How to make the most of your drop-in classes

Studios like Broadway Dance Center are amazing – they offer hundreds of classes a week, are rich in every dance style imaginable, and have something for dancers of all ages and levels. There is so much to choose from! You can literally drop in at any time of the day and find yourself in a class surrounded by dancers from all over the globe, Broadway stars, professional ballet dancers, up-and-coming choreographers and those who take class simply for fun.

That said, you may be in a class packed to capacity, with a teacher you may not know and a style you may not be the most comfortable in. But all of those challenges are good for you and can fuel some serious inspiration! So how can you make the most of your drop-in classes at BDC?

Dorit Koppel teaching ballet at BDC. Photo by Jeff CollierFirst off, make sure you take a class that’s the appropriate level for you. Read the level descriptions on the BDC website to make sure it’s the right place for your skill level and training. You can also ask a BDC staff member at the front desk for their suggestions.

“I’d definitely recommend taking a lower level to start,” advises Emily Bufferd, who teaches lyrical, contemporary jazz, jazz, and jumps and turns at BDC. “Classes in NYC are more tailored to adult professionals at the higher levels, so it’s good to get a feel for how a class might be in a safer room and progress accordingly from there.”

Dorit Koppel, who teaches ballet of all levels at BDC, agrees. “It’s one of the most important elements in having a good class,” she says of being in the right level.

A wonderful aspect of taking class at a studio like BDC is that you can be exposed to a multitude of teachers, each with his/her own unique style, pace and approach. Bufferd notes, however, that it may be beneficial to come into the class having done a little homework on the teacher and his/her style.

“A student can learn something from anyone in the room, but knowing a little bit about what the room might be like in advance can put a dancer at ease,” Bufferd adds.

Make sure you arrive early to class, especially if it’s your first time at BDC. That way, you allow yourself time to sign in, find out what studio you’ll be in, get changed and do any warming up or stretching that make you feel prepared for class.

“In an open ballet class, you do sign in early for class so you are not walking in late and disrupting the class,” Koppel says. “If you are late (15 minutes is maximum), you stand on the side and wait for the teacher to direct you to a space at the barre.”

Once in class, realize that you are in a special space – one that you’re sharing with others to learn and grow. Respect that space, and the teacher and other students.

For instance, “ballet etiquette is important when taking open ballet class,” says Mary Beth Hansohn, who teaches ballet and BDC barre, a fitness class, at BDC. “It’s good to be aware of ballet rules, such as giving appropriate space to one another at the barre, not sitting down in class, walking to the sides of the room when finishing combinations in the center. Avoid walking directly to the back of the room and into the next group’s dance space.”

Koppel points out other etiquette rules that should be practiced not just at BDC but at your home studio as well. Turn off your cell phone. Limit talking, except during breaks. Wear proper attire and footwear. When the teacher divides the class into groups, dance only with your group to ensure everyone gets a chance to dance. Avoid wearing excessive jewelry. Class time should be a time for you, so enjoy the time when you don’t need these outside distractions!

Listen to all of the teacher’s corrections, even if they’re not given directly to you. Open class is a wonderful time to try things and have an open mind.

“Going in with no expectation about how it will be that day helps me to take class as a well-intentioned student,” Bufferd explains. “Going in with a positive and open mindset, and understanding that teachers want to help you and see you succeed, allows a dancer to focus on the parts of class that really matter – the training elements. Take all feedback offered, even when not directed specifically at you, and be engaged and present.”

In addition, Hansohn advises, “Physically put the corrections into action in order to create muscle memory.”

At the end of class, it is customary to clap for the teacher. It’s a sign of respect and an incredible bonding moment between all of you students and the teacher. In addition, go up and thank the teacher and accompanist if there is one. After all, Bufferd says, “The teacher is a human, too. Connection is important.”

Practicing respect, trying your best, having an open mind and enjoying the time during class are all important elements of making the most of your drop-in class. BDC is such a special place to be – students from all over the world; teachers who want the best for all of their students, even if they’re new; classes at any time of the day; another chance to dance and have fun; and the opportunity to take class from many teachers in order to find ones you really connect with.

“Taking an open class at BDC exposes you to a diversity of students who come from many countries, from myriad backgrounds and of all ages,” Koppel points out. “It is an exciting experience to be in such a colorful environment. Differences among people disappear in the face of dance, and you start feeling that you are becoming a member of a very special community. There is excitement at BDC, and one does not know who they may meet day in and day out.”

For the complete schedule of BDC’s drop-in classes, visit www.broadwaydancecenter.com/schedule.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

One thought on “How to make the most of your drop-in classes

Leave a Reply