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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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! ^_^

 

Dance History

Dancing has been around for as long as humans have been on Earth (there are even some animals that do their own little “dances”, too).  It’s hard to pinpoint the exact origins of dance as a whole since every culture has their own specific dances, but what we can do is explore the histories of some of these cultural dances.  Many of these dances developed from people being influenced or inspired by other people, places, objects, or events.  In today’s post, we are going to explore the development of some popular ballroom dances while also learning a few fun facts about them.

 

Hustle

The Hustle is a general name for some disco dances which were extremely popular in the 1970s.  The early hustle was created by Puerto Rican teens in the South Bronx and was primarily done at house parties.  By 1974, it became known as the “Spanish Hustle” or “Latin Hustle”.  It was also referred to as the “New York Hustle” (there is also a line dance version of the dance, so when people mention the “New York Hustle,” they are usually referring to the partner dance). 

When most people think of “the Hustle”, they think of the Van McCoy song from the 70s, “The Hustle” (the tune is playing in your head now, isn’t it?).  The song actually is related to the dance.  In fact, it is inspired by it.  McCoy’s music partner was watching patrons doing the Hustle in a nightclub when he thought of the title.  The dance was made even more popular following the movie, Saturday Night Fever and is still danced in both nightclub and ballroom communities.

 

Foxtrot

Where did the Foxtrot’s name come from?  Was it actually inspired by foxes?  Disappointingly, it has nothing to do with foxes…but it does have roots in an interesting form of entertainment!  Vaudeville actors were stage performers that did all kinds of acts onstage, ranging from comedy to burlesque numbers.  Harry Fox was a vaudeville actor who is credited as being the name-source to the Foxtrot.  When he was seen doing trotting steps to ragtime music, people referred to his dance as “Fox’s Trot”, and the name stuck. 

Even though Fox is responsible for giving the dance its name, other sources credit African American dancers as the originators of the Foxtrot.  It has been said that Vernon Castle saw African Americans doing the dance in clubs.  After that, Vernon and Irene Castle introduced what they called the “Bunny Hug” and later changed the name to “Foxtrot”.  It was soon standardized by Arthur Murray into the smooth dance that we know and love today.

 

Swing

Many different styles of swing dance have popped up over the course of time, and each style has an interesting history.  Swing is a broad term used to describe a variety of partner dances from 1920s to present day.  With the evolution of jazz music came Lindy Hop which evolved from people mimicking other dance crazes like Charleston and Foxtrot.  The name “Lindy Hop” was inspired by Charles Lindberg, who made his groundbreaking flight across the Atlantic Ocean around the same time the dance was developed.  People said he “hopped” across the ocean, so “Lindy’s hop” became associated with the new dance.

From the Lindy Hop came East Coast Swing which was developed by various dance studios, including Arthur Murray’s studios in the 1940s.  Since Lindy Hop was considered too difficult and unstructured to teach to new dancers, the footwork was altered and East Coast Swing was created and integrated into the formal and competitive ballroom world.

As for Jive; it was another form of fast-moving swing dance that became popular thanks to musicians like Cab Calloway and Glenn Miller.  Eventually the dance made its way to Europe where the term “Jive” stuck as the generic term for all things involving swing dance.  English instructors began developing a more “elegant” style of Jive for formal ballroom dancers, but the Jive is still characterized by high knees and happy, bouncy movements.

 

Merengue

Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic and is popular among those who live in or travel to the Caribbean.  If you’ve been on a cruise ship or in Latin communities, you have most likely seen people doing this dance. 

One version of the Merengue’s origin story connects the dance to an unnamed war hero who was wounded in the leg during one of the revolutions in the Dominican Republic.  A party of villagers welcomed him home with a victory celebration, but whenever the soldier danced, he limped and dragged his foot to one side.  Out of respect and sympathy, everyone felt obligated to dance just like him and also began to limp.  This story is fascinating, but there is no evidence that it actually occurred.  Another story says that Merengue originated from slaves who were chained together and were forced to drag one leg as they cut sugar to the beat of drums.  The most likely story is that the dance was invented by slaves in the 1700 who would watch their European masters dance stoic ballroom dances and mimic them.  However, after deciding those dances were too stiff and boring, slaves modified the dance by quickening the steps and the tempo of the music.  It also started out as a group dance rather than a partner dance – dancers would form a circle and dance around each other.  Regardless of its true origin story, Merengue is widely known as a fun dance that anyone can learn.

 

Paso Doble

If you think of the Paso Doble, one of the first things that probably come to your mind is Spanish bullfighting.  While this dance is inspired by bullfights, it was actually invented in Southern France.  The dance is based on the typical Spanish dances of the 16th century and was a way for the French to portray the techniques used in Spanish bullfights.  The French even copied Spanish music and movements, but named many of the steps in French (for example: “Sur Place” and “Huit”).  The Paso Doble is believed to trace back to a French military march with a similar name, “Paso Redoble”, which was a march with a 2/4 beat at 130 beats per minute.

The Paso Doble showcases very quick, staccato steps with dancers dramatically shaping their bodies.  Matadors are arrogant, so the lead always carries his body in a strong, masculine, manner throughout the dance.  If you’ve ever wondered why dancers occasionally strike their feet on the ground, this is because it is a move called an “appel” which represents the movements matadors make to get the bull’s attention.  The followers’ movements are normally soft yet large, representing a cape that flows around the matador.

