During this time of solitude, everyone is going crazy, especially dancers! I cannot tell you how many times I've caught myself dancing in the kitchen, chain turning down the hall, or even counting "quick-quick slow" to whatever song happens to be on the radio or TV.
I think I may have finally convinced my pets that I am indeed dance crazy…
All of this activity is great, but, as a dancer, how can we continue to improve our skills if we are stuck at home? The answer: practice alone! You may not like this idea but stay with me! You love to dance; you come to all your lessons, the group classes and our social events. There you practice with a teacher or a friend and the lesson or music tells you what to do. When you practice alone, however, you make up the rules! Of course, this can be intimidating! So, the real problem is how to practice.
In this article, I am going to provide you with tips on how to practice alone. I will help you to identify what to work on, how to implement your dance-at-home practices and when to practice. By the end of this article your pets or children, even curious neighbors, will be convinced you're dance crazy too!
An easy way to get started is to remember the four “W’s.”
- What do I want to work on?
- Write it down
- Where do I apply it?
- When should I practice?
You might be thinking, I need to work on so much. I need to work on everything! Don't worry, we all feel this way. The amazing thing about dance is that there is no wrong way to go about practicing. Dance is a gift that keeps giving you opportunities to grow and hone your skills. Plus, there are many fun things to work on!
So, how do you start? Here's my suggestion: close your eyes and think of a dance, perhaps your favorite, or one you dislike but secretly love. Pick two or three things from those dances that immediately pop into your head. Recall what frustrates or discourages you. These are the things you want to improve! They could be things like rhythm or timing, sharper leg action, transitioning between moves or arm movement that coordinates with leg action. Anything you want! If you’re an advanced student or you just want to get spicy, perhaps work on things like eye contact for the audience or full body volume for an upcoming routine or competition.
The next step: write it down. Whatever want to work on for your dancing, write it down and put it in a prominent place in your home and where you practice. Look at it several times a day and go through your exercises in your head. Visualize your practice. It will help when you actually begin to practice!
Ok, time for step three: where are you going to apply it? The answer to that question comes from the step one: what you are working on? If you have a routine, then start there. Practice in pieces, taking small portions and focusing on the elements you're wanting to improve. Do it until you can't do it wrong. But what if you don't have a routine? Do you have a new pattern in waltz? What about that chase turn in the cha-cha? Again, take those things you are wanting to improve and insert them into your exercises.
Great! We now have the outline for practicing. The final step is identifying when to practice. I am a huge fan of practicing throughout the day. No, I don't mean stop every hour and get your dance shoes on. (But as a dance instructor I'm not going to be upset if that is what you choose to do!) What I mean is, while you're walking to the kitchen, especially if you are wearing socks across a hardwood floor, take a spin as you move across the room. Maybe promenade down your hallway. Remember to always think about your posture when doing impromptu moves. Either way, implementing things you're focusing on throughout the day is great practice without practicing! However, when it comes to focused practice time; pick a time that works best for you. If it’s in the morning after coffee or when the kids are asleep, take some you time and destress by practicing. Ideally, a time without distractions. You do not have to practice long either. Some steps or movement exercises can be as little as a minute. Practice your dancing until you do not have to think about the movement or steps as you go through your exercise. We are seeking to create muscle memory!
I hope you enjoyed this post on practicing! Just remember the four “W’s” of practicing alone. Know what to practice, write it down, where to apply your exercises and when to practice. Hopefully, practicing alone should not see so intimidating by now! Just go out there and do it. By out there, I mean where you feel most comfortable practicing: your living room or basement, a back porch, garage or even your driveway! Follow these guidelines and you’ll bring these newfound skills and determination back to your studio! As your dance instructors love to say” "One more time!".
Keep Dancing! Carissa Wassenaar
Professional Dancer at Go Dance Ballroom Studio in Knoxville, TN