Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Start The Dance Year off Right

Summer is coming to an end which means a new school year is right around the corner. With a new school year comes a new season of dance. How can students prepare and make this year their most productive dance season yet? I will be sharing some of my favorite tips that i give to my students during the first month of classes so they can do and be their best throughout the year.

Prior to the start of classes- Call your studio and make sure you are ready to go. Have all of your shoes and attire you need for class. Make sure you know the times and location of your classes and put them into your planner. Ask if there is anything else you need or need to know before you begin class. It's great to start the year off organized and prepared.

First week back- I see nervous new students as well as comfortable faces. Before we start I remind everyone, both new and returning students, why we are here in class together... for our love of dance and to learn of course. My advice for those nervous new students, breath, relax, and know its normal to feel butterflies when you start something new. Remember why you are there and know that after a few classes you will feel great, you'll get use to your teachers routine, and meet new friends who share your love for dance. For those returning students who may be comfortable with the routine, aware of their surroundings and what their teacher expects of them... set your own goals. For example; this year I will become more flexible, I will get that triple pirouette, my grand jeté will be higher, my attendance will be better, etc. Also it's always nice to make the new students feel comfortable, introduce yourself, welcome them into the group.

Second week back- Getting to know my students and observing behavior. The excitement of starting something new is over. This is when I explain my goals for the year for each class. Students, I recommend you pay close attention and possibly even write down what your teacher expects of you this season. I'll talk about a "dance diary" later. I have noticed this is the week where I see some sluggish faces. Students feeling the effects of school and homework plus dance class. They are tired and miss their lazy days of summer. This is the perfect time to have a small nutrition/scheduling talk. Students, I suggest when you get home from school you refuel with a healthy snack and then get as much of your homework done as possible before dance class. You should make sure you are eating properly and drinking lots of water, not soda or energy drinks filled with sugar. I like to go more in depth with my teenage/adult students on how food fuels our bodies and what foods are best for dancers. Remember if you set a schedule and monitor your time you will not have to worry about that term paper you have to write while you are standing at the barr stretching. You should be focused in class on dance and this should be a time when you are not stressed about school. Dance is a great outlet and way to destress, its your time, and who needs to be thinking about the school work you put off and should have done before you got to class.

Week three-This is where we really start to get involved and are getting set with our routine. I'll explain the Dance Diary at this time. I think this is a great tool, in my experience it really helps a dancer improve and grow. I still use one myself. I tell my students to jot down their personal goals and the goals I have for them as a class. They can get more in depth if they choose by writing everything we did in class that day and their feeling while in class. For example, "It was great when stuck that balance in arabesque." or "I definitely need to work on that combo across the floor." In week three I also reinforce teamwork and address any negative attitudes I'm witnessing privately. Remember your dance class is like a team, you will have to perform and learn together all year. It is best to have a positive attitude at all times to keep things moving along so you and your classmates can learn, improve, and be your best together.

Week four- Really into the groove now. We are comfortable with each other and on a mission. Students, I recommend you stay positive and motivated. Keep your attendance up, use your dance diary, maintain healthy eating habits, balance your time between school work and dance, and practice what you need to work on. When in doubt remember why you joined a dance class, for your love of dance and passion to learn about this beautiful art form.

This sums up the first month back to dance and the tips I like to give out. Throughout the year I keep reminding my students of healthy positive habits for a productive dance season. I hope all that read this post find the advice useful. Make this dance season your best ever! I wish you all much success in your journey with dance.

Love and Luck,

Miss Leslea ;)


Anonymous said...

Looks great, Leslea! Excellent information. I hope to see more teachers doing what you are with this blog. I think it can be a useful tool. And, the dance diary is an excellent idea. Students could even use a blog as their diary!

I'll get your post linked soon. Be sure to check it out at Dance Advantage!

Graziella Baratta said...

I agree, this is great information coming from a reputable source! Take it from someone like Miss Leslea, who is always prepared for everything she does because she plans ahead! Keep up the wonderful work!