Back in my swim coaching days, there was a common motto amongst our athletes: “Practice doesn’t make perfect…PERFECT practice makes perfect.”
There are a lot of different ways to approach training. There is training for strength, training for flexibility, performing, conditioning, fluidity and so on. Ultimately, you will dance & perform the way you “perfectly” practice.
Here are my six simple tips for Dancing the Way You Practice:
Decide what and how you are going to train and do it. It’s easy to get lost and distracted if you don’t have some sort of plan. It doesn’t need to be complicated or written down. Your intention could be as simple as, “today I want to point my toes in every transition”. Whatever it is, make sure your mind and body know it before stepping into the studio.
Practice Your Flow
Practicing flow accomplishes two major things: 1. Conditions your endurance 2. Cleans up your transitional work. When you learn something new, incorporate it into something old that you know. Put it in a long flow and run through it a few times (or a few hundred) to feel it out. Let yourself be exhausted by this process and explore every possible avenue for a transition to happen.
Flex Your Brain
Get off Instagram, YouTube, Facebook. It’s easy to constantly rely on outside resources for invention. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having inspiration and aerial role models—but if you really want to be able to create and invent on your own you have to practice flexing your brain like a muscle. Like any muscle group in the body, when you don’t use it, you lose it! Try to do some problem solving and challenge your creativity before running to your favorite Instagram page.
Love Your Body
This one is really simple. Love your body in every stage of training, competing, performing etc. When your body is looking full of muscle, when you’re lean, when you are feeling fluffy and having a bad training day… take pride in every step of that process. Your body changes daily and the more you love on it the happier it will be.
Lines Are Everything
But really. If there’s one thing I know that’s true, it’s that practicing with clean lines and pointed toes makes a huge difference on stage. If no muscle memory has been established, your body will forget what to do during a performance or competition. Feet will go flying, knees will bend or you won’t nail the trick once you have strung it into a long complicated combination of moves. Practice. Your. Lines.
Don’t be a “Next” Dancer
You know the kind of dancer I’m describing. The dancer who learns a move and immediately they want the next best thing. Take time to investigate everything. Be a sponge. Even with ‘beginner’ moves, there is always something to revisit. I still practice inverting (and find different ways to do it often). There’s always something to be learned when you scale back to the basics (plus, this practice reinforces #2 & #3).