 

There are obviously many more dances with interesting histories to learn about, but it would be a very long read if we tried to get through all of them right now.  We’ve only just scratched the surface, but we will definitely revisit dance history at another time!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Why Practice Parties are More Important than You Think

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Almost a year ago, I discussed practice parties and what kind of things you can expect from the usual and special parties at Celebrity Dance Studio.  If you don’t already know, practice parties are events where new and experienced dance students can put their instruction into practical use.  They are events that are designed to imitate a night out dancing at a nightclub, wedding, or other event with a dance floor.  Imagine these parties as a “tutorial” before you go out and dance in the real world.  Even though dancing is the main focus of these parties, attendees have many things to look forward to, including food, drinks, entertainment, and fellowship!  Anyone who has ever been to a practice party can tell you how fun they are, but they are also quite important for dancers.  I am going to list some reasons why it’s valuable to drop by a practice party every once and a while.

 

Parties Help You Become Better Social Dancers

Social dancers can benefit a lot from practice parties because social dancing is essentially what these parties are made for.  Most people who want to learn to dance do so because they want to prepare for weddings or other large events where there will be lots of dancing.  Practice parties are the perfect place to prepare for those events because dancers will be in a live, social setting with a floor full of other people.  There are also a few dance floor rules that social dancers can test out and experience at practice parties.  These include travelling in the line of dance, staying towards the inner part of the dance floor if you are moving slowly, and dancing with someone for an entire song.  You can also try asking different people to dance.  Ladies can also ask men to dance, too, so don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zones!  Parties will also give you the chance to dance to many different styles so you can practice almost everything that you have learned.  When you go out in public, people will wonder how you got so good at dancing.  Little will they know – you’ve had a lot of practice!

 

Parties Help You Become Better Competitors

If you’ve ever been to a competition, you would know that you will likely be dancing on a crowded floor.  Competitions will usually have many couples out on the floor at the same time competing against each other. Parties are great ways to practice maneuvering around a crowded floor because there will be many dancers out there.  Even though most of the party goers will likely be social dancers, you can still work on weaving your way through the couples and practice avoiding collisions.  You will also get the chance to dance out multiple styles and you could even grab your instructor for a dance so you can get in a little extra practice.  At a typical party, you might not spend as much time dancing Viennese Waltzes and Quicksteps, but you can really build up your skill on a lot of the popular dances like Foxtrot and Rumba.  When competition time comes around, some practice is really better than no practice!

 

You Have the Chance of Learning New Steps

Even if there are steps or a dance that you aren’t familiar with, there’s always the possibility that someone could show it to you or lead you in it.  While practice parties aren’t the primary place to go for new steps, you could always end up learning something neat from a fellow student or instructor who dances with you.  This happens all the time when people of different levels and experience dance together.  Even the most advanced dancer can learn a thing or two from a fellow dancer.  There are so many different styles and variations to learn and billions of moves and patterns to play around with!

 

You Get to See Performances

Every once and a while, students and instructors will prepare dances that they can perform at practice parties.  This gives attendees the opportunity to dance and enjoy a little show, as well!  Many of the pieces students put out there are routines that they are preparing for competitions or showcases.  However, there are quite a few students who prepare dances specifically to perform them at parties.  Whatever the reasoning is for performing, practice parties can allow individuals to polish their performance skills before getting in front of bigger audiences.  This brings us to the next point…

 

You Can Perform in a Safe Space

Practice parties are also a great “tester stage” for those who have never performed before, but are trying it out for the first time.  If you are thinking about performing but feeling a bit nervous about being in front of an audience, then practice parties are the perfect place to start.  At parties, your audience will likely be people you know – the students and staff at your own studio.  The environment will be close and judgement-free so you can have fewer worries.  Parties will definitely warm you up for larger audiences in the future. 

 

Getting More Involved with the Studio

Attending more parties can help you stay updated on all the events that are happening in your studio.  The studio may regularly post updates and send emails, but if you go to parties, you’ll be able hear announcements with special information that you may have missed.  You may also get the chance of receiving special offers just by being at the party.  You never know what you could be missing out on!  If you are new to the studio, attending parties can also get you more acquainted with everything the studio has to offer.  You can get a feel for the environment and get involved in the culture.  It will also give you a chance to meet new people and potentially form lifelong friendships!

 

As a final point, you can just think of practice parties as a lab or beta test.  In a school setting, labs are structured time where you can test out the theories and practices that you have learned in class in a controlled setting.  Practice parties are exactly that: they give you the chance to try out all of the techniques that you have learned in your lessons, putting them to good use in a friendly and fun space where instructors are even available to help you out when you need it.  They are definitely beneficial for any dancers’ life, so make sure that you take advantage of the opportunity and drop by as many parties as you can!

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Dance Video Games

 

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We are three weeks into our Spring Festival here at Celebrity Dance Studio!  So far we’ve celebrated board games and game shows, and this week we are diving into video and arcade games!  There are billions of video games that you can play, but if you are playing at home, you could be spending hours sitting on the couch.  While your favorite games might be engaging, it’s nice to get moving every once in a while.  Thanks to advancements in video game technology, players are able to utilize motion sensing devices to play games.  Many consoles like the Nintendo Wii and Xbox have components that capture the movements of players.  These features have made it possible for many dance-based games to be developed.  A lot of these games are loads of fun and they also get your blood flowing.  Many people even use these games for exercise!  This week I’m going to list some video games that feature some awesome dance moves and might also allow you to learn some cool moves, as well!

