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How Many Hours Should You Practice?

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In this article, you’ll discover what to consider when planning your practice hours, taking your skill level and goals into consideration.

Practice What You Learn

As with any sport, your time spent practicing is as important as the information you receive from your teachers. It’s unreasonable to expect great results if you neglect training with a coach, but you can neither expect to reach the top position in a competition if you don’t practice further on your own.

This, though, is the only generalized statement I can make on the subject; the following advice is personalized.

Recreational or Competitive

First things first: define your approach to dancing. 

Do you dance only for the fun of it? Perhaps you like to attend a few classes per week just as a recreational hobby.  If that is the case, then the program you find at your local dance school is perfect for you. With a couple of lessons per week, you’ll receive basic notions that will introduce you to different dances at your own pace.  You can enjoy time away from your everyday routine. 

If you’ve moved further and have begun more regular practice, maybe you’re thinking of participating in competitions in the future… If dancesport is your primary activity, keep reading!

Different Levels, Different Needs

Let’s outline what I mean by the four following competitive stages:

  • The beginner is a dancer who—no matter the age group—is at the starting point of their competitive career.
  • Intermediate is the stage when you’ve danced in several competitions and have started to receive good results. You practice regularly.
  • An advanced dancer dedicates all their time to dancesport, apart from school or work. They’re aiming for very high results.
  • Pro dancers have made dancesport their life—it’s as simple as that.

Beginner 

For the beginner dancer, it’s very important to avoid overload. The body and the mind are not yet ready for a huge amount of technical information or physical hours on the dance floor.  Keep it simple and work gradually

At first, you mostly need to develop your coordination and learn the basic principles of each dance. Thus, just a couple of hours of dance per day, 3 or 4 times a week is a good starting point. 

Estimation: 6-8 hours per week

Intermediate

The intermediate dancer must surely practice more than a beginner.  At this stage, your confidence on the floor makes the biggest impact on your performance.  By now, you should have the correct technique, physical endurance, good floor craft, and a relatively good connection with your partner. 

You can only achieve these skills through many hours of practice, including stamina training and specific group lessons intended to make your skills more competitive. 

Estimation: 8-12 hours per week

Advanced

For the advanced dancer, there is nothing else but dancing. Of course, you attend school or to work, but otherwise, your focus is on the development of your dance career.

It’s difficult to estimate how much time you should spend practicing if you’re at this stage; it looks different for everyone.  Nevertheless, I can say that you should practice every day, with only one day off per week—ideally about 3-4 hours per day. 

Your program should include: 

  • private lessons
  • practice sessions
  • stamina practice
  • group lessons

How you use this time and how effective it will be for you is up to you and your coaches.  Ask for suggestions and try to find which kind of practice gives you the best results.

Estimation: 15-24 hours per week

Pro 

The pro dancer really needs no suggestions. If dancesport is your life, you basically eat, sleep, and breathe dancing. Everything rotates around it; the schedule of your lessons is the schedule of your day. You eat when you have a break and you sleep when you aren’t in the dance studio. 

At this point, what matters most is the effectiveness of the training. Choosing the right kind of practice, working out the correct concepts, and establishing the perfect relationship with your partner are much more crucial than the clocked time. 

Estimation: hours per life

Every dancer has different habits and different needs. Take the time to find what works best for you!

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NEWS

Doctor in Psychology Shatters The Male Dancer Stigma

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A while ago, we interviewed Dr. Peter Lovatt. He is a Dance Psychologist and set up the Dance Psychology Lab at the University of Hertfordshire and is currently a lecturer on Performance (Dance) Psychology at the Royal Ballet School. 

Why should you be interested in what he has to say? Because he is making us understand more about the taboo subjects of this industry such as self-esteem and the stigma that society sheds upon male dancers. 

