“Look, no hands!” Finding The Perfect Balance
Dancers make it look easy. Watching a dancer at work is like watching a fire burn. It seems flawless and naturally executed but behind those moves is years of focused training, discipline, and practice.
Professional dancers and dance teachers agree on one point. No matter the style of dance, the student much conquer their mind and body and force it to do their will. They must focus on every level of their training. Dance is more than movement. It requires style, strength, balance, artistry, discipline, confidence and motivation.
The teacher-student relationship
The dance teacher has a job to do. That is to advance the dancer and their abilities to a higher level. Her instruction helps the dancer deliver a cleaner and sharper performance. The teacher and student must work together if the dancer’s abilities will advance. The teacher must be able to deliver instruction and critique in a way that builds the dancer and the dance must learn to be open to that instruction.
Getting in the zone
When a dancer is developing their skills, they must look deep into the dance. Learning to do everything perfectly is overwhelming. Look past the forest to the trees, then deeper to the branches and then the leaves. This is the basis of learning to dance. Focus on one area at a time. For example, if your balance is weak. Your teacher may work with you on building strength and on exercises that improve your ability to maintain balance. The dancer can only improve if they trust the instructor to know what they are able to do. Each dancer is different.
What tools are required
When we think of dance class, we think of a studio, teacher, leotard, and instructor. From there we think everything is inside. But apparel is more than a leotard. The clothes you wear for specific training. While you may not consider customized leggings a tool, they really are. Just as a fireman suits up, or a nurse puts in their scrubs, a dancer that is dressing for work tells their brain they are gearing up. Not only are hip hop pants fun, they help us focus on the task ahead. They are a tool of the trade. This is part of getting into the zone.
Being part of a dance class or team is an honor. You earn the right to be there and you are part of a family. It is essential that all dancers follow dance class etiquette. This allows everyone to work uninterrupted and shows respect to the instructor and the art of dance. Here are a few hard fast rules for the dance student:
- Arrive on time and dressed appropriately
- Come to class showered and with fresh breath
- Do not chew gum during class
- Never wear your dance shoes outside
- Never wear outdoor shoes on the dance floor
- If you must come in late, do so very quietly
- If you must leave early, ask permission before class unless it is an emergency
- Do not wear jewelry that is sharp or dangles (no jewelry is recommended)
- Do not talk when the instructor is speaking (this includes whispering)
- Leave your cell phone in your locker
- Respect your dance mates and your environment
- Even if you are having a bad day, watch your language and this includes body language
Much of this is common courtesy. All of this shows respect for yourself and your team. These are good rules to live by for anyone, but for the dancer they are critical.
A dancer that cannot maintain control over themselves cannot achieve the level they desire as a dancer. With guidance and focus, you can exceed your wildest dreams.