Now we are able to get back into the dance studio, yay! I wanted to put this blog together to help you Become a Better Dancer Fast with 10 Easy Tips.
If, like me, you have taken a lot of time away from the dance studio. And feel a bit rusty squeezing back into that leotard and dusting off your tap shoes. Here are my top tips to help you become a better dancer fast!
1. Drink plenty of water
Okay, so I know this sounds obvious and it seems like most of the world is urging us to drink more water. But it is one of the simple things that will help you become a better dancer. And this is something you can do every single day.
I like to drink a pint of water before breakfast. It’s a great way to flush out your system and give your stomach a break from digesting. Plus it’s a great easy way to increase your daily water intake.
Try drinking tonic or sparkling water before you go to ballet or jazz class.
I used to get awful cramps in my feet during ballet class. But once I started drinking sparkling water in the daytime before class, my cramps completely cleared away.
Just watch out for added sugars. The simpler and shorter the ingredients list, the better!
2. Choose nutritious food
Another really simple way to become a better dancer fast. As dancers, our body is our instrument. So it is especially important to feed it with nutritious ingredients that will keep it going through more demanding schedules.
Bananas are amazing for giving you slow-release energy. That means you can eat them before and between long dance rehearsals. Or to keep you going through multiple dance classes.
I find it is the only food I can eat just before a class and not feel sick!
Another great food source that provides slow-release energy is oats. These are a great lunchtime option if you have a full day of dance classes.
When I was training at the Millennium Dance Complex and had full-on days. I used to take a bowl of oats soaked overnight in water, and add fruit and nuts to eat during my break.
The great thing about oats is you can be really inventive, adding different supplements to them. Try adding cacao powder to give a richer chocolate taste. Or peanut butter!
You can either soak oats in water or milk. Plant-based milk like soya or almond works really well. Be sure to experiment with different fruits and other toppings like nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, or anything that takes your fancy!
Another tip for eating more nutritious food is by switching to organic produce. Now I was dubious at first, having been brought up to buy food based on the lowest price.
It was tricky to spend, “How much on raspberries!?” But now I have switched to organic, I can honestly say my body is so much healthier.
Plus the raspberries actually taste like raspberries! I didn’t realise how much the chemicals dull the taste of fruit and vegetables. Just try it for a month, you will be surprised how tasty vegetables can actually be.
3. Practice yoga
I know what you are thinking, "Surely I should be practicing more dance, not a different form of exercise?"
However, I have been practicing yoga daily for about a year and am a much better dancer just from that.
Bear in mind I have not been in a dance studio for over a year yet my flexibility has dramatically improved. Just from 20mins of yoga a day. That is it. And I used to be that really inflexible dancer who enviably looked at the dancers who comfortably sat in splits during warm-up.
If you are still not convinced. When I was training in LA, the number of teachers who recommended we take yoga classes was too many to ignore.
Yoga will not only improve your flexibility but it will help you to incorporate your breath with your movement.
Ever watch dancers and wonder why they stand out even though everyone is doing the same choreography?
It’s because they are using their breath in the movement. It helps you to add dynamics and depth to your movement. Your breath can extend a move or add a pause so the audience can really see the clarity of your movement.
Plus yoga is a great way to just be yourself completely. Let go of any disappointments or struggles you had in dance class.
In yoga there is no right or wrong, you can just be totally yourself.
Another great way to improve flexibility and become a better dancer is to stretch out your muscles at home.
Now it is important to not push yourself. And stretching is definitely safer to do when your muscles are warm. After a run or other cardio exercise is a great time to stretch.
If I feel warm, I like to gently stretch out my muscles while watching a film or something.
Simply choosing to sit on the floor rather than the sofa is a good way to improve your posture and stretch out tired legs.
Always listen to your body and just do what feels good. Stretching should feel really good especially when you are warm.
5. Listen to the music
My favourite way to learn choreography after a class is to simply listen to the music from the routine. You don’t need to actually practice the routine physically.
Studies show that simply envisioning yourself doing the routine in your head will help you pick up the choreography quicker. Making you a better dancer.
On your commute to work. Or even listening to the song at work with your headphones can be a great way to learn the music. By listening to the song over and over again, you will begin to pick up the nuances in the track and improve your musicality.
Often choreographers use subtle sounds or lyrics in the song to create their movement.
