Best Dances for a Wedding Reception

Summer is here, and that also means wedding season is already upon us!  If you are just learning to dance specifically for a wedding, you may be wondering which kinds of dances you would need to know.  All dances can be useful for certain social situations and outings, but there some that are absolutely essential when it comes to being confident during a wedding reception.  If you expect to be pulled out on the dance floor during your friend or family member’s wedding (or your own), here’s a list of dances you will most definitely need to know and why you need to know them.  After reading this list, make sure you ask your dance instructor to get you up to speed on these dances, or sign up for a lesson if you haven’t started yet!

 

Rumba

The most essential dance you should learn is the Rumba.  This one is easy to lean and is usually the first thing new students taught when they are just starting out.  The Rumba is a slow Latin dance that works well with most mid-tempo and slow songs that are typically played at weddings.  Since many love songs are typically this tempo, and because it’s not too hard for most people to pick up, you can see why Rumba would be the perfect dance for weddings.

 

Hustle

While the Rumba works best for most slow songs, the Hustle is the go-to dance for most of the fast music at weddings.  Wedding DJs typically play a ton of popular Top 40 music, and Hustle is a dance that fits perfectly with that genre.  Like Rumba, it is easy to learn, lead, and follow along to.  There are also a good amount of underarm turns you can do in this dance which adds extra fun to it (just be careful and don’t make your partner dizzy)!

 

Waltz

Some popular love songs are written with a ¾ time signature, meaning that the rhythm is counted in threes.  In that case, it’s best to dance a Waltz.  Unlike the other previously mentioned dances, this one is a progressive dance, meaning that it can travel around the dance floor.  Even though it is progressive, Waltz is still a slow dance where you can take your time while gliding across the floor.

 

Foxtrot and Swing

Sometimes wedding DJs will play big band classics from artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  In this case, it would be good to know a dance like Foxtrot.  Foxtrot is also a progressive dance, so you and your partner will be able to add a little flair to the dance floor.  Additionally, East Coast Swing is another good dance that will work well with this genre of music.  Swing is bouncier and moves a bit faster than Foxtrot but is equally entertaining.  There are also other genres of music that work well with Swing, including rock and pop.

 

Bonus Dances:

Nightclub Two Step

This dance is another good one for mid-tempo songs, but if you’re dancing to a song that seems just a bit too fast for Rumba, Nightclub Two Step would be the best fit.  This dance is typically done to popular love ballads, and since that genre of music will certainly be played at weddings, this is a great dance to know.  It incorporates small rocking steps and gliding movements that will almost make you feel like you’re floating across the floor.

 

Bolero

Bolero is a beautiful dance you can learn if you plan on dancing to very slow romantic songs.  Most slow music works well with a Rumba, however if a song feels way too slow for Rumba steps, this is where Bolero comes in.  Bolero, which is also a Latin dance, has drawn-out, sweeping motions and a slight rise and fall, similar to Waltz, which also gives it a nice, airy feeling.  If you have already learned Rumba and are feeling successful with it, you can try tackling Bolero!

 

Merengue

This final dance is another great one to have in your back pocket.  If you are comfortable with Hustle, then you’ll likely have no problem picking up this dance, as it is fairly easy to do.  The Merengue is danced mainly in Dominican communities and Caribbean cruises or resorts, but it can also work with a lot of fast-paced pop music (It may also come in handy for a tropical destination wedding!).  The basic step of this dance is a quick 8-count marching step, so it’s not too difficult to lead or follow.  There are also various underarm turns in this dance that leads can easily initiate and follows complete with no trouble.

 

Happy Dancing!  ^_^

How to Improve Musicality

If you watch dancers or listen to commentary about dancers, you may have heard the term “musicality” thrown around a few times.  Instructors or coaches may say that certain dancers have good musicality or that it’s something they need to work on, but what exactly is musicality?

Musicality is defined as “sensitivity to, knowledge of, or talent for music”.  In the context of dancing, it means that a dancer is aware of the music and the unique elements within that music.  If they have good musicality, their movements will match the quality and elements of the music.  Some might even say that musicality is “the ability of a dancer to become one with the music”.  This description sounds poetic, but good musicality often adds a nice layer of beauty to dancers’ movements.

If a person is already musically inclined, it might be easier for them develop good musicality, but it might be harder for the rest of us without prior music knowledge or experience.  Luckily, musicality isn’t a magical ability that people are born with; it certainly can be taught and learned.  With these tips, you’ll be able to “become one with the music” in no time!   

 

Listen to Music

The best way to start working on musicality is to get familiar with music and start listening to a bunch of it.  If you are preparing for a performance, take a moment to repeatedly listen to the song that you’re dancing to.  Pay attention to specific accents and major hits in the music.  If you already have choreography, think of ways you can enhance your movement during certain musical accents.  For instance, if there is a dramatic pause in the music, freezing dramatically or slowing down your movement will complement the music nicely.  You should also pay attention to the tone and speed of the music.  Is it sad or happy?  Does it make you feel excited or sluggish?  These elements are important in figuring out how your movement should look.  If you aren’t working on a performance and just want to work on general musicality, you can still practice these techniques with various pieces of music.

 

Work on Timing

Timing is defined as “the judgement or control of when something should be done”.  Therefore, in dance, timing is how well you are able to have your steps match a certain rhythm.  For instance, if your instructor is counting out or clapping a certain rhythm for you to follow and your steps match that rhythm, you have pretty good timing.  If you find that you typically dance faster or slower than a given rhythm, then timing is something that would be beneficial for you to practice.

To work on timing, practice tapping your foot or clapping along with the beat of a song.  Drums or other prominent instruments will usually indicate the rhythm of the song, so see if you can keep up with that.  If you can’t practice with music, try tapping along to something that has a steady rhythm such as a metronome, your heartbeat, or even the turn signal in your car.

 

Watch Other People Dance

Another great way you can learn is by watching others.  If you are still unsure about your musicality, you can observe other dancers and take note of how they move to music.  If you’re working on a performance piece and find videos of other people dancing to the same music as you, it may help to pay attention to how they move during certain hits in the music.  Another thing you can do is ask your instructor to demonstrate how they would move to a certain piece of music.  After their demonstration, you can try matching them, but the goal isn’t to make your movement identical to theirs.  What you should be looking out for is examples of flair and accented moves that you can incorporate into your natural movement.  Your instructor can also coach you on how to achieve this, which brings us to our next point…

 

Ask for Help

When in doubt, it’s always best to ask a professional for tips when it comes to musicality.  If you are prepping for a performance, your instructor will certainly give you choreography that compliments your music, which is a great way to naturally work on musicality.  While you are training, you can also ask your instructor to help you and give you tips and exercises that will improve your musicality.  Good musicality is what often distinguishes a dancer who is just going through the steps from a dancer who is really in sync with their music, so it’s certainly a valuable skill to develop!

 

Happy Dancing!  ^_^

More Etiquette for Social Dancers

In a previous post, we went over etiquette in social dancing and some of the unspoken rules of the social ballroom world.  We discussed how you should ask a person to dance, use proper dance frame, dance through an entire song, follow the line of dance, and generally be polite.  In addition to these, there are some extra pointers we would like to share that will enhance your social dancing experience for you and everyone else around you!

 

Don’t Teach, Correct, or Critique

Some events, such as practice parties, are good opportunities for dancers to review their steps, but unless they specifically ask you, don’t correct or instruct someone else on how to execute certain moves.  You don’t want to make them feel bad or inferior by telling them they are doing something wrong.  If you notice your partner doing a certain move differently than you, it’s better to adapt to them and continue to dance.  Their instructor may have taught them differently than your own, and it’s a topic you can discuss politely while you are off the dance floor.  It’s also important not to critique your dance partner or blame them for being a poor follower or leader.  It’s not polite to do so, and it does nothing but lower their confidence as a dancer.

 

Don’t Squeeze Your Partner’s Hand

Your first few times dancing with others may be nerve-wracking, but no matter how nervous you get, try not to squeeze the life out of your partner’s hand.  Loosing circulation is very uncomfortable, especially when you are dancing, so it’s good to be mindful of the amount of pressure you’re putting on your partner.   Sometimes people unconsciously cling on to their partners without even realizing, but if you are aware of how strong your grip is, it will make the experience much more pleasant for the both of you.

 

Be Gentle With Your Partner

A strong lead is important, but you should never go overboard.  When leading, try not to use movements that are overly forceful or will jolt your partner too much.  By pushing and pulling follows, you only make them feel uncomfortable.  To avoid this, pay attention to your partner’s skill level and only lead what is appropriate for them.  Ask your dance instructor to help you find ways to be a strong lead without pushing your partner around too much.  As a follow, be mindful of how you are holding on and clinging to your partner.  A follower’s job is to go along with the leader, but make sure you are still holding yourself up so you don’t put too much unnecessary pressure on them.  Also, be sure to let your partner know if you are injured or if you are in pain while you are dancing.

 

Don’t Show Off

If you are in a setting such as a party or wedding, there is a great chance you will be dancing with people who may not be on the same skill level as you, so it’s important to refrain from showing off.  For instance, if you are an advanced dancer that is partnered up with a beginner, do not try and lead them through difficult steps that you know they haven’t learned yet.  This goes back to our first point of not teaching other dancers unless you are asked to.  You can showcase your skills by cleanly executing beginner/intermediate steps or by dancing with another advanced dancer, but showing off to a beginner can be seen as rude or arrogant.

 

Avoid Collisions

When there are many couples on the dance floor at a time, it can very hard to avoid bumping into a few people, but as a dancer, you should be aware of your space and try to avoid running into other couples as much as possible.  To avoid collisions, walk around the edge of the dance floor when you are not dancing or when you are walking to the other side of the room.  Additionally, you should be following the line of dance when doing a progressive dance, and the general dance rule of staying near the center of the floor if you are moving slowly or doing a non-progressive dance.  Of course, if you do bump into another couple, you should apologize and be mindful of future encounters.

