Ballet Dance Tips - General Dance Tips

Rejuvenating Feet in Class
When you are in the middle of class and your pointe shoes are feeling a little tight or the padding a little uncomfortable, try running in place on demi-pointe for a few seconds to get a quick pick me up. It usually helps my feet to feel better and ready to go again.

Saving Money on Dancewear and Supplies
When you buy new dance things at a store (like leotards, shoes, tights, even toe pads), save the labels and/or write down the brand name, style number, size, color, and price you paid for it. Keep all this in a box, envelope, or notebook so that you can take advantage of great deals in dance supply catalogs. With all the information you have, you will know if what's offered in the catalog is exactly what you have at home and will be able to compare prices to see if it's still a good deal even with shipping and handling fees. All this info is especially helpful when ordering tights. My favorite catalog is Discount Dance Supply. Visit their site and they will mail you a free catalog.

Making Mistakes on Stage
The worst thing you can do in the middle of a performance when you mess up is to stop dancing, switch your feet, or something like that. No one in the audience is going to know you have the wrong foot until you switch them, and then they will say to themselves, that girl doesn't know what she's doing. Keep going with what you are doing; don't draw attention to yourself. If you look confident in what you are doing, people will think that you are doing the right thing.

Getting Into Your Costume and Preventing Foot Cramping En Pointe
These tips come from the DLDanceS Dance Club Webpage. First, if you are having trouble getting a full costume over your hips, cross your legs and then pull it up. Second, warm-up your feet and toes before putting your pointe shoes on. If you don't your feet are more likely to cramp up and ache.

Protecting Tips of Pointe Shoes
This is for people who wear pointe shoes. We all know that enventually, the delicate satin is going to start coming off the tips of our shoes and make things slippery. When this starts to happen, just go ahead and cut all the satin off the platform and cover it with moleskin. First, cut off the stain from the tip. Then hold a flame to the edges to keep what's left from fraying. Now you're ready to apply the moelskin. Make sure you don't just cut out a circle of moleskin. Extend the patch under the tip of the platform to the tip of the shank to help keep it from being rubbed off from tendus, etc. Also, use a little glue around the other edges to keep it on firmly. It's cheap and keeps you from slipping. It also helps protect your shoe from wear and tear.

Even professional dancers lose their pirouettes once in a while. Sometime's it just helps to break things down, like when you were first learning them. Start by doing a preparation up into retoure and holding it there for a few seconds. Do this over and over again. Then, move on to quarter turns, half turns, and then full turns. In class, ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR TEACHER! She can see what little thing you are doing that could be throwing you off. My teacher told me to think of a pirouette as more of a balance then a turn, because I was always putting too much energy into them. You may not be putting enough energy in them or not be holding your body properly. Always remember to keep everything pulled up and your foot IN FRONT of your knee when turning! I always forget that. Other than that, you just have to be patient. It will come back soon enough.

Getting Super Strong Abs
I think this exercise strenghtens your abs more than sit-ups and crunches. All you do is lay on your back propped up by your arms. Then, lift your legs up straight (less than 90 degrees off the ground) with your right foot in front. The lower your legs are, the better. Then all you do, is the ballet step entrechat six, spreading your legs open about shoulder width and then bringing them in to beat front and back. Repeat 8 times and rest. Do this 4 times. Make sure you count slow. You are sure to feel it in your abs afterwards. Try to do this everyday. Strong abs help you hold your posture and balance in all forms of dance.

A Use for Old Dance Tights
Never throw out old pink tights. If you cut off the feet and cut out the crotch, you can slip what's left over your head and wear it under a leotard for extra warmth or for some coverage if your leotard is a little too revealing. Some dance students like to wear these instead of a bra or nude leotard under costumes or a too-sheer white leotard. They've got lots of uses. This advice comes from The Joffery Ballet School's Ballet-Fit by Dena Simone Moss and Allison Kyle Leopold. I actually used this idea on vacation when I wanted to wear my tank tops but I didn't have a strapless bra with me.

Classroom Etiquette
Classroom etiquette is a very important part of the dance learning environment. Show the teacher and students the same respect you give at your regular school. This means being quiet and not talking in between combinations and being attentive when your teacher explains exercises. Also, do not dance around the room while another group is dancing. This is very distracting both to the teacher and the dancers. Wait your turn patiently and go over the steps so you don't make any mistakes when you get out there and dance. Simple things like this help class go faster and you will be able to move onto more advanced things quicker.

Correct Way to Use the Barre
The exercises you do at the barre are meant to help you find your balance. As you know, most things become harder when you do them in the center. When you do combinations at the barre, every so often lift your hand off to see if you could balance without it. You'll be able to tell real fast if your weight is balanced or not. Always try to just lightly have your fingertips resting on the barre.