This article is based on my podcast interview with Dr. Peter Lovatt. If you want to listen to the whole interview you can follow this link

Sexuality & Dancing

Ballroom (standard) dancing is known for being elegant and glamorous, whilst Latin dancing is a pure representation of sensuality and flirtatious attitude. This, in addition to the technique used in these types of dances, especially the hip action in Latin, made some people consider that if you are a dancer you must have a certain sexual orientation.

«People have this weird, ridiculous notion that the way we move our bodies is linked to our sexuality.»
Dr. Peter Lovatt
Dance Psychologist

Today, as the LGBTQ community is fighting for their rights, people are being more educated in this sense. Consequently, the bullying of male dancers has decreased compared with let’s say the 70s. 

Dr. Peter Lovatt shared with us that he received a lot of insults, especially in the 70s for being a dancer. People made assumptions that because he was engaged in dance, therefore he must’ve had a certain sexuality and people use that as a way of insulting him.

The sad thing is that, even if the situation is improving, this sort of bullying still exists: both if you are part of the LGBTQ community or/and if you are a dancer.

“The Manly Men”

Besides the sexual orientation preconception that people tend to have towards dancers, there is also the unfounded idea that dancers are not manly enough, compared with other men that do rugby or football. 

Dr. Peter Lovatt shared with us a quite sad encounter (in my opinion) with a rugby coach in Manchester. He was trying to help the players, by using dancing as a tool, to become more agile, flexible, faster runners, and have more spatial awareness. The comment that Dr. Peter Lovatt received from the coach was that he expected dancers to be “lesser men”.

This idea comes from the fact that people tend to believe dancing does not require much physical preparation or that dancers’ bodies do not need to be strong. Or all of us know that this is completely untrue.

Dancers go through many physical preparations: workouts, stretching, building certain types of muscle, stamina practice and the list goes on.

Dr. Peter Lovatt remembers when he worked on Strictly Come Dancing, dancers and the sportsmen who were part of the show would compare their six-packs and do little competitions to see who can do more push-ups or sit-ups. 

People need to be aware of the fact that besides being an art form, dancing is also a sport. If you want to use your body to do certain movements, you have to also prepare physically. 

High Testosterone = Good Male Dancer

Especially in Western cultures, high testosterone is linked to hyper-masculinity. We have this image ingrained that sportsmen have a high level of testosterone, hence they’re powerful. And not only sportsmen, but also those men who are considered “alpha males” like Wall Street bankers. 

But Dr. Peter Lovatt presents us with some studies showing that high testosterone men are amazing dancers, very good at grooving freestyle. So it seems that being a good dancer is also related to having high testosterone. 

So this preconception on dancers not being masculine (not having enough testosterone) is completely false. On the contrary!

Socio-Cultural Misconceptions

Now, we can point out one very obvious socio-cultural aspect that can influence people into thinking that dancing is only for girls.

Dance shops!

Have you noticed when walking past a dance shop you only see little pink tutus and leotards meant for little girls and teenagers? You never see something for boys! This obviously reinforces this unhealthy idea that dancing is not meant for boys as well. 

«Dancing is fun, man. Goodness me! We are literally born to dance. Both men and women are born to dance. When you watch little tiny children moving their body naturally, to rhythmic stimulus, boys and girls do it equally. It’s not a female-gendered activity. It’s something we’re all born to do.»
Dr. Peter Lovatt
Dance Psychologist

If you are a male dancer (a boy, a teen, or even a grown-up) don’t let the mean remarks and stigma get to you, whether you are or aren’t part of the LGBTQ community. 

You keep on sharing your artistry through dancing!

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Why Do Dancers Love The Blackpool Dance Festival So Much?

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For most of the dancers, May is a synonym for The Blackpool Dance Festival. This year it would have been the 95th celebration of this prestigious event and its 100 years anniversary. It is for the first time in history when the Festival has been postponed; the event was cancelled for 5 years during the Second World War.   

