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Results at dance competitions are what every dancer is interested in. After all, it's a competition so who doesn't want to win?
However, do you think you put enough work in to have a well-deserved win? In this post I will give you 4 points you need to remember when you're preparing for dance competitions to increase your chances of being successful.
I have been working with lots of dancers wanting to achieve great results at competitions. Frankly, everyone says they want to be the best they can be. But there is cost involved as nothing comes free, and I'm not only talking about the money but your mental attitude and willingness to sacrifice some things.
Lesson time
Dancing is about creating connections between your brain and muscles to make them move in any way you want. The more information and ideas you get from a teacher, the clearer the picture is going to be. Also you get to practice more, under supervision of your dance instructor.
If you are thinking to develop long-lasting effects and changes in the body, you need consistency. I see dancers taking a single lesson per week and hoping for quick fixes. If you were to learn a language, do you think 1 hr per week would make you fluent? It's not about having lessons everyday, but the more frequently you see your dance teacher, the more sustainable your results will be.
Own practice time
We are all grown ups and we understand that practicing is a must when you want to reach some results. For each hour of private dance lesson, you should spend at least 3 hours of your own time practicing it. What happens if you don't? The information will not have a chance to settle in and you will end up doing what you had been doing before your lessons. If you're serious about dance competitions, take responsibility for dancing solo!
Outfits/dressesWhat a dancer wears plays a big role in your competition results. Why? Because it creates immediate impression of you. If a dress doesn't fit or gives no movement, your dancing may not look as good as it would, in a different outfit. Of course, dance costumes are a big expense, but again what you put into it, is what you get out.
I always say: have 1 dress or shirt per year but make it look like a million dollar! Rather than have 5 dresses and all of them looking average (the word average is one of my pet-hates btw). As a dancer, make sure you have the best designer out there, who will make you look unique! This is exactly how every professional dancer thinks, so you should do too! If that means, no expensive holidays this year, let it be. Again, it depends on what you want to get out of your dancing!
Competition experienceEvery pro who goes to a competition remembers their first one with another pro partner. You just want to get it out of the way. I can't stress it more how important it is to just get out there and perform, whether you're polished or not.
At the beginning, forget the results, forget other competitors! If you have no experience or you just did few competitions in the past, don't get upset when you're out in the first round! When you start to compete (or you're in a new partnership) think to get as many competitions behind your belt as possible. Once again, if you're serious about it and you have a good plan with your teacher, you should be going to every competition out there- small or big!
I hope you can see the major trend in the points I made, that is your level of commitment!
If you want to become a better dancer, you need to create a full package to showcase it on a dance floor. That's exactly the same whether you're a pro or a pro-am dancer! So be realistic about your competition results based on how much work you choose to put into it.
The more you invest in yourself and your dancing, the better you will become- that's common sense. Of course, be wise with the finances as any sport on a high level is expensive. At the same time, you do it for yourself and noone will ever take away your experience. If you want to be a champion, you need to think like one!
You definitely don't want to wake up in 5 years time thinking, oh I wish I had danced more before. If not now, then when?
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When you're a kid and you start a new sport, there is nothing impossible. No dream is too big, no competition is too hard, no choreography that can't be learnt.
You realize that with the young age on your side and youthful ignorance, the world is your oyster.
When you grow older, people start coming to you to tell you what's possible and what isn't. Or even that you shouldn't even bother trying something. Without even realizing it, your enthusiasm and confidence that you once had as a child are slowly drifting away.
With your friends and family telling you that your dreams are too large, you suddenly start to believe them...
Then, instead of having big goals and focusing on them, you get stuck in thinking about what others think you can do! No more dreams, fear of entering a competition in case you get last, playing it safe. Do these sound familiar? Whilst you're busy doubting your every step and being in comfort zone, others dancers move forward, improving steadily and leaving you behind.
What's the difference between dancing to win or dancing to lose?
