One of the most important periods in a dancer's training is what I call the "Foundational Years." Generally occurring between the ages of 6-10, it is during these years that dancers are establishing their vocabulary, learning to use the right muscles, and getting accustomed to more frequent attendance and longer class times. Because I believe so strongly in the importance of this learning period, I'm sharing some of my strategies for successful early dance education.
Are you ready to begin a new season of dance? To be prepared for a fantastic season, make sure your bag is packed with the following items.
1. Bobby pins, bobby pins, and more bobby pins. Purchase at least 3 packs, because you will lose 3/4 of them!
2. Three packs of hair ties. These items disappear like bobby pins.
3. 2 packs of hair nets. One bag for you and one for the friend who always forgets.
4. Bristled brush, wide and fine tooth comb. Don't forget a spray water bottle, pomade, and gel.
5. Rhinestone earrings. You will need them for performances so go ahead and make the purchase now.
6. False lashes, if applicable. This is another item that is often forgotten until the last minute. Save yourself the trouble and make the purchase now.
7. A spare pair of tights and leotard in appropriate colors and styles as assigned by your school. Ideally, you'll want to purchase a pair of tights and leotard for each day of classes you have each week (minimum).
8. Required dance shoes.
9. Band-aids, athletic tape, toe tape, needle and thread, spacers, toe pads- any and all necessary pointe shoe accessories.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what you'd add in the comments.
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We all know the story. You audition and get accepted into your dream summer intensive. You have the time of your life soaking up new information. You take your technique and artistry to the next level. You make new friends. You live "on your own."
But, now the curtain has fallen on your final workshop performance. It is time to go home. You are so excited to share everything you've learned. Unfortunately, classes don't officially start for another month.
What's a dancer to do?
Take a week off. Have non-dance fun. Reconnect with your family and friends. Give your mind and body time to unpack the intensity of the previous weeks.
2. Find another source of strength and conditioning.
After you've given your body time to rest, consider complimentary exercise. Focus on Pilates, yoga, gyrotonics, or swimming. Hit the gym for some cardio and supervised weight training. Seek help with weak and injury prone areas of the body. Strengthen and condition the entire body so that you return feeling energized and ready to handle the fall semester.
3. Find drop-in classes.
Look for a reputable organization that offers pay-as-you-go or short term commitment. Consider taking one class per day, 3-5 days per week. This is also a great time to try private lessons!
4. Engage your mind.
As a dancer, you aren't limited to only learning through experience. Knowledge can also be gained through observing, reading, and listening to more experienced dance professionals. Comb performance videos. Find out what attracts you to certain dancers and think about how you can incorporate those qualities into your dancing. Read biographies for inspiration, or technical manuals to deepen your understanding. Review corrections and notes that were given to you during the intensive. Lay by the pool and learn from your favorite podcast!
When it is time to begin your fall classes, you will be strong, refreshed, and ready to go!
How do you maintain what you've learned?
What are your tips for summer downtime?
Leave your comments below!