As a Ballroom and Latin dance instructor, I’m always surprised to hear my students’ response to “did you practice last week?”
Too often they answer something like: “Well, I didn’t really know what to practice… so no”.
See, in my mind, we just had a lesson where we worked on a bunch of stuff like:
- How to hold certain Cha Cha steps a little longer.
- How to keep the right posture through out the Rumba dance.
- How to use stronger foot pressure into the floor.
So, logically speaking, my expectation was for them was to just practice what we worked on.
Too many dance students think they need to invent something to practice, but actually if they just practiced exactly what they worked on last time with their teachers, they’d continuously improve and make their teachers happy too in the process.
Let’s just point out a few of the reasons why you should practice what you worked on in your lessons:
- Assuming you have a good instructor, they must have had a good reason to work with you on XYZ. They probably saw that you needed specific work on that leg action, hip movement, spin technique, whatever it is… In other words, it must be something that is a weakness of yours that needs to be improved.
- You need a lot of repetition. The key to becoming a great dancer is to get to a point where your muscles remember exactly how to do a specific movement (muscle memory). Having just learned something new in your lesson is often not enough to get your body to really internalize that information.
- So that can follow up with any questions you might have. Through practice you might notice that you’re not exactly sure of how to achieve those things you worked on. Or maybe you find yourself confused about a particular technique element, and need further clarification. As you practice you can write down the questions that pop up – to discuss in your next lesson.
So now you might say something like: “Leon, I do practice, but just other stuff, is that wrong?”
I have no problem with you practicing anything else you want, as long as you also incorporate the lesson material as well.
Here’s what a typical practice session could like like:
10 -15 min – Warm Up
15-25 min – Go over your routines
15-25 min – Go over what you did in your last lesson
25-35 min – Work on whatever you want
The above is just a simplified example, and not meant to be a thorough practice plan. But as you can see in that example you get the best of both worlds… You get to practice your own stuff and your teacher’s stuff.
Lastly, make your teacher happy!
Dance teachers are human too and just like everyone else they want to feel like they’re being heard and respected in regards to what they teach. They would really love to see you actually execute or at least try to execute the things they teach you.
In fact, it would probably make their day.
I know I’m always happy when I see my students really try to incorporate what I had taught them.
Watch my video about this very thing:
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.