How can a dancer work to improve his or her performance ability and confidence? While you can notice yourself in the mirror during class, you can’t possibly watch every moment of your dancing (nor should you!). Also, it can be difficult to stay engaged if you’re worrying about how you look in the mirror. In an audition setting, it can be awkward to ask a friend or peer, “How did I look?” And, let’s face it, your parents are always going to tell you you’re the best dancer on stage (even if you fall flat on your face!). To get honest, constructive feedback and challenge yourself to grow as a performer, you need to look to a professional.
During winter months, it’s more important than ever to maximize your nutrient intake to strengthen your protective immune defenses. You don’t have to go buy a bunch of expensive products to be your best.
Here are some tried and tested immune boosters perfect for a dancer’s budget.
The Bob Fosse Master Class Series is back at Broadway Dance Center, and we cannot wait to get our jazz on! The Verdon Fosse Legacy will be at BDC every Sunday in February. These three-hour intensive master classes (for ages 16+) focus on Bob Fosse’s signature style, and dancers will get to learn actual repertoire from veteran Fosse dancers and Legacy-sanctioned reconstructeurs.
Here’s the line-up for the month ahead!
Brrrr… baby, it’s cold outside! You’ve still got to get warm and stay warm before you really get moving, but it feels so much harder when it’s like Frosty and the elves had a little too much fun outside. Fortunately, it’s easy with a few tips, and you’ll be ready to burn up the studio!
First, though, what does it even mean to warm up? Is it just a few stretches and go? Nope. You need to literally warm up your body from the core out to your fingers and toes, and the way to do this is to move around enough to get your heart rate and your breathing rate to increase. If you’ve broken a sweat, you’ve hit gold. Here are some of our tips for getting warm and preventing injury.
Happy New Year! It’s a little hard to believe it’s 2019, right? It’s the time of year when people are thinking about “New Year’s Resolutions” – specific goals toward self-improvement. On the whole, dancers are always consciously working toward self-improvements, it does seem like.
Nevertheless, the turn of the year might be a good time in which to formalize a process to create self-improvement – in technique, in artistry, in aspects such as professionalism and building one’s network. Let’s look at four main steps for initiating self-improvements for yourself as a dancer.
#1. Reflect: Where are you now? How was this year for you?
It’s hard to make beneficial changes without being clear about what you want to change. Where are you now, after this year of dancing? Do you feel creatively fulfilled? Do you wish you could explore more stylistic diversity and/or challenge yourself more? Are you satisfied with how much you got to class? Did you perform as much as you would have liked to? Technically, what was your greatest achievement? Did you wish you had achieved something technically that you didn’t manage to? Did you delve into other creative avenues, other art forms or artistic approaches? What was most difficult for you in your dancing life? What’s a special dancing memory, or two, or three, you may have from the year? What are you most proud of?
These are simply guiding questions that might be useful points of reflection for many dancers. Other considerations may be more useful for you. It might be useful to think about these things in a calm, quiet atmosphere, making yourself comfortable and closing your eyes. You might benefit from journaling about it. Maybe set up a call or a coffee date with a dancer friend, and you can reflect together. What you know about yourself, and thus what will be most effective for you, can help guide how you choose to do this reflection. An important thing is to try not to judge yourself. Judgment is different from critique; it holds blame and negativity. Critique is more objective and won’t as easily create unproductive regret or fear within you.
#2. Set goals: What do you want to achieve over the year?
Given what you noticed about where you are, and the year you had, what do you want to have achieved one year from now? This can be in technique, in performance quality/artistry, professional viability, building other skills and more. With technique, it may not be wise to shoot for 32 fouetté turns en pointeif you’re working on hitting 12 on flat shoes. You might only get significantly discouraged. At the same time, don’t be afraid to aim high! There’s a balance to be struck – for instance, how about 24 fouettés on flat and 16 en pointe? Another example of a technique goal may be to nail a very difficult variation (if you’re getting there with it) or a difficult leap such as a switch leap (if you’re at, say, a strong saut de chat).
