An adult ballet dancer faces many challenges:juggling work and family schedules to coincide with class times; sometimes University exams and sick children prevent the adult dancer making it to class or other engagements result in missed classes. And then there’s the obvious challenge of getting older bones and muscles to perform anatomically and physiologically impossible moves.
But one thing I know for sure is that every adult dancer wants to become the best dancer-version of him- or herself they can possibly be. The reality of this is that a dancer – not only adults -cannot expect to improve and grow as a dancer in class time only. Practice and practice, again and again and then once more is the only path to improvement.
“Repetition is the Mother of all Learning.”
A dancer does not necessarily have to practice the actual steps learnt in class, and this is especially so in the case of pointe work, but he or she needs to strengthen and revise enchainments so that when they attend the next class, the Teacher can build on what was learnt previously and not have to repeat the same thing over and over again.
Not every dancer has a space at home to practice – although this is first prize! But the lack of space should not be an excuse to not practice, there are many ways to rehearse that do not require large areas of dance space. Time is also not a valid excuse for not practicing to – we all have fifteen minutes to spare every other day.
Here are some tips to improve your technique and strength outside of the studio walls:
- Determine 1 or 2 corrections you receive on a regular basis from your teacher
- Ask your teacher’s advice or youtube useful videos that target the corrective action necessary
- Allocate certain daily activities that can be used to practice your skill, eg. waiting for the kettle to boil – do rises; brushing your teeth – on demi pointe; stretching hamstrings whilst waiting for bathwater to fill up;standing in ballet poise while queuing to pay for your groceries; etc.
- Spend an extra five minutes after class to stretch warm muscles
- Just before falling asleep, run through a dance routine or syllabus exercise in your head, visualise yourself doing it.
- Arrange a practice time with classmates – great for encouragement and assistance.
In all other forms of sport or art, the participants spend hours perfecting their skill: a flyhalf in rugby will spend hours kicking a ball over the crossbar, a cricket bowler will toss balls in the nets ad nauseum, and a dancer will practice her pirouettes or beats long after class has ended. So, put it to the test – set yourself a goal and work hard at it; inside and outside of the studio, and your reward will be great and your Teacher suitably impressed by your commitment and improvement – score some Brownie points!!!