9 Ways to Tell if You’re a Smart Dancer

James Dean taking class with Katherine Dunham in NYC circa 1955

By Jadée Nikita

More and more, I see it.  Dancers getting lost in crowded dance classes, failed auditions, and people with the confidence of cowardly lions, breezing through the industry.  It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, and to self-sulk about that 8-count you totally screwed up on stage.  We’ve all been there.  But did you know, you hold the power to pull yourself out of that slump.  You have the power to be great.  You have the power to control your destiny!  It all starts by saying to yourself, “Self, I am great!”  It may sound corny, but in all honesty, Darwinism has a place in the dance industry as well, and only the strong survive.  So get hip, quick!

It takes a smart dancer to recognize their full potential and to not cry over spilled milk.  If you mess up, that’s ok.  Just brush yourself off,  get back on your horse, and ride that stallion into the sunset next time!  Never lose your composure, and never be your own worse enemy.  There are plenty of people out there to do that for you.

Before you can have the full confidence to be great, you must be smart.  Everyone wants to be a smart dancer.  She’s the one who is fully confident and sexy, she can book a job with her strut, and everyone wants to know her secret!  Well my pretty kitty’s, the secret is being spilled!!  Below are some tips to help you become a wiser dancer.  Once you are aware of proper dance etiquette, you will have no problem feeling confident at that next audition, or booking that next big job!  I promise you, a little brains go a long way – and choreographers recognize it instantly!  Read through the list below and see if you own any of the following “smart dancer” traits!

smart dancer

A smart dancer is…

Always prepared.

  • showing up early to stretch and warm-up at least 15 minutes before rehearsal/class/performance begins.
  • having all appropriate attire, shoes, and/or props for that specific rehearsal/class/performance.
  • being mentally prepared. I.e knowing the choreography for rehearsals/performances, and being mentally prepared to learn something in class.

Open to challenges.

  • she takes risks with movement, and explores all limits of the body.
  • she is receptive to trying something new like flips, tricks, and uncomfortable movement phrases.
  • she steps out of her comfort zone and works well with partners (no giggling, or being scared of getting lifted.  Trust me, the choreographer wouldn’t make you do it unless it were safe.)

Open to constructive criticism.

  • no attitudes
  • she takes corrections without letting her ego interfere

Recovers well.

  • she doesn’t wallow in self-pity after making a mistake in class, during a performance, or in an audition.
  • can recoup without others knowing she made a mistake.
  • she handles herself appropriately in front of others after making a blooper.

Comfy in a fast-paced environment.

  • she thrives in an accelerated environment.
  • can pick up choreography quickly.
  • applies corrections immediately.
  • Doesn’t get overwhelmed with pressure or crowds.

Full out!

  • when going across the floor, she goes all the way across the floor! (doesn’t stop and give up with 20 feet of dance space ahead of her.  My personal biggest pet peeve!)
  • she completes all her movements and energy is shooting from her distal phalanges all the way to her pinky toe!

Smart in class.

  • she is spatially aware at all times and doesn’t invade other’s dance bubble (another pet peeve)
  • she is focused on herself when in class/rehearsal.  No talking when teacher is talking, etc, etc.

Takes personal time.

  • she rehearses on her own at home.
  • she knows when to take a break before she suffers from burnout
  • she maintains a healthy dance maintenance routine (massaging the body, acupressure, checkups with the doc, etc)
  • she maintains a healthy lifestyle (diet, limited drinking, no smoking, etc.)

Has to dance and has fun doing it!


If you liked this article, please share with your smart gyal pals!  And don’t forget to head on over to our online boutique and shop the latest dance-wear trends!
Cover photo via Jack Delano

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