1. Step out of your comfort zone. We totally understand that this can be a challenge, especially in an unfamiliar environment, but it is definitely worth it! You expand your mind and creativity when you meet new people, so you will experience at dance convention on a whole new level. Plus, you’ll have more fun if you make new friends along your dance journey. Even if you’re shy, find someone and introduce yourself. What have you got to lose?
2. Don’t hold back. A dance convention is the perfect time to try new things and really attack your movement. You will get the most out of your classes and take your dancing to new heights when you give it 110%.
3. Be prepared to work. This means planning ahead, eating healthy and getting enough sleep. Pack your bag ahead of time and remember to include your water bottle and snacks. Be sure to fuel your body with healthy food and adequate rest so you can pick up choreography quickly and keep your body performing at its optimum level all day long.
4. Keep an open mind. Each teacher, class and convention is unique. That’s one of the best parts of dance, it can never be exactly replicated. Attending this convention is a special opportunity captured in time that can never be repeated, even if you attend the same convention next year. Some teachers, choreography or dance styles may challenge you in new ways. Be open to different teaching styles and experiencing new types of movement.
5. Stay true to yourself. This is the most important tip of all. At some point in your dance career, a choreographer, casting director or fellow dancer will likely encourage you to do something you are uncomfortable with. Whether it’s a skill you’re not ready for, or a mature dance move that would be awkward if your dad was watching, listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong to you, moderate the move so you are comfortable. While doing this, remember to always be respectful to the instructor and others around you. If anyone asks, kindly reply, “I think this is great choreography and I am grateful to be in this class, but I don’t feel comfortable with this particular move. I would prefer to do this alternative _______” and fill in the blank. Just say it with a smile and it won’t be awkward! Your teacher and peers will likely admire your leadership and willingness to stay true to yourself in a kind, respectful manner.
6. Save your questions. Wait until the instructor is finished teaching the combo or specific section to ask your questions. The staff is usually familiar with the convention setting and understands that it may be difficult for every dancer to see the demonstration and pick up the choreography right away. Since they are used to teaching in this setting, often times they will clarify moves, go over counts and ask the dancers in front to sit down so those in the back have an opportunity to see the choreography.
7. Pay attention to the details. Details are one of the key differences between a good dancer and a great dancer. A teacher may not say exactly where his left elbow is on count “5 and”, but I bet if you pay close enough attention you can figure it out. Watch the movement and counts closely so you can slay the choreography.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you still have a question after the teacher has finished the combo and you have tried to answer the question yourself by paying attention to the details, speak up! Politely raise your hand, speak with a confident voice and thank your teacher for taking the time to answer your question.
9. Be courteous of those around you. While you are attending a convention to improve your dancing and have fun, ultimately the most important thing is the way you treat others. Try your best not to distract others from their learning. Conventions can by extremely crowded, but make an effort not to invade someone’s space or push them out of your way. If you accidentally pirouette into someone’s lap, apologize and laugh it off. You will most likely do combinations in groups so that everyone has enough space to attack the moves full out.
10. Thank your teachers after each class. The dance world is small and there’s a good chance your teachers will remember you in the future. Make a good impression by thanking each of your teachers after class.
11. Be aware of video and photography rules. We know what it’s like to want to post an amazing combo on your Snap Story or Instagram but many conventions prohibit posting choreography online. Perhaps the convention you’re attending is totally cool with sharing the choreography or classes, but it’s always a good idea to double check before you post??
12. Write down names of the classes and instructors. It is never too early to start building your dance résumé and trust us, you will want this info later! Put your list somewhere you will not lose it or give it to your parents to hang onto.
13. Have fun. Duh! The whole reason you’re attending a convention in the first place is because you love dancing and it’s fun for you. At convention you’ll work hard, sweat, try new things, meet new friends, get stretched beyond your comfort zone, grow in new ways, and it will be a blast. PS Take lots of pics too! Like you could actually forget that?.
— BONUS —
14. Focus on Stage Presence. The Teachers at dance convention will tell you that the biggest mistake they often see dancers making at dance conventions is obsessing over whether or not the teacher is watching. So validation is nice but making sure you have goals beyond getting noticed each weekend. Think about what you really want out of the convention. Remember you’re there to get better. If the teacher happens to pull you up there, great! But if not, work just as hard on the floor. Ultimately, your presence matters as much as your ability.
15. Dance Full-out. Yes, it’s crowded and I got you, you don’t want to whack your neighbor in the face with an enthusiastic battement. Spatial awareness is absolutely essential. Numerous instructors will keep this in mind with their choreography, but, if needed, move to another spot where you have more freedom.
Pro tips: Consider learning the combination in the back, where there’s more space, then really go full-out when you’re broken into groups.
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