When you’re first starting beginner dance classes, there’s a tendency to feel like there’s so much you don’t know. The world of contemporary dance can be like the twilight zone – it has its own rituals, rules, protocols and peccadillos.
As you continue on your dance journey, you'll naturally discover everything you need to. But if you think you might want to take this gig seriously and make a career from dance, here are six things every dancer should know when they're just starting out:
- Everyone great was a beginner once. Yes, there's something to be said for natural talent, but all the dancers you admire started where you are now. Dancing doesn't just come naturally. It takes a lot of hard work and practice to make your body do what you want it to. It's important to remember everyone has good days and bad days, and that every single famous dancer started at the beginning, just like you.
- Its never too late to realise your dreams. There’s a misconception that you have to start learning dance as soon as you can stand on your own two feet. That might be true of classical ballet, but these days you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Discipline and tenacity are all you need.
- Your gear and classes can cost a bomb. Leotards, pointe shoes, tights, lessons and other dance paraphernalia doesn't come cheap. No matter what you're into – jazz, hip hop, tap or traditional ballet – dance gear is pricey. Classes can be expensive, and you'll need to commit to multiple times per week if you want to fast track your skills. Plus, to be a great dancer you have to be super healthy – you'll need to spend money on a well-balanced diet that supports the energy demands of your chosen profession.
- Stretching is de rigueur. Dancers need to be as flexible as possible. Exceptional dancers make every move look completely effortless – and that means being as bendy like a pretzel and strong like an Amazon. Stretch every day without fail. Don't forget to warm up first.
- Don’t quit practising. Excellent technique is what separates good dancers from great ones. From the moment you learn your first steps, practise, practise, practise – at home, at school, at work, wherever you can. The more you do, the more you'll develop your unique dancing style, and the quicker you'll achieve your goals. Subsume yourself in dance – watch other dancers' techniques, absorb dancing movies, learn new moves to perfection on Youtube. Setting yourself practise goals and pursuing them is the key to accelerating your learning and growth as a dancer.
- Posture is the be all and end all. Most dance experts agree that great posture enhances your dance skills. It promotes balance, well-being and the ability to relax so you can perform at your best. Be aware of your stance at all times. Pretend you have a string at the top of your head, pulling it higher, elongating your neck, and lifting your chest. Put a hand at your stomach and gently push inwards, lengthening your side body – retrain your body to find this great posture with ease.