Part 2 - Getting the most out of your dance through focused training.
In my last post I talked about some of the basic ideas and attitudes that will help you get better at your dance.
This time we are going to look at the ongoing work, the dancing you do every week or every day, and how you can optimise your progress by using your dance time (and budget) effectively.
Defining goals for more effective dance practiceOnce again I have to iterate, that "getting good" can be defined however you choose. Pick your own goals and make them achievable. If you must have a goal that is far off, or hard to reach, break it down into smaller goals.
My recommendation is that you work on a long term theme that arches over several weeks or even months. For instance you might choose "Improvising to live music" or focus on a specific performance you want to really shine at. On the other hand you might look to improve your current level, as a whole or in a specific area that you know is lagging behind.
Then break down your goal into smaller chunks, to work on for a week or a month. So you might choose to spend a month working getting better at responding to instrumentation in a specific piece of music, or a week focusing on making your sharp hipwork stronger.
Finally you have to decide how you are going to achieve those small goals. You might choose a particular song and practice dancing only to certain areas of instrumentation at one time (dance the whole song only responding to the drums, then again, but only responding to the strings, etc). For the hipwork goal you would work on drilling the specific movements, and perhaps identifying and conditioning the muscles you use for those movements.
Goals can be technical ("make my hip figure 8s bigger and smoother") or artistic ("express the emotions of Lissa Fakir"). Just take something you would like to improve upon, make it specific, achievable and try to have some way of assessing it - this could be feedback from a teacher, or you could video yourself for comparison.
Don't forget to ask your teacher for ideas, I provide students on my short courses with a selection of appropriate goals to work on for the duration of the course and I am always happy to make suggestions based on my observations during a regular class. If you are formulating your own goals, do let your teacher know what you are working on, it's great to see a student with enthusiasm and autonomy, and they may be able to support your progress in class, or offer private lessons to help you through a tough patch.
Once you are aware of what you need to work on, and how you are going to do it, you can start looking at your regular classes, at-home practice and other training options in order to spend your time as effectively as possible. We shall look more closely at that in my next installment.