 

No Crazy Moves

Fancy tricks are fun during performances, but on a social dance floor they could be risky.  Obviously, you shouldn’t be trying tricks and lifts with beginners or people you’ve just met, but if there is a lift or something that you and your partner want to do, save it for a performance or a time where you have the entire floor to yourself.  If there is a lot of traffic on the dance floor, there is a very high chance your lift won’t go smoothly.

 

Dance Responsibility

It’s fine to have few drinks while you are at a party or dancing event, but it’s wise to be mindful of how balanced you are once you’re on the dance floor.  Dancing when you’ve had a bit too much to drink can be risky not only for you, but for your partner and other dancers on the floor.  You could misstep, get sick, or fall, injuring yourself or others.  So, be a responsible dancer, and take it easy if you do plan on showing your moves on the dance floor.

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Overcoming Stage Fright

Everyone gets a little nervous before a performance.  Even professionals get a little anxious before they take the stage at competitions or shows.  If you have never performed in front of others before and are feeling apprehensive, here are some things to keep in mind to help you overcome those feelings.  If you are someone who has performed before, but still experiences intense stage fright or nervousness, these tips are also for you!

 

Practice!

The more you practice, the better you should feel about your routine.  If you feel like you know your piece very well, that might eliminate some anxieties about going on stage.  For instance, if you are nervous about making mistakes or forgetting steps, a lot of rehearsal should alleviate that fear.  Try listening to your performance music multiple times because it will help you become even more familiar and comfortable with your routine.  If the thought of being in front of a large crowd is what’s giving you anxiety, start off by showing your routine to a small number of people and then gradually increasing the size of your mock audience.  If you are able to have access to your performance area beforehand, it would also be wise to practice a few of your steps on that stage for extra preparation.

 

Listen to Feedback

Assuming you have practiced your routine in front of others, they will probably give you some praise and advice on how to make your piece even better.  When listening to others’ critiques and advice, think of them as notes that will help to improve your performance.  Listen especially to the pointers that your instructors, coaches, and other professionals give to you.  When people praise your performance, take that to heart.  Sometimes dancers shy away from receiving praise, but it’s important to believe others when they tell you that you did a good job!

 

Talk With Someone

One of the best things you can do if you are having performance anxiety is to just talk it out and discuss your worries with a friend, your instructor, or a peer who as performed before.  Talking about your stage fright might help you get to the root of your fear and help you figure out exactly what about performing makes you nervous.  If you are worried about crowds, you can find ways to cope with dancing in front of large audiences.  If the fear of making a mistake on stage is making you anxious, then plan on scheduling multiple rehearsal times throughout the week.  If you are still feeling anxious after planning ahead, don’t let your fear stop you.  Nervousness is common for most dancers before they perform, so continue to talk to trusted friends and advisors, and we’re sure they will be able to help you.

 

Realizing What You Can Control

On stage, there are many things you can’t control like the condition of the dancefloor, the size of the venue, the lighting, and other dancers’ movements.  If these things outside of your control are giving you anxiety, know that this is a normal feeling, but instead of putting all your focus on those things, focus on what you can control.  For instance, you do have control over how much you rehearse, the costume you’re wearing, your song choice, and your overall attitude towards your piece.  Having all those controllable factors in order will ensure that you feel prepared, and that preparation should lessen some of your anxiety.  We can’t always control outside factors, but if we realize what we can control and formulate an appropriate plan it will make some of our worries seem less drastic.

 

Meditate

Meditation can be a good exercise to calm your nerves and prepare you for a performance.  You can use meditation to clear your mind, examine your thoughts, or to visualize your performance.  Sometimes mentally visualizing how you want your performance to pan out can help you feel more comfortable with being on stage.  Visualization will allow you to imagine how the performance will “feel”.  While you are meditating, you can also take deep breaths to help you relax.

 

Find Ways to Calm Yourself

Since a lot of dancers get the pre-performance jitters, many have techniques they use to help them calm down.   You can choose one of the methods we just described, whether it is deep breathing or meditating.  You can also go over the routine in your head, do stretches, count, jump around, drink water, or do any activity that you know will calm your nerves.  Think about something you normally would do to cope with nervousness and apply that to your pre-performance ritual.

 

Feed Off Audience Energy

One of the great things about the ballroom dance community is that they love cheering on all dancers.  The audience will always give off positive feedback in the form of applause and cheers, so you can use that energy to motivate yourself during your performance.  This is extra special if you have friends, family, and teammates in the audience because they will be the ones cheering you on the most!

 

Pick a Focal Point

If the thought of an audience full of people staring back at you is causing stage fright, just remember that you don’t have to make direct eye contact with the audience because you can chose a focal point.  A focal point is just a far off location in the room that you can choose to focus on, instead of having to look at others’ faces.  For example, you can look just above the audience’s heads instead of directly in their eyes.  You could also choose to focus on intimate objects like a sign or an empty chair.  If you have a friend or family member in the audience, you can even find out where they are seated and focus on them if that makes you more comfortable.  Depending on the venue and lighting, you may not even be able to see your audience.  In that case, you could choose any focal point you’d like!  As you progress in dance, you will need to work on connecting to the audience by using strong facial expressions and eye contact, but if you are just starting out, focusing on something other than a face will help your stage fright.

 

Enjoy the Moment

The best thing you can do once you are on stage is enjoy yourself.  Live in the present and realize that once you’re up there, there’s nothing you can change.  If you have efficiently prepared for your performance, you should be ready, so trust yourself and your dance partner.  Before taking the stage, it may seem like performing will be a drawn-out, harrowing event, but once you start dancing, you’ll see that it all goes by so quickly.  A performance is a fleeting moment, so use your time on stage to enjoy it!  By the end, you’ll see that you had very little to worry about!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Why We Think Dance is the Best Stress Reliever

Many people start taking dance lessons as a hobby, and over time, they may also find that it makes them happier.  Having an activity that you participate in regularly can ultimately be good for your health and wellbeing because it can end up being a stress reducer.  There are many activities people do to reduce and prevent stress, but of course we think dance is one of the best methods!  In this post, we will explain how dance can be a fantastic way to alleviate some of the stress in your life.

 

Places You in a Different Environment

Being in your workplace or home can sometimes be stressful if you have to deal with multiple responsibilities.  When you go to the dance studio, you get a small break from some problems you may be having in everyday life.  You may often hear people say that it’s good to go outside for a walk when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.  This is because it’s good to get away from any stressful environments, even if it’s only for a few minutes.  The dance studio is one of the best places to go to de-stress because it’s a fun and welcoming place where everyone has a shared mindset - they just want to dance!

 

The Best Kind of Exercise

You have probably heard that exercise is a great stress reliever because it boosts endorphins.  Engaging in physical activity can also help you think more clearly, lower your blood pressure, and improve your overall self-image.  Not only is dance stress-relieving, but it also has many other health benefits such as improving memory, balance, flexibility, and easing depression.  It’s also a fun, social activity, which brings us to our next points…

 

It’s Fun!

Engaging in activities that you love can be a definite stress reducer.  When people are having fun, there will most likely be laughter.  In addition to making you happy, laughter also decreases stress, reduces artery inflammation, and increases HDL, which is good cholesterol.  Many dancers work hard to perfect the steps they are learning, but all agree that the overall process of dancing is a lot of fun.  We’re also certain many dancers can recall multiple moments in the dance studio that made them laugh!

 

You Hang Out With Friends

Studies find that visiting friends during stressful times can decrease levels of cortisol.  If you have made friends at your dance studio, being with them can boost your mood and lower your stress levels.  If you are new to a studio and haven’t made friends yet, that’s okay because face-to-face socialization has also been proven to reduce stress, and you’ll definitely get a lot of that with your instructor and other students who want to meet you!

 

It’s Repetitive

Repetitive behaviors and activities have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress.  Actions such as knitting, jewelry making, and other crafty activities have been shown to soothe anxiety and be an overall source of relaxation for many individuals.  Dance is definitely a repetitive activity, since you have to repeat steps multiple times in order to feel comfortable with them.  Your instructor will have you going over certain moves multiple times which will eventually end up releasing some of the stress you may have.

 

Puts You in a Flow State

Dance can put you in a meditative flow state which is actually a relaxing experience.  A flow state is a state of operation in which a person is fully immersed in a certain activity.  To be in a flow state, a person usually has to engage in an activity that they enjoy and are at least somewhat familiar with.  Think of how time seems to fly when you are doing something fun; this is what being in a flow state is like.  Dancers enter a flow state whenever they are practicing steps, dancing socially, or dancing through a routine.  Since they are fully immersed in their dance steps, their performance, or having fun with their dance partner, they can’t focus on other issues, thus relieving their stress.

 

Reminds You to Breathe

Slow breathing techniques and taking deep breaths generally helps people to stay calm and de-stress.  As you dance, you will obviously need to breathe, so dance is an activity that will remind you to do so.  Your instructor may also remind you to breathe as you are dancing (some dancers have a tendency to hold their breath if they are executing difficult moves).  When you’re done dancing, you will also need to take slow and deep breaths in order to get back to a resting heart rate.  After your lesson, you’ll find yourself feeling extremely refreshed, as well. 

 

Allows You to Unplug

As mentioned before, you have to fully immerse yourself into a dance lesson in order to really enjoy it, so that also means you have to disconnect from stressors on your phone.  Work calls, text messages, and certain kinds of online content can gradually become irritating.  Because of this, it’s healthy to disconnect from these annoyances every once in a while.  Being fully involved in a dance lesson is nice because you can distract yourself from your phone and other devices for a few minutes or hours.

 

Happy Dancing ^_^

Coaching 101: Why Coaching is Valuable

In a previous blog post, we briefly discussed dance coaches and explained that dancers may use the help of coaches to prepare for competitions or performances.  Now you may be wondering more about who the coaches are and the work they do.  If you already know a bit about coaches, then you may be wondering if you could use a coaching session and what you can get out of one.  In this post we will hope to answer these questions!

