing.

We develop a keen awareness of what pictures our body is hitting and whether they match that of the choreographer’s, and if we discern that there is something off, we learn to pinpoint what it is and fix it.

5. Mental stamina

You too, can eventually join other class enthusiasts and take 3-4 back-to-back classes without feeling like death.

Mental stamina is a natural byproduct of your craft – whether you’re a dancer on a team or a zealous class-taker, in between learning choreo and remembering changes to choreography and blocking, we build mental endurance.

And while taking back-to-back classes may at first be your Everest, with practice and repetition, you will find that retention gets easier with time.

 

The article was found at blog.steezy.co and it was originally published on September 8, 2014.

North Shore Dance Society

North Shore Dance Society Set and Achieve Your Dance Goals

All of us have things we want, as dancers. But the difference between those of us who get what we want and those who stay wishing, is that the former group of individuals set goals.

Ready, set. Now.. how do you reach your dance goals?

The path to making them a reality will most likely not be smooth, and require a lot of impromptu sub-goals along the way. But knowing your direction and working towards something you want will give your actions a sense of purpose, and force you to stay resilient.

#Goals isn’t just a trending hashtag, it’s a real thing.

But where does one start? What is a good dance goal to have, even?

Keep reading to discover some helpful ideas in the practice of setting and achieving your dance #goals.

1. Meditate On What Fulfills You As A Dancer

There is a difference between something you’re mildly interested in and something you’re die-hard passionate about, something you’d fight for.

Before you think about setting a dance goal, find what moves you.

Spend some time in introspection, even recalling on specific instances in the past that made you think “yeah, this is it, this is what dance / my life’s supposed to be about,” and study what it was that made you feel that way.

Does choreographing get your heart pumping? Is it the act of creation that makes you happy? Do you enjoy telling stories or sending a message through dance? Do you love teaching and watching your students improve? Are you interested in competition planning?

Whatever your cup of tea, make sure it’s not something that’s temporarily gratifying and won’t (tea)-leave the second things get tough. It needs to be a sustainable feeling, something that you believe in and are willing to sacrifice for.

These are the things in your life that fulfill you.

2. Set One Specific, Long term, First-Tier Goal

Write out your mission statement as a dancer. Your top-priority, your driving force, your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

A good dance goal is S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

It needs to articulate the who, what, when, wheres- the details of what this achievement will look like.

Example 1: “My goal is to: have shot my first full-blown contemporary x hip hop concept video on (theme) with (cast) by the end of 2015.”

Example 2: “My goal is to: choreograph for, direct, and lead a project to perform at Maxt Out 2015.”
Notice how all of these are different, but include all aspects of “S.M.A.R.T.” You need to know what you want, in order to get what you want- and drafting a goal according to this handy checklist can help summarize this want.

3. ..And Some Short Term Goals

A goal is your final destination, but there are a lot of routes you can take. For any goal worth achieving, there will undoubtedly be a lot of roadblocks in that route, as well. Sub-goals allow you to list and strategize the prerequisite actions you must take before moving on to the next step.

Example 1: “Train and exercise flexibility” / “Save $(specific dollar amount) for costume and production budget.”

Example 2: “Start reaching out to dancers to gauge interest and schedules” / “Inquire (show producers) about project requirements and performance guidelines”

4. WRITE Your Goals Down!

Everything becomes 10000% more solidified once the words are written down. It can be in your phone’s notes, your journal, whatever. Heck, make it your screensaver!

Tips in goal-writing:

a. Make sure it is written in a positive language, such as “introduce yourself to more people in class” instead of “stop being so shy.” This is you talking to yourself, make sure you speak with an optimistic and hopeful tone.

b. Keep it in a place where you can see it, and will constantly be reminded of your running checklist. It won’t be of much use if you jot down your goals on a Starbucks napkin and end up throwing it away.

I use my planner’s “Notes” page, where I’m continually crossing off or adding new items to my list. I always have it on me, and I’m always checking back to see my progress.

c. (Counterintuitive, but) Don’t tell anyone! Or, too many people. Broadcasting what you want to, or are about to do, can have this pesky psychological effect of making you believe you already did some of the work.

No! You did not! Telling your friend “Yeah I’m about to make this super fire piece..” tricks you into thinking the matches have been lit. But where the flame at?! In your head, is where it is!!

