On One Studios’ Blog is back in motion, and we’re excited to keep you up to date with our events and advice for taking dance classes!
By Jazlynn Pastor
Do you want to dance like this?
We’ve thought of 5 easy tips to reach your maximum dance growth when you take any class or workshop.
1. Early bird gets the worm
Early birds aren’t only on time, they’re also prepared! Start preparing for your dance class at home so you can enter the studio in a good mood. Clothes? Check. Water bottle? Check. Signed up for your weekly class or Monday Night Workshop? Check. Have a checklist of things you need to help you feel mentally and physically prepared before taking class. Use this checklist to stay ready, and create a “dance bag.” Fill a bag with all your dance class essentials – clothes, water, comfy sneakers – and keep it in your car or at work. That way if you or a friend want to take class last minute, you’ll be ready!
If you’re more of a mover when you need to get into dance mode, groove to your favorite song at home, on the way to class, or at the studio. Nothing says “I’m ready to dance” like a warm body. Aim to do this before your choreographer leads stretches. A “warm up” is meant to bring up your heart rate to warm your muscles and joints. That way, you’ll get your full range of motion to stretch and dance. Easy (and non-distracting) warm ups can include light grooving, jumping jacks, jogging in place, and butt kicks. Not comfortable doing this inside? Walk around the studio for a few minutes. Warm ups will only benefit you by strengthening your muscles, improving muscle memory, and most importantly, minimizing the risk of soreness and injury.
To warm up in a timely manner, try to arrive to class at least 15 minutes early. This allows you to be the first to sign in and start class on time. Not to mention, it’s a great sign of respect to your OOS mentor.
Pro tip: Don’t forget that jumping into a dance class also requires mental preparation. If you’re wondering what to focus on when taking class, take a listen to Jeka Jane’s advice:
2. Challenge yourself
Watch and learn
Regardless of your style or dance level, it is important to watch your OOS mentor or guest choreographer. Observe how the choreographer dances their new section of choreography to the music. Watching is a huge tool to learning when taking class because it allows you to catch any textures or details you may have missed, and it will reduce your likelihood of needing to ask questions later. Show your instructor that you’re paying attention and taking in all their notes.
Need an example? Notice how dancers are observing Paul Ross during his 2019 Sprintensive workshop at 0:05:
What “rotate lines” really means
Another tool to use when taking class is moving spots in the room. When your dance instructor says “Switch lines” or “Switch spots,” they really want you to find a new spot in the room. Why?
- If you were in the back line, you have an opportunity to learn in the front line
When you stand in the front, you’ll see the choreographer clearly and will be able to utilize the mirror. You’ll also be a reference for those learning behind you.
- If you were in the front line, challenge yourself to move to the back line
It is easy to feel comfortable dancing in the same spot, but moving to the back will develop your body and mind to be an adaptable dancer. Switching from the front to the back of the room not only shows the choreographer that you are open to challenge, it also shows everyone around you that you value their dance growth as much as yours.
3. Deep breaths and stay hydrated
While taking a dance class or workshop can be nerve wracking, it can be just as exciting! But, if any point you feel like you’re not getting the choreography or are feeling anxious, try this:
Take 5 deep breaths
Controlled breathing helps slow down your heart rate and can literally help you “Keep Calm and Dance On.” If it helps, while you’re taking 5 deep breaths, rest your hands above your head or find a wall to lean your hips on while your arms relax to your sides. These positions are meant open your lungs to help you catch your breath. Remember that like you, everyone if here to dance and grow. If you find yourself having a hard time picking up the choreography, grab some water – because staying hydrated is extremely important – and remember tip #2 above.
If you still feel like a move isn’t coming naturally to you, that’s okay! That just means your body is learning something new. Simply let your body interpret the choreography and do what feels right for you. Take a quick listen to Matt Montenegro’s advice to understand this:
4. Join small groups
At the end of class, your choreographer may ask for any 5, 4, or even 3 people to go up and dance the piece. Anyone in and out of OOS are gonna say, “Go for it!”
Go to grow! Challenge yourself to share your talent because everyone’s gonna cheer you on. Ease into it by joining the larger groups of 6 or 8 people. Then, when you’re comfortable, try joining the groups of 2 or 3. You’ll only get better when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, and by reading this article you’re on your way to your full potential as a dancer.
Get inspired to join small groups during your next dance class by watching the people who volunteered during Kevin Nguyen’s Urban III class:
5. Cooling down after class
Post class stretches
Just as warming up and stretching before class is important, so is stretching after class. Like warming up, cooling down your body also decreases any chances of soreness in your muscles and joints. Take at least 3 to 5 minutes to cool down. You can walk around or hold a stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds on each side. Slow and steady wins the race, so when you cool down, move in and out of your stretches slowly and don’t forget to incorporate your breathing. To add a little more reach, put emphasis on the stretch as you exhale.
And when you’re done with your cool down, don’t forget the most important part of taking any dance class, workshop, or intensive:
Say “Thank you” and “Goodbye” to the choreographer!
What better way to show your appreciation than letting the instructor know? It’s a great habit to practice because this gives you the opportunity to connect and get feedback. It’s not every day that you hear in-person advice from experienced members in the Urban dance and Hip Hop community. If this person teaches weekly, you have the added advantage of tracking your progress with the mentor’s notes notes. Overall, it’s simply great class etiquette. After sharing your name and “thank you’s,” possible points for quick conversations are:
- When are you teaching next? (Or where, if they’re not a regular OOS mentor)
- Any advice on how to train better?
- Do you have any feedback for me from class today?
Don’t forget that dance isn’t only about learning. It’s also about making connections and building community. The dance community has many spaces and an abundance of people who will support your growth, and now you have 5 pro tips to maximize your dance class experiences. We hope this has helped, and we hope to see you at class here at OOS!
To gain more advice on dance and what OOS offers, listen to our newest podcast series, Between Us fOOS:
Put These Tips into Practice!
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram (@ononestudios) and check out On One Studio Unlimited Program (OOS UP)! OOS UP is our new membership program that lets you take unlimited dance classes at On One Studios for a flat monthly rate. Take classes from our programs in Urban hip-hop, K-Pop, Street & Club Styles, and Partner Styles.
Take advantage of our Summer Schedule and Monday Night Workshop: Summer Edition which will feature choreographers from all over the world with different backgrounds and styles to ensure a unique learning experience from week to week. All ages and levels are welcome. To register, follow the “Sign Up” tab on our website and select the dance class you would like to take on its upcoming day and time. Start your dance journey today!