Do you dread heading to ballet class because it makes you sleepy? Do you get in trouble for yawning in class? You’re not alone. Many young dancers find ballet boring and hate taking it. What’s worse is that when they get older and see other dancers far more advanced than they are, they wonder about their own talent and doubt themselves. The truth is this — they’re not better than you. They just take more ballet.
Imagine that? Doing something you don’t enjoy can be the very thing that keeps you from success. Think about homework…though it may not be the most enjoyable thing to do, it can get us a good grade on our tests if we take it seriously. Ballet can be the same for you. It’s not as enjoyable as jazz, tap, or hip hop, but without ballet you can not be as advanced as you would like to be. It’s the foundation of all dance forms and should not be ignored.
So, how can you make ballet class more enjoyable? Take it seriously. Pick out a leotard that you really like. Fix your hair in the perfect ballet bun and accessorize the bun if your teacher allows. Think about your muscles and how to make the most of your turnout. Focusing on yourself can decrease the boredom at least a little. Finally, imagine yourself winning a dance competition, landing a job in a dance company or commercial, or making your broadway debut. Isn’t this worth all the hours spent laboring at the ballet bar?
How many ballet classes do you take each week? Post your comments below or to our Facebook page.
As a parent, choosing where your child will begin taking dancing is an important decision. There are a few questions to ask yourself before finding that special place.
First, what do you want your child to get out of the experience?
If your answer is that you want them to have fun and experience socialization, you may want to try a more recreational studio. Recreational programs focus on learning basic terminology but do not usually have a competitive element among the students. If you want your child to be able to join a competitive team or even a high school/college dance team, you may want to research schools with excellent competitive records or any other measure of success outside of what they post on their website. Anyone can say they’re a good school, but it may not be the best school for your dancer.
What is the monthly or yearly total you are willing to spend?
Before making any decisions as to which studio, you must decide for yourself what your yearly or monthly budget can afford. Do your numbers before you look for a studio. If you know upfront what you can afford, you won’t be straddled with payments that you can’t make or being forced to remove your dancer from a program they love due to financial reasons.
Do you need or want the social benefits of belonging to a particular studio?
Belonging to a particular studio can be just like having a membership to an exclusive club. It’s a place you belong to that meets your social needs and the needs of your child. Is this something you believe you want in your life? Do you like having a membership? Ensure you know the answer because if you join a very social studio and are not a social person, the maximum benefits of that environment may never be realized.
Once you know the answers to those questions, here are some criteria to help you when researching studios:
1. What is the philosophy of the studio and its owners?
Check out what the basic philosophy of the studio is. Do they have their mission statement posted on their website or in the studio waiting area? Do you agree with that mission? Also, ask the owner(s) what their number one goal is. It could range anywhere from creating a fun environment for all of the students to providing an excellent dance education with a focus on being a future professional. All you have to do is ask and then be sure to LISTEN to the answer. Ensure that somewhere in the philosophy of the studio you find the element you determined was important for you from the questions above.
2. What services are available?
Find out what various types of classes are available as well as what other services are provided. Does the studio offered varied class times? Do they have a variety of classes, such as hip hop, ballet, tap, pointe, etc.? Is it mandatory to participate in the annual recital? Do they sell dancwear in the studio for convenience to the parents? What special activities does the studio participate in (winter concerts, fair performances, outreach programs)? Does the studio regularly attend competitions? See how the answer to this question matches up with your reasons for registering your child in dance.
3. What level of training/accomplishment have the owners and teachers attained?
This is a critical question whether or not you would like to compete. Ensure that the individuals who are teaching you have qualifications that will improve your child’s dance education. Ask for a history on the instructors’ training and their own personal dance accomplishments. Keep in mind that the ability to teach is not something all good dancers have. A teacher with amazing credentials and numerous awards as a dancer may not necessarily be the best teacher.
If you would eventually like your child to compete in dance, find out the studios history in that regard. Were they voted one of the best competitive studios in their state? Are any of the instructors judges of other dance competition companies? Also, find out if they provide their own choreography or if they hire outside choreographers and the costs involved. Sometimes, an excellent teacher is not an excellent choreographer. It is often necessary to bring in an outside choreographer for fresh material.
4. What is the studio environment like?
Is the physical setting of the studio pleasing to you? Is it clean? What is your child’s reaction to the environment? Observe the “atmosphere” of the studio and ensure you and your child feel good when you’re there.
Another important element of creating the environment is the attitudes of the owners, teachers, and students. Do the owners/teachers make you feel comfortable and welcome? Are students treated equally? Does the studio have a diverse population in age, size, shape, and color? Check these things out because they matter in the long run.
Because your child will be spending time here, another important element to consider is the attitude of the school towards the community. Do the teachers encourage a good attitude towards other studios? Do they support the dance community by volunteering, attending events, etc.? This is a social element you may or may not be interested in; however, it does help form how your child views others as they grow.