Dancing to win:
planning the best solutions to excel at the next competition and keeping the mind open to try new things
focusing on big competitions without fear of losing
turning every obstacle into an exciting challenge to make you better
knowing where you want to be as a dancer, rather than thinking of where you are now
Dancing not to lose:
spending more time thinking about how other dancers progressgetting caught up in predicting the effects of losing competitions and feeling embarassedbelieving that winning is not for them as they are not good enough, but rather focusing on not being last at the competition or looking sillyquestioning every opportunity to progress and finding reasons why they are not good
Based on what I said above, do you find some of these characteristics in yourself?
Here are 5 tips for you on how to turn into a performer who dances to win!
Plan goals and objectives with your coach. When you set yourself things to achieve make
sure you finish them! It's easy to stay focused at the beginning, but only the best dancers will always finish what they've started.
Focus on yourself and yourself only. Who is in the competition that doesn't matter! Who won before or who got better marks should have no effect on your dancing. Your preparation and dance training shouldn't be affected by what others do.
Be aggressive in your attitude. When you have great dance lessons or competition, keep the momentum going. Don't slow down or wait another week till next training session! Plan your lessons so the speed of your progress can continue.
Dream Big! Try to connect with the child you once were, with unmatched enthusiasm, optimism to move mountains and being fearless. Who said you shouldn't ? And who are they to tell you what you should or shouldn't do?
No more bringing yourself down. Stop the negative thinking that you're not good enough. This only drives inconsistency, lack of focus and no dancing. When you have positive mindset, you body relaxes and that's when you start to improve your dancing and performance.
Did you find this post helpful? Please share it on Facebook with your dancing friends.
Photo credits: Sam's Photography
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Dance parents invest a lot of time and money to make their children's dance dreams a reality. Hours of driving to studios, super early mornings to get to competitions, not mentioning the costs of lessons and outfits. Parents get so involved in dancing and they have lots of questions but sometimes never ask them. In this post you will find the answers to the most common questions from dance mums and dads.
1. How many dance lessons should my child have during the week?
If only a specific number existed. There are a few things to consider when you decide how often your child should dance:
Dance level- some experienced dancers who have been training for a while have daily practices with lessons throughout the week. Children who just started dancing are usually fine with 1 or 2 lessons per week.
Performance at school and other commitments- if you notice that your child's grades at school go down and they have lots of other activities already, adding extra dance sessions may not be sensible.
Goals- if you aim for winning big competitions and championships, 1 or 2 lessons per week won't bring these results. However, a single weekly dance lesson may just be an exciting hobby for your child.
2. What will my child have to sacrifice to be the best?
Remember that before being a dancer, your child is still a child. They need to live and grow up that way- it just happened they also love dancing.
Vast majority of competitions happen on weekends which means they will have to do all their homework regularly before going away. As many children have play time and birthday parties on weekends, your child may miss some of them, but SHOULD NOT miss all of them!
The sacrifices shouldn't feel like sacrifices. If you notice that your little dancer starts making excuses not to dance or go to lessons, they are trying to tell you something. So make sure you listen carefully! If you see that your child is unhappy, this may just be too much for them at the time.
3. When should my child specialise in a specific style of dance?
Many dancers, as they grow up, decide to specialise in a specific style, either Ballroom or Latin. It's a natural progression and it depends on what the dancer enjoys the most.
There is no benefit in encouraging your child to dance only one style. In fact, it may actually slow down their progress, make them bored or take away the opportunity of dancing at high level the other style. Many dance champions are usually great at both styles.
All children should do both Ballroom and Latin dances until they've grown mentally and physically to choose their specialty.
4. Do my children have the best dance teacher out there for them?
There are 5 important characteristics (5 Cs) of a great teacher for your child:
Caring- you can see it in the way the teacher leads a lessons and looks after your young dancer
Confident- children must see a role model in their teacher. The way they stand, talk and execute the steps as children always mimic behaviours
Competent- teacher who is qualified and has experience in working with children. Holding a World title doesn't necessarily make a good teacher for your child- remember that.
Composed- working with kids may be tough, but teacher should always remain calm and professional- during lessons and competitions.
