You go to class every week, do your steps, get some corrections, and then you go home. This is fine and all, but are you making the most of every class? Are you walking out feeling accomplished, and like you’re making progress with your dancing? If you’re not focused, ready to work, and learning something, then you’re not making the most of your time in the studio. We asked teachers and adjudicators how to be the best student possible in class, so that every lesson is a valuable lesson.
More than filling a water bottle and making sure your shoes are in your bag, preparation is mental as well as physical. According to Lizzie Ellis-Parr, TCRG, “A dancer’s preparation for class should include everything from making sure your dancing bag has everything you need, to having done the practice your teacher has told you was needed to make necessary improvements.” Going to class ready to learn should be a conscious decision so that you can maximise the time with your teacher. A favorite quote of Linda Martyn, ADCRG is “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – definitely something to remember!
Have a good attitude
Hand in hand with preparation is going into class with the right attitude – ready to be a good student. Ellis says, “Your attitude has to be right – you need to attend each class willing to work hard and take feedback, which will not always be the easiest thing to accept. If a dancer in a class is having a bad day, this could not only hinder the individual but the rest of the class too, which is very frustrating for a teacher and unfair to the rest of the class, especially when in the run up to international competitions.”
Be open to correction
It’s not always easy to be told that you are doing something wrong or that your dancing needs improving. “Good students take corrections and use them constructively,” says Bronagh Kelly, ADCRG. “It can sometimes be difficult to be told you are doing something wrong or told how to perfect it, but a good student takes the correction, works on it and comes back to show you their improvement.” Your teachers are there to help you and guide you, and they only want you to improve. Use their wisdom and experience.
Work at home
Learning and improvement don’t end when you walk out the studio doors at the end of the night. “In order to make the most out of class time, you must work on each note you are given by your teacher at home before coming back to the next class so that it is fixed or at least improved upon. If you are coming back to class with the same issues or mistakes every time, you are only holding yourself back,” explains Emma Cross, TCRG. If you’re working on the same four bars every single week, you’re not making the most of your class time.
Watch and learn
If you’re only focusing on yourself in class, then you’re missing out on valuable learning opportunities. “Good students watch…watching your peers dance and take correction is invaluable. It is amazing what you can learn from watching someone else dance. It gives you insight into different techniques and styles and helps a dancer set their own goals,” says Kelly. That small piece of advice your teacher gave someone else, or the way they executed something you haven’t been able to master, might just be the key you needed to nail your own step.
Are you a teacher? What makes a good student in your class? Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.