Taylor Sieve assisting at JUMP Dance Convention (KG Photos, courtesy Taylor Sieve)

How to Reap the Benefits of Your Convention Experience—Long After the Weekend Passes

Between travel restrictions and the economic burdens of COVID-19, you may not find yourself able to convention-hop every weekend as per usual (or you might find yourself attending virtual, rather than IRL, convention events). But that doesn't mean your dance training has to suffer—especially if you're conscientious about applying your convention lessons and corrections to your regular studio training. Dance Spirit spoke with Groove Dance Convention faculty member Lizz Picini and JUMP Dance Convention assistant Taylor Sieve about how to bring everything you learn at conventions back to your home studio.

Get Granular

While you're at the convention, be a sponge. "Act like every single note, correction, and statement is said specifically for you," Picini advises. "We as teachers truly care about each student, so take ownership of your experience and make it personal." And definitely don't be afraid to be nerdy: The more you're able to jot down corrections, notes, and ideas throughout the convention, the more material you'll have to review when the weekend's over. Sieve says, "I always loved the improv tasks that teachers would give at conventions, so I wrote down what resonated with me after every class and would try out those ideas for myself when I was home."

After you've spent an entire weekend absorbing as much knowledge as you can, it's crucial to block out time and space to break it down and apply it to your own day-to-day training. "Just like how the teachers at conventions care about you and the advice they give, you need to do the work of combing through all your corrections thoroughly," Picini explains. She suggests dancers challenge themselves to work on at least one or two ideas from the convention per week. "Whether you write them down on sticky notes for your dance bag or talk about them with your dance friends, be creative in the ways that you apply the notes you're given, and your experience will be so much more fulfilling," she says.

Expand Your Experience

We've all double-tapped one on Instagram: the crowded-ballroom, no-holds-barred, end-of-class convention combo video. While it's great to capture and share these moments, Picini urges dancers to go a few steps further. "Use your convention videos as an intentional tool for improvement first, and then post them for the likes and positivity," she says. Picini recommends you start by reviewing your videos as an "effective critic"—taking note of both the positive aspects of your performance and things you can improve on. In addition, watching other dancers in your videos or those from the convention and pulling from their performances can be a great way to add to your own. Finally, "Spend some time re-filming the combos you learned as if it were a 'dance for the camera' course," Picini says. "Have someone shoot you in the round or from various angles, and figure out new ways you can cater your movement to the lens." Just remember: It's crucial that you have permission before filming or posting any convention videos, whether they're in-person or virtual. "Be courteous, considerate, and always double- check what's appropriate with the choreographers and teachers," Picini says.

Fan Your Own Flame

With all-star faculty and so many talented dancers, conventions are exciting, encouraging…#AllTheFeels. Sieve suggests journaling about the weekend, especially the moments when you felt super inspired in your dancing. "Realize exactly what got you there and what made you feel that way, so you can bring that personal spark with you back home." Picini agrees, encouraging dancers to remember the not-so-distant past when even online conventions weren't an option. "Everything we've gone through this year has taught us about personal transformation, accountability, and self-discipline. And the joy we've all found in training at home is so wonderful and raw," Picini says. "If dancers can take that joy and the rest of their at-home experiences, and allow that to fuel their dancing when they're back at conventions and the studio, they'll be so invested."

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