Showing posts with label ballet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ballet. Show all posts

Friday, 8 January 2016

10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing



As a professional dancer i have picked up quite a few little tricks over the years. Usually because i made a whole handful of mistakes and endeavor not to repeat them. Here are 10 quick tips to help dancers whether beginning students, experienced dancers or professionals (probably you have your own).

  1. Build body memory. For each simplified basic movement of the dance or movement activity you wish to improve in. In the end a good teacher can simplify anything you need to understand, but you can't fudge the repetition needed to make a movement become learned.
  2. Increase body awareness. With body awareness its a much quicker process to learn any movement based activity. Without it you can spend years trying to make changes that either will take longer to happen or your body simply won't understand on an intrinsic level.
  3. Find your learning style. Become aware of the ways you learn best e.g. visual, kinesthetic, audio etc. Use the ones you are strongest in while translating to others you are less good in. The translation process makes the learning more profound. For example, i learn visually and kinesthetically but when i first started to teach i had to structure things in a verbal way for my students. Especially with questions but also to relate to the many students who aren't able to learn from a simply visual perspective. I found by making this translation of dance into words i learned a great deal myself too and continue to enjoy this new found learning style.
  4. Give yourself time to find the learning space. Many students arrive at the start time of the class.  Totally understandable with the busyness of most of our lives. But it often results in feeling rushed, not something that promotes learning. With a bit of careful planning you can give yourself 5 minutes to acclimatize before the class starts by arriving a bit earlier. This 5 minutes is great for letting your brain become ready to learn.
  5. Warm up before classes and social dancing. Sometimes it feels silly but warming up the body is really important. The more the activity asks from you, and this is personal, the more you should prepare yourself for it. When you are warm you also most better and more fluidly. The chances of one of those dances you will remember is much higher.
  6. Learning is forgetting. Keep in mind that to learn something and take it in at a deeper level we often need to see it several times. Similar to body memory but for the brain. Let yourself forget things as part of the learning process. 
  7. Make sure your clothes don't hold you back. Depending on the type of activity you do, make sure your clothing allows for the movements you want to do as well as keeping you sufficiently covered. There is nothing worse than trying to do something and finding you either can't do it or don't want to as it leaves you exposed.
  8. Take time for your own translation. Particularly for partner dancers but also for students who take a lot of classes. Its useful to take 5 minutes by yourself to put all the things you have learned into your own words and understanding. You can take a step deeper to try and link other things you do as part of your activity into this and check it with a trusted teacher or more experienced dancer. I always invite my students to check ideas with me and also tell them when its possible but not my personal approach or maybe i don't have the answer due to it being outside my expertise or comes down to a choice for the student i can't answer for them. After all i am not a guru but a dancer. 
  9. The first time you learn something sticks with you forever, or until you do a lot of hard work to change it. The first time we properly learn something we take it into our memory in a more profound way than the second and third times. Its good to make sure that you understand it correctly this first time and that you are getting quality information. This way you will avoid many bad habits that form due to misinformation. Secondly the amount of work it takes to change this first memory once made. 
  10. Ask your teachers why. If your activity is anything like Argentine tango then the question why is a good one. In tango everyone and anyone can teach, with a huge range in abilities to dance and abilities to teach. There are good dancers and terrible teachers, good teachers and terrible dancers and everything in between. The question why tends to cut through the crap. If they can give you a solid and clear reason why, then they probably know what they are talking about. If not then you can think on this. Just be a little aware of the difference between question about a step or subject being taught and questioning the teacher themselves. The second one is unpleasant on the receiving end and feels as though you are being asked for you credentials as a teacher. This is likely to close up most teachers making this a moot point. Active learning is essential to efficient learning and becoming more proficient. Its also rewarding and personally i find it gives a lot of enjoyment. 

I hope these were useful. Try them out and if you want more information post a comment below. It would be great if you can spread the word about our new blog using some of the buttons below.We will regularly be posting information about dance, health and a little on Argentine tango.



Other articles in the dance genre:


'A Vision of Tango'

'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

Why we love Pilates (and you should too)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

How to Solve the Biggest Problems With dance shoes



Shoe problems for anyone who relies on shoes for a particular purpose will find it annoying to get problems. Whether you are a runner, cyclist or dancer, your shoes and in fact clothes are important to enhance what you are doing and able to bring. Read this article further to find out some of the problems faced by dancers and tips for working around them or avoiding them altogether.

