July 5, 2021
Beginning dance is exciting and can be a little bit nervous no matter what age you are. It’s normal, it’s natural, and it’s a good thing. If you’ve never danced before, there will be a lot of things you don’t yet know or understand. This article describes important tips for beginner dancers of all ages, other articles will focus on specific age groups. Going into your first dance class with some of your questions answered will help to reduce your anxiety and nervousness so that you can enjoy your dance experiences.
Dancing is a physical activity, and can be demanding on your muscles and joints. Your body might not be used to moving in these ways, especially if you are new to dance. A bare-minimum warm up for your body before your dance class could be as simple as 60 seconds of intense full-body action like jumping-jacks or running on the spot with high knees. This will increase blood flow to your muscles and speed up your heart rate a little bit.
If you have participated in athletics, you might have learned some stretches for major muscles of your body. Dancers often focus on stretching their legs (calves, hamstrings, quadriceps), shoulders, wrists and neck. Holding each stretch for 30 seconds or more means you’ll be making a more positive difference. Your dance studio and/or instructor can tell you more about stretches that are appropriate for your age and style of dance.
Dancing is a physical activity, and you can definitely work up a good sweat! You need to refresh your body frequently with plenty of water. Bring a water bottle or two when you attend a dance class, in case there isn’t an opportunity for you to fill a bottle while you are there.
Most dance instructors will give opportunities during the class for a water break (they need it too!). This point can’t be over-stated. Almost everyone can benefit from adding more water to their daily routines.
Even if you are not an elite-level dancer, your body will need time to rest and recover from the exertion and exercise of your new dance classes. There will be muscles that aren’t used to be moving in the way you are now asking them to. Getting healthy sleep is one of the best ways to help your muscles recover and get stronger.
Dancing is a lot of fun, and is a wonderful outlet for your passions and creativity. When you are first starting out it can be tempting to push yourself too hard. Take the time to learn all the foundational elements of the dance style you are learning. Placing difficult expectations on yourself near the beginning can lead to disappointment if you don’t achieve your goals. Speak with your dance instructor and more experienced dancers, they can help steer your progress in healthy and rewarding ways.
Like other sports and athletics, each dance style has it’s own special equipment like clothing and shoe choices. For example, tap dancing, acro, ballet, jazz, ballroom, and line dancing all require different shoe choices. Some styles require specific types of shoes to protect your feet as you are learning, while giving you a good feel for the floor as you dance.
It can often be helpful to wear or take layers of light clothing that you can take off as your body warms up. When you first arrive at the studio or dance class your body won’t be warmed up and ready to dance. Wearing and having layers of light clothing can help to moderate your body temperature and keep you comfortable while you dance. Your dance instructor and studio staff can help you with any questions you may have.
As you are learning new movements, try to focus on keeping them smooth and fluid. Not all dance styles require gracefulness, but staying fluid while you learn will teach you good habits. It takes more work and more muscle training to have smooth, flowing movements. You can always build technique later that includes more isolated movements, but graceful moves will help you in the long run.
As you dance more and more, certain muscles will learn new ways to move. Your flexibility, balance, and strength will increase also. It is a great idea to add conditioning exercises to your daily routine aimed specifically at building certain muscles, increasing your cardio-vascular health, and improving you all-around physical health. If you talk to your teacher, instructor, or more experienced dancers, they will likely have great suggestions for conditioning programs that are tailored to your specific dance style.
This is a new adventure for you, and there are lots of things you don’t know yet. Feel free to ask as many questions as you come across. Even if it seems like a simple question, there’s certainty that someone has asked it before! Your teachers and instructors are there to guide you and they appreciate lots of questions.
When learning new moves, steps, stretches and exercises, don’t hesitate to check with your dance instructor that you are holding the correct form. It is very helpful to learn good form right from the beginning, it’s save you from having to “unlearn” poor habits over time.
You warmed up before you started your dance class, and now it’s time to cool down afterwards. Because you’ll be tired after class, it’s tempting to just head home. But post-class cool down and stretching is an important part of your development. These stretches can be very similar to the ones you did before class, make sure to hold each stretch for 30 seconds to a minute. By stretching before and after class you will experience most effective retraining and growth of your muscles.
We would be more than happy to answer any questions you have, dream with you about your dance ambitions, or discuss any dance-related topics.