Five overlooked moves that will get you noticed at your next dance competition!

Dancers have never been so technically proficient. What dancers can do today is leaps and bounds beyond what we could do when we were kids. However, between the seven pirouettes, ariels and leg holds there is much more to explore. Things so simple yet many times, forgotten about. Here’s our top five that will get you noticed!

#1 Transition Steps

A lot of emphasis is put into the jumps, kicks, turns and tricks. How you transition into these tricks are just as important. When transition steps are ignored, the energy of a dance drops out during these moments. Think of your dance as a complete sentence or paragraph. Take the title of this blog for example. Take out the words that don’t seem very important. The sentence might read “Five overlooked noticed dance competition.” It’s not a complete thought and doesn’t really make sense. Don’t throw these transition steps away. They are just as important as the jumps, kicks, turns and tricks. They can add highs, lows and different colors to a performance. They tell your story, your whole story. How can you make transition steps more effective? See #2 and #3

#2 Traveling

Most competition stages are in professional theaters. Use this to your advantage. We’ve watched countless routines where the dancer stays in one area of the stage, sometimes often on one side, leaving even more of the stage unused. Now imagine you are the routine that uses the entire stage. That would blow the judges socks off! In addition, don’t dance “on top of the floor”. Instead, think of dancing “into or through the floor” using the plié for more power which allows for more traveling. Pick up the feet when traveling, as opposed to letting them come along for the ride, pedestrian-like. Watch this video and see how they make use of the entire stage!

#3 The Passe and Releve

Often overlooked, the passé is a powerful move. Just watch Cyd Charisse in any of her films. She knew how incredibly important the passé was (and most of the time she did it in heels). And it’s an absolutely gorgeous line. Don’t just breeze through that passé. Is it as high as it can be? Is it connected? Is the supporting leg straight? Give it the attention it deserves and it will really make an impact on your judges. Over the last few years, the releve has been sacrificed to accomplish more rotations or turns.  This is cheating and the judges notice when a dancer does seven turns but their heel is almost on the ground.  Pay attention to the specifics of when you are supposed to be in high releve or when it is a forced arch.  Make every step count!
Check out this video of Cyd Charisse and how she uses her legs so effectively.

#4 Focus

Dance has become very internalized and there is nothing wrong with that. However, dance is also a performance art.  If there is an audience, they need to be engaged equally by both the physical and emotional journey of the dance. And purposeful focus and intention gives a routine a lot more confidence.  There should always be intention behind the eyes.  The eyes are the windows to the soul so let us in. Check out these videos of Mikail Barishnikov.  Whether he is looking into the camera or not, there is such focus in his and intention behind his movement.  He is seeing past the camera.

Here are some tricks to work on focus.
1. Look at something at the back of the theater, or better yet, look towards the mezzanine if there is one.  This brings the eyes up and out.
2. Always know who the dance is about and imagine that person in the back of the room.  Is the dance about a loved one?  A crush?  A best friend’s birthday party?  Be specific how you feel and the audience will feel it too.
3. See beyond the mirror of the studio, or beyond the walls of a theater. Focus should be like a laser beam piercing through the walls.

Check out the focus of Mikail Barishnikov in the film White Nights.

#5 Smile

A smile may not be appropriate in every dance, but a smile does go a long way.  A real smile exudes confidence.  A smile says “I’m happy to be here performing for you on stage”.  A smile opens up the heart.  A smile welcomes the judges into your story telling.  A smile allows emotion to flow more freely.  There is nothing interesting on the floor so stop looking down.  Make a connection with your judges.  You will have more fun, and so will the audience!

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