Keep your goals, for the most part, as private and minimally announced. After all, it’s YOUR goal! You’re aiming for a sense of personal satisfaction, not to have people tell you “good job.”

5.  Make Sure Your Dance Goals Are Measurable, Within A (Realistic) Timeline

Checkpoints, key performance indicators, whatever you wanna call it- set specific, measurable timelines that’ll make it obvious to know when you’ve completed something.

Example 1: “To have shot my first full-blown contemporary x hip hop concept video on (theme) with (cast) by the end of 2015.“
The BOLDED parts are the deadlines for these specific sub-goals:

– “Finish choreography by October 17th, record for reference”
– “Save x amount of dollars by November 1st”
“Month of November: reserve rehearsal space at Snowflake Eyeglass Studio for Thursdays and Sunday 8 pm -11 pm”

Example 2: “To choreograph for, direct, and lead a project to perform at Maxt Out 2015.“
The date of the show is obviously the “deadline” for this goal. But what are some other parameters to guide you along the way?

– “Recruit and confirm x number of dancers by July 17th”
– “First practice on July 26th, teach first piece and bonding activity”
– “Costumes made and paid for by August 11th“

If you’re a more visual person, lay out all these dates in a monthly calendar so you can have a birds-eye view of your remaining time.

6. Be Mindful Of Obstacles And Challenges 

..and be open to changes to accommodate. What Charles Darwin meant by “survival of the fittest” actually means, the “survival of those most adaptable to change.”

We all know that your journey is not going to be perfect. But what can make you even less deterred by the random challenges along the way, is the flexibility of your goals and sub-goals. No, you shouldn’t settle or quit the moment things get tough. But you need to learn to work with what you’ve got

7. Celebrate Your Accomplishments

What are goals if not for the euphoric sense of accomplishment and self-worth when they are reached?! Oh, the journey in getting there. But still!

Celebrating what you’ve done is not only well-deserved, but it’s great positive reinforcement. You now armed with more confidence and the reassurance that you can do anything you put your mind to, so you’re more likely to pursue other #goals with more vigor and excitement. Yeah!

8. Don’t Stop.

To me, the saddest successes are singular ones. When an artist has a one-hit wonder or otherwise produces something amazing then disappears, convinced that no other work will match up to their first.

No! *slaps face* if you keep growing and believing in your abilities, what you make/do will grow along with it. Yes, we’re all hungry. But those with consistent achievements are the ones who stay hungry and refuse to grow complacent.

The dance scene has evolved exponentially these past few years. This growth would not have happened if not for the hungry, ambitious, goal-setting dancers who made their dreams a reality.

Who’s to say you’re not one of them? Get up, get out, and get on your #hashtag# goals TODAY!

 

Author: Jessie Ma

Overcome Your Dance Fears North Shore Dance Society

North Shore Dance Society

Being an artist is fun, fulfilling, so wonderful – but it can also be terrifying.

To be creative requires for you to be vulnerable. You’re basically showcasing your deepest thoughts and feelings in the process of making something beautiful.

So how do you get over your insecurity, self-doubt, and inhibition as an artist?

Whether it’s biting the bullet and auditioning for your dream team, or tackling the first 8-count of choreography to that song you’ve been playing on repeat, or exploring a style outside of your comfort zone…

We all need a dose of ‘Courage’ sometimes.

So, are you ready to shed that weight and be artistically liberated?

Read on, and be transformed by the power of “Big Magic.”

 

Separate YOU From Your Dancing
You gotta love what you do, of course.

But you cannot let yourself become it.

Tying so much of your identity and self-esteem to your craft can have so many adverse effects.

“It’s a subtle but important distinction (being vs. having) and, a wise psychological construct. The idea of an external genius helps to keep the artist’s ego in check, distancing him somewhat from the burden of taking either full credit or full blame for the outcome of his work. Protecting from the corrupting influence of praise, and from the corrosive effects of shame.”
So how do we separate ourselves from our dancing?

“Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us – albeit strangely… Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest… through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”
The concepts that create movement are yours to play with!

Teach A Lesson Through Modeling It

The best instructors and choreographers talk the talk, and dance the dance.

The most effective way to spread the passion for dance is to just love it so much that others cannot miss it.

There is a professor Gilbert speaks of; about how life-changing and amazing he was by virtue of simply loving what he did.

“He seemed to live in a state of uninterrupted marvel, and he encouraged them to do the same. He didn’t so much teach them how to write poetry, they said, but why: because of delight. because of stubborn gladness.”

