(Since this is my first true blog post, I wanted to start off by saying hello and that each week I will be posting in depth advice, resources, and ideas to help make you the best possible ballet dancer and artist that you can be.)
One of the biggest challenges for all dancers, especially classical and contemporary ballet dancers, is finding new means of improving technique and overall performance quality. Right now, most ballet companies are just beginning their seasons, making this the perfect time to start working on your new goals! When it comes down to the logistics of these goals, growth in dance has several essential ingredients: preparation, focus, and understanding.
1) Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
Preparation is the first and perhaps the most crucial aspect of obtaining new goals in dance. You would never expect a high grade on a test without taking out a proper amount of time to study for it would you? The same is true of ballet. Despite popular belief, it takes more than simply countless amounts of classes and rehearsals to be truly ready to take the stage. There are both physical and mental barriers that must be addressed before a class even begins
A) For your body to be adequately ready to tackle a long class or rehearsal the first step is to arrive at the studio about fifteen minutes early. Find a spot at the barre and start warming up with leg swings, crunches, gentle releves, or theraband exercises. Start getting your body in the working mode.
B) To fully conquer a class or rehearsal, you mind must also be warmed up. Listen to music that helps get you motivated while you warm up or that you will be dancing to in rehearsal. Next, create a mental map of what you wish to work on, whether it be executing more turns, gaining higher extensions, or perfecting ports de bras.
By carrying out these steps, your body will be more attuned and ready for changes/improvement. What you work on in class and rehearsal can and will affect your performance onstage.
2) Find Your Focus
The second piece of the dance improvement puzzle deals with the mental and emotional aspects of being a dancer which is focus. While it can be difficult at times, the number way to find growth is to set aside your pride and internalize each and every correction you receive during class. Most of the time such corrections are designed to help you so take them seriously! Another tip is to take the corrections given out to others; this can help you find new ways to accomplish little things, whether it is smoother transitions or stage presence. However, according to a recent Dance Magazine article, it is important to know what type of critique is helpful and which is harmful. Figure out what works and what doesn’t and remember, you know your body best, so work with what you have.
3) Take a Second to Reflect
The final step of improving as a dancer is taking to reflect back upon a class or rehearsal to understand what happened. This can include looking at both your success and your failures to see what worked and what did not. At the end of a class or rehearsal, don’t be afraid to stay a little bit after to work on those fouettes that you want to perfect or that petite allegro that didn’t quite go the way you planned. Also, keeping a journal of all of your corrections can be extremely helpful not only because you gain an insight as to what happened in class or rehearsals, but you can refer back to your writing at any time in the future for more guidance.