Pursuing A Dance Career
If you are looking to pursue a career in dance, no matter what form, I suggest studying at least one other style plus ballet. Dance is so much bigger than just one form. Ballet is a foundation for every type of dance. Learning another form also lets you bring something more into your style.

How to Work on Arm Movements and Body Alignment
Doing floor exercises can help all kinds of dancers. If you sit indian style on the floor, you can concentrate on holding your back properly and doing intricate arm movements without having to think about what's going on below the waist. If you lay straight on your back you can really feel your body alignment, and if anything is out of place. If you lay on your stomach and do arabesques, you can feel the squareness of the hips and shoulders that you should have.

Surviving Slow Combinations
The hardest thing for me when dancing is adagio, or slow movement. This includes those super hard slow extensions of the leg. Your adagio should always be moving. This involves a good ear for music, b/c you don't want to have any jerky movements or pauses. Don't think, oh my goodness here comes that hard leg lift, it's gonna hurt, right before you start an adagio. If you do, you'll only be thinking about getting your foot back on the ground, and you'll look like it to. Instead try and think of reaching for a point in space.

Mental Motivation
Dance is more than just something physical. It also requires mental preparation and involvement. Mental preparation also gets you psyched. Go out to your library and get books on your area of dance, a book about a famous dancer or choreographer, a video of a ballet, dance music, or dance how-to videos and CD-ROMS. Go to the store and get a dance magazine once in a while. Try to attend a performance at the theatre or college near you. You can find out info about these kinds of things on the Internet. Also browse through sites and correspond with other dancers. These kinds of things help you appreciate dance more and you may even learn more about how to improve your own dancing.

Proper Attire
When you go to dance class, you should always wear clothes so the teacher can easily see the way you are moving. This means wearing the bear minimum. For ballet, it's easiest to see what muscles you are using in your legs if your wear white or pink tights. This is especially important for younger dancers, b/c you are still learning how to manipulate your muscles in the right way. Only wear leg warmers and shorts at the beginning of class and take them off as soon as you are warm. Also try to wear a solid color leotard b/c they're easier on your teacher's eyes. For jazz and modern, biker shorts or black tights are acceptable in most studios. Tap classes allow more freedom, but don't wear pants that are really baggy. Your teacher needs to see if you can keep your legs straight during some moves.

From Rehearsal to Stage
Dancing in a rehearsal room and dancing on a stage are completely different things. First of all, a stage is usually much bigger and second, there aren't any mirrors. A problem that occurs is not being able to space yourself properly once on stage. Advanced dancers don't just dance in two straight lines; they move around to include the whole stage in their piece. In groups especially, it is important to be aware of your spacing. During stage rehearsals, your teacher should be watching you carefully and if your class is still having problems, she should go over spacing on the stage with you. The other problem has to do with practicing in front of mirrors. It is very easy to become dependent on them without even knowing it. Your teacher should alternate the way you face when you practice your piece. Sometimes you should face the mirrors and other times you should face the wall. It really does help build confidence in your dance, and you don't feel the need to look at others when on stage.

Using Your Eyes
Your eyes are very important-- as important as pointing your toes--FOCUS THEM! The audience won't want to look at a blank face staring into space-- you'll lose theor attention. A face lit up by an expressive pair of eyes may well steal the attention of the audience from a more dazzling pair of feet. (This advice comes from 2 Royal Ballet Teachers)

Every type of dancer should buy some moleskin, especially ballet and modern. You can find it in the foot care section of most stores. It can be used to help prevent blisters or help current ones heal. You put it around the sore like a doughnut and leave it on until it falls off. You can even take baths with it on. It will take about 7 to 10 days, and by then your blister will have healed. Make sure to disinfect broken blisters before applying moleskin.

Being Corrected in Class
If you feel that your dance teacher is correcting you a lot, don't take it personally. You should actually feel good! It means that your teacher took time to watch you specifically and that she wants you to be an even better dancer. You don't want to continue to keep doing the wrong thing, do you? You can start to feel bad when your teacher stops correcting you. No one is perfect, and even professional dancers have to be corrected. Most teachers try to correct in ways that don't make you feel embarrassed. They were once in your position.

How to Hold Your Hands
Have you ever wondered if you are holding your hands loose enough or can't seem to form the right shape? Well, just let your arms hang at your sides naturally. Your arms should have the same natural slight curve to them when you raise them into second. Your hands should feel just as loose and look just as soft continuing the line of the arms. Your thumb should be slightly tucked in, too.


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