 

Dance Dance Revolution

Dance Dance Revolution (also known as DDR) started out a video arcade game in 1998 and is considered the pioneer of the “rhythm and dance” genre of video games.  The original arcade machines had players standing on a “dance stage”, stepping on light-up arrows in time with visual and musical cues that appear on the monitor.  The cues they must follow are on-screen arrows that always match the speed and rhythm of whatever song is playing.  Players are judged by how well they time their steps to the patterns presented to them.  There is also a “versus” mode where two players can compete against each other to get the highest score.  A console version of this game has also been released which allows players to enjoy the game in their homes.  Instead of a huge dance stage, players use a “dance mat” which acts as the game controller.  This game has become so popular that there are even DDR tournaments held throughout the world!

 

Dancing With The Stars (video game)

Yes…we are talking about Dancing with the Stars again, but did you know the show was made into a video game, as well?  Based on the premise of the show, the game has you playing as one of the many celebrities featured on the show and their professional partners.  The mechanics of the game are similar to DDR – you must follow a sequence of arrows in time with the speed and rhythm at which they appear on the screen.  In addition to playing as a celebrity from the show, you can also dance to a variety of different dance styles including Jive, Salsa, Quickstep, and even Viennese Waltz.  This game is available on many different consoles, but the most notable is the Playstation 2 version which allows you to use a dance mat to step in time with the arrows that appear (just like DDR).  There is also a unique version of this game available for mobile phones so that players can enjoy the game wherever they go!

 

Just Dance

Following DDR, Just Dance has become the most recognized and popular dance and rhythm game for video game consoles.  It was originally released for the Nintendo Wii in 2009 and allows players to mimic the motions of an on-screen dancer’s choreography while using the Wii Remote to capture how accurately the players match the on-screen dancer.  After selecting a song, players try to following along with the dancing avatar, as well as a scrolling display of pictograms representing dance poses.  While holding the remote in their right hand, the players’ goal is to try and score as high as they can.  The game was praised for its soundtrack featuring familiar and popular music and simplistic gameplay which made it accessible to casual gamers.  Just Dance has also become a popular game to play at parties because up to four players can play at once.  There are eight sequels to this game; each year a new game is released with the most recent one being Just Dance 2018.  There have also been different versions and spin-offs of the game, including a kid’s version and a Disney series.

 

Dance Central

Another great rhythm game for consoles is Dance Central.  This game uses the Kinect for the Xbox 360 which is a motion-sensing camera device that allows players to interact with their games without the use of a controller.  This means that players can dance as they would in games like Just Dance, except they don’t have to hold a controller!  The gameplay is also similar to Just Dance – the players perform given dance moves with are tracked by the Kinect and represented on the screen by the game’s avatars.  The only downside to this game is that only two players can play at a time as compared to four from Just Dance.  There are also three more sequels to this game that have been released.  This game stands out because player’s full body movements are able to be tracked, not just the movements from their arms and the Wii remote.

 

Kinect Star Wars

This game is primarily an action game released on the Xbox 360 using the Kinect motion device, but it also features a mode called “Galactic Dance-off”.  This game mode is actually a silly and comical contrast from the rest of the game because it is modeled after the Dance Central series, but uses characters and themes from Star Wars.  Players can control one of several iconic Star Wars characters and have them dance in sync with the dance cues that appear on-screen.  The game’s song selection includes parodies of songs where the titles and lyrics are rewritten to fit the Star Wars theme.  For example – Jason Derulo’s song, “Ridin’ Solo”, is changed to “I’m Han Solo”, and players get to dance as Han Solo.  This game is just as fun as Dance Central but is also good for laugh.

 

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See?  We weren’t kidding…

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Dancing "Game Shows"

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Last week we listed some dance-themed board games to go along with our Spring Festival theme: Games.  This week, the focus is on game shows!  There are many entertaining game shows to watch on television including, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, The Price is Right, and Deal or No Deal.  These game shows are classic and fun, but they’re missing a little something – movement!  Luckily, there has been a recent surge in the amount of dance shows that are on television.  While these shows are not actually “game shows”, they are competitive programs where contestants compete for a specific prize, so they do share some aspects with game shows!  This week I’m going to list some of the best dance shows to watch out for on TV.

 

Dancing with the Stars

This dance competition show has become very popular not only because of the fantastic dance numbers, but because of the star-studded cast.  What makes this show special is that each season invites various celebrities to dance with professional dancers to compete in a variety of ballroom and Latin styles.  Each week, the contestants and their partners are assigned a random dance style and have to perform for the judges.  The three judges will give the couple a score out of 30 and viewers are also able to vote on their favorite pairs.  The judges’ scores are combined with the votes received from the public, and the couples with the lowest scores are revealed on a separate results show.  By the end of the results show, the lowest scoring couple is eliminated.  One couple is eliminated every week until the best and favorite couple wins the competition.

 

Strictly Come Dancing

This British television show is a follow-up from an older British ballroom dancing show called Come DancingStrictly Come Dancing’s format is actually very similar to that of Dancing with the Stars.  Professional dancers are paired with various stars and TV personalities to perform in a ballroom and Latin dance competition.  They are assigned a random style, prepare the dance within the week before the show is recorded, and perform a 90 second dance in front of judges and a studio audience.  The panel of judges gives the dance couples a score out of 40 for each dance they perform and viewers can vote for the couples that they want to stay on the show.  Each week, one couple leaves the show if they don’t receive enough votes.   The only main differences between this show and Dancing with the Stars are that there are four judges on the panel and the show introduced a “dance off” system where the two couples who received the lowest score that week dance for a second chance to stay on the show.  After the dance-off is done, the judges choose who will stay and who is eliminated.   The elimination process continues each week until winners are chosen.

