Remember To Breathe

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There is too much proof that I don’t breathe my best when doing explosive movement. That squeaky sound during an aerial? Air gasping past my shut lips when my chest gets hit during an aerial.
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Why the chipmunk face? Forgot to exhale.
Breath work is another element to work on in your swing dancing especially for fast dancing. Relax your jaw, try double breathing like you do when you run, smile, strong inhales and exhales. Check yourself next time your dancing fast or doing aerials.

Performance Talk: How To Deal With Nerves

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As someone who has been dancing for 22 years (oh my god), I can tell you that one of my favorite aspects of this habit is performing for an audience. Dancing is extremely expressive and visual, and is therefore intrinsically tied with getting up in front of others and showing them what you have to say. Watching a seasoned dancer perform may look as easy as pie, but it most certainly isn’t, and here is why: nerves. They can sneak up on even the most rehearsed of individuals and show themselves in unpredictable ways the minute before it’s showtime. Forgetting choreography; mood swings; the sweats; the tears; the giggles; the itches; mental blocks; having to go number 1; having to go number 2; heck, having to go number 3 or 4; these are all symptoms of the jitters.

While we might not be able to control what rears its head pre-performance, we can mitigate the extent to which these nerves affect us. Here’s how:

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Stop Collaborate And Listen

Recently, Jon Tigert addressed partner shaming. Most of his examples involved what seemed to be students asking public questions or statements in order to shame a past or current partner. This certainly happens more than I’d like and I try to minimize the negative effects when it does. Sometimes in local classes you can identify repeat offenders and keep an eye out for them. They’re known for asking questions that blame their partner or you can see them teaching their partner when they should be learning.

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Jon does a good job suggesting ways to ask the question better and insight into what the teachers are thinking and how they’re probably managing the class. I’d like to address ways inside the rotation partnership to address these issues when they arise. Continue reading

Dig Those Skates!

Studying GIFs to understand the solo jazz move “skates.” What are necessary elements? The free foot prepped upward. The push off the weighted foot, typically the back foot since you’d go forward afterward. The new weight change digging forward into the ice or floor. With enough push and dig giving momentum, continuing the skate is nearly effortless. You’ll just glide across the floor.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse

The Peanuts Gang

Homework tonight – try some skates. Here’s Stefan Durham demonstrating the solo jazz move skates.

Kong Then Vault

kong-vaultIt was during my second or third parkour session (each session equaled 10 classes), that I learned the importance of not looking past my first obstacle. We were practicing kong to cats. Basically, this is where we’d kong vault a 3 foot tall box and land in a cat position on the 6 foot “refrigerator” box. I smashed my shins and went head first toward the refrigerator. My head was unscathed and I learned that I should kong then cat.

Why do I mention this? We often see students looking ahead at the end result rather than being in the moment and taking care of what’s now. Continue reading

Natural Pitch

Typically, a teacher’s voice is the first thing I notice when I’m watching or participating in a class.  Is it nasally? Is it quiet? Can their voice cut through the classroom noise? Does it blend into the environment? Is it loud?

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One thing I remember from a theatre class elective was my professor referencing an earlier communication class where they were working on perfect pitch. Now, after some research, I think I may have been misremembering “natural pitch” (scroll down for it). It’s the idea that most of us aren’t speaking optimally, either straining our vocal cords speaking lower than we naturally can, or speaking through our noses making nasally sounds. This article has some really great suggestions on how to find your natural pitch and practice using it.

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Managing The Calm

leaf-on-the-windLet’s talk about being calm amid a hectic classroom. The more we teach in public spaces or regular teaching venues where we’re maxing our space, the more important it is to manage the room’s energy and our response. As teachers, we walk a fine line between delivering solid fundamentals, keeping the entertainment and fun factors going, while managing progression. So how do you manage? Continue reading

Czech Hectic

Stressed-out-catOne of my craziest experiences was when I taught a drop-in blues class in Prague. (quick recap last paragraph here)The organizers’ advertising was too successful. Their small venue, The Jam Cafe, was packed with Czechs wanting to blues dance and they were stuck with an American teacher. We planned for a few people and saw 50+. That class went like this – get their attention, demonstrate a move, teach the move, check if they’re sufficient at it, play music, repeat. We slammed through material those 30 minutes and kept the good times rolling. That tactic is really great for public, non-dance school gigs.