 

Who are the Coaches?

Dance coaches are people in the industry that have unique perspective and years of experience as past champions, judges, or Pro/Am dancers.  Many of them have even trained professional dancers themselves, so they have great knowledge of dance techniques, styles, and etiquette.  Many of them travel around the country, offering their services to other studios and training students.  Since they have a keen eye for all of the fine details in dance, they are great help when it comes to competition prep.  Besides competition training, dancers also enlist help of coaches for performances and general dance technique. 

 

What is a Dance Coaching?

If you take private dance lessons there is no doubt that you are getting the benefit of expert dance training.  Having a private instructor is great, but having a different perspective from time-to-time can also be very useful.  This is where coaches come in!

Coaches are able to give you an outsider’s perspective while dancing with your instructor or partner.  Coaches are able to see technical elements that your instructor may not always be able to see.  They also will give pointers on how to enhance your performances.  For instance; slight adjustments such as foot placement, the way your head is turned, or the angle of your body can make a world of difference when it comes to dance quality.  During one of these sessions, you would show the coach something you are working on and throughout the lesson they will work with you to improve it or help you understand certain dance concepts.  You can also think of a session as taking your car to be polished!  A dance coach helps you to fine-tune your dance skills. 

 

Why Do You Need Coaching?

If you are preparing for a competition or performance, it is 100% recommended that you sign up for a coaching session.  As mentioned before, coaches know exactly what judges and audiences will be looking for during competitions and showcases, so their help would clearly be beneficial.  Imagine that you are going to submit artwork that will be reviewed by hundreds of professionals and critics.  You would want to make sure that your work is top notch, so you might enlist extra help by having others review it.  It’s almost like Meryl Streep giving you an acting lesson; you’d be getting help from one of the elites of the field!

However, you don’t need to be preparing for a special event in order to be coached.  A session with a coach can only help you become a better dancer.  They will be able to push your dance skills to the next level, and you’ll be able to use what you learned for future endeavors.  If there is a certain dance or move that you have been struggling with, a dance coach just may be able to help and give you some advice or techniques that will make something “click” for you.

 

Can You Take Coaching?

Every dancer could use a coach’s help.  Many people get intimidated at the idea of a coaching session and believe they are only for advanced dancers, but they truly are for everyone.  Some people think they may not be ready for a session with a coach, but if you have been dancing for a while (especially if you have been doing performances) you should definitely consider the help of a coach.  You don’t have to be a competitive dancer to have a coach – they can help you with a performance or they can just help you with technique.  Any dancer can take away a valuable lesson from a coach and their training will only make you a better dancer.

 

When Can You Take Coaching?

Most people think you can only take coaching when you have a competition or show coming up, but you can actually take them all the time!  Whenever you get the chance or whenever a coach comes to your studio, you should be taking advantage of the opportunity to train with a coach.  Many dancers will sign up for masterclasses from professionals, not because they are preparing for something, but because they know that the professional will give them a treasured dance experience.  No matter what, you will always be able to learn something new.  Your dance journey is never finished and there will always be more things for you to work on.  Check in with our studio to see which coaches are coming in!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

How to Ease Back into Dance After a Long Break

Many dancers hope to have a consistent dance schedule that allows them to practice at least once a week.  However, random life events can get in the way and cause them to take unplanned breaks.  Depending on how long they are, these breaks can set dancers back in a various amount of ways.  Once they finally do decide to come back to dance, they may initially feel lost.  This is a normal feeling, as anything that takes people away from their normal schedule can shake them up a bit.  The good news is that it’s definitely possible for dancers to get back up to speed, even after a hiatus.  We have a few pieces of advice for dancers that are thinking about getting back on the dance floor.  These tips will surely be useful if you or a friend have just started back up and are feeling a bit discouraged. 

 

Forget Courage, Just Do It!

Many people may hesitate to go back to their studios because they have the same fears that a lot of new dancers have – they are worried about looking a certain way, or feel as though they won’t be able to do certain moves.  Since people get caught up in these mindsets, their confidence is weakened and they end up avoiding dance lessons.  It’s reasonable to have these thoughts at first, but you have to remember why you started dancing in the first place and why you kept coming back.  It is okay to be nervous, and you might not be able to dance like before, but over time you will forget your worries and your courage will come back naturally.  The first step is to ignore your self-doubt and just dance!

 

Start Slow

When you come back to dance, you may not be at the same level as before and you may not be able to do certain movements as easily. You could jump right back into moves you were previously working on, but there is a chance you could hurt yourself if you are trying to do something difficult.  To avoid injury, it’s best to start slow and work yourself up to where you left off.  For example; if you were working on advanced silver steps and lifts before, it’s best to work on some bronze steps and avoid doing lifts until you feel comfortable and limber enough to do them again.  Conditioning exercises are another good way to get back into old moves, especially if they involve a lot of flexibility or strength.  It may take a while for your body to adjust, but if you keep practicing you will get back on track in no time.

 

Trust Muscle Memory

Dance can be repetitive at times, but this is good because repetition helps build muscle memory.  Muscle memory makes it easier to get back into the groove of certain dance moves that you previously learned.  People will often find that they automatically start doing steps from a certain dance or routine, even if they haven’t practiced them in a while.  As you go through some of your old movements, try not to overthink it at first.  Trust your muscle memory, allow you instructor to lightly guide you through the movement, and see what your body remembers.  You may surprise yourself!  After you’ve tried this, then you can do a concrete review of the steps. 

 

Try Something New

Our bodies change over time and sometimes that makes it difficult to dance in ways that we used to.  When this is the case, it may be a good idea to try new ways of moving or learning.  This doesn’t mean you have to completely give up on your old dance habits; it just means you are adapting and growing.  For you, this may mean executing a move in a different way or picking up a completely new dance style.  Dancers have a wide variety of styles to try out, so it’s good to test the waters every once in a while to see what else you can do.  You may even find that you are better at a new style or technique than another!  For instance; if you primarily danced Latin, trying a few smooth and standard dances may end up being a refreshing experience.  You might also discover a new favorite dance!

 

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

We state this many times, but everyone grows at different rates, so you can’t compare yours progress to someone else’s.  You already know that you can’t expect yourself to be at the exact same level as you were before you stopped dancing.  So similarly, you can’t expect yourself to be the same level as other dancers around you. You may have friends who are at a higher level, but you can’t let that discourage you.  They may have been able to put in more practice hours, but that doesn’t make you any less of a dancer.  It’s not wise to judge yourself based on how far along other people are.  Take your time and don’t try and rush your progress to try to catch up to someone else.  Eventually you will start to get back to the level that you were at before.  If you aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like, you shouldn’t stress out because the most important thing about dance is to...

 

Have Fun!

Remember why you started to dance in the first place.  You should never beat yourself up about getting back to your previous level.  You will eventually get to where you need to be, but in the meantime, enjoy the journey along the way!  If training begins to stress you out, find ways to make dance fun again by attending a party, watching a show or competition, or even preparing for your own performance.

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Valentine’s Day Music for All (or Most) Dance Styles

Since it is Valentine’s Day, it’s likely that you have love or romance on your mind.  If you are also a dancer, you might be thinking of some romantic songs to dance to.  Luckily, most of the music that’s out there tends to be love songs, so it’s not very hard to find something for Valentine’s Day.  What can be difficult, however, is finding certain music for specific styles of dance.  The most common love songs are mostly Rumbas, Bolero’s, or Waltzes, so what do we do about the other styles?  The good news is that we’ve put together a list of love songs you can use and the specific dance they go along with.  Enjoy!

 

·         Rumba“Just The Way You Are” – Bruno Mars

·         Cha-Cha“September” – Earth, Wind, and Fire

·         East Coast Swing“Love You Like A Love Song” – Selena Gomez & The Scene

·         West Coast Swing “No One” – Alicia Keys

·         Bolero“Truly, Madly, Deeply” – Savage Garden

·         Hustle“Shut Up and Dance” – Walk The Moon

·         Salsa “Lost Without U” – Robin Thicke

·         Jive (or Single-Time Swing)“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen

·         Waltz“Open Arms” – Journey

·         Foxtrot “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers

·         Tango “Sweet Dreams” - Beyoncé

·         Merengue“Addicted To You” - Shakira

·         Viennese Waltz“Kiss from a Rose” – Seal

·         Samba“Lean On” – Major Lazer, MØ, & DJ Snake

·         Quickstep“You’re the One That I Want” – Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta

If you’re looking for even more music to dance to you can always come in and ask our instructors for suggestions, too!

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Best Dances to Learn for a Great Night

New dance students will often ask their instructors which dances they think are best to learn.  Honestly, we believe that all dances are fun and worth learning, but many wish to find out which ones will be used the most.  Many social dancers are interested in learning dances that they will actually be able to use when they go out to parties and clubs.  Dances like Waltz and Tango may be done from time to time at certain events, but you might find yourself doing something like Hustle or Salsa most of the time.  Here are some social dances you should be familiar with if you decide to go out:

 

Rumba

Rumba is probably one of the most essential dances to know if you want to dance socially.  This slower Latin style is characterized by Cuban motion, or rhythmic swaying of the hips caused by bending and straightening of the knees.  This dance is a great one to use for slower music that is in 4/4 time.  If you are at a wedding or an event where a lot of slow and romantic music is played, the Rumba will definitely be useful. 

 

Merengue

Merengue is a dance from the Dominican Republic that is popular among those who are from or travel to Latin America.  If you’ve ever been on a Caribbean cruise, you have probably seen people do this dance.  Not only is it a good one to learn because of its popularity, but it’s also easy to catch on to.  The basic step of this dance is an eight-count marching step where partners can either move sideways or circle each other.  Dancers also bend their knees slightly left and right, making their hips move, as well.  Many of the figures are also fairly easy to do.  While the music for Merengue is usually fast and upbeat, it’s a very free moving dance that makes it perfect for social settings. 

