YOU have the ability to accelerate your/your childs’ progress in dance! Generally when students hear this they are a bit surprised– but its true, your actions and thoughts have a direct impact on your progress. Just as selected the best foods will give you the fuel you need to get through your long day, you can fuel your progress by following a few simple steps.
“How can I maximize the impact of my actions & thoughts on my progress?”
The power of positive thinking.
Your perception of yourself in dance (& life) will impact your performance whether you dance simply because you love it or because you want to pursue a career in performance, choreography, or teaching. Keeping a positive mindset in class will foster your ability to absorb information and corrections both mentally and physically. Receiving constructive criticism from your teachers becomes easier when you start with a positive outlook on both yourself, and your dancing.
What can you do when you have those moments in class when you feel discouraged and negative?
- Take a deep breath and remember why you love to dance.
- Do something to ‘change the channel’ – get a sip of water and tell yourself “I can do this”.
- Remind yourself that dance is a process – your teacher is challenging you because he/she believes that you can do it!
Keep a dance journal.
Taking a moment after class (or during if your teacher allows) to write down the corrections your received, how you felt about the class, and even the exercises that were taught in the class, will help you to retain the information you received.
- 3 positives: Simply by writing down 3 positive things that happened in class will help you to keep a positive focus.
- 3 corrections: Recording 3 corrections to work on will help you to keep a positive focus where you need to focus your energy during class.
- 3 points of gratitude: While you are at it you may as well include 3 things/moments that occurred that day which gave you joy/made you happy. Keeping track of the things/moments you are grateful for will help you to stay focused on the positives throughout life. Eg. A sunny morning, a hug from mom/dad/sibling, a good day at school.
Be sure to keep your journal with you and read it through (2 or 3 times would be great) before the next class. This will remind you of the positives and of where you need to focus your attention throughout your classwork.
Preparation will fuel your progress.
This is a simple one, but can be hard to follow through with when life gets busy. When you journal you are in a sense preparing your mind, this particular preparation will help you prepare your physical self for dance.
- Prepare your dance bag before you go to bed – make sure you have the appropriate gear, your shoes are ready for dance, water bottle, snacks are packed and ready.
TIP: Set a reminder with an alert tone/sound on your phone to remind you to prepare you dance gear the evening before a day of dance!
- You have arrived early for class – take a few minutes to warm up. Jumping jacks, jog on the spot, jog the stairs (something active to increase your heart rate), and then do a few light stretches (not for flexibility) such as downward dog and a back stretch (cat/cow is great) to increase blood flow to the muscles.
- You have arrived late for class – just 5 minutes until class begins! If you can, still take a couple of minutes to do some light stretches before diving into class. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and, while you are at it, have a quick glance at your journal notes from last class to focus your mind on dance.
Parents: How does this translate to younger students?
Positive thinking – Encourage your child to speak about dance in a positive manner. Even when a child experiences challenges in dance, whether its behavior or technique, let them know that there are positive results to learning how to deal with such challenges.
Journaling – Maybe there is something that the teacher focuses on regularly (eg. Posture) in class. Ask your child to draw a picture of this and explain it to you. Or, as you drive home from dance ask your dancer “what was one good thing that happened in dance today?” “What was one thing you teacher wants you to work on in dance this week?”
Preparation – Have your dancer help prepare their dance bag the night before dance. Lay out their dance clothes and pack their shoes. Ensure that a water bottle has been packed, and if he/she takes more than one class in a day – pack a quick, energy snack for between classes.
NOTE: Being on time for class makes a huge impact on a students’ focus, particularly when tardiness is consistent.
Teachers: How do we teach this to students and parents?
As you already know, the role of a dance teacher is to educate both the students, and the parents. On your parents’ day/open house/observation week, take the time to talk to parents about ways students and parents can impact progress in a studio setting. If you have worked on any of this in class – let them know this as well.
Though this might take a few minutes of your class, your students will reap the rewards in the coming months (and parents will appreciate the proactive direction!).
Some suggestions to help spread the word to parents:
Create a poster and place it in an area where parents and students will see it.
Post something on your schools’ website or Facebook page.
Create a handout for parents’ day.
Author: Jacqui Davidson