It’s always a little amusing to me when our Orange County dance classes students come in for their next lesson and they give me that look like they have a confessional. You know the look; similar to a puppy’s gaze after they’ve gotten into the trash. They don’t even need to say it… I already know. They didn’t practice.
Practice is the best if not only way to get better at any craft. Author Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes 10,000 of practice to achieve mastery in a field. (That’s 5 years of training 40 hours a week!) While your goal might not be to achieve dance mastery, we can agree that some rehearsal time is needed for improvement. The question then becomes, how much time? In today’s world our schedules are so full it can feel like there is no time to drill our dance moves. Newer dancers incur the challenge of integrating their new hobby into their weekly lifestyle and creating good dancer habits. While it can be difficult, it’s totally possible. It just takes a little diligence, organization, and commitment.
Plain and simple. Schedule dance practice as you would schedule an appointment. Reserve the time in your calendar as occupied. Schedule amounts of time that are realistic and convene with your normal schedule. When your “rehearsal appointments” hit, turn off your phone as you would for work or an important meeting.
Get Familiar with The Mini practice
Mini practices are great and can be integrated into your daily routine. Find short moments in your day to dance, even if only for 2 minutes. Mark out a dance routine before you go to work. Practice your undulations just before bed. Shimmy while brushing your teeth. Relevé when waiting in line. Work your Latin motion down the grocery aisle. Use your car as an isolation cubicle. Familiarize yourself with dance music and rhythms on your commutes. Open your eyes to seizing the little opportunities throughout your day to dance.
Set a Timer
Sometimes drilling dance can be like eating our vegetables. Not always our favorite thing to do, but we undoubtedly feel better and grateful afterwards. Have something to practice that isn’t “as fun?” Set a timer for yourself dedicated to drilling. Once the timer goes off you’re done! You’ll feel proud that you “did your homework.” Mission accomplished.
Find a Training Buddy
There is really something to be said for accountably. Train with a dance advocate like yourself or book a session with your Bella Ballroom Dance Studio instructor. You’re less likely to skip out on a practice that you agreed to do with someone else. Your training buddy can help you check in on your dance goals and progress.
Make it a Habit
Dance teaches us many things that we should integrate into our lives regardless. Master a strong posture by sitting up and standing tall throughout your day. Keep your eyes up when you walk and practice healthy deep breathing.
Create the Space
Find spaces suitable for dance practice. Even a small apartments in Orange County can offer dance practice solutions. Kitchens, hallways, and bathrooms usually have hardwood or linoleum floors that are more dance friendly. Arrange your furniture so that it sits on the outskirts of the room or so that it is easily moveable for getting your dance on. Need more space? Cash in on belonging to a gym and use the group exercise room when there are no dance classes. Seek dance studios that rent out space or take advantage of the great outdoors.
Gear up and Get in the Mood
Put on your dance gear to help shift the mood to dance mode. Having the proper shoes and clothing will enable you to move freely and ultimately make for a more effective rehearsal.
Mentally prepare yourself. To successfully execute a routine, you must be able to “see” yourself doing it. Visualize what you want to look and feel like when you dance. Upcoming performance? Imagine yourself in the venue nailing your show from start to finish.
Remind Yourself Why
There are soooo many reasons why people want to become better dancers. What’s your reason? Maybe you dance for the sheer joy you feel when you grove to your favorite music. Perhaps you dance for health benefits, stress relief, or a mental break from your day-to-day responsibilities. Do you want to impress someone or are you learning to dance to make someone happy? Maybe you are preparing for your wedding and know that many friends and family will be watching you and your fiancé’s first dance. Whatever the reason, remind yourself why practicing is to your best advantage. Post pictures, write notes to yourself, watch inspirational videos, and set calendar prompts that help remind you of why you dance and how you feel when you’ve worked to become a stronger dancer.
On the flip side of the puppy-dog eyed confessional student who didn’t practice, the prepared student becomes just as obvious. I can immediately tell when a student has practiced. I feel their lift in confidence and ease of jumping into a lesson when they have spent some time rehearsing. Even if they reviewed just before our session, they are more prepared to start in and ultimately get much more out of their lesson because not as much time is needed reviewing. (Not to mention their dance has improved…. Duh! J )
And there you have it: Plan, Practice, and Prosper! Dr. Z here, signing out and prescribing your daily dose of practice for ultimate life and dance improvement!
-By Bella Ballroom Dance Studio teacher, Ziva.