 

Salsa

Salsa music is a popular genre in many nightclubs, so it’s clear that learning some Salsa will be beneficial.  This is a fast-moving dance that requires quick footwork and hip movements.  There are many hip hop songs that are influenced by Salsa music, so you’ll find that you won’t always be dancing to traditional Latin music.  Many people are also familiar with some basic steps of Salsa, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a dance partner when you go out!

 

Hustle

Hustle is another quick-moving nightclub dance that can be useful at almost any event.  Developed in the 1970s, it was mostly danced to disco music.  Since then it has evolved and can actually be danced to a wide variety of dance music that is out today.  At most parties or events, DJs will play Top-40 pop music more often than other genres, and the best thing to do with a dance partner is the Hustle.  It is also another fun dance that is easy to learn.  Partners rotate around each other and there are also many variations of underarm turns that can be done.

 

Bonus: Nightclub Two-Step

This particular dance may not be taught as frequently as the core dances, but it is still a good one to know.  “Nightclub” is in the name, so it is clearly a dance that you would use when you go out!  Nightclub Two-Step is typically danced to mid-tempo pop-ballads that are in 4/4 time.  Since these songs are usually a bit too fast for Rumba, Nightclub Two-Step is a perfect replacement.  The footwork consists of long sweeping movements and tiny rock steps that make it a relaxed, playful, and easy dance.

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Things To Keep In Mind When Setting Dance Goals

Since we are almost a full month into the New Year, let’s talk about resolutions and goal-setting!  Many people make goals at the beginning of the year, but they often don’t stick to them.  They set them to the side, abandon them, or tell themselves that the goals are out of reach.  As dancers, we are constantly training, and we will most likely be setting many new goals this year.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing and setting your dance goals.  Hopefully these points will make it a bit easier to stay on track!

 

Make them Visible

In the beginning of the year you may have written some goals on a piece of paper, but by the time it’s May 20th, you may be wondering where that piece of a paper went!  You know you set some goals, but now you can’t think of exactly what you wrote.  To prevent a scenario like this, it’s always best to keep your goals in a place where you will always see them.  Many times, people will write down their goals in a notebook or some other piece of paper and put it away for the rest of the year.  It’s okay to write in a personal notebook or something, but make sure that the notebook is in a place where you’ll see it often.  You can also post your goals on a wall in your room or make a note in your phone so they are readily available to you.  Making them visible will constantly remind you of what you set out to achieve.  You may think that you will be able to remember them, but when life gets hectic your goals can slip out of mind.

 

Write in a Positive Language

For the most part, we make dance goals so that we can improve some aspect of our dancing or enhance our dance experience.  However, you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t being too harsh on yourself when you set certain goals.  When you write them, make sure the language is positive; don’t put yourself down, guilt yourself into certain behaviors, or make goals based on what you think other people want.  For instance; writing “I want to be as good as [famous dancer]” is not too great of a start to goal-making.  Comparing yourself to others can be harmful to your psyche and that particular goal is written in a way that assumes you aren’t good enough. Individual goals should be something we set to better ourselves, not to make us equivalent to someone else (which can never truly be possible).  Instead of setting goals with others’ expectations and standards in mind, set goals based on what you want and how you want to feel.  Instead of writing “I want my competition routine to look better so the judges will like me”, write “I want to feel good doing my competition routine so that I can confidently feel like I did my best”.  Imagine that someone else is writing goals for you.  You would want this person to treat you kindly, right?  So do the same with yourself!

 

Be Specific and Realistic

It’s easy to write vague goals.  Examples are phrases such as, “be a better dancer” or “learn more steps”.  These may very well be certain things that you want to achieve, but they are not very specific.  What do you mean by “better”?  How many more steps do you want to learn?  If you want to specify your goals, imagine that a magical genie was granting you a wish.  You would need to be very clear about your wish so that the genie wouldn’t grant you something different.  It may be true that you want to be a better dancer, but start by thinking about certain aspects of your dancing that you want to improve.  Do you want better technique?  Are you working on a particular dance?  Do you want to develop your leading/following abilities?  Take time to really think about specific details of your dancing that you want to work on.  Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to set a deadline for some of your goals.  Aiming to set a goal by a certain date pushes a lot of people to really work hard.  It’s also good to make your goals realistic.  Making a goal to compete at twenty events a year is great, but most professional dancers can’t even reach that goal.  If you aren’t sure you have the endurance, time, or money to compete that much, then it might be best to lower your target for now.  In general, it’s best to be aware of your own situation before setting a goal rather than realizing that you put too much on your plate.  The journey towards your goals should be more exciting than stressful!

 

Measure Progress

Once you make your goals specific, it becomes easier to keep track of your progress.  As you work towards your goals, keep track of all accomplishments so that you can reflect on your growth.  It’s really satisfying to keep a record of your dance development so you can look back and see how you’ve grown.  For instance, if you set a goal to work on arm styling, you should take videos of yourself when you dance.  With the videos, you will be able to clearly see your movement and how you can improve.  You will also be able to see if you are getting better with each video.  You can also keep a journal to document your journey towards your goals.  If you want, you can even note any setbacks or errors you may have made.  Sometimes our mistakes can teach us valuable lessons so that we can do better next time!

 

Keep Going

The final thing to do is avoid staying at a plateau for too long.  If you have achieved all of your goals you should definitely celebrate, but remember that you shouldn’t just stop there.  To start off, you should make a point to retain your goals; try not to forget everything you’ve learned or lose all the progress you’ve made.  You should continue to practice any skills or technique you were working on.  After that, see if you can make new goals.  There is always more to do in dance, so your possibilities are endless!

 

And if you haven’t set any goals for the year yet, just know that you can set them at any time of the year!  So if there’s something in the back of your mind that you want to accomplish, now is a great time to work towards it!

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Apps Every Dancer Should Use

By now, most adults own a smart phone.  Besides calling and texting, smart phones allow us to connect to the Internet, listen to music, play games, and do other fun and productive activities.  There are millions of applications available to download to your phone, and you can even use a few of them to help you with dance.  Unfortunately, there isn’t an app that will magically improve your dancing on its own, but there are many available that will definitely help you with your progress.  Here are some apps that you should keep handy during your dance journey!  (And if you actually don’t own a smart phone, don’t worry!  Most of these applications are available on tablets or laptop computers.)

 

Camera

If you have a smart phone, you probably already have a camera installed.  This feature enables you to take photos and videos of yourself and other dancers.  After a good class you can record yourself and the instructor doing a routine, or you can just record yourself so that you don’t forget choreography.  It’s also good to take videos of yourself just to see if you are executing certain moves correctly.  If you are the type of person that likes to take a bunch of videos, make sure you have enough storage space on your phone!  Aside from dance videos, you can also take pictures in your environment of random things that inspire you.  There are also features on the camera app that let you slow down your video, change the picture quality, and other features that will vary based on the type of phone you have.  Once you have all those nice photos and videos, you can keep them for yourself or share them on other social media platforms, such as…

 

Instagram

Instagram is a social media site where you can post your own videos and pictures so that your friends and followers can comment on them and “like” them.  You can also follow your friends or famous influencers that are important to you so you can view their content.  Having Instagram as an application on your phone makes it easy to view and post content on a daily basis.  Many dancers use this app to view videos of other popular dancers’ work.  Many dancers also use this platform to showcase their own skills and choreography for others to see.  The best thing about Instagram is that it makes it easy to search for and view videos that you will enjoy.  Most of the videos on this app are short (only about 1 minute), but there are other sites where you can watch longer videos.  This app is a great resource if you are looking for new dance inspiration.

 

YouTube

YouTube is the best website to browse if you need to find videos on the Internet.  As an application, it makes it quick and easy to find a wide range of videos with your phone.  If you’re out and about and need to find a certain dance video, YouTube allows you to quickly search for it and view it on your phone.  Like Instagram, there are many dancers who have channels on YouTube to showcase their work.  You can also upload your own videos on YouTube, as well.  YouTube is another great resource with endless dance videos that will motivate and inspire you.

 

Notes App

Most phones should have an application where you can jot down quick notes.  These apps are already great for making grocery lists, logging random thoughts, and other things, so you might as well use them for dance, too!  When you have ideas come to mind, it’s nice to have this app on your phone so you can quickly type them out.  You can even take “speech-to-text” notes if your phone has the capability (this is great for when you’re driving or temporarily can’t use your).  You can make to-do lists for dance, write down your goals, type up choreography, or take down notes from your class.

 

Shazam

Have you ever been on a lesson, in class, or at a show and hear a new song that you really like?  If you forget to ask someone else the name of the song or if no one else knows it, you may have a hard time finding it again.  However, Shazam is an app that makes finding music easy.  If you install this on your phone, the app will be able to detect the name of whatever song is playing nearby so that you can buy it or stream it later.  It even has an “auto” mode, which means that the app will be able to continuously identify songs for you without you having to pull out your phone to prompt it each time.  This definitely comes in handy when you are at a show or competition; if you have “auto-Shazam” enabled, you won’t need to keep taking out your phone.  You can just relax and enjoy the show!

 

Anything that Streams Music

Finally, all dancers should have an app that lets you stream music.  You can find a lot of music on YouTube, but if you are looking for better quality, apps like Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora are good for finding most of the music you need.  When you are practicing at home, you can use your music app to dance to your favorite songs.  With apps like Spotify and Apple Music, you can even save specific songs to your own personal library or create playlists for specific moods or styles.  You can also use these apps to find fresh, new music to choreograph to.

 

Happy Dancing ^_^

How to Make Time for Dance When You’re Feeling Busy

It can be hard to find time to dance when you have a hectic life.  Other plans and responsibilities can make it difficult to fit a few dance classes into your schedule.  There are many people who want to dance but have trouble setting aside some time for it.  Likewise, there are people who are used to dancing for many hours and are now frustrated that they can’t dance as much.  The good news is that there are some ways that you can stay involved in dance even when your availability is sparse.

Here are some ideas and concepts to keep in mind so you can continue to dance or keep dance on your mind, even when you have a busy schedule!