You Can Be Happy With Your Dancing

Dancers, especially “freelance” dancers (or just those who are perfectionistic to a fault) are destroying themselves and their motivation to even be a dancer, by becoming the “Tormented Artist.”

You didn’t make that team?

You didn’t get “select group”?

You’re not making enough money as a dancer?

You’re internalizing critiques and taking YouTube comments to heart?

Forget it!

Celebrate, instead.

Enjoy it, instead.

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”

Share Your Ideas With Other Dancers

If someone choreographs to the same song, or has your “signature” move in their piece, whatever makes you feel territorial over anything –

“People convince themselves that they have been robbed, when they have not, in fact, been robbed. Such thinking comes from a wretched allegiance to the  notion of scarcity… Somebody else got mine.”
The world is abundant, of thoughts, ideas, infinite creations ready to be manifested.

Let others make, and let yourself make more!

I mean, art is free, art is for all.

There’s No Such Thing As “Not Creative”

A trademark excuse out of trying anything is that it doesn’t come naturally to you – “I wasn’t born with it.”

Well, guess what?! That excuse won’t fly when comes to creativity.

“To even call somebody “a creative person” is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it. If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”

You DO have it in you.

Dance With Your Heart

“…I figured people might mock it for being so terribly earnest, But I wrote that book anyhow, because I needed to write it for my own intimate purposes – and also because I was curious to see if I could convey my emotional experiences adequately on paper. It never occurred to me that my own thoughts and feelings might intersect so intensely with the thoughts an feelings of so many other people.”

When someone creates a piece in their car 1 hour before class or choreo day, it’s apparent.

When someone creates a piece that means something to them, that you can tell comes from a place of truth, of vulnerability… That’s even more apparent.

The most refreshing, touching, and impressive works of art are not the ones that are necessarily from the biggest, most famous choreographers.

The best works are the ones that speak to the soul, and resonate with the viewer.

My heart will see your heart, and that connection… That’s art.

Take Your Dancing Seriously… But Not Too Seriously

Sometimes, dance gets competitive, people get power hungry, choreography becomes frustrating, the blocking doesn’t turn out the way you envisioned.

But remind yourself… it’s just dance.

“Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness.”

Despite whatever, “when it’s for love, you will always do it anyhow.”

 

 

 

Author: Jessie Ma

 

Original post at http://blog.steezy.co

Dance Bigger, Stronger, And More “Full Out” North Shore Dance Society

Only dancers would know the difference between “going off” and “Goin’ AWFF!!!”

Goin’ AWFF means you’re dancing full the f@%^ out. Power, facials, energy – everything.

You probably can name a few dancers who “go awff.” You’re blown away by them every time they perform.

Well, we’re here to tell you that YOU can train to dance bigger, stronger, and more full-out, too!

Follow these 8 tips to take your energy from 0 to 100!

 

Strengthen up!
You don’t necessarily have to get HUGE in order to dance huge.

Size is not a determining factor in how powerfully you can execute. (I mean, have you seen Sorah dance?!)

What is necessary is strength.

Work out to give yourself more power and control when you dance. #Gainz, breh.

You don’t dance big by being big. You dance big by being strong.

So lift some weights, do some push-ups, hold some planks, and build your strength!

Stretch it out
You can dance bigger by filling out each movement completely.

This means using your body’s full range of motion.

Make this easier by stretching regularly.

It’s best to warm up your body with some cardio before you dance, then do a longer stretching routine afterwards.

Being more flexible will set start and end points of your movements further apart, making your movements larger.

 

Practice like you’re performing
“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.”
– U.S. Navy

What the U.S. Navy is saying is – practice like you’re performing.

Once you get on stage (or even in groups) there is no magic dance God that takes over, making you kill the piece.. If you’ve been half-@$$ing it the whole time while learning.

So when you mark a piece, still maintain the execution that you want.

The only reason you’re not giving full power would be to pay more attention to something else, like watching the choreographer, listening to the music, or looking around to set formations.

But if you’re doing a run-through of the piece, take advantage of each chance you have to do it exactly how you want it to look.

Use your core!
It may surprise you, but movement starts from your core.

Even if it’s your arm or neck – it all comes from the tumtumz.

For example, when you’re reaching with your arm, you can extend that reach by reaching from the shoulder. And you can extend that reach by shifting your torso toward the direction of the reach.