 

So You Think You Can Dance

This competitive dance show was created by American Idol producers, and has even been referred to as the “dance version of American Idol” because of the great professional opportunities it provides to those who compete on the show.  Open auditions are held for the casting of this show, and dancers that are skilled in a variety of styles show up to impress judges for a chance to be on the show.  After a series of additional audition processes, a handful of dancers are chosen to appear on the show as finalists.  Each week, dancers are paired up, assigned a dance style, and given choreography that they must perform.  The judges do not give out scores, but they do offer feedback to the dancers.  Viewers then vote for their favorite dancers to stay on the show.  The audience voting system is similar to that of Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing, but the dancers are judged individually even though they are in pairs.  When the results are in, the dancers with the lowest scores “dance for their lives” in their own styles to show the judges that they deserve to stay in the competition.  Eventually, the judges send two dancers home and dancers are assigned to new partners if theirs was eliminated.  Some seasons of the show have a single winner, while other seasons allowed for a male and female winner.  Overall, the show offers a fantastic showcase of a wide variety of dance styles (including ballroom, musical theatre, and even Bollywood and Russian dances) and has helped the careers of many talented dancers.

 

America’s Got Talent

While this show is not exclusively a dance show, it does feature multiple movement-based acts including dancers, gymnasts, acrobats, contortionists, and even pole athletes.  America’s Got Talent is a widely broadcasted talent show where singers, magicians, comedians, dancers, etc. compete for a monetary prize (usually 1 million dollars) and the chance to headline a show in Las Vegas.  Contestants always perform in front of celebrity judges who provide critiques after each act.  During their acts, the judges may express their disapproval of an act by pressing a red buzzer on their table which will make an “X” appear above the stage.  Anyone who receives X’s from all judges must stop their act and be immediately eliminated from the show.  After a number of contestants are chosen to continue, multiple rounds are run until a winner is ultimately chosen.  The show has given opportunities to many talented and little-known performers and is broadcasted in over 58 countries including the UK, Sweden, Germany, India, and Brazil.

 

World of Dance

This show is based on the “World of Dance” brand which encompasses many platforms including World of Dance competitions in over 25 countries, a live tour, a fashion line, and now this competitive dance show.  The television program first premiered in 2017 with Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough, and Ne-Yo as the judges.  The contestants of the show are picked from qualifying events around the nation and through online submissions.  They are divided into several different divisions based on their ages and number of dancers within a group.  Each episode, the dancers showcase their skills for the judges and are scored according to the World of Dance scoring criteria which examine performance, technique, choreography, creativity, and presentation.  The show is also divided into a series of rounds including Qualifiers, Duels, Cuts, and Finals.  In the Finals, the last three acts that are remaining compete to win the million dollar prize.  While this show just only premiered last year, it received great ratings and will return for a second season this summer!  Like So You Think You Can Dance, it features dancers in a wide variety of styles, but also gives duets and group acts the chance to perform and compete together.  The show is also unique because of its scoring system.  Instead of the judges giving one general number to score dancers, they judge them based on specific elements, giving the selection process more depth.

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Dance/Movement Board Games

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Celebrity Dance Studio is starting our annual Spring Festival this week, and this year’s theme is all about games!  During this first week we are going to focus on all things board game-related (and we will even have a Murder Mystery party during our final week).  Everyone can appreciate a good game like Monopoly, Clue, Checkers, or even Candy Land!  When you have a night in with friends or family, pulling out a fun board game can be a great way to spend the night.  There are so many titles and types of games to choose from, but many of those games will probably have you sitting down for hours.  If you’re someone who prefers more movement in their life, then I have some cool games for you to try out!  So because this is a dance blog, I will provide you with a few game options that allow you to get up and moving!

 

Dance Charades

A regular game of charades can be great, but there is a really cool version of this game that makes it even better.  It is called Dance Charades and it lets you dance out certain moves while everyone else tries to guess which moves you are performing.  A bunch of dance cards are laid out on a table, describing certain dance moves.  Players get a 40 second song clip during their turn to dance out as many items on the cards as they can.  One point is awarded for each item someone guesses correctly, but what makes this game unique is that you can get extra points if others think your dance moves are awesome!  Other players can reward you with bonus points or special tokens if your dance moves were spectacular.  This extra element keeps people dancing and putting effort into their movement and not just “charading”.

 

Crazy Dancing

In this game, three teams of 2-8 players compete to be the best dancing team.  Each team takes a turn at being the judges of the dance contest while the other teams perform a dance that they have to create themselves.  Cards are dealt to the performing teams to specify seven moves that they must incorporate in their routines.  They also must add in their own original moves, so this game allows a bit of creativity, too!  While this game may be difficult to find online or in stores, you can recreate it with a group of friends pretty easily.  All you need to do is think of a bunch of random dance moves, write them down, and have teams draw a few moves out of a hat so they can put them together to create short routines.

 

Top Dance

Top Dance is a board game that is based on the popular dancing video game series, Just Dance.  This game is very similar to the concept of Dance Charades.  The only difference is that the moves on the dance cards are actual depictions of moves from Just Dance.  On each card there are also pictures of the game’s characters doing the move, and the player has to imitate what they are doing.  The game is interesting because players have to look at a picture on a dance card and interpret it in their own way, but also attempt to make the other players correctly guess what they are doing.  It’s a fun game to play if you really enjoy Just Dance, but don’t have a game console on-hand.

