Practice Makes Perfect… How to do the hard work of practicing your dance

Practice Makes Perfect… How to do the hard work of practicing your dance

It’s February, the month of love!!  What do we all love more than bellydance?  Um, not much.  Our time, money, and energy is poured into our dance.  But, have you stopped to ask if you are getting the most out of your hard work?

Finding the Time…

As dancers, we’re told all the time to practice, but we’re rarely taught HOW to practice.  Most dancers have no idea where to start their practice, let alone what they should be working on while they’re practicing.

When setting up a schedule, the first question you should ask yourself is how much time do you want to practice.  Usually, we enthusiastically say, “Every day!”  We all know this is not feasible, as much as we might want it to be.  Depending on your goals, fitness level, and obligations to other things in your life (work, family, other hobbies), you may have more or less time available to devote to your practice.

I recommend between 5-15 minutes 3 times a week.  This is a great way to start building your practice habit.  I also encourage you to use a sticker chart to track you progress.  It’s amazing how hard we all work for fun stickers!

As time goes on and your practice is paying off, you’ll be able to increase the duration and frequency of your practice.  You’ll see the fruits of your hard work really pay off!

Wanna know more?  Check out my YouTube video this month.

What do I Focus On?

What should you practice?  Why, all those things you want to avoid practicing!  Focus on where you are weak.  Make it strong.  Go slowly at first to make sure you’ve got the technique drilled into your body.  Shameless plug, use my online classes to review your basics and drill, drill, drill them!

Technique is the building blocks on which your dance is based on.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to continue to work on your technique.  Many dancers forsake basics to work on tricks, such as flutters, crazy isolations, or shimmy layers.  I’m not saying to forsake these skills, I’m, reminding you to work on your basics as much as you work on these tricks.

As you progress and begin to focus on styles and concepts, it’ll be important to have feedback.  Feedback comes in may forms to include from teachers and from yourself in the form of watching yourself in the mirror and video.

Yes, I said video. Next month, I’ll be offering some suggestions for gently critiquing yourself.

Ethics (Your hard work is paying off, now what to do with the dividends?)

You’ve been working so hard and boy does it show!!  Great job.  Your friends are starting to notice.  They’re asking you to teach them, to dance at their parties, to perform publicly.  I know you’re excited about this and all the validation is wonderful.  It’s time to sit and think about the ethics of your choices with your dance.

I’m going to refrain from going into this too deeply in this article as I feel very passionately about this topic.  Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll write many more articles on it in the future.

Before you jump into any of these things, you should talk to your teacher(s) and other professional dancers. They can provide you with advice and perspective earned from their experiences. This shouldn’t be a casual question tossed out as you’re leaving class, or when your dancer friend makes her way to your table – this is important, right? So make it important. Arrange for a private meeting, so they may focus their attention on you. Do at least attempt to compensate them for their time and expertise: Invite them to lunch, schedule a private lesson, or even just buy them a coffee! (revision on this by the lovely Monica Dionne)

Do be ethical in your dance.  Make educated and informed decisions.  Do the hard work of learning about the culture.  Be an ambassador for the dance you love so much and have worked so hard to master.

Closing Thoughts…

I hope this has inspired you to develop your own practice and delve deeper into dance.  It might feel as if your progress is slow, but rest assured, you are progressing!  Reach out to those around you who build you up and encourage you to keep going.

If you’re looking for private lessons, online learning opportunities, artist development, or mentorship, please reach out to me.  Helping dancers excel at being their personal best is my mission.  Check out my awesome YouTube video in which I talk about these concepts!

Until next time, stay shiny and make some awesome art!

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