Repetition is dance is very important. It’s why we spend hours at the barre developing the correct muscles and strength. But breaking the habit of repetition in the classroom can also be very beneficial. Here, Kristin McQuaid shares with us a few tips for your next progressions class.

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Break the habit of repetition

By doing the same progressions week after week, dancers are not challenged mentally. It’s much like riding a bike. It becomes so routine to them that they aren’t thinking about placement, turning out, high releve, etc. Change your progressions ever so slightly so they have to think.

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Start progressions on left side.

The left side is a struggle for most and I see a lot of dancers giving up. Teach the the combination to the left to start. Breaking it down will help them to be “left thinkers”. It’s so natural for us to start on the right side. When dancers get to the other side of the room, we expect them to either figure it out on their own. If they become frustrated, they give up on the left. Select a day and make it “Left Day” and everything you do starts on the left

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Change the starting count

Pick a count, any count! Our bodies get so used to starting on the 1, that starting on another count will challenge the body and the brain. Try a progression where nothing happens on the 1 or the 5 and the accents are on the 2 and 6.

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Weight and direction change.

Get back to the basics. Progressions with pas de bouree’s, chasse’s, pivot turns, kick ball changes, jazz walks, forced arch passe’s, half pirouette’s with sharp spotting, challenge weight and direction change. Keep it simple but make them travel. For instance, they should try to get to the other side of the room in one progression series (or two if you have a big studio). Don’t do any technique or “tricks” per se. Weight and directional changes allows the brain to have to work fast and over time will benefit the dancer and they will learn to pick up choreography quickly.

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