5. What is the public opinion about the studio?
Are people happy with the service they’ve received from the studio? Did they receive what was promised to them? Are they happy with how they are treated? Do they believe they are getting their money’s worth? Are their concerns or issues addressed by management in a way that makes them feel they were heard and understood?
Is there an undue pressure applied to students — does everyone have to compete to be “special” in the school? Is there always a push for students to spend more money? These pressures can make things uncomfortable.
Most importantly, however, is that students feel welcome in the studio. Feeling they are part of the studio and can contribute positively to the experience of others is an quality of a good studio.
6. Fees for Services
The last question that must be answered is what are the fees. How much will it cost to do the amount of dancing I’d like for my child to do in the month or year?
Studio owners will give you this information. Ensure that prices are they same for everyone. Are there any special deals? Be careful if the pricing information varies from student to student — ask for the criteria that is used. What determines special circumstances? Specifically, ensure that you completely understand exactly which lessons are included in the prices that are given.
The above six questions are simple, but the answers given are individual. Try not to decide on a studio based on someone else’s opinion. If a friend give excellent reviews about where their child attends dance, check it out and see if it’s an environment you like as well. Know want you want and shop around for who best fits your needs. Try out classes at a number of studios until you find a place where you are happy. Never forget that you are the customer and you have the right to choose.
Flexibility is important for any dancer because most dance forms require dancers to stretch into positions your body may not normally allow. All dancers should strive to get the best possible range of motion in all major flex points, including the hips and shoulders, as well as all muscles in the legs and core. Dancers can become more flexible simply by practicing; however, there are certain stretches to help out some of the tightest muscle groups.
The hamstrings are frequently one of the harder muscles to stretch. Poor posture and improper stretching can lead to very tight and poorly developed hamstring flexibility. One exercise to improve this muscle group is to sit with your feet facing a wall in front of you. Your feet should be flexed, using the wall for resistance. Straighten your knees and feel the stretch behind your legs and knees. Once this is easy for you, start to reach for your toes. The final step is to be able to grab your ankles and put your nose to your knees. Also, remember to focus on your posture while walking and sitting to align your hips over your toes. Improving your hamstring flexibility will assist you in the correct placement of grande battements (high kicks), better grand jetes, and improved splits.
The hips are also another area in which dancers hope to improve flexibility. Dancers with tight hip flexors have a difficult time doing anything above the hip, such as splits, leaps, and grande battements. One stretch to improve hip flexibility on your own is to stand in second position and put your hands on your knees. Be sure to keep your back straight and head up. Then, try to gradually increase the deepness of your plie while focusing on good posture. Another stretch to improve hip flexibility is a modified split stretch. Sit in your split position, but bend the front leg to a 90 degree angle. The back leg should be completely straight. Bend down and put your chest on your knee, stretching your hands forward as far as possible. Your back leg should be in proper alignment for splits, and make sure to keep your back hip toward the floor.
The core for any dancer determines their strength and balance as well as how many pirouettes they are able to perform. Good posture is the result of a strong core as well, but you can not have a strong stomach without a strong back. Both of these parts work towards the best possible core. Yoga and Pilates exercises are the perfect core strengthener, but you may also do standard crunches or situps to strengthen these muscles. Back crunches are used to strengthen the back; lay on the ground on your stomach and put your hands behind your head as if you are doing crunches. Keep your feet flat on the ground and pull your upper body up off the ground. Making a routine of doing a certain number of stomach and back crunches each night can lead to a very balanced and strong core muscle group.
As always, a flexible dancer needs to have the right dancewear so your clothing does not get in the way of performing each dance step appropriately. Alyce Dancewear has all the items you need for class at www.AlyceDancewear.com.
Can you think of any other stretches that are helpful? Post comments below or to Facebook!
A common problem among dancers and dance teachers is finding hip hop music that is appropriate for all audiences. When giving a performance, there are usually many age groups in the crowd. While teens and young adults may like certain song selections, older age groups may prefer something entirely different. There are many ways to ensure your song selection will be well received by all audiences.
First, try to select a theme for the routine. Some of the most excellent themes take a word or phrase and use songs that follow that word or phrase. For example, you may select songs with the name “Baby” in the title and do an entire routine surrounding that word. Using a grouping of songs that follow this pattern, the routine could be about growth or learning to dance from a small child. This will allow older members of the audience not familiar with the song selections to have a connection to the routine and maximize enjoyment overall.
Secondly, popular music is not always the best choice. Many older audience members will claim they have no idea what the song is saying. Or younger members will say they’ve heard a certain song too many times and they’ve since grown tired of it. Your music should be interesting to hear and also fresh to the audience’s ears.
Finally, look for interesting parts of songs. Find a song with great “break down” sections to vamp up your compilation. There are acoustic versions of many songs that will add some dimension to the mix. Karaoke versions of some songs also allow you to hear some of the beats you would not normally hear over the lyrics.
Making a great hip hop mix is a difficult task, but if you can master some new tricks, you could create a great song compilation that all audiences will enjoy!