Learning and listening more closely to hear these, is a great technique to up your dance level and become a better dancer.
6. Look for the details
The difference between a good dancer and a great dancer is all in the detail. At Millennium Dance Complex we were taught to really notice the details when learning choreo. This will help you to become a better dancer.
For example, where is the teacher looking on certain moves? Are they always looking forward, or do they sometimes look at their hand, to the side, up, down etc.
Ask questions if you are not sure. You will be surprised how many people in the class were wondering the same thing!
When learning hip-hop styles in LA, we were told to look for the pictures that our bodies create.
Imagine a photographer taking stills of the routine and your aim is to capture the exact position that the teacher has created.
Look for the details in your feet, hands, arms, and weight of your body. Sometimes a simple weight transfer can make the difference between a hip-hop routine or a jazz routine.
7. Use all the time in class
A great way to become a better dancer and fully utilise each dance class is to really make the most of your time in class.
If you are struggling to pick up a routine in the class. Try practicing even during water breaks and while the teacher is talking to someone else, or checking the music. Even if you only know a small part of the routine, go over that again and again so it really sticks in your head.
The main difference I noticed between the amateurs and professionals, wasn’t their ability to pick up the routine. But how professionals treat each dance class.
They are there to train. And will go over choreo on their own a lot, just to get the muscle memory.
Also, they often don’t remember the whole routine. They just really go for the sections they do know. So as an audience member, you don’t notice the sections they do not know so well. You just notice how strong the parts are that they are nailing.
8. Practice at home
Practicing difficult steps or tricky choreo at home will really make the difference in making you a better dancer.
I always notice a big difference in the classes where I have practiced the routine at home. Compared to those classes where I haven't practiced.
If you are brave enough, you can practice the choreo while waiting for the bus or on your way to work. Think Christina Aguilera in Burlesque.
I used to practice the more tricky tap steps while waiting for the train in London. People mind their own business in London so I pretty much went unnoticed!
If you want brownie points, film yourself doing the routine in class. Then you have something to refer to if you are struggling to remember any of the routine.
You may need to ask the teacher if it’s okay to film yourself. But I found in a lot of the classes, especially in London and LA, there would be a line of phones against the mirrors. Filming each dancer.
9. Try new classes
If you want to become a better dancer, try lots of different classes in different styles. Do not be afraid to try new teachers within the same style of dance too.
It is easy to stay with the same dance class and be the best in class because you know that teacher’s choreo so well. But trying new classes and styles will help you to progress much faster.
Also it will help give you the confidence if you want to audition.
Remember you probably won’t know the choreographer holding auditions so by taking different classes you will get better at picking up choreography.
Different styles of dance will greatly improve your dance too. If you always take modern classes like jazz, ballet, and tap. Try a street class. It is a completely different way of moving your body.
I really struggled in my first street class, being way too upright to look cool with those moves!
But after a year of continuing through the awkwardness, I discovered a new way of moving which has enhanced my choreography skills as well as dance ability.
A great tip I was given when training in LA was to dress appropriately for the style of dance you are taking.
For example, it is way easier to create the relaxed feel in street dance by wearing loose-fitting clothes.
Whereas ballet and jazz tend to look more effective in tighter fitting clothes. Leggings and t-shirt work perfectly if you feel too body conscious in a leotard.
Dressing for your class is a simple way to make you feel more confident in that style of dance.
Take note of what your favourite dancers are wearing and try something similar. For example, I love Jodie’s style in Centrestage.
Jazz trainers are really fun to dance in for jazz classes. They allow you to accentuate your feet but also move easily across the floor. And perform turns easily too.
10. Complement with other cardio sports
A great way to become a better dancer is by improving your stamina and breath control.
Any cardio sport like running, cycling, or swimming not only help you to tone and strengthen muscles. But also will build the stamina required to dance a high-energy routine.
Plus sometimes doing a different form of exercise can be really great if you are finding it difficult in dance class.
I find running really helps me to put things into perspective.
Especially if I am feeling down about not picking up a dance routine. It gives me a good break from dance.
Hope you enjoyed my blog on how to Become a Better Dancer Fast with 10 Easy Tips. I would love to hear from you! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
What tips do you have to become a better dancer? Which is your favourite tip? What one thing helped you to become a better dancer?
As always my friends, happy dancing! 🙂
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