 

Make Time Where You Can

When you think you don’t have time to dance, try to think about what you do in your free time.  People who spend a lot of time working or volunteering like to use their free time for relaxing activities such as reading, watching movies/television shows, or playing games.  These activities are all great, but if you think you can replace one of these with dance, you’ll find that you actually do have some time for it. Start by sparing 30-60 mins a week for dance, and see if you can gradually increase that over time.  If you’re up for the challenge, you could also sacrifice an everyday activity, such as watching television, and replace it with learning a new dance or brushing up on some techniques.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to be in a studio to dance either!  If you are absolutely new to dance, then its best if you come to a studio to learn proper techniques, but if you are a veteran who knows many steps, you can find space in your home to practice.

 

Dancing Less is Okay

If you are a person who used to dance multiple hours a week, but you now find that you can barely make time for one lesson, don’t let that worry you too much.  Let go of past expectations and standards; if you aren’t able to dance as much as you used to that’s okay!  Events will happen in your life that will change your schedule, but if you find just a little bit of time for dance or a dance-related activity that is good enough.  The important thing is that you are making the effort to dance.

 

Set New Goals

Setting goals will motivate you to dance when you’re busy, tired, or discouraged.  If you haven’t danced for a while and are thinking about restarting, new goals can be the first step to getting your feet back on the dance floor.  Create a piece of choreography, focus on learning a new dance, or plan to work on a performance piece.  Thinking about certain goals and planning them out will also help define what dance means to you so that you can come into your studio with a fresh perspective.

 

Stay Involved in a Dance Community

If you do find that you have little to no time for dance but you still want to stay connected to it, you can engage in the dance community.  If your studio hosts events, try to make an effort to attend a few of those.  If you can’t make it out to events, then social media is your best source.  Sites like Facebook and Instagram make it easy to see what your favorite dancers are up to, and you can even check out the cool things that other dancers are creating.  You can also stay in touch with your dance friends even when you are not in the studio.

 

Happy Dancing ^_^

How to Get Better at Retaining Choreography

It’s hard enough to remember certain patterns in ballroom dances, but when you start putting choreography together, things can get even more complicated.  Because many different dance pieces can have varying levels of difficulty, everyone can have trouble picking up steps at some point.  The good news is that there are some techniques you can use to improve your ability to retain choreography.  So if you’re having some trouble remembering certain sections of your dance, or if you can’t do the steps without your instructor, these eight tips might help you!

 

Revisit your Learning Style

The first step to getting better at a skill is figuring out how you learn best.  In a previous post, we discussed seven different learning styles and how to determine what’s best for you.  To review, the learning styles are auditory, visual, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary.  If you’re having a hard time remembering steps, take some time to figure out which learning style is most effective for you and apply it when learning choreography.  For instance, if you are a visual learner, make sure you can clearly see the steps when your instructor does them.  Once you figure out the learning techniques that work best for you, it’s possible that you’ll see improvement in your retention.

 

Observe First

It’s pretty common to want to dance along with your instructor as they are showing you the steps, but sometimes it’s best to just stand back and watch their movements closely if you are having trouble picking up the steps.  There is a possibility that you could miss something if you are also moving along with the instructor (especially if there are turns or spins in the choreography).  After you’ve carefully observed enough times, you can then try doing the moves yourself.  By observing multiple times, you may catch some details that you might have missed before.

 

Look in the Mirror

Many dancers don’t spend enough time watching themselves when they dance.  They are often focused on the instructor or other dancers in their class.  Besides the choreography and steps, your body should be the main thing to focus on during rehearsals.  Of course you will need to watch your instructor to learn choreography, but you shouldn’t get too accustomed to them being in front of you.  When you spend all your time focusing on the instructor or another dancer, you might find that you have trouble recalling the steps when they go away.  This is because you’re mimicking their movements as they do them and aren’t actively remembering the steps.  As you are learning, watch yourself in the mirror and pay attention to how you are moving.  When you recognize how the movement feels in your own body, you will get more acquainted with the steps and you’ll have an easier time remembering them.

 

…But Don’t Become Dependent on the Mirror

Watching yourself in the mirror is important, but don’t watch yourself too much.  If you become dependent on the mirror, things can become difficult when you try to perform without it.  This is especially true in group dances; dancers will often figure out spacing by looking through the mirror, but once the mirror is gone they might have a harder time with spacing.  At first, you may not even notice that you are mirror-dependent, but you can try dancing away from the mirror from time to time to see if you can do well without it.  

 

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Obviously, you will need to practice a lot if you want to get better at any skill.  Muscle memory happens when you repeat a certain task to the point where your body can do the action without conscious effort.  The only way to achieve muscle memory is through lots of repetition, so you must practice often.  Your instructor will likely go over a step multiple times, so you should use those moments to fully go through the steps.  If you aren’t retaining in class, it’s also important that you practice as much as possible while you are at home.

 

Take Videos

Recording videos of yourself or your instructor dancing can greatly help when you are trying to recall steps after your lesson has ended.  If you record and watch yourself you can see exactly how you are moving and fix any spots that are giving you trouble.  If you record your instructor, you also might be able to catch small details in their movement that you didn’t see before.

 

Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes

Even if you mess up while dancing in class, follow through and continue your movement.  It’s not good to get into the habit of stopping every time you make a mistake.  Even if you forget or miss a step while going through choreography, continue with the movement and come back to the section that you forgot at a later time.

 

Ask Questions

If all else fails and you have tried all of the previous tips, just ask for help.  If there is something you do just not understand, ask your teacher or another peer and they just might be able to help you out!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Preparing for a Long Rehearsal

Holiday showcase time is approaching quickly for many dance studios (we’ve been preparing for our annual Holiday Showcase here at Celebrity Dance Studio since September!).  A big performance usually means more time being put into rehearsing dances.  Long rehearsal hours can be exciting as they are leading up to the big event, but they can also be stressful.  However, if you plan ahead and take the time to ensure that you’re prepared for it, you might find that the day will go by smoothly.  Here are some tips you can use to make things less hectic.

 

Gather Items in Advance

It can be very frustrating to arrive at rehearsal and realize that you left an essential item at home.  This can throw your whole day off, especially if you’re having an important dress rehearsal.  To reduce the chance of forgetting items, you can try packing everything you need the night before.  Make a list of all your items, including costumes, makeup, water, etc. and make sure you put them in a bag or set them aside so you won’t forget them the next day.  This method isn’t completely fool-proof, but it can be a tremendous help to those who tend to forget their belongings.

 

Hydrate before Rehearsal

It’s obviously important for you to bring plenty of water with you to rehearsal, but if you aren’t already hydrated before stepping on the dance floor, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.  Drinking some water before dancing will ensure that you are ready to go and energized.  This will greatly reduce your chances of cramping up or getting dehydrated during practice because your body will already have the water it needs to function.  Try drinking at least one glass of water before you head out and continue to do so whenever you have a break.

 

Keep Warm

When you are dancing long hours, it’s always best to keep your body warm so you can prevent any injuries (especially now during these cold months!).  You should be using your breaks to rest, but you need to keep moving a little so that you don’t stiffen up too much.  Be careful when you stretch, as well.  Too much static stretching or stretching when your body isn’t warm can tear your muscles instead of properly lengthening them.  When in doubt, just do a few jumping jacks or run in place!

 

Wear Layers

Temperatures can vary in a dance studio or theatre.  When dancers are active, it can feel like a billion degrees, but when they stop moving for a while they can get chilly.  This is why it’s important to think about having multiple layers of clothing in case you need to add or remove clothing throughout the day.  As mentioned before, keeping your body warm can prevent injuries, so be prepared to bring along sweaters, jackets, sweatpants, and other items to warm you up.  You can also consider bringing a change of clothes.  You never know if you will get too sweaty or if your outfit will get ruined.  In that case, it’s best to have dry clothes available to change into.

 

Eat before, during, and after

Hydration and food go hand in hand, so we shouldn’t have to tell you much about the importance of eating before a long rehearsal, but it’s also good to bring snacks to eat during your breaks.  If you are allowed to have food in your rehearsal space, bring small treats like fruit, nuts, or smoothies.  You should also eat a full meal when you are done with practice to replenish your nutrients.

 

Caffeinate!

If you know it’s going to be an extra-long day, think about bringing some coffee or tea to keep your energy level up.  If you are not a coffee or tea drinker, you can substitute another kind of snack or drink to give you a boost.  Just bring something that will keep you awake and alert the entire time.

 

Stay Focused and Grounded

Since you will be having a long dance day, it’s likely that you will gradually tire out, and your focus might waver.  This will naturally happen to everyone, but you can remind yourself to concentrate and stay present.  There are a few things you can do to ground yourself: keep moving around, go over choreography, and drink water, coffee, or tea between breaks.  This way, you will stay on top of your game even though you are putting in long hours.

 

Bring Pain Meds (Just in Case)

Even if you do everything correctly, there is still the chance that you will hurt yourself a little or develop minor aches and pains.  When this happens, it’s always good to have some medicine on hand so you can make it through the day.  Of course you should never try to dance when you have a major injury or acute pain, but if you have a small headache or soreness in your muscles, Tylenol or Advil should make you feel normal again so you can focus on dancing.

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Gifts for Dancers

It’s already October, so that means holiday season is approaching quickly!  If you know a dancer, you might be thinking of a few gifts that you could get them - you may be thinking of items like shoes, competition outfits, dance classes, or tickets to a show or dance convention.  All of those ideas are great, but they can end up being a bit pricey.  However, there are some options that dancers will still appreciate, and you won’t even have to spend too much money!

 

Jewelry and Accessories

With any costume that a dancer has, it’s likely that they will always need some accessories to go along with it.  There are a variety of different items you can get for dancers: hair pieces, gloves, ties, hats, scarves…sunglasses?   The possibilities are endless!  Dancers may even enjoy small key chains so that they can attach them to their dance bags. (And speaking of bags…)

 

Dance Bag

Dancers always need a place to store their important items like shoes, snacks, and water.  A lot of them do not have a designated dance bag; many carry their items in purses or backpacks, which can cause confusion if they are used elsewhere.  To prevent items from being misplaced, most dancers should designate a separate bag where they can keep their dance-items.  The bags don’t have to be anything elaborate - small backpacks or totes will do just fine.  You can even find bags with cool designs on them!

