Welcome back, dancers! In our first three Beginner Guides, we explored musicality,
See: The Ultimate Guide To Musicality For Beginner Dancers
See: The Ultimate Guide To Body Awareness For Beginner Dancers
See: The Ultimate Guide To Execution Of Movement For Beginner Dancers
The next step, naturally, would be to put this knowledge to practice at a dance class.
How do you take a dance class though? What kind of dance class should you be taking? What do you even do during a dance class?! Huh??!?! WHat!!?!1
Fret not, yung grasshopper. Think of STEEZY as your best friend, taking you with them for your first (of many!) dance class experiences.
Get in the car – we’re going dancing.
Looking For A Dance Class In Your Area
If you don’t have a friend who’s already into the dance scene in your area to familiarize you with the local studios, that’s okay! That’s what the interwebz are for!
A quick Google or Yelp search of terms like “Dance classes in ____” or “Dance studios in _____” or “Hip hop classes in _____”
(See Related Article: The Top 8 Dance Studios in Los Angeles)
Once you have a good list of nearby dance studios, go on their websites to see what kind of class offerings they have. If they do not have a website (whaat), call the studio and ask for their schedule. This way, you can ask more questions in a conversation.
Instagram is proving to be an increasingly good tool at discovering local businesses, as well.
(See Related Article: Dancers on Instagram VS. Dancers In Real Life)
If you keep noticing flyers or class videos (either in your personal feed, or through Instagram’s “Explore” page), and click on the location link, you can see where the studio is located.
Better yet, if the studio itself has an account, you can stalk their class schedules and instructors to find out more. Finally, lurking skills from stalking your crush is coming in handy!
If you dig the instructors / classes offered, or the vibe of the studio, add that into your list of prospective places to take class at.
Which Dance Class Should You Take?
Once you’ve secured the place you’ll be taking your dance class, you need to decide which of those (probably) several offered classes to take.
You want to make sure you feel comfortable diving into your first dance class, and that it will benefit you, rather than leave you feeling defeated.
A few things to keep in mind:
- A “Beginner” level dance class is the safest bet to start with
- Much like when you add salt to your food, it’s easier to add more than to take it away. If you start slow, even if it feels “too slow” for you, you can always build up to a more advanced level dance class rather than jumping into something too complicated and having to reset.
- There will be different styles of dance classes, even within “Hip Hop” umbrella
- Jazz funk? Popping? Locking? Advanced choreography? So many different genres fall into “hip hop,” whether directly, or branching off of fundamental styles (such as waacking, popping, house, locking, etc.)
- Either watch these classes at the studio to get a feel for it, or look for YouTube videos of combos in that style
- Map out a variety of different styles in your class-taking schedule to start. You don’t know what you like until you try it! Who knows, you might discover the inner house dancer or fierce voguer in you.
- But again, look for those with a “Beginner” prefix 😉
How To Prepare For A Dance Class
Once you’ve decided on your dance class (where / when / which one), it’s time to get ready.
Choose an outfit that is loose and comfortable, but one that you still feel confident in. By no means do you have to follow the latest trends in “dancer fashion.” It’s about YOU and what makes YOU feel cool.
(See Related Article: The Inconvenient Truths Of Looking “Hip Hop”)
P.S. Wear comfortable shoes! This one’s a must.
Once you get to the studio, you’re going to register at the front desk, pay for your “Drop-In” class, and wait for the room to be ready. There’s usually back to back classes at studios so another class will be filtering out as you’re waiting to enter.
When it is, you’ll go inside and put your stuff down, and wait for the choreographer. Until then, you can just hang out, start stretching, or talk to other dancers in the class.
It’s all about your mindset!
Now’s a good time to take a deep breath and remind yourself that a class is called a class for a reason: you’re there to learn! So instead of being intimidated by the idea of trying something new, get excited to start learning.
What To Do During Dance Class
Now, you’ll learn all of this as you go, but it’s good to have a heads up anyway.
(See Related Article: How To Get The Most Out Of Dance Class (Video))
The choreographer will start (most likely) by introducing themselves, and leading a quick stretch.
Aside from the actual learning process (which we’ll talk about in the next section), there are a few “class etiquette” notes to keep in mind:
- Ask Questions
- If you’re struggling with a move, it’s perfectly fine (encouraged!) for you to ask questions.
- *But don’t do this in excess! Try and figure out the answer yourself first (by looking closer at the move, trying it out in different ways for yourself), and if you really need clarification, ask.
- Switching Lines
- When the choreographer says to “switch lines” – if you’re in the front of the room, move to the back, and vice versa.
- This is to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance at having a good view of the choreographer throughout the class. It’d be a little selfish to stay in the front the whole time, right?
- Switching Inside / Out
- In addition, the choreographer might also ask the class to switch “inside out” / “outside in.” And yep – it’s exactly as it sounds. If you’re toward the middle of the room, move closer to the walls, and vice versa.
