Today’s Topic: What Dancer’s Should Know: A Dance Teacher’s Perspective
Hi everyone. My name is Kayla, and I am a coach here at Complete Performance Coaching. I work specifically with dancers and cheerleaders, but I also work with swimmers and basketball players as well.
Today we’re going to be talking about a dance teacher’s perspective and what a dancer should know. I am a dance teacher and I teach all throughout the week. I do private lessons and I also have a group class as well. Often times I find myself saying the same things to my dancers in class, and I want to talk about some of those things today.
Every Teacher is Different
Before I actually get into all of these things, I want to talk about how not every dance teacher probably has his perspective. My perspective is coming from a dance teacher, but also a mental skills consultant. These are some things that I find myself telling my dance students a lot in class
1. Just Say ‘Yes’
The first thing that a dance teacher probably wants their dancers to know is to just say yes. What I mean by that is whenever I choreograph, I purposely put a section in the routine that I know is challenging, and I know is going to require my dance students to overcome some fears in some mental blocks. I do that so we can get through it together. When you get through it, you’re probably going to leave dance class with a piece of confidence.
If you say yes, your body is going to say yes. When you walk into a dance class, you’re working with two different machines, your mind, and your body. The goal is to integrate the two together and get them both on the same page, which is saying yes.
I always tell my dancers, “Hey, you’ve got to tell yourself ‘yes’ so you can follow through with this challenging move.” A lot of saying yes has to do with having a very carefree attitude because it’s not always about executing the move right when you do it, that’s not what dance teachers are looking for. We just want to see you try it. We’re not looking for perfection at all. It’s that moment when you push through and just try it is when you start to chip at that mental block that you have for yourself.
Every single time when I teach on Monday, my group class, I notice all my dancers have executed the challenging move that they wanted and the stuff that they couldn’t do. The way they did that was by saying yes and just trying it. So when you tell yourself no, you will probably produce a negative outcome and unwanted outcome that you do not desire. So, just say yes.
2. Have a Goal
The next thing the dance teacher wants a dancer to know is come to class with a goal. I can’t stress this enough. Whenever we’re in my dance class, I do warm-ups. Before I teach choreography, I have about six people go around the room and share their goal for what they want to get out of class that day. My reasoning for doing that is so you can leave feeling accomplished. You could maybe even learn if your goal needs to be adjusted for the following week. It gives you something to strive for in the class. It is my hope that people think about their goal during the warmup or while they are driving to class because we want to make sure that we’re helping you and supporting you towards your goals.
When you can grow as a dancer and a performer and always think about your goal in terms of making sure that it can be measured. I highly suggest you share your goal with your dance teacher, another classmate, your parents. If people know, they can help support you and hold you accountable for your goal.
3. Dance Like No One is Watching
The third thing is, and we talked about this in the previous live, is dance like no one is watching. I know people say that phrase all the time, but I promise you, dance teachers just want to see you dance with that carefree attitude, not caring what anyone thinks. If you watch my previous live, I talk about how to dance like no one is watching. I always tell my dancers and my students that it is our job as dancers to bring the music and the choreography to life.
A lot of that is really stepping into that confidence, stepping into a certain character. I believe that each song and choreography calls for a certain character for you to have. And in order for you to step into that character, you need to step into your confidence as well. One way to do that, something that I think about whenever I’m dancing, is I think of it as putting on a superhero cape. Whatever my superhero cape or costume is, it allows me to have a certain power and a character for that dance to execute it and have that performance ability.
Pick a Character
I often ask my dancers, “What character are you going to have today?” My reasoning for doing that is because I believe that you’ll be able to dance freely. When I see my students dancing like they don’t care, they’re in their own element and in their own world. That is so inspiring for me and everyone in the dance class as well.
Once again, a part of dancing like no one is watching is also saying yes and being in your own world. In my other live, How to Dance Like No One is Watching, I mention being in tune with yourself and the mirror and not worrying about people around you. This means not worrying about how others are dancing, but strictly focusing on you and pumping yourself up. Use words, mantras, or anything that’s going to help you have the most confidence.
4. Just Watch
Lastly, dancers, I know you hear dance teachers say this all the time. “All right everyone… just watch.” The dance teacher will do their routine, and I can’t tell you how many dancers do not watch and they will just do. So my advice to everyone is to pause, watch, and absorb.
If you’re not getting certain dance steps, you’re not getting the choreography, it’s probably because you just need to stop and watch the teacher. I promise you, when a dance teacher says watch, it’s because we noticed that everyone’s missing a certain step or there’s something that not everyone’s getting. We’re saying watch so you can find that missing puzzle piece that you weren’t able to see before while just doing it.
Pause for Anxiety
Even I do this when I take dance classes. I know that if I’m anxious, if I’m not getting a certain move, it’s probably because I just need to watch my teacher do it for a little bit. That’s another way to indicate to watch. If you find yourself getting anxious, you have shallow breathing, and you’re having negative self-talk, I promise you, if you just sit there and watch for maybe mark the moves, you’ll probably find that missing puzzle piece that you need.
You learn a lot more sometimes by just watching, then doing it really helps slow things down.
Say yes. Really give yourself positive affirmations. Remember you’re walking into a dance class with two machines, your mind and your body. The goal is to integrate the two together.
A lot of times in sports psychology, we’ll talk about keywords. “Yes” can be a keyword for you. I know sometimes there’s challenging choreography, but in order to get over that barrier and really chip away at that barrier, the first step is to suggest telling yourself yes.
Come to class with a goal. Think about your goal before you even step into the dance class and try and share your goal with someone so that way others can keep you accountable and you can measure your progress as well.
Dance like no one is watching. I like to pick a day, usually Sunday, where I will just freestyle to some music and let my body flow. Being in tune with myself in the mirror really helps me step into my confidence.
Pause, watch, and absorb. When a teacher says, “Just watch,” please just watch. I promise you there’s so much valuable information and things to absorb when you just watch. Remember, if you’re always feeling anxious, engage in some breathing exercises, maybe mark the routine, and just watch and learn so much.
That’s all I have for you. Make sure to tune in to the next live. I do lives once a month on the second or third Thursday of the month. I hope you enjoy it when I talk! Please leave any comments or feed feedback and make sure to book a coaching session with me here.