The Technique of Taking Dance Class (Part 2)
Taking class is not as easy as it seems. All of the tools you need are present in the room and within yourself, but how do you access them? It's just a matter of putting it all together to set yourself up for success. Is it crazy to think it could be THAT simple? Do you constantly compare to others? Do you feel inexperienced or unsure of etiquette? Well look no further; we’ve got you covered! In the spirit of honoring EMBRACING MOVEMENT over the next 4 weeks, we will break this puzzle down into 3 easy areas to remember and execute!
Successfully making it through a dance class can be broken up into
3 areas that allow you to stay mindful while also achieving greatly.
Open Eyes Open Mind Open Heart
When you approach class with these three areas in mind, you will find a new found sense of focus and be able to get the MOST out of your training!
For Week 2, we will be discussing 4 ways to use “Open Mind”.
(In case you missed last’s week discussion, read “Open Eyes” first!)
Taking Dance Class with an "Open Mind":
1) Be Actively Present - Always strive to be 110% present during class: keeping your eyes open and your mind awake. So often it is easy to drift somewhere inside our heads, to the world behind the class door, or even down a negative path. Keep your mind on task, focusing on the details in front of you. Everything else will be there later, but this moment here and now in class is coming and is about to go. Use tools like counting silently, repeating the movement vocabulary, or saying verbal cues and corrections in your head to keep your mind focused on the present.
Your mind is a valuable tool. Hold onto it.
2) Think Through the Layers - In class, we spend a lot of time talking about the layers of movement, ranging from basic concepts to subtle intricacies. Use this knowledge and your own common sense as you tackle new and old movement. Think through the layers, giving your mind and body time to understand each layer. Pick a concept to work on in that moment. Guide yourself mentally through the process, without always waiting for the teacher to talk you through it. This can be invaluable and really make all those in between moments in class worthwhile. Use waiting in line or waiting for the music to start, as time to individually work. You can even work on your own at home to help you fully grasp the pieces. Your mind thinking through it will translate to your body actually doing it! And of course, always ask questions once you have thought about it and need insight or guidance.
Walk your mind through the steps of your movement.
3) Apply Corrections - Throughout all the classes you take, you will receive both verbal and physical corrections. These corrections can be personal, for the group, or directed to someone else. Apply them all. Corrections in class are like little nuggets of insight. Each dancer may apply them differently, but each dancer can learn from them. Keep your mind aware of the corrections you receive from class to class, of the tips the class is given as a whole, and especially of the thoughts given to other dancers. Find ways to think through these corrections, silently remind yourself of them while dancing, ask questions when you don't understand one, and carry them from one class to the next. Their value is still high, beyond the moment they are given.
Keep a journal to record the corrections you receive, personal, class, and for others. Look through the journal before classes and on your own time to remind yourself and give your brain something to concentrate on throughout class. I bet you will uncover a lot of truth in those notes.
Corrections are your friends. The more the better.
4) Keep Positive - Your mind. Its' power can be beautiful, but it can also be a trap. We all know how easy it is to let negative thoughts creep in during class; judging our every step, stumble, mistake, attempt, look, and moment. The mirror can be used for bad, our minds can get in the way of achieving our positive intent for class, and it can make us feel less than worthwhile, though the goal is to feel joyful. Your mind can make or break a class, for both your individual self and the energy of the community in the classroom. We all innately feed off the energy of others in class, which hopefully is always a helpful aid in the room. However, when the negative thoughts flood in, it's hard to not go down with them.
Have no fear, you CAN choose your thoughts. You can't control your emotions, but you CAN control your mind. Fake a smile until your mind and body believe it. Repeat mantras and positive affirmations in your head until they begin to work. Think positive thoughts of others in the room, showing them generosity, and in return be generous to yourself. Do a plank every time you speak in self-defeated language. Don't judge yourself when the inevitable moments of negativity creep in. Look to the teacher and dancers for love and support as you aim to stay positive. Together, as a community striving to empower ourselves and one another, we can keep the thoughts upbeat, joyful, and well-intended.
Breathe in joy. Stay positive. Keep your mind on your class intention.
While taking your classes this upcoming week, keep your mind open and allow it to be a sponge to absorb all the insight and knowledge it can possibly hold. Just remember to breathe in joy so you don't let that mind overload!
Feel free to email or comment with any thoughts your mind may encounter...