 

Refillable Water Bottles

Hydration is a priority, especially for active dancers.  The best way to ensure that they are getting enough water is to constantly keep a water bottle on hand.  Refillable bottles can be a useful tool because they remind you to get your daily intake of water, and it’s a good way to keep track of how much water you have consumed.  They also save dancers money so that they won’t have to continuously buy tons of plastic water bottles (this is better for the environment, too).

 

Sewing Kit/Costume Repair Kit

Because of the many performances dancers are often a part of, they end up having a ton of costumes.  Therefore, they also end up having a lot of costume malfunctions and mishaps.  Rips, tears, stains, and broken zippers are inevitable, so it’s always good to have a backup plan.  You can get them a “toolbox” with many different items like sewing needles and string, super glue, safety pins, costume tape, bobby pins, stain remover, and more.  Your dancer friend will surely be thanking you later when they need to do a quick fix on their outfits!

 

Socks…

This one may sound like a strange idea, but if you give a dancer a new pair of socks, they will totally appreciate it!  Since they are constantly moving, they like keeping their feet warm.  In fact, dancers appreciate a variety of warm-ups - legwarmers, sweatpants, and sweatshirts are also items that are useful to any dancer.  Not only do they help to keep dancers warm, but they are also cozy and help to protect their feet on those rare occasions when they don’t use dance shoes.

 

Food…

Dancers are constantly on the move so they obviously get hungry often.  Therefore gifting a dancer with food or snacks is a fantastic idea!  You could get them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or food store.  You can also supply them with snacks such as nuts, crackers, pretzels, and other small, quick items they can stuff in their bags and eat on the go.  Every once and a while, dancers love to have treats like chocolate bars and candy, so don’t hesitate to get them junk food, too!  Since they also need to stay energized during the day, coffee, tea, and energy bars are also fantastic gift ideas.

 

Massages

Finally, dancers will certainly love any type of massage package you gift to them.  After a long day of dancing, a massage is the perfect thing to help them wind down, reset, and ease tension in their bodies.  Getting a dancer a gift card to a massage parlor would one of the best things to do for them.  You could even get them portable massagers or foam rollers so they can roll out their muscles on the go!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Dancing is for Everyone: 6 More Inspiring Dancers

In a previous post, we took a brief look at a few dancers who overcame physical disabilities to keep dancing.  Reading about stories like this can be uplifting, so we’ve decided to share more!  Here are six more dancers who have very inspiring stories about their journeys.  Some of them overcame social challenges and some overcame physical challenges.  It is highly encouraged that you learn more about these featured dancers as all of them are proof of the strength and perseverance that many dancers have. 

 

Michaela DePrince

1.png

Michaela DePrince is a 23 year-old ballet dancer who was born in Sierra Leone and orphaned during the country’s civil war.  While she was living in an orphanage, she was malnourished and mistreated because of her vitiligo – a skin condition which causes patches of skin to lose their pigment.  After fleeing to refugee camp when her orphanage was bombed, she was adopted by an American couple at the age of 4 and taken to New Jersey. 

Inspired by a picture of a ballerina she saw on a magazine cover, she started taking dance classes.  She trained and began to pursue a career as a professional ballet dancer even though she faced some racial discrimination – At age 8; she was told she couldn’t perform as Marie in The Nutcracker because “America was not ready for a black ballerina”.  A teacher also told her mother that “black dancers weren’t worth investing in”.  Despite the harshness, Michaela continued to flourish and excel in her career.  She was awarded a scholarship to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet, starred in a dance documentary titled First Position, performed on Dancing with the Stars, and even appeared in Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade.  In 2013, she joined the junior company of the Dutch National Ballet where she currently dances as a soloist.  It is great that Michaela was able to come out of a dangerous environment, but it is even more inspiring that she overcame discrimination and continued to dance even when she was told that she would never succeed.

 

Alicia Alonso

2.png

 

Alicia Alonso is a well-known ballerina and choreographer from Cuba.  She was born in Havana in 1920, began dancing as a child, and had her first performance when she was 10.  After getting married and moving to Manhattan, she continued training at the School of American Ballet in 1938.  Three years later, she started having problems with her vision and was diagnosed with a detached retina.  She went through two surgeries to correct it, but doctors concluded that she had permanently lost all peripheral vision.  Even with the bad news; Alicia didn’t let this roadblock stop her from dancing.  While she was recovering from her surgeries, she was put on bedrest, but she continued to practice by moving her feet and having her husband show her choreography through hand movements. 

Shortly after recovery, Alicia started training again and was almost immediately asked to dance for the American Ballet Theatre to replace an injured prima ballerina.  Her performance was critically acclaimed, and she was promoted to principal dancer of the company.  Over time she had developed a reputation as a supremely skilled and technical dancer.  To compensate for her partial sight and lack of peripheral vision, she trained her partners to be exactly where she needed them to be and even had set designers install special spotlights in different colors to serve as a guide for her.  These adjustments worked so well that audiences apparently were never aware of her handicap.  Eager to develop ballet in Cuba and showcase Cuban dancers, she eventually went on to start her own company, the Cuban National Ballet, which still runs today.  She even continued to dance well into her 70s and still remains the company’s Artistic Director to this day.  Alicia’s story is encouraging because her passion for dance outweighed her vision problems and she ended up being one of the best dancers and creators of her time.

 

David Toole

3.png

David Toole is a 52 year old dancer from England who was born with a condition called Sacral Agenesis, which means that his spine didn’t develop properly in the womb.  When he was born, his legs weren’t functional, and at 18 months he had his legs amputated.  He first got a taste for performing while he was doing a play in school, but he didn’t think about being on the stage again until he was an adult.  He was working at a post office when an old teacher of his gave him a leaflet for a workshop.  A new company was hosting a workshop for disabled and non-disabled performers.  David originally wasn’t interested in going to the event, but a good friend convinced him to go.  After he completed the workshop and a performance at the end of the week, he realized that dancing is what he was meant to do.

He was asked to join the company that hosted the workshop, Candoco, so he left his job at the post office, started training, and has been dancing with Candoco for the past 25 years.  He had discovered his purpose in life, and the directors recognized that he had something unique to offer.  By the 1990s, his career as a dancer had taken off – he toured all over with Candoco, performed for and met Princess Diana, performed alongside Sir Ian McKellen, and has done various other shows.  He even appeared in a few films and the HBO series, Rome.  He also performed at the 2012 opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.  Even though David does not look like a “typical dancer” he has many strengths and characteristics that make him a very special artist.

 

George Williams

4.png

George Williams is another English dancer who found dance through a workshop.  The 27 year-old has an unspecified learning disorder that makes communication difficult – he has trouble reading, writing, telling the time, and articulating his thoughts, but he always enjoyed dancing when he was in school.  When a performance development company, TIN Arts, held auditions for a new course aimed at young dancers with learning disabilities, they saw that George had something special and that he needed to be a dancer.  It was clear that he communicated through dancing.

Others have stated that George understands dance as if it’s his “natural language”.  He dances eloquently and confidently, and he is always in sync with his fellow dancers.  George says his favorite moves are “jumps, rolls, and handstands” and he “gets excited to dance for people.”  Shortly after the workshop, he started attending dance classes with TIN Arts, and in 2015 he applied to join the National Youth Dance Company and was accepted, becoming the first dancer with a severe learning disability to join the company.  When he left NYDC, TIN Arts helped him to develop his own solo show.  He and TIN Arts director, Tess Chaytor, created a show called WIRED, which George performed at various festivals and theatres.  He is continuing to perform his show throughout England this year.  George’s story shows how dance can be a creative outlet for those who struggle to communicate.  It also shows how not even mental and learning disabilities can keep people from dancing if they really love it.

 

Eileen Kramer

5.png

Eileen Kramer may just be the oldest active dancer in the world.  This Australian dancer/choreographer is 103 years-old!  She was born in Sydney in 1914 and was an original member of Australia’s first modern dance company, Bodenwieser Ballet, which she joined at the age of 24.  She has lived and danced in many places including India, Paris, London, and New York throughout her dance career.  For a time, she stopped dancing for 20 years to take care for her ailing husband, but she returned to Sydney at age 99 to start again.  She was at risk for homelessness, but the Arts Health Institute made her its ambassador and financially supported her to make more work. 

Eileen still dances today and most recently choreographed and performed in a production titled, A Buddha’s Wife.  Although she cannot dance much with her legs, she uses her upper body to express herself.  She has been refining her technique of dancing while sitting down by using expressive arm movements and gestures.  She isn’t able to do leaps and turns anymore, but observers say she dances with the “true essence” of what dance is.  Eileen says, “Dance is a particularly youthful activity to most people, and I think in Australia we expect our dancers to retire way too soon.  Thankfully as we age, there are more and more artists who continue to work, and I think it’s vital we celebrate that.”  Being 103, her secrets to living a long, rich life are “good health, good luck, learning about the world, and always looking forward to new projects.”  Through her passion, Eileen shows the world that you keep dancing, no matter what age you are.

 

Maggie Kudirka

6.png

Maggie was 23 years-old and a member of the Joffrey Concert Group in New York City when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2014.  There was a tumor growing very quickly and it had already spread to her bones and lymph nodes.  She moved back home to Maryland to begin treatment and she had a double mastectomy that same year.  Six days after surgery, she was back in the dance studio to regain her strength and stamina.  Even with the mastectomy, she has to remain on chemotherapy medications for the rest of her life to keep the cancer cells dormant.  The chemotherapy treatment sometimes makes her fatigued, but she continues to push through and train.  Her doctors always encouraged her to keep dancing during treatment to ease side effects and keep her spirits up.  Dance allowed her to “forget about having cancer and just do what she loves.”