So if you want to dance bigger and more powerfully without looking sloppy, tighten your core!

Not only will it make your movements bigger, but they will also be more strong because the base of your movement is so firmly rooted.

Don’t flick da wrists
Even if you are dancing super big and strong, the effect can get lost by something really really small.. like limp wrists.

This is a habit that a lot of dancers have. Their arms make clean pictures… then it breaks right at the wrists! Ughh.

To combat this, channel your energy allll way through your fingertips!

This will ensure that your strength is being distributed in your whole arm without interruption.

And this will make your movements look bigger and more complete.

Focus on focus
Your head and eyes are a part of the picture you’re making with your body, too! Really important parts!

Not only can it look awkward if you’re constantly looking down or at the mirror, but it will also cut off your projection. And dancing BIG is all about projecting UP AND OUT.

Lift your chin up – especially if you’re performing for a bigger audience.

And if the movements in a piece call for you to look a certain direction, commit to it!

This doesn’t mean “look with your eyeballs.” It means “look with your whole face.”

It will make the move looks more natural, and it will help guide whoever’s watching.

The audience looks at what you look at.

If you’re reaching to the right and looking right at your arm, their focus will follow yours instead of watching you from straight ahead and noticing a single arm sticking out.

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Remember your dead limbs
When you’re dancing, your entire body is dancing. What does that mean?

Even if you’re isolating one body part and the rest of your body is stationary, that doesn’t mean you just forget about it your “unmoving” parts of your body.

For example, for a “right arm iso” move, I find myself putting all my strength into my right arm, while my left arm just flippity flops all over the darn place.

Dead and floppy limbs can distract people from what you actually want them to see.

Instead of paying attention to select body parts, create a whole picture with your whole body – including the “dead” parts of it!

This will make your movements look bigger and be more impactful!

Commit to your moves
Committing to your movements makes a huge difference in your performance. It makes everything more purposeful, effective, and entertaining.

But commitment is hard without confidence. Killin’ a piece first requires for you to believe that you can!

See Related Article: How To Dance With More Confidence

Put on your game face, crack your knuckles & give yourself a pep talk!

Original Article at: steezy.co

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Simple Daily Practices To Improve Your Dancing North Shore Dance Society

North Shore Dance Society

So you want to improve your dancing ability… but how can you do that when you have work, school, a social life, AND rehearsals to juggle?

Though it may be hard to work your schedule around taking classes, you can always work in some extra things in order to stay on top of your dance game.

Remember, consistency is key. Progress doesn’t come from doing something once in a while, it comes from doing something every day.2

Here are a few things you can start practicing daily to improve your dancing ability!

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1. Improve Your Dancing With… Morning Stretches
One of the best ways to start your day is to set up a morning stretching routine.

It doesn’t have to be incredibly long or hard, but the simple act of getting up and getting your body moving is a great way to jump start the day.

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds or longer to increase your flexibility. This will make your range of motion wider when you execute movements.

 2. Improve Your Dancing By… Practicing Muscle Memory

‘Muscle Memory’ is a motor skill acquired by repetition.

The best thing about muscle memory is that you can practice in your everyday routines.

Practice “ticking” while waiting in traffic or during study sessions.

When you’re working or studying, take a 3-5 minute break and practice a specific move you’re trying to refine or acquire. After doing it a couple times, move on to another move.

You want to build a pool of moves so when the time comes, your body will be trained to execute them on the fly during practice or class.

3. Improve Your Dancing By… Reviewing Old Sets And Pieces

Don’t stop practicing the choreo when the piece is done being taught! You can prolong the effects of a class by practicing and polishing it afterwards.

Review pieces you’ve learned and keep it fresh in your mind. If you feel like you are starting to forget how a piece went, take the time to re-learn it.

This conditions your mind to consistently think about body placement.

On top of that, how many times during practice does someone play and old piece and that one member always flawlessly executes? I was always jealous of those people. You can be one of them if you just practice!

 4. Improve Your Dancing By… Watching Dance Videos

Chances are dance videos is probably what got you into the ‘urban dance scene’ in the first place.

Watching is not the same as doing, but it can be just as valuable a practice.

Watch a video with the intent to learn from it, not just be wow-ed by it. Think about the connections between the movements, how the choreographer interpreted certain sounds, their performance, the execution, etc.

Not sure where to start? You can always check on the home page of STEEZY for your daily dose of dance videos!