Communicative- teacher must build a rapport not only with dance students but also parents. Creating a dance champion is a team work!
5. What results should I expect from my child at dance competitions?
Every parent sees their child as a star and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Before any results come, the child must first enjoy the journey of learning and competing. As a parent you shouldn't expect titles or medal. Of course, kids want to bring trophies and do better than their dancing friends, but you as a parent can't guarantee that, neither can the teacher.
You will notice how your child progresses in dancing. How they learn new steps, interact with others, improve posture or gain a bit more confidence. These are the most valuable things your child will gain from dancing.
Titles and trophies are a cherry on the cake which come when you mix fun with a lot of hard work, determination and seamless team work between the teacher, your child and You!
If you have any other questions, comment below and I will do my best to answer.
I hope you enjoyed to read this post. Please give it a like and share it on Facebook.
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Number on your back has fallen off. Safety pins have made so many holes in the number it's practically ripped. So much sweat that your number looks like it has just been washed. Do these sound familiar?
Well, it has happened to all the dancers on the floor.
Whether you're a pro-am dancer or a pro, your dance competition number is so important. It needs to look neat, be clear and visible at all times.
Here is a video for you which shows exactly how to get it perfect every single time without using sellotape.
If you like the video, please hit the thumbs up button and subscribe.
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Throughout your dancing you must have come across the terms like standing leg, dancing leg or working leg. It’s a simple concept to understand but the tricky part is how to actually use it when you dance.
In the post, you will find out how to use the supporting leg more efficiently.
Let’s start with brief definitions:
In Ballroom and Latin we call the leg on which we have all our weight – the standing leg. In ballet it's usually referred to as a supporting leg. Another term some teachers use is a working leg.
If one leg is a standing leg, the other one is a dancing (moving or free) leg. I personally prefer to use the term dancing leg as it’s the one that moves and has very little or no weight on it.
I heard before the term “active” leg instead of the dancing leg but I wouldn’t use it as it suggests the other leg is inactive, which is not true!
So how do you use the supporting leg when moving in Ballroom dances?
Imagine you are about to sit on a chair with your knee flexing. The hamstrings and glutes should always be engaged.You can test it by poking your bum- it should feel hard (not like jelly). When it comes to pushing from the foot, think of the heel rather than toe. Otherwise you will spring up in the air with less control. Pushing off through the heel gives more stability.
In Latin the idea is very similar but the knee will remain straight.
The most common problem is that dancers focus so much on their dancing leg instead of the supporting one.
Lets have look at the first three steps of a Natural Turn in a Slow Waltz.
We know the foot steps are Right Left Right as a leader. However, this makes you think of the dancing leg and most dancers will just move it (and forget the supporting leg).
Instead, try to think Left Right Left which applies to work you do on the supporting leg. It will feel very strange at first, but this is a much better way to make sure you’re using and pushing off from a standing leg.
You may notice that when you don’t use your supporting leg correctly, the dance itself will look "ungrounded" with no control. Ultimately that lack of control will make you fall into the step rather than consciously move your body.
You should always be aware which leg is supporting and which one is dancing!
In summary, both supporting and dancing legs are
equally important. The role of the supporting leg is to give you balance, power and stability. Whereas the dancing leg creates the magic which in fact can only happen when the supporting leg is fully used.
Work on it and you will discover that you have a lot more control over your dancing than ever before.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you liked it please share and subscribe.
Thanks and see you for the next video of the Dancer’s Guide.
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Dance teachers and dancers use the word "syncopation" a lot. But has anyone ever explained to you what this actually means?
Being a great dancer is not only about knowing how to move, but also understanding the technique and language we use. Here is a video for you explaining exactly what syncopation in dancing means.
If you enjoyed the video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe so you don't miss new updates.
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Aren’t you bit old for that? I was asked when I decided to get back into dancing after a break of many years. Ho
w long will it last? was the second question.
When I decided to go back to dancing it was originally because I wanted to learn the Tango. I contacted a local dance school and they convinced me to join a Ballroom and Latin class where I would do a bit of everything including Tango.