Maggie started the blog, “Bald Ballerina” to write about her treatment journey.  Part of the blog’s role is to raise funds to cover her ever-growing medical costs, but her main goal is to raise awareness about breast cancer.  Along with continuing to take classes and perform when she’s able, she works with Starbound National Talent Competition, sharing her story and traveling the country to teach ballet master classes.  She also produces fundraising concerts, No One Can Survive Alone, which raises awareness and funds for her medical expenses.  Her motivation continues through her dedication to dance – creating, promoting, and performing.

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Which Dance Are You?

If you are new to dance, you might still be trying to figure out which style is your favorite.  Maybe you’re just trying to decide which one best suits you.  If you have learned or are currently learning the six core dances (Rumba, Cha-Cha, East Coast Swing, Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot) you may eventually start to recognize your favorites.  If you haven’t figured that out yet, we have prepared a very real and totally accurate short quiz that will help you discover which dance best suits you!*  To complete it, answer every question, keep track of your answers, and check the results at the end.  Have fun!

1.      Which of these colors is your favorite?

a.       Red

b.      White

c.       Orange

d.      Blue

e.       Black

f.       Green

 

2.      Which of these options sounds like your ideal vacation?

a.       A relaxing week in the Bahamas

b.      Exploring the popular sites of New York City

c.       Enjoying the Las Vegas weather and partying in the nightclubs

d.      A romantic trip to Paris

e.       Touring European castles and learning all about their history

f.       Staying at home or going to a local amusement park

 

3.      What is your preferred style when it comes to dressing up?

a.       Elegant but not over-the-top

b.      Traditional or retro styles

c.       Anything flashy that allows you to move around freely

d.      Very formal, as if you were meeting the Queen

e.       High fashion/avant-garde

f.       “You can wear sneakers to a gala, right?”

 

4.      Favorite music genre:

a.       Pop/Rock ballads

b.      Jazz

c.       Electronic Dance Music

d.      Classical

e.       Alternative/Experimental

f.       As long as you can dance to it, you love it

 

5.      Favorite kind of food?

a.       Home-cooked, comforting meals

b.      “Cocktails count as ‘food’, right?”

c.       Anything spicy

d.      Gourmet foods of the highest quality

e.       You like to try anything and everything new

f.       Dessert

 

6.      Favorite kind of movies/TV shows?

a.       Romance

b.      Musicals

c.       Action

d.      Drama

e.       Mystery

f.       Comedy

 

7.      Out of these dances, which is your favorite?

a.       Nightclub Two Step

b.      Quickstep

c.       Salsa

d.      Bolero

e.       Paso Doble

f.       Hustle

 

8.      How do you like to feel when you dance?

a.       Sensual!

b.      Happy!

c.       Exhausted! – like you had a great workout

d.      Like you’re skating on ice!

e.       Like a secret agent!

f.       Happy AND exhausted!

 

Now, check your answers and figure out which letter you chose most frequently.  You may even find that you match with two or more.  Below are the descriptions for the dances:

 

Mostly A’s - you are Rumba!

The dance that suits you most is Rumba - the slow and sensual Latin dance!  You are either a very romantic person or you enjoy all things involving romance.  You are passionate about your hobbies, friends, and family, and you’re also easy to get along with.  When dancing, you enjoy movements that are simple and comfortable so you can apply a lot of energy behind them to make them look powerful.

 

Mostly B’s - you are Foxtrot!

Foxtrot is a smooth and graceful dance, but it is also very fun and lighthearted.  You might enjoy Frank Sinatra and classic movie musicals like Singin’ in the Rain.  You also enjoy having fun at a few good parties.  Although you are easygoing, you also enjoy getting fancy and classing up your style every once in a while.  When dancing, you love feeling like you’re Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire on the “silver screen”.

 

Mostly C’s, you are Cha-Cha

Cha-Cha is a high-energy Latin dance.  It moves very quickly, but also has sensual and spicy elements to it.  If you love this dance, it’s likely that you are a lively and active person.  You also love getting out on the dance floor at parties and clubs.  You enjoy putting a lot of energy and effort into everything you do, especially dance!  When dancing, you love feeling vibrant and fierce.

 

Mostly D’s: Waltz

Waltz is a timeless and graceful dance.  Couples will almost appear to be weightless as they move across the floor.  It also has dramatic elements to it, but is still gentle.  If you matched with this dance, it’s likely that you have an eye for aesthetics and enjoy all of the luxurious things in life.  You also might admire elegant and serene activities such as relaxing at a five-star hotel, or going to see a ballet or opera performance.  When you dance, you like to feel as if you’re floating in the air.

 

Mostly E’s: Tango

This is a very intense and dramatic dance.  Many of the movements in Tango are sharp but also sly.  It is a smooth dance, but has a very distinct style that is much different from Foxtrot and Waltz.  If you enjoy Tango, it’s likely that you are a person who enjoys things that are “outside of the box”.  You might also enjoy contemporary art because it seems fresh and new to you.  Mystery movies and novels may also intrigue you!  When dancing, you enjoy the smooth and foxlike feeling that comes with Tango.

 

Mostly F’s: Swing

Swing, like Cha-Cha, is also a high-energy dance, but has an essence that is even more cheery.  If you enjoy Swing, it is likely that you are a happy-go-luck person who likes to have fun whenever they can.  Others may also describe you as easy-going or laidback.  When dancing, you like to feel carefree.

 

*Obviously, this quiz is not meant to be 100% accurate, and the only way to REALLY figure out which dance(s) suit you is to go out and do them!

Happy Dancing! ^_^

How to Make Your Friends into Dancers

You have probably been a dancer for quite a while, and if you’re reading this you also probably love to dance very much!  Additionally, you might also have a few friends in the dance community that you can share your passion with, but you may also have some good friends who have not yet dived into the world of dance.  If you are looking for ways to finally get your friends into the dance community, you can try these four tips that revolve around the idea of exposure.  If a person is constantly exposed to an activity, the chances of them participating in that activity become higher.  Therefore, if you find multiple ways to expose your friends to dancing, you may eventually become successful in piquing their interest in dance!

 

Invite Them to Events

As a dancer, you undoubtedly have many dance-themed events that you attend throughout the year.  Whether they are competitions, showcases, or dance parties, these events are surely loads of fun for you.  If you have a friend to recruit, start by bringing them to some of these events.  If you bring them to a competition, they will have the chance to really see professional dancers in action.  Many are on an elite level when they perform, so your guest will certainly be blown away.  You can also show them Pro/Am competitions so they will see and understand the hard work students do with their instructors.  They might also be entranced by the fancy dresses and costumes!  Viewing some of these events may also give your friend a potential future goal if they choose to start dancing!  Inviting your friend to showcases will be similar to bringing them to competitions, but technical dancing won’t be the only thing they see.  They will also see many variations of steps, cool pieces of themed choreography, and many cool tricks that the dancers have prepared.  Bringing your friends to dance parties hosted by your dance studio is another great way to get them involved.  By just being there they can get immersed in the world of social dancing, and they can even get to dance a little!  After taking a friend to a fancy showcase or competition, you should definitely bring them to a party, especially if they are feeling intimidated by the highly trained dancers.  The environment will be more relaxed since many of the party attendees are social dancers that are just looking to have fun.

 

Show Them Movies and Shows about Dance

If you are unable to get your friends out to a physical event, the next best thing is to sit them down and make them watch a dance movie or show with you!  The television or movie screen may not have the same “wow-factor” as a live performance, but there are many well-done movies and shows that portray dance in an accurate and spectacular way.  Take the Lead is a fascinating movie that highlights how ballroom dance can be modern and powerful.  You friend may also recognize the popular show, Dancing with the Stars, but if they haven’t taken the time to watch a full episode, have them consider this one.  This show often features celebrities who already have a bit of dance experience, but the more interesting part of the show is about stars with little to no dance experience whose skills get stronger as the show progresses.  Seeing other non-dancers excel in the art could possibly be motivational for your friend!

 

Give Them the Gift of Dance

Sometimes you just have to give your friend that little extra push and buy them their first dance lesson.  A gift card to your dance studio is a great present to give them if they have shown interest in dance, but haven’t set a foot in the door yet.   If you have been excitedly talking about dance to them for years, this is their chance to finally experience it for themselves!  If you know that your friend is a bit shy and you don’t want to immediately shock their system with a private lesson, you can gift them one group class and attend the class with them.  Physically getting them in the studio is the best way to expose them to dance.

 

Introduce Them to Your Dance Friends

Finally, you should invite your non-dancing friend to meet your dance friends or people who dance at your studio.  If they become acquainted with people in the dance community, it is likely that their bond with this community will be strengthened.  Your friend will be kept in the loop about upcoming dance events, classes, and other activities.  They will also have more people egging them on to try dance (which gives you less work to do)!  With so many people around them who dance and so many events to go to, how can your friend not step into the dance world?  With a lot of encouragement and positive influence, you will hopefully see them on the dance floor soon!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Dances You May Be Less Familiar With

Cha-Cha, Waltz, Rumba, Merengue, Foxtrot, Salsa, Tango, Swing, and Hustle:  These are most likely all the dances that you have seen or danced at parties, showcases, or competitions.  If you are a longtime student at a dance studio, it would make sense that you would know the six core dances since they are the most requested and are considered essential.  In addition, you might also be familiar with a bit of Merengue, Salsa, and Hustle, as these are popular nightclub dances.  However, these nine dances are not the only ones that you can have fun with.  Obviously, there are many other ballroom dances, but some are better equipped for social events than others.  Even though the dances we are about to review may not be showcased as often at a typical party, it doesn’t make them any less exciting.  Many of these are easy to learn, as well.  So, next time you go out, you may feel inspired to get on the dance floor and try a few moves from the following dances:

 

Nightclub Two Step

The Nightclub Two Step is actually a fairly popular form of contemporary social dance.  It was developed by Buddy Schwimmer in the mid-60s when he was 15 years-old.  It originally came from a line dance called the “Surfer Stomp”.  This line dance was done to fast-paced music, but to make the dance work with slow-medium music, instructors changed the time and made the Surfer Stomp into a partner dance.  This dance is typically danced to mid-tempo pop-ballads that are in 4/4 time.  The rhythm is also similar to that of Rumba (“quick, quick, slow”).  It is sometimes seen as a good replacement for Rumba – many ballads are slow, but not quite slow enough for a comfortable Rumba, so this is where the Nightclub Two Step comes in!  The footwork consists of long sweeping movements and tiny rock steps that make it a relaxed, playful, and easy dance.  Next time you go to a wedding or club, you can try the Nightclub Two Step when those romantic pop songs are played!