5. Improve Your Dancing By… Eating Better

This one’s hard – I mean, who wants to give up their precious, precious practice snacks? But poor eating habits can be detrimental to your learning abilities.

Midnight runs to Seven Eleven or McDonald’s have a far bigger impact on your dance ability than you may think.

If you can give up these tasty treats, plan ahead and pack some fruits or veggies if you know you have a long practice ahead of you.

Good eating habits lead to better living, and with your body being your most precious commodity as a dancer, you want to make sure your engine is clean and ready for anything.

 

Original Article can be found at steezy.co / This article is newly updated and was originally published in 2014

North Shore Dance Society

 

Healthy Dancer North Shore Dance Society

North Shore Dance Society

Proper nutrition is always a concern for dancers. Dance is an activity that requires high levels of energy fueled by food, but it is also an activity that requires an aesthetically pleasing body. Since dancers are often concerned about their appearances, they tend to limit the amount of food they eat. Eating a limited amount of food means dancers are not likely to get enough required vitamins and minerals in their daily diets.

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Not consuming adequate amounts of iron can be detrimental to dancers and other athletes. It becomes an even bigger concern when you understand that iron is a mineral that can be lost through sweat. On extremely warm days, during an intense class or rehearsal, dancers can lose between 1 and 2 mg of iron.

A study of 47 female teen dancers in New Zealand found that 28% of them had iron levels that were less than ideal, and 5 dancers were found to have an iron deficiency. Another study conducted in the United States found that only 12% of 28 teen female ballet dancers ingested the recommended daily intake of iron.

Iron deficiency is a problem because results in anemia. Our bodies use iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the main part of our red blood cells and the part of our blood that binds with oxygen. Hemoglobin’s main job is to attach itself to oxygen in the lungs and deliver that oxygen to all of the other parts of the body. Our muscles and organs need oxygen to function, and our brains need oxygen to think clearly and operate well.

When there is not enough iron in the body, hemoglobin cannot be created, and oxygen delivery cannot occur. When a dancer is anemic, he or she may feel tired or weak, may have cold hands or feet, look pale, be moody, get injured easily and may have difficulty with concentration and memory.

It is very important that dancers consume enough iron so their bodies can function at their highest levels, and they can focus in class and remember combinations and choreography.

Although everyone needs iron, it is especially important for teens. The body needs higher amounts of iron when going through a growth spurt. The average adolescent should try to ingest 6-8 mg of iron each day. Dancers and athletes need to have 9-12 mg per day to help distribute extra oxygen to their active bodies and make up for any iron that is lost through sweat.

Although iron can be gained from a supplement, the majority of iron we ingest should come from the food we eat. There are two kinds of iron that can be found in food. Iron that is found in meat is called heme iron. The body can absorb 15-18% of this kind of iron. Some sources of heme iron are beef, lamb, liver, seafood, pork, and chicken.  The other kind of iron can be found in plants and is called non heme iron. The body can only absorb about 5% of the iron found in these foods. Some sources for non heme iron are grains, dried fruits, and nuts.

It is very important for dancers to think about how much iron they are getting when they plan their meals and snacks. Being sure to ingest enough iron will keep them dancing at peak levels and help lower chances of injury.

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Beck K.L., Mitchell S., Foskett A., Conlon C.A. & Von Hurst, P.R. (2015). Dietary intake, anthropometric characteristics, and iron and vitamin D status of female adolescent ballet dancers living in New Zealand. International Journal of  Sports Nutrition and  Exercise  Metabolism, 25 (4), 335-43.
Bonbright, J. (1989). The nutritional status of female ballet dancers 15-18 years of age. Dance Research Journal, 21(2), 9-14.

Lee, H., Kim, D. & Kim, S. (2015). An analysis of nutrients intake, related factors of anemia and bone density in ballet dancers. Indian Journal of Science and Technology, 8(25), 1-6.

Pacy, P.J., Khalouha, M., & Koutedakis, Y. (1996) Body composition, weight control and nutrition in dancers. Dance Research,  14(2), 93-105.

 

Original Article found at: thehealthydancer

North Shore Dance Society

Musicality North Shore Dance Society

North Shore Dance Society

music-notes-1920x1200

Two of your students move across the floor. The first one executes the steps well, but she isn’t truly listening to the music; her movements look strangely two-dimensional, monotone. The second dancer is about equal to the first technically, but more powerfully musical. Her dancing has highs and lows, accents and unexpected pauses. She stays on the beat without being flat and even.

