Raah Vibez | Jan. 28, 2022, 11 a.m.
The whole concept of a drop-in dance class is inherently intimidating. I mean, who says to themselves, “I’m going to go learn this whole dance routine AND perform it in less than an hour?” I can understand the apprehension of any new dancer in attending, but you’re not alone. It can be just as intimidating for experienced dancers as well. How do I know? Hi, I was that experienced, but intimidated dancer!
I’ve been dancing since the age of four. I’ve done live performances in front of hundreds of people and have even lead dance teams in both high school and college. So, when I decided to take a drop-in class post-college, I thought it would be fun and easy. However, I was sadly mistaken.
If I could sum up my first class in one word it would be: “What?” I felt so lost. I kept forgetting the moves, I was messing up, and it took everything in me just to keep up. I felt really embarrassed, especially compared to these younger dancers who were KILLING it. I just wanted to disappear. When the class ended, I could not get out of there fast enough.
Today, if I go to a dance class, I’m able to pick up the choreo and execute well. I’ve even gotten complements on how fast I pick up choreography. So, what changed? How did I go from a deer in headlights to confidently owning choreo in hour long classes? Here are six things that I did to conquer the drop-in dance class, that you can do too.
Every class I did my best to pick up the choreo, and then I went home and practiced, practiced, practiced. This helped me build the confidence within myself to know that I can do the movements. It also helped me work on being cleaner and performing better in general. That’s why I highly encourage my students to continue practicing the choreography after class and provide the class recording to help them do so.
I hear the groans already, but this is very important. When we’re uncomfortable with something we tend to shy away and hide, but this is counterproductive to getting the results that you want. You miss out on a lot when you’re in the back of the room (unless you’re extremely tall and have great vision). From the front row you can pick up more on the instructor’s subtle movements and grooves, and you won’t miss a beat in terms of choreo. Plus, it’s easier to ask questions, which you shouldn’t be afraid to do 😊. If you’re taking online classes, luckily, you’re always front and center!
This is something that I was so self-conscious about at first, but again, it’s about improving. Having a recording helps you to see how you performed so that you can correct and improve upon what you weren’t happy about the next time. As a bonus, this helps you with practicing outside of class.
I honestly believe that everyone, from the new dancer to the experienced professional dancer, can benefit from private lessons. If you want to improve as a dancer and improve in drop-in classes, there’s nothing like personalized attention to help you do that. I decided to take private lessons and got a lot of advice to polish my performance, including tips that were unique to me and the movement of my body. I felt like a completely new person in drop-in classes afterwards.
At the end of the day, a drop-in dance class is more about having fun. You’re not performing this choreography on a live stage with other dancers, so there’s a lot of space to make the choreo your own. Try to throw yourself into the choreography from the very beginning to help you get comfortable with it sooner. I’m talking about expressing emotions, having high energy, and just attacking it! Add your swag to it! If you’re uncomfortable with any of the movements, modify them so that you are comfortable (you can always practice the original move later). If you give 100%, no one will be mad that you didn’t do the choreo exactly like the instructor did, I promise.
Last, but certainly not least, you must keep at it. Despite feeling embarrassed on MULTIPLE occasions, I kept going to drop-in dance classes. Every. Single. Week. There really isn’t any other way to get better than to just do it. The more you go, the more comfortable you will feel, and the easier it will become.
Dance classes might not be easy, especially at first, but with continued practice you will get better. Don’t shy away from messing up, but instead use it as a steppingstone to improvement. Have you ever felt intimidated in a drop-in dance class? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comment section below!
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If you’d like to try an adult drop-in dance class, check out my online Dancehall classes.
Interested in a private lesson instead? Contact me directly. Happy Dancing!
Raah Vibez is a choreographer and dance instructor with the mission to empower all people to move. She enjoys educating others, especially when it comes to Jamaican Dancehall music, dance, and culture. Learn more about her here.