10 Corrections Your Dance Teacher Is Tired of Giving Over and Over
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
1. Don't Hold Back
It doesn't matter whether you're in the studio or onstage: Give your teachers the 110 percent they deserve. "Always dance to your fullest potential," says Mitchell Jackson, owner of On The Floor and artistic director of Intrepid Dance Company. "Don't hold back, and definitely don't mark it."
2. Get Out of the Mirror
It's easy to fall into the mirror trap. While the mirror can help you refine your technique, at a certain point, it's time to look away. "The mirror is a tool for self-adjudication, and is rarely all that useful when it comes time to fully express the movement," says Josh Prince, Broadway Choreographer and Founder/Artistic Director of Broadway Dance Lab.
3. Emote, Emote, Emote
It's one thing to nail each step; it's another to do it with feeling. Don't become so concerned with hitting every mark that you forget the story you're telling. "Emotion has to come from a natural place, and even when you're learning the steps, you should be getting into the storyline and intention behind your movement," says Derek Piquette, artistic director of Intrepid Dance Company and dancer on Season 12 of "So You Think You Can Dance."
4. Practice at Home
You've gotta do it. It doesn't matter if you nail the combination in one class: Your teacher will notice in the next one if you take the time to practice at home. "[You have to be] taking the tools you learn in class and working on them on your own," says Jackson.
5. Watch Your Shoulders
Many of us tend to carry tension in our shoulders, especially when doing difficult steps or combinations. Don't let it become a bad habit. "I find myself constantly repeating in class or when setting choreography not to let the shoulders slide forward off the spine and detach from the back," says Brooke Wendle, a fall 2017 Broadway Dance Lab choreographer.
6. Stay Focused
After a long day of school, three or more hours of dance class may not seem too appealing. But no matter your mood, you must stay engaged all class. "Always be working on something dance-related, even if you're on the sides waiting to go across the floor," Jackson says.
7. Straighten Your Knees
Piquette is always reminding dancers to make sure their knees, feet, and body are stretched throughout the entire class.
8. Aim for Success
Even if you're falling behind in a combination, don't give up! Your teacher can see whether or not you're giving it your all, and won't be happy if she constantly has to push you to keep going. "My biggest correction has been about setting yourself up for success, not failure," says Frankie Soldevere, a tap dancer and choreographer at who teaches at various studios in NYC. "This applies physically as well as mentally. You can't shuffle with your foot still on the ground. You can't pullback without a plié."
9. Listen and Apply
Your teacher should only have to give you a correction once. Listen to them carefully and do your best to fix the problem. Don't forget to apply corrections given to other dancers, too.
10. Point Your Feet
Seriously, POINT THEM. 'Nuff said.
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Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan
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I want to dance in a ballet company, but I'm insecure about my body. I'm not skinny, and I don't think I ever will be, because that's just not the way I'm built. Please be honest with me: If I don't have the traditional ballet body, do I have a future in professional ballet?