Musicality is an ability to connect with music and express that connection through the choreography. “It takes a dancer from good to great,” says Gina Starbuck, a hip-hop dancer and instructor based in Los Angeles. While teachers tend to think about students’ technique first, it’s just as important for us to help young dancers develop their budding sense of musicality.

 

Why Musicality Matters

When students are able to interpret music in a sophisticated way, their work becomes less predictable and more playful, layered and spontaneous. But musical students aren’t just more fun to watch. “Musicality drives students toward artistic maturity,” says Laszlo Berdo, a teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. “It inspires them emotionally, so they can go beyond technique and really shine as individuals.” When Berdo’s students look flat during an adagio, for example, he’ll stop the class and talk about finding a visceral connection to the music. He asks them how the music makes them feel, and if they can put that sensibility behind their dancing.

Developing a good sense of musicality also builds confidence, so students can fully inhabit the music and not feel like they’re “faking” it onstage. “Often tension, fear or nerves prevent students from really being in the moment when they perform,” says Jeffrey Middleton, a music teacher at the School of American Ballet. Students with a deeper understanding of music, on the other hand, feel more comfortable making interesting interpretive choices onstage.

 

Can It Be Taught?

Everyone is born with some sense of musicality. This innate quality is a starting point from which to build and develop. “We all have a heartbeat and we all have rhythm inside of us,” says Barbara Duffy, a New York City–based tap teacher. “It’s just a matter of focusing on it and finding it. You can teach it.” The real question is: How?

First, start working on musicality as early as possible. “As teachers,” Starbuck says, “we tend to give a lot of even counts to beginner-level classes just because the students are young and don’t have a lot of training.” But Starbuck suggests giving simplistic movement with syncopated rhythms instead. “Be sure the steps themselves are within the students’ reach, and then make the musicality the challenge,” she says. That way even the youngest students can develop an ear for music, and the confidence to lose themselves in it.

Encourage older students to learn to play an instrument or at least to read music, says Middleton. “Once they understand a basic musical language, meter as opposed to just dance counts,” he says, “they’ll feel more confident about playing with the music in dance class.” And push students to listen to all sorts of music, not just the kind typical of their dance genre. Help them think outside of the box by choosing unusual pieces for class. African drum rhythms might be a great backdrop for petit allegro in ballet class; a Broadway show tune could be a surprisingly fun accompaniment for a hip-hop combination.

But the most effective way to help your students develop their musicality is to set aside a few minutes in each class for two or three brief musical exercises, which help students think consciously and specifically about the relationship between music and dance. (See “In-Class Exercises,” this page.)

 

Incorporating Live Music

“There’s nothing like live music,” says Middleton. “Pieces are a little different every time they’re played. Students need to experience how a repeated phrase can change from time to time.” Accompanists, who are usually highly accomplished musicians, may also intentionally skip notes, pull out a phrase or alter the tempo of a combination to challenge a student’s ear.

But many studios don’t have the luxury of live accompaniment. If you use recorded music, avoid playing the same CD over and over again, Berdo says. Students will tune out if they know exactly what to expect. And if they’re not studying an instrument or are otherwise familiar with the feel of live music, encourage students to find a piano and play a single note. Have them listen to the sound, notice how it resonates and think about the way they can apply that feeling of depth and timbre to their dancing. DT

 

 

The author: Julie Diana is a principal dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet. She has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Original post: dance-teacher.com

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North Shore Dance Society Things you never thought would happen… Until you started dancing

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Have you done crazy things since you started dancing, or were you always like that? No matter your particular slant, it’s indisputable that some of the stuff we do is absolutely bonkers. Going to a late night event as an adult with a job… on a Wednesday.
We all thought that one day, we’d grow out of the early-adulthood late-nights. Or, perhaps like me, it was never your shtick to begin with…

…Until you started dancing.

For every dancer, there’s at least a few times where we sacrifice a good night’s sleep for a mid-week event. Some of us regret it deeply, others make it a perpetual habit. Regardless, none of us thought it would be something we did when work starts at 9 a.m. the next morning.

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Flying to another city for a 3-day vacation… and never leaving the hotel.
Who flies to another city – especially a foreign one – to sit in a hotel? Dancers!