 

Twister

This is probably one of the most popular and well known movement-based games.  You are required to move your entire body in order to play Twister.  If you aren’t familiar already, the game “board” is a large vinyl mat with randomly colored dots all over it.  The concept of this game involves players spinning a spinner which will give them a random color and random limb which they must place on the mat.  Each player must put the relevant body part on the relevant color spot, and no players are allowed to share spots.  If any player falls, or if their knees or elbows touch the ground, they are eliminated.  The game ends when one person is left standing.  Not only will this game get you up and moving, but it will also give you a chance to test your flexibility. (Be careful though!)

 

Quelf

Quelf is a…unique game that is not technically considered a movement or dance game, but it has plenty of elements woven into it that will definitely get you moving.  It is an unpredictable party game where the goal is to get to the end of the game board.  That goal seems easy enough, but the twist is that players have to perform ridiculous tasks, answer absurd trivia, and follow silly rules to win.   The game has different decks of cards that represent different categories, and two of those categories are “Stuntz” and “Showbiz”.  The “Stuntz” cards have you performing a variety of silly actions and the “Showbiz” cards require you to sing, dance, mime, or even write poetry!  Because the game is so random, you could end up doing anything from doing the chicken dance, giving an impression of Donald Duck, or writing a song for your friends and performing it in front of everyone.  When playing this game, don’t plan on sitting in one place for too long!

 

Happy Dancing!  ^_^

Essential Items to Remember For Competition

A while ago, I posted about dance competitions and gave some tips for those who might be considering signing up.  Well, another competition is just around the corner for us at Celebrity Dance Studio and since competing is on our minds, I’ve decided to make another post that will hopefully help out those who will be participating in the upcoming competition or any events in the near future.

Making sure your dance skills are competition-ready is a main part of Dancesport events, but that’s only part of the process.  There are many components you’ll want to make sure are covered before you head to the venue.  Many people arrive on competition day and are later kicking themselves because they forgot to bring important items with them.  While friends or kind strangers may have some stuff you can borrow, it’s always nice to have a “tool kit” of your own so that you’ll be comfortable and ready for the big day or weekend.  I am going to list some things that you definitely won’t want to forget when you attend your next competition.

 

Costume Repair Kit

If you have your competition outfits all set and ready to go then you’re on the right track.  However, it’s always good to have back-up plans in case you have any costume mishaps.  There’s always the chance that you could tear or spill something on your outfit, and if that happens, you’ll want to make sure that you are prepared.  Bring along a sewing kit so you can fix any rips or tears.  If you don’t know how to sew, you can ask a friend or bring along someone who knows how!  You can also use fashion tape for a quick fix, so make sure to bring that along, too.  Lint brushes will also keep you neat, and applying clear nail polish to torn tights can prevent a hole from getting bigger.  It’s also a good idea to have something in your bag that can easily get rid of stains in case you accidently spill something on your outfit.

 

Makeup and Mirrors

Even if you do your makeup before you arrive at the competition, it’s still nice to have extra tools in your bag in case you need to do a quick touch up or two.  Depending on how much you are moving around throughout the day, your makeup could come off or get messed up.  Some items that will most likely need to be reapplied during the day and are good to have in your makeup bag are powder, mascara, eyeliner, blush, and lipstick.  Also, make sure to bring a small handheld mirror.  Sure, there will be mirrors in the washrooms and changing areas of the venue, but getting ready is a little easier when you have your own personal mirror.

 

Hair Accessories

No one in the world has perfect hair.  If you style your hair a certain way in the morning, chances are it won’t look the same by the evening.  Because they move around so much, dancers have to take extra precautions to make sure their hair stays neat and in place.  When you’re on your way to the ballroom, make sure to bring everything you need to make sure your hair looks the way you want it to.  It’s best to prepare a small bag with a brush, hair ties, bobby pins, clips, hair spray, and everything else you need to stay fabulous!   

 

Snacks

If the competition you’re attending is inside of a hotel or a venue that will have food vendors, you might not have to worry too much about starving.  However, if you will constantly be needed out on the floor, you may not have time to step away to grab a meal.  In that case, you’ll want to make sure you have some light snacks handy to keep you energized.  Some good food items to bring with you are granola bars, crackers, nuts, fruit snacks, or anything that is small and easy to eat.  Foods that won’t make you messy or get all over your clothing are a plus!  Most venues will also have free water available, but having a refillable water bottle with you can be more convenient.

 

Pain Medication

Going through all your checklists and making sure you are prepared can sometimes cause quite a headache, so you might as well prepare for that pain, too!  Besides that, dancing all day can be strenuous and if you unfortunately end up hurting yourself while dancing, it’s good to know that you can at least treat any pain you have with some medication.  Bandages and other aids will also be useful if you get blisters or other minor injuries, but remember – don’t be a hero!  If you are in serious pain, don’t try to push through.  Take a break and see a medical professional.

 

Camera

Definitely make sure you bring a camera with you or have the camera ready on your phone so that you can capture tons of memorable moments.  Different competitions have different rules and regulations regarding recording videos and taking pictures, but if you are allowed to capture some moments, you should definitely take advantage of that opportunity.  Even if you don’t get the chance to snap dancers that are out on the floor, you should still take some pictures on the side with friends and fellow dancers.  You’re all dressed up, so you might as well take as many photos as possible!

 

Dance Shoes…

I know – It seems obvious that you should bring your dance shoes to a dance competition, but shoes have still been forgotten!  Honestly, your shoes can be easy to forget if you keep them in a place is that is separate from the rest of your dance items.  Rushing to get ready at the last minute is another way that your shoes can be overlooked.  To make sure you don’t forget them, make sure you plan ahead and pack them the night before.  You can also attach them to your suitcase or the bag that holds your competition outfits so that all your items are lumped together.  Vendors always sell dance shoes at competitions, but you can avoid spending money on new ones just because you forgot to bring your own.