- In general, it’s good to move around the room while you take class, regardless if the choreographer is directing the class to or not. It helps you to not grow dependent on your positioning to learn or execute.
- Sitting Down
- There are a few cases when you’ll have to take a seat during the class.
- 1. When the choreographer is demonstrating the moves they taught and you’re in the front of the room.
- We do this so that, when the choreographer first matches the moves to the music, everyone can see what the choreography is supposed to look like
- 2. If the studio is too crowded, and the choreographer needs to demonstrate the choreography for the “back half” to see.
- It’s easy to follow the choreographer if you can actually see what they’re doing, but oftentimes the people in the back of the room have blocked or limited vision. (Especially when it comes to intricate details or footwork). We have the front half of the room sit down while the choreographer can teach the back half of the room, then have the whole class join in once everyone “gets” it.
- When The Choreographer Says To “Watch”
- *This will be when it’s polite for the people in the front of the class to take a knee/seat.
- It’s important to first, even if you know the moves, really WATCH the choreographer demonstrate the piece.
- Take note of where the piece counts in, the true tempo of how fast the song goes, and how the choreographer is hitting each move.
- The closer you pay attention, the closer you’ll know what to emulate.
- When The Choreographer Says To “Mark”
- Marking means that you are doing the piece more in your head than on your body – but you should still be doing it with your body.
- Think of it, as doing the piece, but with less energy. Be more conscious of the music, timing, and where your body placements are rather than releasing your bankai.
- The choreographer might use percentages to indicate how much energy you should be putting into your mark.
- Example: “Let’s go just 50% for this first run-through!” or “Mark it around 80%”
- When The Choreographer Says To “Go Full Out”
- All right, THIS is when you go 100% with your energy. Think of it as the most you can do for everything: cleanliness, timing (that you should’ve perfected in your mark), but now with POWER.
Learning During Dance Class
Learning the choreography is just one aspect of the class process. You need to pay attention to:
- The Actual Moves
- Take note of pictures, angles, footwork, focus, etc.
- The Choreographer’s Execution
- WATCH them demonstrate for the class!
- Take note of texture, dynamics, milking, everything from their demeanor and posture to their facials and energy levels.
- Listening To The Music
- A huge huge huge huge huge part of being able to get a piece, is knowing the music.
- Know what sounds you’re hitting, when those sounds come in the music, the tempo, mood, and style of the song.
- Practice Performance
- If you’re satisfied with starting out learning just the choreography, that’s fine!
- But if you feel comfortable with the piece, try and add a little pizzazz to it! Your freestyle, your facials, your personal swag.
(See Related Article: 10 Types Of “Facials” Dancers Make When Performing (Sponsored by Fusion XV))
A class experience is not limited to just learning choreography. Oftentimes, at the tail end of the class, after all the moves are taught, there will be a few things the choreographer has you do.
- This is when the room is divided into sections, and that group will perform the piece as the other students watch.
- This can get intimidating! But it’s also an integral part to your growth. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and just go for it!
- Select Group
- The choreographer may or may not call out a “select group,” a group of students that they noticed and want the rest of the class to watch. The selected dancers may have been really clean, not so clean but performed the crap out of it, had a lot of personal style, or were just fun to watch. There are so many reasons you can get chosen or not for a select group, so don’t overthink it!
- If the choreographer calls out a “any 10 people” or “any 5 people” to be in a group, and you feel comfortable with the piece, you should push yourself to go up!
- Recording Class Footage
- Don’t be surprised if someone (either the studio staff, another student, or a parent) is recording you dance.
- The studio sometimes does this to promote their classes, and students/parents often do this for personal keeping or to post on social media.. (let’s be real)
- And if YOU want to record yourself, ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ask the choreographer first if that’s okay. If they say no, don’t. Lol. And if they say yes, clear it with the studio staff too. Then ask someone to record you so you can critique (or appreciate) how you did. Or post it on Instagram. But not all 4 parts. Please. (:
- The Choreographer’s Solo
- At the very end of the class, the choreographer will most likely perform the piece.
- Honestly, the best thing to do here is just watch. Put your phone down, don’t think about comparing it to how you did it, just watch and be amazed / inspired.
- Thanking The Choreographer After Class
- Once you pick your jaw up from the dance floor, make sure to line up to thank the choreographer. They just shared their craft with you, and hopefully in a way that helped you become a better dancer in some way, so it’s nice / important to show your appreciation.
- You can introduce yourself, say thank you, take a picture if you want. You can ask for critiques or tips, but if there is a long line of people behind you, the more polite thing to do is to keep it short and sweet.
- If you really enjoyed the piece and want to keep practicing it (which we highly recommend you do), ask the choreographer for the song title and artist so you can find it later.
Phew! So there you have it. A guide taking you to, through, and out of your first dance class. Hope this was helpful, and that you enjoy your first steps!
Found this info helpful? Got any questions? Let us know what else you’d like to learn about by leaving a comment below!
Get a feel for the dance class taking process by taking an online class first with STEEZY Studio! Leaving house not required.