Gone are the days of sight-seeing vacations. Dancers can fly thousands of miles to happily spend the weekend in a hotel. Sometimes, we don’t even see daylight or get maid service.

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Thinking that an event starts “early” if the first scheduled session is before 11am.
I remember the first time I went to a Salsa congress. My mother thought I was lying when I said the first workshop was at 11 a.m. She was used to professional events, where the day starts at 8:30 a.m. and is over by 9 p.m.

Now, I’m experiencing the reverse. I see professional-developments advertising 7:30 a.m. breakfasts. At some events, that’s when I go to bed. I feel like these people must be mutants, even though these are technically the “normal” people. (Of course, we just call them ‘non-dancers’).

Of course, there was that one event where tech rehearsal was at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. What kind of  sadistic organizer schedules tech rehearsal at 8 a.m. on the Sunday of an event???

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Dividing the world into “dancers” and “non-dancers”.
When discussing a new person, what’s the first thing you say about them? For many dancers, the first description we give to others is whether the person is a “dancer” or a “non-dancer.”

Meeting a dancer friend for coffee?
Went on a date? With a non-dancer?
Bringing a friend to the social? Oh, they’re already a dancer?

You get the picture.

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Dancing to a Justin Bieber remix… and loving it.
Baby, baby, baby…. oooooohhhhh….

Yeah. You know you could dance to that jam if you do Zouk, WCS, Hustle, or Sensual Bachata. If you dance a ‘traditional’ style, there’s probably at least one equivalent artist who is a ‘guilty dance pleasure’.

Is it too late now to say sorry?

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Understanding that “Ballroom” isn’t an umbrella term for every dance.
I went WCS dancing at a nightclub with friends once. A bystander asked me if we were dancing Tango.

Outside of the dance world, partnered dancing seems to be generally referred to as ‘Ballroom’. For the ‘educated,’ it may further be divided into ‘Swing’, ‘Salsa/Latin’, and ‘Tango.” Forget even trying to explain Bachata, Zouk, WCS, or Kizomba.

Then, you become a dancer. Ballroom then specifically refers to the ‘Smooth’ dances, while Ballroom Latin refers to the Ballroom versions of ‘Latin’ dances. Swing isn’t just Lindy; it’s an umbrella term for a gazillion dances.

Kizomba and Zouk? How dare you call them ‘Latin’ (Just kidding… mostly).

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Caring about the soles of your footwear.
I worked in a shoe store for 4 years. The only time I’ve ever heard non-dancers discuss the outer sole of a shoe is when buying winter boots.

For dancers, it’s different. If the sole isn’t suede, what is it? Does it spin? What’s the grip like? What kind of floor is it good for? Are these shoes that can be worn outside?

We care a lot about what is on the bottom of our shoes. We even specifically spend time caring for the bottoms of our shoes.

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Discussing the quality of the floor.
Unless you’re buying a house, most people don’t really care about what the floor is made of. That’s why standard hotel ‘dance’floors are almost universally shitty.

Dancers? We want to know exactly what we’re dealing with.

Wood? Is it sprung? How ‘fast’ is it? Is it waxed?
Concrete? What are you thinking??
Carpet? Maybe as a last-resort when the real floor is full.
Tile? Are you trying to cause my joints immense pain?

The “perfect floor” is almost always the best gift you can give a dancer.

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Spending hours on YouTube watching other people dance.
Let’s face it: the only people who spend time watching endless streams of dance videos are dancers. Otherwise, ‘a lot’ would be several million hits – not a few hundred thousand.

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Reading this blog.
If you weren’t a dancer, there’s no way you would have read this far. Just sayin’.

 

The original article can be found at www.danceplace.com

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North Shore Dance Society Time to Practice

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Karoline Kasiorowski, a senior Molecular and Cell Biology and Anthropology major, dances with Scott Loescher, a senior Biology major during the UConn Ballroom Club's meeting at the Rome Ballroom.

Karoline Kasiorowski, a senior Molecular and Cell Biology and Anthropology major, dances with Scott Loescher, a senior Biology major during the UConn Ballroom Club’s meeting at the Rome Ballroom.

‘But I’m so busy! How am I supposed to find time to practice my dancing between my work, house chores, and the classes I already take?’ It’s a valid argument, if you think of practicing as something separate from the other things on our to-do list.