 

Happy Dancing - and GOOD LUCK to our students competing in Wisconsin next weekend!  ^_^

Is Dance a Sport? (Yes…And Here’s Why!)

Dance is obviously a form of art which is both beautiful and entertaining for all who observe and participate in it.  However, the question always arises as to whether dance is a sport or not.  I believe that some of the reasons people have for not classifying dance as a sport are because of its graceful nature.  It’s true that a lot of dance is focused on the artistic aspect.  Many artists create choreography so they can have dancers perform pieces in front of audiences.  Most of the time, choreographers want their pieces to look beautiful and appealing.  Their work can even be interpreted differently depending on the viewer.  All of these are elements that make dance an art form. 

Dance is most often recognized as an art, but can also be considered a sport; it is even a sport that requires rigorous training.  Hear are some reasons why dance can be can be so much more than art and why dancers are dedicated athletes:

 

It’s Competitive

Dance doesn’t always have to be competitive, but there are competitions that take place all over the world!  Dancers compete everywhere and anywhere in a variety of different styles, including ballroom.  In fact, Dancesport is another name for competitive ballroom dancing.  Dancesport events are regulated by national and international organizations such as the World Dancesport Federation (WDSF) and The National Dance Council of America (NDCA).  Much like gymnastics or figure skating, dancers who compete are scored on multiple elements such as technique and execution.  Ballroom dancers are even given a set of approved figures that they can do in their competition routines.  There are also penalties, meaning dancers can risk losing points for doing moves that are not approved.  And of course, no sport would be complete without fans and a cheering section!  You will always find supporters and fans of dancers excitedly rooting for their favorites at competitions.  Shouting and rooting for dancers may not be something you would do at a ballet, but it is highly encouraged at these competitions!

 

It’s Athletic and Requires Practice

Soccer players have to train before games to be able to run on the field for long periods of time.  Swimmers have to be prepared to do multiple laps without getting too winded.  Similarly, dancers have to condition themselves to dance for long periods of time.  The best way for them to do this is by training and conditioning consistently.  There are certain exercises dancers can do to prepare themselves for times when they will be dancing non-stop (like performances or competitions), but the best way is through constant practice and rehearsal.  Many dancers will be in the studio 5 or 7 hours per day, working on routines and certain techniques.  Some may even spend more time practicing if they are highly competitive or working on important performances.

An athlete is a person trained or gifted in contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength.  Dancers are athletes according to this definition because they meet all of the criteria.  A professional or competitive dancer must have some amount of agility and strength in order to excel in their craft.  While in rehearsal, dancers end up working out many different muscle groups which helps build their overall strength and stamina.  In fact, dance can be considered a full-body workout since dancers are constantly on their feet, moving around all different parts of their bodies.  All the conditioning and practicing that dancers do ultimately helps prepare them to perform their best when they are on stage. 

 

It Involves Technique

 ­­There are certain ways to effectively shoot a free-throw in basketball.  There is a certain way you should hold a hockey stick in order to ensure you make a goal.  Likewise, dance has multiple techniques you need to use in order to execute certain steps correctly.  You may have observed some dancers performing intense movements such as turns, leaps, or kicks (maybe even the occasional split, too).  Not every person can go out and try these moves without a foundation or proper instruction first.  This is why it’s important for most dancers to have a trained professional show them how to execute certain figures.  Dance instructors are like coaches that train you and fix your technique so that you look your best and dance as smoothly as possible.  These techniques are also important if you want to avoid getting hurt.  And speaking of such…

 

You Have to Stretch and Be Cautious of Injuries

 If you get injured while playing a sport, it can be a big inconvenience.  Players who hurt themselves could be out for weeks or even months.  Dance can have similar repercussions when it comes to injuries.  If a dancer gets hurt, they could risk not being able to dance for a while, which can stop their progress or even halt their careers.  They could end up not competing or performing in important events.  In order to prevent injuries that stop you from participating in your sport, you have to make sure you’re stretching out the appropriate muscles that you use while you are engaged in that activity.  Hamstring, quad, and other types of leg injuries are common in the dance community, so dancers will often do leg stretches to warm up before doing high-intensity work.  In addition to stretching, dancers can also do conditioning or strength exercises that can reduce the chance of injury.  For instance – ankle-strengthening exercises are good for dancers since they generally need strong or stable ankles in order to do certain movements.

If an athlete does end up getting hurt, they have to carefully treat their injuries so that they can heal as quickly as possible.  Most have a trainer or physical therapist to help with their recovery.  Dancers also have to take special care when they get injured and some even have to seek out physical therapy.  As with any sport, they have to gradually ease themselves back into their normal routines and schedules.  Jumping right back into rehearsal too soon after an injury can completely reverse the healing that a dancer as gone thorough.

 

Overall, a sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”  Based on the points provided earlier, dance certainly can be categorized as a sport, but it is also so much more than that.  Many other sports have social aspects to them.  People join sports groups just to have fun and make friends without prioritizing the competitive or athletic aspect.  There is definitely a large community of dancers that enjoy dancing socially and just for fun.  This aspect of dance is just as important as the competitive.

Dance is also unique from other sports because at the end of the day, it can still be a beautiful art form.  Even at a competition, you can still observe the artistry of dancers.  By now, there is no doubt that it requires a great amount of physical exertion, but it’s also capable of tapping into an audience’s emotions to make them feel a specific way.  There is also some amount of creativity that has to go into the creation of a dance, and choreographers usually focus on movements and visuals that are aesthetically pleasing.  All in all, when thinking about dance, it’s best to consider that it is special.  It is both an art and a sport.

