Dance is a labour of love. But if we’re honest, everyone wants to know how to improve dancing ability instantly. They say the key to mastery in anything, is 10,000 hours. And the truth is that’s just the start, because as an artist you never stop growing (if you do, you’re doing something wrong.) It takes hours of blood, sweat (and yes, sometimes tears) to gain mastery in the many skills required to dance like a pro. But the good news is, there are things you can put into place which will instantly take your dancing to a new level of proficiency and up level you as a dancer. And who doesn’t want that? We work so hard, that a bit of instant gratification can’t be a bad thing, right?
So here’s some of the quickest things you can implement if you want to know how to improve dancing ability and performance right now:
Keep Your Eyeline Level
When we concentrate, naturally our eye line will drop. We know we’re concentrating, but to watch- it shuts out the audience. Cultivate keeping your eye line raised whilst concentrating. This will automatically make you come across as a more confident dancer, and will show command of the space you embody. It may be hard at first, but catch yourself every time you do it and it will soon become habit. Remember, there’s a reason they say eyes are the windows to the soul- so use it to invite your audience in, rather than create a wall. This is probably the most important thing to implement in terms of knowing how to improve dancing execution and the impression you make instantly.
Watch Your Transitions
Finish your movements. It’s so easy to not even realise when you’re not doing this. That’s why one of the best things you can do as a dancer is film yourself and watch yourself back. Often the way something feels with dance does not necessarily translate across to the way it looks. Are you reaching right through to your finger tips? If you ripple up, do you go right through your spine all the way to your head? Do you cut the ronde de jambe short before it’s all the way round? Watch out for how you transition from step to step and make sure you’re finishing each step and using your full range of movement.
Have An Awareness Of The Whole
Feel your body as a whole. Get used to feeling the connection from your feet through your torso right through to your arms. Even if different parts of you are doing different things, it is all connected as one. Really focus on your torso and feeling your centre and letting all your movement initiate from there. It’s a totally different feeling.
Another thing to focus on is being aware of both arms at the same time. It’s so easy to just think of what the working arm is doing, but you need to have an awareness of both at the same time and make sure that you’re still aware of the feeling and placement of both, not just the more obvious one. Nothing says amateur like when you see a dancer focusing so hard on what they’re doing that one arm gets forgotten about.
Do A Little Improv Each Day
One of the best things you can do if you want to know how to improve dancing ability quickly, is to practise a little improv each day. In the industry, improv is something which like it or lump it, you’re gonna have to do. In almost every audition, they get you to improv either at the start or the end. Therefore, the more you get over your fear and practise just moving intuitively, the easier it’ll be when the situation demands. It will also make choreographing much easier! Your creativity will be on tap, as and when you need it. It will also improve your co-ordination, your confidence and flair which is a win win.
Treat Corrections Like Pure Gold
Be a sponge for new information. Listen to corrections and apply them immediately. It will transform your dancing instantaneously, but it also shows that you are malleable and take direction well, which is a prime skill looked for in professional dancers. It’s also important to keep your brain fine-tuned so that you can pick up choreography quickly.
Adapt To What Suits You
If there’s a style that doesn’t sit on you naturally (don’t you just hate it when that happens) the best way to improve is to go through the routine when you’re back at home, and record yourself line by line so you can experiment with what doesn’t look right on you, and how you can make it sit right on your body. Sometimes we have to adapt things slightly to make them suit us. Everyone’s body is slightly different and what feels natural to one person won’t necessarily feel natural to another. Sometimes certain moves or lines might look awkward on you, in which it is then a case of tweaking and finding ways round things to make it work for you. This for me is very much the case with Evo. I love watching contemporary and I ADORE dancing lyrical, but with Evo the sharp parts don’t always look the way I wish they would. So being smart with what works on you, is one of the biggest ways you can improve. Yes, it may never be your forte but knowing how to adapt a style in a way that feels good to you is one of the biggest skills you can learn as a dancer.
Engage Your Shoulder Blades
Make sure in certain positions (particularly when doing Fosse and showgirl work for example) that you engage your shoulder blades. You will see how much of a massive difference it makes to your lines. (It also looks much prettier, as well as looking stronger and more powerful.) This also goes for when you’re in position with your arms hanging down by your sides or hands on your back. You’d be surprised by how often your shoulders should actually be engaged when you dance. One of the best ways to do this, once again, is to video and watch yourself back. I say this a lot but it honestly is one of the things which for me has made the biggest difference! You will know when you’re doing it right because it’s hard work, but sometimes it takes watching yourself back and seeing what does and doesn’t look good to find the motivation to do it. To practise this, imagine that you’re trying to get your shoulder blades to touch, or that you have a pencil between them that you mustn’t drop.
And finally, a quick trick I learned recently for getting your kicks higher instantly (yes, really.) As you kick, think of pushing down with your arms. Although your arms won’t physically move, using that resistance will instantly increase the height of your leg.
Get It Into Your Muscle Memory
So there it is, the things I’ve found that have improved me the quickest. Of course sometimes it’s easy to slip back into old habits, but once you have that awareness it’s much easier to recognise when you’re doing it, and quickly turn things round. Focus on implementing these changes and getting them into your muscle memory and you will see a big difference, I promise! Awareness is 50% of the work. I hope these tips have helped you with how to improve dancing ability and performance, and given you a road map to attaining proficiency more quickly. Let me know how you get on, and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.