Updated: Aug 28
I’ve been teaching adults for almost two decades, and have had the pleasure to work with hundreds of adult dancers. Some completely new to dance, some returning to dance after a break, and even some who have never stopped dancing.
They are passionate about dance, and have a thirst for knowledge about how to improve their dancing, get more out of their dancing, and of course, be able to keep dancing.
But do you know what I’ve noticed? Many adult dancers make some common mistakes that can bring their newfound love of dance to a halt.
So today, I want to discuss three common mistakes in the hope that discussing it will help you recognise if you do these things, and offer some options that will help you keep dance in your life for longer.
Mistake 1: Expecting to be able to dance the same way as they did when they were younger.
No matter what, the body you inhabit now is different to the one you had five, ten, or twenty years ago. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are capable of doing less, just that it is different.
There may be some things you find easier or do better now, while other things that previously came easy are challenging now. For me, I can’t jump as well as I used to, and I’m not as flexible. But I can turn better. I have better technique and artistry.
Focus on what you can do, instead of what you feel you lost. The former will help you to make progress and feel good about what you’re doing. The latter will probably lead to disappointment and discouragement.
Determine what thing you can change, and what you can’t. For example, you may not be as flexible as you were at 15 or 20, but you can most certainly increase your flexibility compared to what it is right now. The same goes for strength and other abilities that can be trained. It’s not about achieving the same level that you once may have. Instead, it’s about focusing on the changes you can make from where you are now.
You may even decide that you aren’t interested in making changes and improvements, and you just want to have fun and enjoy yourself. That is perfectly valid as well!
Mistake 2: Thinking that just coming along to class once a week (or less) will lead to significant improvement.
Don’t get me wrong – you will improve if you attend class regularly. But if you wish to make changes to the ‘condition’ of your body (that is your flexibility, strength, control, balance), you will make bigger and faster change if you do something outside of class. Your in between class activity could be physical or non-physical.
If you even took just five minutes before you leave the studio after class to go through something in your imagination, you’ll progress more quickly. Mental rehearsal is as powerful as physical rehearsal when it comes to building memory.
Set yourself some simple goals and map out how you are going to get there. The goals don’t have to be lofty.
If you want to improve your physical condition, then doing some additional exercise will help. That could be as simple as walking, or it could be doing a dedicated conditioning class, such as Progressive Ballet Technique, Dance Stretch and Conditioning, Yoga, Pilates, cardio work, or resistance training.
Mistake 3: Neglecting to look after your body
Be honest now. Are you guilty of just turning up to class, dancing, and going straight home as soon as class has finished? No matter what age your are, looking after your body will help you keep dancing longer. This becomes even more important with each year that passes.
Looking after your body takes many forms, and can include:
Getting enough sleep
Adequate hydration and nutrition
Regular massage (even self massage)
Treating injuries (it amazes me how often a dancer who has hurt themselves will be resistant to icing their injury for 20 minutes, yet this can make an enormous difference to recovery) and getting them seen to if they don’t get better (eg a physiotherapist)
Warming up and cooling down properly
Working consistently on flexibility and strength to support your body while dancing
Pay attention to how your body is feeling and make sure you look after it as listed above.
Develop a routine that supports your dancing, which may include things like making sure you arrive early before class to do your own warmup and taking time to cool down and stretch after class, booking yourself in for a massage regularly, and doing something about those niggling injuries.
I hope this was helpful and encouraging.
Get more tips and information from Dragonfly Dance
Sign up to our mailing list