If you plan on taking your dancing to the competition floor, you may indeed need to reprioritize your schedule. For us Average Joe’s however, there’s a lot of places and ways we can practice, even on the busiest of days. Here’s just a few times you can squeeze in some practice:

Brushing your teeth: While you probably don’t want to try advanced moves with a toothbrush hanging out of your mouth, simple movement exercises like rolling through the feet or Cuban motion can easily be mixed in to your bathroom routine.
Out on the town: Walking is comparable to a progressive dance, in that you still want to move smoothly and balanced, from point A to B. So tuck in your hips, pull up from the crown of your head, and start walking! You’ll know you are doing it right if people complement you on your excellent posture.
Commercial break: Watching a show, and the commercials come on? Get up and practice your favourite steps! It’s the single best cure for ‘couch potato-itis’.
In the elevator: These cramped quarters are perfect work on your Cuban motion, rise and fall exercises, or turns. Just make sure to finish before the door opens…
Musical training: We live in a world of music, whether it’s softly in the background or blaring through your earphones at your cubicle. Train yourself to find the accents in the music, or when a new phrase begins. Tap a finger or foot to the beat to connect your ears to other parts of your body
Hallways in your home: Make your hallway your progressive dance floor! Practice your feather steps, tango basics, and foxtrot promenades with every errand that sends you that way. Might as well do it in style, right?
Mental memory: If you have footage of whatever you’re practicing, or just any awesome dance that uses moves you know, play it on your phone or laptop while having your next meal. As you watch, visualize yourself going through the same motions – studies have shown that this is almost as good as practicing it!
True, most of the tips above are for techniques, not steps. As you excel however, you’ll find that your enjoyment of dancing comes increasingly from doing your steps well, rather than simply expanding on the patterns you already know.

Give these suggestions a try, and you’ll be amazed at how much practice you can fit in! And what better than to have an immensely productive day, and still be able to tell your friends: ‘I got in so much practice time! How was YOUR day?’

The article was found at joyofdance

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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The Mindset of a Successful Dancer North Shore Dance Society

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Last week, we began exploring the mental landscape of a pro dancer, what keeps them focused and determined enough to overcome daunting obstacles. As you understand the principles they use daily, you can start to take advantage of them to achieve your own dance dreams.

We’ve created an excellent place to start, by clearing our minds of beliefs which hold us back, focusing instead on our ultimate goal – what we want to achieve through dance. This could be as lofty as becoming world champion, or as simple as knowing a few steps at your daughter’s wedding.

But how do we stay focused when we have a bad day, week, or month? In this article, we navigate three more tools successful dancers use to stay focused on their goals.

Fake It ’Till You Make It

Now that you’ve figured out what you want to do, have or be as a dancer, start acting the part! Imagine yourself as that confidently successful dancer you’ve always wanted to be. Use your imagination and ask yourself: how would this person move? How would they talk about themselves? How confident would they be?

By hot-wiring your brain to think like a successful dancer, you will draw success to yourself. Go into your classes with the mindset that nothing can stand in your way forever, and nothing will.

Watch your Thoughts

One of the sneakier ways our mind sabotages us is by focusing on the things we aren’t good at. It’s only natural that we want to improve our dancing, but if we only focus on what we aren’t doing well, our minds become used to feeling inadequate. And that can completely derail us.

Successful dancers aren’t just successful because they work hard – they also remember what they’ve accomplished, while keeping their thoughts from pulling them away from their goal. Watch for thoughts that are unnecessarily harsh or critical. Here’s some examples:

Replace ‘I always screw this up!’ with ‘how can I do this differently?’
Replace ‘I’ll never be a great dancer’ with ‘what did that mistake teach me about how to improve?’
Replace ‘I can’t do this’ with ‘hm, this is taking longer than expected. Maybe I should schedule more practice time for myself.’

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Be Patient

By applying the mental tools above, you are creating the preconditions for you to be successful. There are no guarantees when this will happen however, although people with less emotional baggage tend to progress more quickly. No matter what, we all have moments where it feels like we’re getting nowhere.

When this happens, remember to be kind to yourself. Think of how much progress you’ve made since you’ve started. Talk to your instructor about how you’re feeling to get their feedback. Try meditating for a bit and letting the negative thoughts drift away.

Most importantly, know that if you passionately pursue your dream, envisioning it as an inevitable part of the journey, while eliminating thoughts that distract and demoralize you, it cannot help but come to you. So be patient: Your dream is on it’s way.

The article was found at joyofdance

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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