Happy Dancing! ^_^

How Dance Can Improve Your Self-Confidence

There are many great benefits of dancing, but one of the best ones is the self-confidence that is built when dancers take lessons and perform for others.  Even if you think of yourself as fairly self-assured already, dancing can help to improve your self-esteem even further!  Here are some ways that dancing can boost your self-esteem or self-confidence.

 

Feel Good about Learning New Steps

When you start taking dance lessons, there will be many new moves for you to learn.  Once you learn them and start doing them naturally, you will begin to feel a sense of achievement.  Learning completely new steps and choreography is not easy.  Knowing that you have the capacity to learn new dance skills and retain new steps gives you an awesome feeling.  You can also consider this: now you know much more than others who don’t dance.  It’s like being one step ahead of everyone else!

 

Communication Skills Will Improve

When you start taking lessons, you may get the chance to dance with multiple partners (especially if you join group classes or attend parties).  Since you might have the opportunity to interact with many different partners, you should eventually be comfortable with communicating with almost anyone.  You will get used to how different people move when you dance with them, so any worries you may have about dancing with an unfamiliar partner should eventually fade away, too.  Attending a lot of social dancing events is also a good way to meet, dance, and have conversations with new people which will definitely help your general communication skills.

 

Reduce Shyness and Increase Assertiveness

When you join a dance class or take lessons, you may eventually decide to perform in front of audiences.  Performances can push you out of any awkwardness or shyness you may have.  The exposure can also help get rid of stage fright.  Even if you don’t perform, you will still be dancing and practicing in front of someone, whether it is your instructor or other students.  Dancing around others is a frequent activity that you will have to get used to, and if you do it enough, it eventually will make you feel less shy.

Dancing and performing can also sometimes require you to be sharp and clear with your movements.  That definition of movement requires some amount of assertiveness which will develop over time.  Once you begin to move confidently and assertively on the dance floor, those qualities might also start appearing in your daily life, as well!

 

Better Self-Image

Dancing has the potential of improving your self-image for a few reasons.  First, it is good for your physical health, so it can make you feel healthier.  Additionally, dancing gives you the opportunity to create beautiful lines and poses which will certainly make you feel good about what your body is capable of.  Over time, your comfort and familiarity with yourself will grow and you’ll be able to look at yourself in a more positive light.

You will also have the possibility of being praised for your dancing.  Your instructor, other students, or observers may notice your improvements and give you compliments.  In turn, this can make you feel better about your development and more accomplished as a dancer.

 

You Can Express Yourself

One of the greatest things about dance is that it’s a fantastic form of art that lets you express yourself.  If you are a person who has some trouble conveying your emotions through speaking or writing, then dance can be a good outlet for you, or a tool that you can use to explore your emotions. 

If you take enough dance lessons, you may also eventually start to discover your own personal dance style.  There are many dancers that focus on movements and learning steps without really making the movements “their own”.  Exploring and discovering your own style can make you more confident because you won’t be worried about looking like other dancers.  You will just be focused on looking like you, and once you are sure that you are dancing authentically, you will start to feel confident as a whole.

 

“Fake it ‘till you make it”

If you put on performances, you will have many opportunities to appear confident.  You may even see a lot of dancers who seem over-the-top when they dance.  Most of the time, they don’t act that way in their daily lives, but when they go on stage they put on a completely different persona.  A lot of people think they need to have general self-confidence before they step out on the floor or stage.  However, confidence isn’t really a prerequisite for dance.  In fact a lot of people who lack confidence or self-esteem gain it through dancing.  For instance – when you perform or get ready for a performance, you might have to appear as a self-assured and cool person.  This may not be your natural personality, but acting that way can help you to gradually become more confident.  Eventually the coolness that you practice on the floor may end up transcending to everyday life.

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^

Warm Ups and Exercises for Ballroom Dancers

As with any physical activity or sport, dance requires us to take special care with our bodies.  Athletes need to warm up their bodies and make sure their muscles are properly cared for after their workouts; dancers are no different.  Dancing can actually cause quite of bit of strain since a lot of the movements push our bodies out of normal alignment.  However, we can effectively prevent or reduce the chance of certain injuries by warming up and stretching before we dance.  There are also things we can do after dance sessions to treat our muscles.  We can also do certain stretches and exercises when we’re not dancing.  I will list some exercises and activities you can do to make sure you’re in the best condition you can be to dance!

Walking

When you dance, you’re going to be on your feet for a long time, so you might as well prepare for that by walking around!  Before you start your class or lesson, you can warm up by walking around the dance floor a few times.  You can even run a place a little.  Not only will this warm up your feet, but it will start up your heart rate a bit.  Walking will also help to warm up your knees and ankles.  Walking is also a great activity to keep you active and conditioned while you’re not on the dance floor (and if you feel ready you could even upgrade to running!).

Ankle Rolls

Another great way to warm up your ankles is to roll them.  While sitting, roll each ankle around in a circular motion for a few seconds and switch directions.  Another thing you can do is pretend you are writing out every letter of the alphabet with your big toe.  If you do this consistently for both ankles, you should be good to go!  A good ankle warm up is great because it reduces the chance of you seriously injuring yourself in case you slip or something – your ankles will be stronger!