Top 6 categories for problems dancers have with shoes:


1. Breaking in new shoes: Especially as there is often a recommendation to start with a smaller size than you actually wear. This is due to the material expanding and as dancers we want an as near perfect fit as possible. The what degree smaller depends on the dance, the shoe and type of material its made from.
  • Tip, I would suggest here with leather and suede shoes is to put them on a heater for 20 minutes before wearing them. Note that the heater shouldn't be hot enough to damage the shoes, just warm them past body temperature so the material expands. When you place them on your foot the material is softer and if this is repeat a number of times it begins to mold the shoes to your feet, fitting them perfectly without the normal process of wearing them in.


2. Getting used to different heel heights (even for men with cuban heels). Many women aren't used to heels and when they come to dance they find it difficult as suddenly they are asked to don heels in many dances. Dancers are rarely taught how to use their shoes in the movement. Its all very well putting good looking shoes on your feet but if you don't include them in your technique they will trip you up.
  • Tips is to wear new shoes on uneven surfaces, or ones that make your ankles work. Usually when we put on new shoes we forget that we need to accustom our bodies and in particular muscles to the changes created. Ankles are often too weak to offer stability when someone wears high heeled shoes for the first time. The thicker the heel the easier it is on your ankle, the lower the heel the easier too. The other thing is the that a dancer needs to build their technique to include shoes as a tool for the trade or hobbie. Simply sticking shoes on our feet regardless of how beautiful is a common mistake.
3. Shoes that don't fit correctly can be a pain, quite literally. Either through rubbing, being too small or so big that you are unable to move properly in them. The style of the shoe is also important when working with feet of different proportions.
  • Tip,  Length, width, high arch, flat foot, shape of foot are all factors to consider when buying new dance shoes. Best thing is to ask a dance teacher or a knowledgeable shop assistant. Good ones are often trained in dance shoe fitting. After owning a few pairs of shoes you can also look back and see which shoes where the most comfortable and worked best for you in terms of shape and style.


4. Dance shoes that break are a problem.
  • Tip: many can be fixed easily and its well worth training a cobbler or shoe repairer in your city to mend dance shoes. Particularly if you are a professional and wear shoes out like no tomorrow.
5. Our old dance shoes affecting our movement. This can come in the form of wear and tear that simply means you have to work harder to maintain balance and equilibrium in old shoes. The other problem that arises for newer dancers who have drastically changed the technique of how they use their feet, is that the wear of the shoe often reinforces old habits. How does this work? well if you imagine someone moved and danced with all their weight on the outside of the foot and mostly on their heels. You will find that the outside of the heel is worn down and the engineering of the shoe starts to break with wearing the shoe in a way its not built for. Yes there is shoe engineering and design that enhances certain things we want as dancers in our shoes.  Ballet shoes are a great example of this.
  • Tip: Even though old shoes are at their most comfortable and if worn a lot are dear friends, know when their time it up. Comfort is usually a sign that the engineering of the dance shoe is breaking down and past a certain point it doesn't do anyone any good. Get to know a cobbler in your city who can repair some aspects of aged shoes, particularly if the shoe is good but its the heel that has worn down. This is often easy to fix, as are straps that have got loose due to expanding and worn out soles.


6. The engineering of shoes. Have the shoes been balanced correctly, basic test for this is if they can stand up by themselves without falling over. Other factors include twisted heels, the foot pattern being well proportioned, the orientation of the heel distributing weight to different parts of the foot if not aligned properly. Then you get into things like distance between the heel and the place where the ball of the foot meet the floor. Its rare to find a shoe that is perfect and rarer still to find two. So the suggestion here is to be aware of what you have, don't buy something that is terrible quality and work with how the shoe balance affects you.
If you find any other problems it would be great if you add them in a comment. I hope this list and tips help. More articles like this will be coming soon. 

Other articles in the dance genre:


'A Vision of Tango'

'Abundant obsession', Argentine tango

Why we love Pilates (and you should too)
'Abundant Obsession' Argentine tango dance
'Abundant Obsession' Argentine tango dance