Things like artistry and performance quality can be harder to define, yet certain factors can be measurements. One is subjective experience – how do you feel about how you express yourself as an artist, in character roles and in more abstract work? Another is feedback from choreographers, directors, fellow dancers, audience members and reviewers. An example of a goal here could be experiencing a time when you perform and it consciously hits you that you’re pleased with your performance quality, how you may have danced a certain role apart from technique. Another could be getting a positive comment from a reviewer (if you may have the opportunity to dance in a show that’s reviewed), audience member or from a fellow dancer or choreographer. Whatever they may be, it might be useful to write these goals down in a place where you can come back to them (in a special notebook you keep on your bookshelf, for instance).
#3. Set steps toward those: How are you going to get there?
Writing out or thinking about goals is one thing, and putting in place actions to achieve them is another. Let’s take the fouetté example – how, in very concrete terms, are you going to achieve 24 fouettéson flat and 16 en pointe? A realistic step might be to practice fouettéturns for 10 minutes after every class. Something perhaps a little less concrete, but nonetheless valuable, may be to let your teachers know of your goal, and to ask if they might have guidance for you (you, as a very unique dancer, in all your abilities and growth areas) toward achieving it.
Regarding artistry goals, perhaps be diligent about really regarding this deeper aspect of your dancing – including musicality and movement quality (often according to style and/or piece at hand). Ask questions of teachers and choreographers to show that you’re thinking in these more nuanced terms. A concrete step there could be asking two meaningful questions per class or rehearsal. With growing your professional viability and network, perhaps a goal you have is to network with more choreographers and improve your auditioning skills. Concrete steps toward achieving those goals might be to network with two new choreographers per month (through social media, fellow dancers), and to audition from once a week to twice a month, every month (practice makes perfect!).
#4. Check in: Are you moving in the right direction?
When you write out your goals, also set a time when you’ll check in on them – in one month, in two months, on a significant other date (your birthday or after a certain planned show run). On that date, think objectively about what you have or haven’t achieved. How are your steps toward achieving your goals going? Might there be a need for re-evaluating those steps? Reframing how you work toward goals doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it just means you’re being mindful about your process. There’s nothing wrong about setting new goals either; in fact, it might be the right answer! This step is a way to hold yourself accountable, as it can be all too easy to let the work toward your goals get forgotten and left behind. Through it all, don’t forget to enjoy the process of self-improvement – and every moment you get to dance! That’s what it’s really all for. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself for your mindful hard work as well. You deserve it!
By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.
Professional Semester is a unique program that offers technical training, as well as professional skills and powerful networking and performance opportunities, for advanced dancers, aged 18 to 27, who are almost ready to launch their professional career.
“The number one thing we are looking for is the right talent level and maturity level,” says April Cook, BDC faculty and director of public relations. “We are trying to bridge that gap. We find that a lot of people have the talent, but they are not as aware of how to be their own brand and how to represent themselves. We want to make sure we polish them and open the door for them to network with the right people so they can get jobs – so we can make employed dancers when they walk out.”
Dancers are artists with their body as their instrument. In that way, they’re just like athletes. With the proper mindset, training and performance context, could they truly be athletes? Anthony “AntBoogie” Rue the II thinks certainly thinks they can be.
Rue’s Urban Dance League (UDL) works under the copyrighted motto “Dancers are Athletes”. Essentially, Rue has built a context of formalized competition for dance. This reflects the spirit of hip hop dance battles, which Rue feels has changed with the growth of smart phone-powered internet use and social media. In UDL, dancers compete under a point system to evaluate their performance. Rue grew up playing basketball, before coming to dance. He always enjoyed the competitive aspect of sport, and wanted to bring that – in a more solidified way – to dance.
So many traditional winter comfort foods are also loaded with extra calories, but warming, delicious, comforting food doesn’t have to be calorie overload.
Certainly dancers need energy without feeling weighed down, so here are some great examples of seasonal, warming, winter foods, for energy that aren’t too rich, and a new “creamy” soup recipe at the bottom.
Winter is a time when nature becomes dormant. Although the human world buzzes on, in alignment with the nature all around us, we are drawn to rest and reflect. How might this apply to artists, with reflection (on both inner and outer) fruitful for creative output and personal growth?
Might winter be a good time to begin journaling as a dancer? How, practically, are some ways to start doing that? Here, we speak with Betsy Miller, Assistant Professor of Dance at Salem State University, and Boston-based dance artist; and Karen Klein, founder and artistic director of teXtmoVes, to learn more about beginning to journal for creative processes in winter.