Conditioning Muscles

Speaking of building strength, it’s always a good idea to strengthen the muscles that you use the most while you dance.  You don’t have to go into full “bodybuilder” mode while you are conditioning your muscles, but you may notice some improvement with your dancing if you focus on certain muscle groups like your core, arms, hamstrings, calves, etc.  Just even just the smallest bit of exercise could make a difference, and could also reduce some strain on your body because you will be stronger and able to engage in more movements.  Your instructors can also help you with conditioning exercises and give you some ideas.  For example: calf raises are good for strengthening your calf muscles which you definitely use a lot when you dance.

Shoulder Rolls

Going along with conditioning muscles, our shoulders are a very important body part to work on, especially if you are a ballroom dancer.  Ballroom dancers spend a lot of time in dance frame, which means they need to have stable arms and shoulders (especially leads).  If there are aches or pains in our shoulder/back area, it can make the rest of our dance experience very uncomfortable.  Therefore, rolling and stretching your shoulders and arms before and after a dance session can be beneficial by reducing some minor injuries.  It doesn’t take too much time to do!

Working on Flexibility

Stretching to improve your flexibility can help improve your range of motion.  For example, if you do stretches for your hip flexors you will be able to put more movement into your hips, especially when focusing on Cuban motion.  If you also stretch out your arms and shoulders, you will be able to elongate certain movements, making them look bigger and stronger.  It’s also a good idea to stretch your calves, hamstrings, quads, or other muscles on your lower body if you are going to do any dance that requires you to lunge or kick.  The same thing also goes for your back – stretch it out if you plan on doing any back bends!  Good flexibility has perks other than just making you look good on the dance floor; it’s also another way to prevent injuries!  For instance, let’s say you bend your back a little too far during practice.  If you have good flexibility in your back, chances are you won’t be hurt so badly, whereas an inflexible back would suffer more.

Cross Training

Cross training is when you engage in another type of activity in order to improve fitness or performance in your main sport/activity.  In this case where your main sport would be dance, cross training could be a variety of different activities.  Some things that are good for dancers are yoga, Pilates, or taking classes in a completely different dance style.  Even the walking and running that I mentioned earlier could be considered as cross training if you do it regularly.  Another perk of cross training is that you may discover an additional hobby or sport that you really like!  As always, remember to take care with your cross training activities and never push yourself too hard.

Don’t Forget to Cool Down

As with any good workout, it’s always best to cool down when you are done.  After exercise, a cool-down session brings your heart rate back down to normal.  It’s good to bring your heart rate down before doing normal activities otherwise you could get dizzy.  There are many ways you can cool down; it just involves doing some low-intensity activity.  Usually, the best way to cool down after a dance lesson is to do a few light stretches or walk around.

 

Hopefully reading this has given you some ideas for warming up and stretching before and after dancing.  As with any physical activity, always remember that you don’t have to overdo it.  Overstretching and overexerting sore muscles and joints can be counterproductive and make things even worse.  Finally, make sure you see a doctor physical therapist for any injures or problems you have.  Even minor discomfort can lead to bigger issues.  Always take care of yourself!

Happy Dancing!  ^_^

The Most Romantic Dances

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(Valentine’s Day is over, but February is basically “the month of love”, so why not keep up with the theme?)

Here’s a familiar scenario that you’ve probably seen played out in romantic movies or shows: while a couple is dancing together at a ball or party, they both realize that they were made for each other.  And there you have it – they instantly fall in love thanks to the power of dance!  While these scenarios may not ideally work in real life, certain dances definitely can be romantic.  There are even some dances that are considered more romantic than others.  So, keeping in theme with the month, here are some of the best dances to use for a lovely and romantic evening.

 

Rumba

Rumba is probably one of the best slow Latin dances to learn if you are a beginner.  It’s a versatile, rhythmic, Latin dance that can replace the standard “swaying-side-to-side” movements that most couples do to slow music.  Many of the songs for Rumba are usually relaxed and slow.  In fact, the most common dance that wedding couples learn is Rumba!  Because of its slow and rhythmic nature, this dance also has a sensual element to it, adding to the romantic aspect.

 

Waltz

Another popular dance that you may see couples do at weddings is the Waltz.  This can be considered a “classic romantic dance” because of its slow and dreamy look.  It has a lighthearted quality and dancers can almost appear as if they are floating because of the slight rising and falling action that happens throughout the dance.  Many songs that are waltzes are romantic, too.  In fact, that familiar film scenario that I mentioned earlier usually involves a couple falling in love while waltzing (think about the classic ballroom scene in Cinderella).  If you keep this in mind, Waltz is almost like the perfect fairytale dance!

 

Tango/Argentine Tango

When people think of “dances of love” the Tango is most likely on their lists.  It certainly has an alluring quality to it because of the intensity and fervor between dancers.  It is a smooth but sharp dance, making it seem like the dancers are infatuated with each other.  There are many different styles of this dance, but Argentine Tango is probably the most romantic one.  This also might be the dance that most people think of when they hear the words “romance” and “tango”.  This style is highly improvisational and requires dancers to dance very close together, which is required for good leading, but makes the dance look even more passionate.

 

Bolero

Finally, Bolero is the most romantic dance of all.  In fact, it is often referred to as the “Dance of Love”.  Its timing and Latin origin is similar to Rumba, except it is much slower and incorporates some rising and falling actions, which gives it a lovely and dreamy feel (almost like Waltz!).  Bolero is slow and sensual which can make it another great choice for wedding couples to perform.  It also may be a good one to use if you want to dance to songs that are too slow for Rumba.  The dancers should look as if they are literally falling in love when they perform a Bolero.  All of these elements are what make Bolero the ultimate romantic dance.

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^