Be Better: 10 Tips for Dancers that Don't Require Talent
Updated: Apr 19, 2018
Here are ten skills that will make you a better dancer:
1. Being On Time
It goes without saying, but showing up on time can be the difference in your success. If you show up late, you spend time catching up instead of making the most out of the lesson! If you can, try to be prepared for class 5 minutes before it is supposed to begin so that you have time to warm up and stretch!
2. Work Ethic
It takes discipline and a sense of responsibility to maintain a strong work ethic. Even on the hardest days, good dancers understand the importance of quality and diligence. When you are feeling drained and ready to quit, remember why you started. What are your goals and how can hard work help you reach them?
If you come into dance class with the wrong attire and only give 50% effort, you will never be satisfied with your results. Instead, try to leave every class feeling like you gave your best effort. For some, their best effort means they refrain from talking during class. For others, it simply means using full expression when rehearsing routines. What are some ways you can give rehearsal your best effort, both in the studio and at home?
4. Body Language
Sometimes students don't realize how much their body language affects their performance in class. When we let our shoulders hang, cross our arms, or spend entire classes looking at the floor, we become unable to give our best effort. We don't always notice, but our body position can dictate our thought patterns. Remember when you are waiting in line to go across the floor that keeping your shoulders back and chin high can make all of the difference when it is your turn!
For athletes of all varieties, it is important to monitor your energy levels and overall health. Dancers especially need to pay attention to their physical needs to prevent injury. Not only do we need to ensure that our body is getting enough sleep (8 - 10 hours), but we need to supply ourselves with the proper fuel for success. Drink lots of water, choose productive meals to prepare your body for an intense workout, and remember to bring snacks on those long rehearsal nights.
Attitude is the basis of your performance. If you've had a bad day, you can choose to let it seep into your practice time or leave your problems at the door and make the most out of your time dancing. A good athlete will realize that their attitude can either negatively or positively affect their teammates. Every practice we must decide what kind of energy we want to give back to our team.
Passion is the premise that you are invested in your goals and future. If you are passionate about something, you are pushing yourself to be better every day. Passion isn't just a love for something, it the desire to envelop yourself in it and reach your potential. Sometimes, passion is demonstrated by pushing through the moments of doubt. When you are feeling lazy, passion reminds you that you can't skip your stretches if you ever want to achieve your dreams! Ask yourself, what have I done today to feed my passion for dance?
8. Being Coachable
This is by far the hardest tip on the list. Being coachable means that you are willing to listen to the constructive criticism of your instructors and peers. When we put our best effort into something, it can hurt to hear that there is still improvement to be made. As dancers, we must remember that we are on an endless journey to perfection. Once we realize that perfection is unattainable, we open ourselves to progress. Progress is far more valuable to colleges and performance companies than perfection and even the greatest dancers admit that they are always improving. Misty Copeland, after facing criticism regarding her fouettes, said this:
"...I will forever be a work in progress and will never stop learning. I learn from seeing myself on film and rarely get to. So thank you." - Misty Copeland
9. Doing Extra
You will never face negative consequences for going the extra mile. At school, dance, work- success comes to those who do more. Doing extra relates to a lot of the aforementioned skills. If you are passionate, coachable, and keep a good attitude, you will always want to improve! Doing extra doesn't mean that you never rest, it means that you make the most out of your time. For example, next time you are reading a textbook or watching tv, do your favorite stretches! When you are brushing your teeth or riding in the car, listen to your music and visualize your routine!
10. Being Prepared
The last thing that can take your training to the next level and requires no talent is being prepared. When you come to practice, be sure to know your choreography or combinations. The more time your instructor spends reviewing last week's material, the less time you have to grow and improve this week! Buy a journal, just for dance! After every class, write down the things you want to work on before you return the following week. Not only will you feel more prepared for the following class, you will be able to keep track of your progress toward your goals!
The next step...
That's it. Those are the ten tips and skills that you can use to be the best version of yourself. Take some time to think about the following:
What skills do you already use? What could you stand to improve?
How can you apply these skills to your life at home? At school?
What is one goal that you want to achieve this season? What is the biggest hurdle you have to achieve your goal?