Today is the last day of November. We are heading into the serious winter. The place I live snows a lot, you cannot barely practice outside on the street. Unless you have a friend owning a dance studio, the only way to secure self-practice is at home.
When I first started dancing more than 10 years ago, the practice took place mostly at home. There is certainly good and bad in doing it at home, but it was certainly efficient and cost-effective.
Here I am. In the turn of December, I am going over in my head all the different home practice methods I have devised.
So, this time I will introduce 6 practice methods that you can do at home. Practicing sounds straightforward, but when you get on the floor, it can be frustrating not knowing the first step to take. Please read it as your guideline.
Makeup your weakness and improve your strengths
Before we go on, here is a list of common weaknesses dancers have.
- You are ahead of the music
- You look at the floor
- You cannot move the body as you wish
- You lose balance making a turn
- You become rough once exhaustion hits
Everyone has a different degree of severity. Please read over each point, and apply it to yourself. You will know your weakness, and understand which part to focus on in your practice.
To the contrary, you should honor your strengths. Outstanding skills and techniques are what people remember your dancing by. Find and refine them as if you are competing and making this particular part better than anybody else.
Unlike sports, there are no well-defined practice methods in dancing specifically the street style. On top of that, there is an element of art. You have to establish your own style on the way.
At the end of the day, you will be mainly repeating the choreography and steps. And it cannot be merely copying, but tweaking slightly with your own thinking.
Of course, there is an underlying premise that it is important to accumulate practice every day. Yet, knowing your strength and weakness is the starting point of deliberate practices.
Deliberate practice makes learning faster
The provided below is the guideline to help you see the dance progress. It will help you think and learn faster.
- You will be able to generate dancing in your head - Visualization
- You will gain the necessary physical capability like muscle strength and flexibility - Physical
- You will be able to understand the movement of others - Analytical
Remembering steps and moves are important, but these 3 points are the basics of basics. It is a practice mindset. Carrying on these points help the practice go smoothly.
For example, you master the choreography, following every step perfectly. But, somehow your dance looks amateur. In one move, you have to turn your neck. But your turn is barely noticeable. That is because you lack the flexibility. You need to focus on the point 2. (See "Reasons why your dancing looks amateur and how to fix it" for more examples)
It shows the need of having the right framework in practicing. In the above scenario, following choreography steps over and over will never get you better. You need more deliberate practice parts by parts.
What is missing from you? If you practice targeting the specific ability, the course of your progress will advance faster.
6 practice methods for purposes
These are the practical methods that overcome the dancers' common weaknesses. It will be effective if you incorporate it after figuring out at this moment what is required the most in your skillset.
The practices are universally applicable to any type of physical exercises. You can also enjoy the long-lasting health impacts.
Practice to understand body anatomy
The most fundamental skills for dancers are a muscular strength, flexibility, musicality, and isolation. But that itself is not sufficient. You have to stitch them together to make it into a nice coherent flow. Otherwise, it will look like random movements.
A good way to understand how our body movement turns into a dance a movement is to analyze poses of other dancers. At home, freeze the dance video of your favorite dancer at the favorite moment, and try imitating that pose. You can take advantage of slow playback and counting along the music to capture the posing moment better.
Copying the every detail of the body perfectly is unexpectedly difficult. It ranges from the toes to head. Doing so helps you see how people are using their bodies to make it look cool, and learn yourself how to do it.
Every dancing has poses. That is the universal truth across all genres. Understanding how one pose transforms into another will help you understand the whole flow of dancing.
Practice to sharpen the movement
There is a concept called sharpness in dancing. It makes use of different speeds and sudden stops. In order to wipe off your amateur look, you want to master good reflexes.
Making poses in conjunction with the music is the best way to train this. In the 8 count song, make a pose at every 4th one, and stop for the next 4 counts. Then make a pose again at the 8th beat. Repeat that process.
1, 2, 3, Pose, 5, 6, 7, Pose, 1, 2, 3, Pose, 5, 6, 7, Pose
(For more on musicality, see "Musicality is trainable: dance beginner's ultimate guideline").