My first thought before going into that class was:
would I remember anything?
My second was:
would I be the only single one there?
I needn’t have worried! The class was quite busy with a mixture of couples and singles. As soon as we did the first Waltz box step I knew I had made the right decision. It was like I had never been away. I was well and truly hooked. As soon as that class finished I couldn’t wait for the next one.
I continued with the class and loved every minute of it but I had the dancing bug and wanted more than this class could give me. I took a big (and expensive) risk and started private lessons with a professional dancer.
It seemed to be a lot of money for what seemed to be not doing very much, just walking up and down the room and no actual dancing.
I did
n’t realise how much I WAS doing. It was called technique! That's how I was introduced to the amazing world of Professional and Pro-Am dancing.
It really is like another world and dancing has almost taken over my life. So far I have taken exams in Ballroom up to Silver level and up to Gold level in Latin. I have performed as part of a group/formation team, performed with a partner and competed in both Student/Teacher and Pro-Am categories at numerous competitions.
The possibilities for a mature dancer like myself are literally endless!
The highlight so far was taking part in the World Dance Championships in Disneyland Paris at the end of 2017. My next goal is to take my Gold Bar Latin exam. That will be followed by more competitions both at home and overseas.
I am fitter than I have ever been. I have an amazing circle of dancing friends who are like an extended family, a wardrobe full of the most beautiful dancing dresses and shelves heaving under the weight of all my medals and trophies.
How long has it lasted? So far, five years! Can I imagine my life without dancing? No! And how old am I? Well, I am definitely not too old to dance!
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Do you admire beauty of dancer's feet? You watch them perform and suddenly these pointed feet draw your attention moving with precision and fluidity. Then you think hmm if only my feet were like that... Does it sound familiar?
Well, improving your feet is something that dancers can work on, so if you put your mind into it and follow these 5 exercises, you will see a big difference in the way you use and articulate your feet.
Whether you are a beginner dancer or a professional, we spend a lot of time pointing and stretching our feet. We always try to improve them. Most of us have heard this from our teachers: Point your feet! Now imagine them saying it with their voice and facial expression :-)
Some people have naturally more flexible and defined foot shape than others. But don't
worry there are ways to improve it. You can't change your bone structure but you can certainly strengthen your feet and give them a more defined shape over time.
However, first of all you need to understand two terms: arch and instep. What are these?
Arch- it is a bony structure that runs from the heel to the toes on bottom of the foot.
Instep- it is the raised part of the top of your foot between toes and ankle.
Now that you know the difference, here are 5 exercises to give you nice "ballet" feet and have strength to point them at each position. Just remember- Rome wasn't built in a day! Be patient!
1. Grab your foot
Sit down, hold the heel of your foot with one hand and cover your toes with palm of your other hand. Then, push your toes down towards the heel of the foot. Remember, be gentle but firm. You should feel a stretch across your instep. Hold your foot in that position for 15 seconds. Repeat the exercise 3 times.
2. Tuck your toes
In a standing position, point your foot on the floor then tuck your toes underneath. Don't
put too much weight on that foot. Start with your knee bent. Keeping your tucked toes on the floor, start slowly straightening your knee. You should feel stretch of your instep. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Repeat the exercise 3 times.
3. Grab a towel
As the name suggests, you'll need a towel for this exercise. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the towel and spread your toes as far as you can. Then start grabbing the towel and scrunching it towards your foot. It will bunch underneath your foot until your run out of the towel. Do this exercise slowly and ideally hold for 3 seconds at each grab. Repeat the exercise 3 times. P.S. the bigger the towel, the more grabbing you will do :-)
4. Stair raises
Stand on a stair with toes of both feet. The heels should be off the edge of the stair in a way that you can easily lower them. Then
slowly lower your heels over 5 counts and hold for another 10 counts. Then rise over 5 counts and hold for additional 10 counts. You should feel the stretch in your Achilles tendon when your heels are down and instep when your feet are up. Repeat the exercise 5 times. I personally prefer to do one foot at a time to make sure I can focus on it fully.
