It may sound like a no-brainer – you just go to dance class and that’s it. But if you truly want to learn and get the most from your experience, there are things you can do to increase the odds of success. These tips are directed toward adult beginners and to those currently taking open classes who did not go through a formal training program:
Be on time. I can’t stress this enough – ESPECIALLY if it is your first time taking a particular class. Yes, things happen. Commutes can be complicated. But if it is your first time in a class or with a new teacher or new style of dance, do not walk in late. If anything, be early. This allows you to speak with the instructor if necessary, ask any questions and tell them about any injuries or other issues you may have. Once you are familiar with a class and the teacher, the occasional late entry may be tolerated. Enter the room quietly at an appropriate moment and find a place to stand. Join in with the next exercise and do not ask any questions or say anything to draw attention to yourself. Do not be surprised if you are publicly called out for being late.
Come ready. Be dressed appropriately and have everything required for the session. If you do a pre-class warm-up, get to the studio early and do what you need to do. Get there so you have enough time to change but if your commute is tight, wear your clothes to class. When I worked 9-5 in an office, I wore my tights to work and created outfits around my ballet clothes so I could make my 5:15 class.
Dress appropriately. Know the attire that is expected for the style of class you are taking. If it is your first class, look it up. Call the studio, read class descriptions, ask questions. If you are not dressed appropriately, the teacher may call you out in front of the class. Ask about exceptions (eg., wearing socks if you don’t have ballet shoes) before class.
Choose your spot wisely. If you are new to class, either stand in the back or ask the teacher where he/she wants you. If you are familiar with a class, stand where you know the teacher likes you to stand. Be willing to switch your spot if asked. Teachers all have their reasons for arranging students in the class. Once you establish your spot, mind your spacing, stay out of the way of other dancers, and stay in your spot as best you can. Spatial awareness is a requirement for success in the dance world, and will make your class experience much safer.
Listen. Not just to the basic instructions and the music in the background, but to the details. To be successful, you need to know the following:
- What is the exercise
- How many are you doing?
- What is the spatial pattern?
- What is the rhythm?
- Are there any subtleties, style notes or other details that you need to know?
See where dance classes are available by going to FitEngine for Fitness Enthusiasts, the leading provider of inside information on fitness classes and workouts in New York City. By Joy Karley MA, CPT