The key is to freeze as quickly and completely as possible. In the beginning, you will wobble a little, but as your body learns which muscle is required to make a full stop, the control will become easier.
If you want to adventure, please increase the stop frequencies. For example, you can pose at 2 and 4. In the meantime, keep your focus on full stop always. It will defeat the purpose of this practice if you end up bouncing all over.
A good side benefit of this practice is it trains a great deal of your creativity. You will realize quickly how repetitive your posing is. Try, but it is understandable you end up repeating your poses. There is no need to stress yourself over this in this exercise. This concern leads to my next point.
Practice to increase your repertoire
Even if your muscle has a perfect capability, your actual dancing quickly becomes boring with a repetitive movement. It happens often in self-taught or club dancer. They have great musicality and groove in them, but the move feels simplistic. You should increase your repertoires of movements.
The best way to achieve is through YouTube. Pick your favorite dance videos, focus on the subset of performance, and repeat it over and over. It is better to absorb a small section at a time like 8 counts.
You will learn a combination of choreography and techniques you have not thought of before. Even if you want to focus only on your favorite dancer or team, try filtering videos at various time periods. Dance style tends to evolve over time. This way, you will be able to pick up different moves.
Taking a dance class is also effective. You can learn new steps directly from the instructor. One thing to be cautious is if you have been learning from one teacher, the variety of steps taught will be limited. It is recommended to take different drop-in classes from several dancers.
Let's memorize many patterns, and turn them into your own dance by absorbing various combinations of movements from many people.
Practice the balance of your body
Dancing is similar to a song. If it is a fast tempo, a mistake will be covered up and go unnoticed. But if the tempo is slow, your weak points become visible. The audience will clearly see the offset of your body balance.
Having that in mind, you should practice with very slow music to train your balance. Your body will be tuned gradually, and be able to make a stable movement.
It takes advantage of your inner muscle such as the tip of your toes. This is the parts you would never train in a regular gym. Enhance your balance skill and master the body control.
Practice to pull out your full power anywhere
The direction of your practice is towards the mirror. So you can usually dance while confirming yourself with your own eyes.
However, life does not unfold always that way. Going up to the stage, the scenery completely shifts. There is no such thing as mirrors, except 100s of eyes glaring at you. You will be anxious and the movements tend to become small.
You can execute the steps perfectly at usual practice. You should be able to do it on the stage as well.
First, you want to test out what changes in your dancing with videos. Shoot 2 types of videos: one with a mirror and one without. Look carefully at both. Is your face looking downwards? Are you moving faster than the beats? Etc. This difference is what you need to work on.
Let's practice bringing out your best quality dance regardless of your surrounding environment.
Practice to move in relaxation
In dance session, the more strained your muscle and body are, the faster you become exhausted. You will also lose your sharpness quickly.
Relaxation lying on your bed is easy, but relaxing in combination with bursts of sudden movements is difficult. One part of the muscle is functioning at full power and needs to quickly goes off readying for the next move.
The mechanism comes down to how much muscle memory is in effect with the movement. When you learn a new move, it puts excess stress on your muscle because your brain is constantly sending a signal to move even in the area power is unnecessary. So it is important to let the move sink into only the relevant muscle.
The recommended practice method is to repeat one type of move or step for the entire duration of the song without dropping the quality. At the end, the movement will come to you like it is your first nature. And at that point, your brain learns how to slack off the unnecessary parts and use it more efficiently thanks to the newly acquired muscle memory.
Purposeful practice is the key to success
Practicing is the only way to get better, but you can still do things in the entirely wrong way.
Repeating steps and choreography in blindfolded will not take your dancing much further. It goes with any type of learning, but in order to make your progress faster, you want to be using your brain and thinking hard.
Home is a perfect place for those who care about maximum time and cost efficiency. You can practice anytime however much you want. That is why self-guidance is necessary since there is no one that simply gives you a list of requirements. The worst is when you spend all day practicing with little outcome.
It is crucial that you understand your weakness and strength, and put these practice methods into action. If you deliver them deliberately, your skills will certainly improve.