 

Bachata

The Bachata is a dance that originated in the Dominican Republic.  It is commonly known as a dance in which couples step from side to side, moving their hips.  Bachata music also has its own distinct style which usually consists of guitars and various kinds of percussion.  The dance can be done in open, semi-closed, or closed position.  Unlike Salsa, there are not very many turn patterns.  In fact, dancers will often copy moves from other partner dances and incorporate them into Bachata, making it something that is easy to learn and perform.  Like Merengue, the basic steps of Bachata are simple: dancers take three steps to the side, add a little tap step or hip “pop”, and repeat on the other side.  The fun music, easy-to-follow steps, and hip movements make this a very enjoyable dance to do when Bachata music is played at parties.

 

Viennese Waltz

You may know a few patterns from the Viennese Waltz, but it’s probably not a dance you do every time you attend a party.  Its speed and complexity make it hard to be considered a social dance where partners can relax and actually socialize on the floor.  Instead, people often dance the slower, American-style Waltz which is more common.  Even though the slow version is slightly more popular, the Viennese Waltz is actually the original form of Waltz.  In fact, it was the first ballroom dance performed in a closed hold and is the oldest of current ballroom dances.  The fast and graceful dance is usually done at 180 beats per minute (while a typical slow Waltz is 90 bpm).  It’s a dance that rotates much more than the slow Waltz; the only time the dancers aren’t turning is when they are doing figures that keep them in one spot on the floor.  Viennese Waltz may be very fast, but it is still extremely graceful.  Whenever a song comes on that seems too fast for a slow Waltz, you can try out this dance!

 

Peabody

This ballroom dance evolved as a variation of the fast Foxtrot in the 1910s/1920s.  The Peabody got its name from a New York police officer who loved to dance fast Foxtrots, but couldn’t hold his partner directly in front of him because of his girth.  As a result, he held her on his right side in a promenade-like position.  The unusual dance position eventually led to unique steps and floor patterns.   Overall, the Peabody is a very brisk dance that covers a lot of space on the floor and is typically danced to ragtime music.  You may not see the Peabody danced as often, but it is done at many ballroom competitions and showcases around the world.  Even though it was more of a popular nightclub dance in the ragtime era, it is still a fun and lively one to watch and perform today.

 

Quickstep

This is another lighthearted, fast, and powerful dance that emerged from the 1920s.  It developed as a combination of slow Foxtrot, Peabody, and Charleston.  The Quickstep is full of dynamic movements and advanced patterns including hops, runs, quick footwork, and rotations.  The music for Quickstep is usually very fast with a jazzy or big-band feel.  Even though the dance moves at a quick pace, it should still look elegant, smooth, and glamourous like the Foxtrot.  Dancers always appear light on their feet, yet very energetic.  Just watching it can make you feel tired!  If you are used to American smooth dances, you may not see this one as often because it is only danced in International ballroom.  If you do get the chance to see a Quickstep performance or learn it yourself, it is definitely worth it!

 

Bolero

The Rumba doesn’t have to be your only go-to romantic dance.  Bolero is also a slow-paced Latin/rhythm dance that can be done to slow, romantic music.  In the western world, this dance is usually done in 4/4 time between 96 and 104 bpm.  It is a very unique rhythm dance because not only does it require Cuban motion, but it also includes rises and falls and contra body movement like in Waltz.  All of these elements definitely make Bolero a sensual and dreamy dance that can be done whenever you come across a song that is too slow to be a Rumba.  In addition to being romantic, it is also a lot of fun.  There are slight gliding motions in the dance that give you even more of a “Waltz-like” feeling!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

What's Your Learning Style?

Whenever we learn a new skill or block of information, there are certain ways in which we remember those details.  Since every person is unique, we obviously learn and retain information differently.  Taking this into account, researchers have figured out that there are seven commonly accepted ways that people learn.  These learning styles are auditory, visual, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary.  Many people can identify with at least one of these learning styles, but relate to a combination of one or more.  These learning styles primarily apply to how students learn in the classroom, but they can also be applied to learning and teaching other skills.  We are going to explore all seven of these styles and how they can be applied to dance.  By the end, you may even discover which ones work best for you so that you can improve as a dancer!

 

Auditory

Auditory (also called ‘musical’ and ‘aural’) learners rely greatly on sound when they are picking up new skills.  As long as they can hear what is going on around them, they are comfortable.  These types of learners are also good with music.  For instance, they may remember details better if they have a tune or jingle that goes along with it.  Auditory learners make great musicians, but this learning style is beneficial for dancers, too.  As a dancer, you may identify with this learning style if:

·         You need to hear your instructor call out/prompt steps

·         Musical accompaniment is essential when you learn steps and choreography

·         You don’t fully understand steps until the music is added

·         Once the music is on, you can move with the rhythm and recognize cues from certain parts of the music

·         You prefer hearing things out loud rather than reading

·         You easily notice changes in tone or pitch to music

·         Music interests you as well as dance

 

Visual

These types of people learn best with their sight (also called “spatial” learners).  They need images, diagrams, symbols, or any other kind of visual aid to help them understand concepts.  All in all, dancers who are visual learners obviously retain information best when they can see their instructors.  If they are learning new steps they need to clearly see what is happening.  You may be a visual learner if:

·         You feel like you dance best when you can look at yourself in the mirror

·         You need to watch a live demo or video of other dancers doing choreography

·         You record a lot of videos in class to review them later

·         “Drawing out” steps or choreography in a notebook, so you can visualize it in a different way is helpful to you

·         You get frustrated when you cannot clearly see the instructor when you are in a crowded studio

 

Verbal

Verbal (linguistic) learning is all about words and speech, but it’s different from aural learning.  Verbal learners are good with words and writing and prefer techniques where they are able to recite or write down information.  They are also successful with verbal instructions; if an instructor tells them how to complete a task without showing it, they will likely be able to do the task from verbal instructions alone.  Anything that involves role playing, speech, or scripting is good for these types of people.  In the dance realm, you may be a verbal learner if:

·         You remember steps after writing down notes

·         You need to call out steps as you execute them

·         You prefer it when instructors explain steps as they teach and use counts when showing choreography (5,6,7,8…)

·         Saying counts out loud to yourself helps you to learn new choreography

·         You can basically learn choreography and steps with your eyes closed (as long as you have verbal instructions!)

·         You get frustrated when your instructor is not speaking loud or clearly enough

·         Written instructions are enough for you to learn choreography and steps

 

Physical

In this style, learning happens when you do a physical (kinesthetic) activity.  Many people retain information just fine by listening to or watching others, but physical learners need to have a hands-on approach.  If you enjoyed gym class or attending labs where you could test out textbook theories, then this learning style may fit you.  Most dancers are also physical learners.  You may be a physical learner if:

·         You remember steps best after doing them yourself

·         Listening to or watching choreography isn’t enough to retain it.  You need to do it!

·         You feel frustrated if you don’t have enough space to dance

·         You are the type of person that needs to be active

·         You are a dancer.  Period.  It’s almost impossible to be a dancer without learning kinesthetically!

 

Logical

These types of learners are great with numbers (they are also called “mathematical” learners).  Logical types tend to classify and group information in order to help them understand it.  They also easily recognize patterns.  This learning style may not seem like it could relate to an artistic activity like dance, but many dancers need to use logical techniques in their lessons.  For instance, you may be a logical learner if:

·         Mentally separating choreography into chunks/sections helps you to remember it

·         You can recognize patterns or sequences easily when learning choreography or steps

·         You are a good problem solver: You can easily figure out alternate steps or change choreography if needed

·         Agendas and to-do lists in class are important to you

·         You rank lessons/dance subjects in order of importance for learning

·         You need counts in order to understand choreography

 

Social

Not surprisingly, the people surrounding you can affect how you learn.  Social (interpersonal) learners work best when they are socializing and communicating with other people.  You’ll always find that they prefer to learn in groups.  You may be a social learner if:

·         You prefer group classes

·         Large class sizes don’t bother you

·         You get nervous when you have to dance alone or with less than two people

·         You enjoy bouncing ideas off of others in class

·         You are comfortable with a lot of socialization

·         Team projects excite you

·         Group goals are important to you

·         You’re able to focus on steps even in a crowded studio

 

Solitary

Solitary (intrapersonal) learners are more comfortable figuring things out on their own.  This doesn’t mean that these types of people don’t work well in groups, but it does mean they do their best work when they are by themselves.  This learning style pairs very well with the other styles listed above, as well.  You may be a solitary learner if:

·         One-on-one lessons are your preferred method of learning

·         Your retention is best after an instructor works with you privately

·         You prefer when the studio is less crowded or empty

·         Personal goals are your primary focus

·         You get frustrated with lessons that point out information you feel you already grasp

·         Your concentration is best when you focus on your thoughts and feelings during class

·         Distraction happens fairly easily if the studio is crowded or if you feel others are disruptive

When people explore these learning styles, many find that they relate to two or more.  You may even discover that you identify with all of these.  Figuring out your learning style(s) can help you to develop your dance skills, but it can definitely beneficial for many other fields, as well.  Learning about yourself and finding out what works best for you is one of the best ways to guarantee that you are successful in whatever discipline you pursue!

Happy Dancing! ^_^