5. Foot roll (it's not a new sushi dish!)
For this exercise you will need a tennis ball, a golf ball, a massage ball or simply a can of soup. Sit down in a chair and place the ball on the floor. Keep your knee at the right angle and put your foot on the ball. Then roll the ball from the toes to the heel by straightening your knee. Make sure as the ball is moving towards the heel, the foot stays pointed. Do the exercise slowly making sure you massage each part of the foot. I suggest 2 minutes on each foot.
You can easily do those exercises when you are at your desk at work or at home whilst working on a computer. Then you are on a good track to develop the beautiful dancer's feet you always wanted.
Do you know any other useful exercises that work for you? If so, what are they? Leave
a comment below with your suggestions. I hope you find those exercises helpful. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook so that your friends can also start working on their footwork.
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"You have to use your centre",
"Engage your core",
"You've dropped your centre"!
Do these sound familiar? Let's be honest- every dance teacher say these and every dancer has heard them before.
But
has anyone ever explained to you what "core" actually is and how to use it?
Also,
why do we need to use our core in dancing
?
This short video will answer these questions an give you a great exercise to change your posture and be a much better dancer.
NB. When it comes to the exercise just hold the position of having "whole back" touching the wall for 2 minutes each time.
If you want more tips like that, subscribe to our mailing list and get a FREE eBook 7 Dance Competition Hacks. Simply, click HERE.
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Practicing regularly by repetition sounds like a great recipe for improving your dancing. At the same time dancing the same things over and over again may be hideously boring. Who can focus on "rise and fall" or "arm extensions" for an hour
or so? Here are 5 ideas to keep your "boring" practices more bearable and most importantly more productive.
1. Figure out WHY you do it!
A reminder of the reasons for doing a specific practice can make a difference in your focus levels. Instead of repeating "straighten your knees" in your head. Just imagine yourself at the next competition doing walks and locksteps just like a champion. In other words, focus on the ultimate goal of practice rather than the task itself.
3. Prepare your music before!
When planning your practices (especially the really tough ones like technique or basics), prepare the best music that keeps you going beforehand. When you come to studio, all you do is just press play and feel inspired by all the amazing tunes you love dancing to. Otherwise, you will be flicking through your playlists in studio instead of practicing. Also, you won't be checking your Instagram and Snapchat anymore.
So out of 1 hr practice you spent 30 minutes on dancing and 30 minutes on choosing the music. Doesn't sound very productive, does it? Interestingly, you would still think that you "practiced" for 1 hour.
2. Keep it short and sweet!
Walking into a dance studio with the idea of
having 1 hour of jive kicks (or tango walks) may not be the sexiest thing, you have one all day. Instead of doing the same exercise for 1 hour or so, just do it for 10-15 minutes max with a stopwatch. As soon as your mind starts thinking about checking Facebook, dinner or how annoying your dance partner is, MOVE ON.
4. Find a "technique dance buddy"
Do you have a "dance technique buddy"? This could be your dance partner or a friend from your dance studio. Having another friend to practice with will also break the routine of dancing with just one person. New people, new opinions.
Variety is a spice of life and very interestingly all dancers have something interesting to offer that helped them. You may be surprised by some ideas you get by practicing with new people. It's also more social as you can go for drinks after your amazing practice (double win).
5. Have a plan.
Swimmers have a plan when they train. Bodybuilders have a plan. All athletes know what they are doing when they turn up for practice. Why is it that suddenly dancers rock up at a dance studio and make up their mind a minute before if they are doing a Waltz or a Samba? Write a clear plan beforehand in your "dancing diary" (if you already have one) and follow it.
Bonus tip
: Click HERE if you want to see one of the plans I wrote for a solo dance practice, you can see it in my free eBook 7 Dance Competition Hacks.
How do you deal with and stay focused during your dance practices? Leave a comment below.
Photo Credits: Maggiore Fotografico
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