Becoming “better:” Go see dance

Last week we focused on how you can improve as a dancer while you’re actually dancing. But the work doesn’t stop when you leave the studio. If you love to dance, chances are you love to watch dance, too. And believe it or not, watching dance can actually help you to become a better dancer yourself. Here’s how…

Look online.

Technology has afforded us with infinite resources to study, enjoy, analyze, promote, and appreciate dance. You can tune in to live streamed performances from dance companies all over the world, watch classic movie musicals on Netflix, take a ballet barre class on YouTube or Zoom from a renowned teacher on the other side of the world, view documentaries (even foreign documentaries) about dance, and discover teachers, choreographers, and incredible dancers just by scrolling on Instagram. There is so much art literally at your fingertips. Seek it out, take it in, analyze it, and share it with others. You’re part of an international community of artists – Embrace that!

Support live performance.

The live performing arts are slowly coming back and these organizations and artists need our support more than ever. Attend local performances in your city or make a point to research dance happenings in places you might be vacationing this summer. While filmed and even live streamed performances are wonderful (and saved our spirits during this past year), there is nothing like live performance. Many theaters offer deals to students or big groups. There’s also a lot of free performance happening (especially in the summer). Showing your support doesn’t have to be financial. Showing up, being an engaged audience, and sharing your experience with others is arguably more valuable currency than money itself.

Watch your peers.

Last week we talked about why it’s important to watch your fellow dancers in class when you split up in groups. Not only is it respectful, but it’s also another way to learn from your peers. Take note of why certain dancers catch your eye and make a point to apply others’ corrections to your own training. Want to take it up a notch? Compliment one dancer (or more!) each day. In an art form that can feel so competitive, it can make a dancer’s day to hear that their adagio looked effortless or that their performance quality was captivating. A little acknowledgement goes a long way.

Record yourself.

Filming yourself can be uncomfortable at first, especially for dancers with perfectionistic tendencies. But actually seeing yourself perform and help you apply corrections and realize habits that just seemed automatic. Record yourself at home or in class if you have permission from your teacher. Try to watch your dancing objectively and without judgment. It’s easier said than done, but a practice that can make all the difference in your training. “My left hip is hiked in my pirouette. That’s probably why I can’t hold onto that third turn.” “If I allow a little more give in my plié, I’ll be able to get more spring in my petit allegro.” “If I look up to my toes rather than down at the floor, it’ll give the illusion that my battement is even higher.” Be analytical, be kind, and put what you learn into practice.

We want to know what dance you’re seeing this summer. Are you going to an outdoor theater in your hometown? Perhaps you’ve made an intention to be more present and watch your peers during ballet class? Or maybe you’re reviewing some recorded footage from your last recital? Tag us on Instagram to share all the places you’re watching dance with our community.


Photo: Eileen Kim by Rachel Neville

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