On Saturday, it would have been the start of the Blackpool International Congress. Last year the theme was “Concept of Art”. On Monday it would have been the start of the last week of competitions, everyone being excited for the Amateur & Professional finals.

Because The Blackpool Dance Festival is deeply ingrained in our soul as well, we decided to share with you some reasons why dancers love this event so much

“When you are a young kid and you get here, definitely the music, the audience, the history, the hall, even the smell and energy of the room, it just takes over, so you’re not dancing the competition, the competition actually dances you.”
– Yulia Musikhina –

You can also see the full answers in the interviews we had last year with these amazing dancers, on our YouTube channel

The wins

It must be truly out of this world to experience a win at The Blackpool Dance Festival. And by win I am not necessarily thinking about winning the competition. Maybe for someone a win is to get to the next round, into the semifinal or final. As Ferdi Iannaccone puts it: “Your whole life you hope that one day you do a good result here in Blackpool.”

For example, Dorota Rusu remembers with great fondness the Team Match from 2018. Troels Bager is keeping dear into his heart when he & Ina won the Under 21 and when they got into the Amateur Final and won it. Also a big win for him was when they turned Professional and they made it into the Final straight away.

The music 

The Empress Orchestra lead by Mr. Ashley Frohlick is for sure a trademark of this prestigious event. There is no Blackpool without its music! 

Ina Jeliazkova gets goosebumps even now when she thinks of the time when Mr. Ashley Frohlick came out with the Casino Cha-Cha for the first time. Her and Troels had this side-by-side piece in their Cha-Cha routine and they hit exactly the music phrase. She told us that the audience went absolutely crazy!

The Legends

We all need to remember that your idols have idols as well and in Blackpool, you get to perform in front of them! All the biggest legends have each year the same seats in the front rows. You get to see great dancers on every square meter of the Winter Gardens.

Valerio Colantoni told us this story and it must be one of the most amazing ones I’ve heard so far:

“I first came here with my father and my dancing partner. I arrived at the stairs when Marcus & Karen Hilton were dancing their last dance. And there were like a million people inside and the crowd clapped them for 12 minutes. In that moment I realized that this competition is a different world than the world we’re usually staying in. I realized that this is where I want to be.”
– Valerio –

Troels had almost the same experience as Valerio. In the night they got into the final of Professional Latin, Michael & Joanna announced their retirement.  

“It was such a culmination of so many things that night and for us to be able to stay on the floor with those champions and legends.”
– Troels –

But Domen Krapez makes sure to remind us that these legends are still human beings. They all know what the pressure of dancing in front of your idols means and that is why they show support. Even if they are the biggest legends, they always stand up at the last dance of the final, clapping & cheering. 

“This is actually the beauty and the friendship of this world. It puts everybody together.”
– Domen –

The Energy

Without doubt the atmosphere in the Winter Gardens is absolutely addictive. There is an energy in that ballroom that fills your heart and takes you over. But where does this energy come from? 

“Blackpool is very special in so many ways. Like you never get so much energy from the audience as here.”
– Klemen Prasnikar –

“Definitely, of course, the feeling you get in Blackpool, dancing on this floor… you cannot compare it with any other competition. Of course, there are many competitions that are great in the world, but here it just feels… Maybe it’s also because it’s the peak of the season, like you feel that the whole year you are building up to that. In Jive it’s like it’s just building up to this moment, this “10 minutes of the Final”, when you just wanna give everything. And you feel that the audience also gives it back.”
– Sasha Averkieva –

“It’s the stairs. Going down on those stairs…and you start to smell it, probably, even the lightning, and the music, the live music just gives me goosebumps. Because when you practice at home, it’s a different thing. You don’t have this magical factor that is Blackpool.”
– Monica Nigro –

“When we’re preparing for The Blackpool Dance Festival, we think about the venue, the atmosphere, the surroundings.”
– Sergiu Rusu –

“I think in Blackpool, people are more prone to having special moments and they are excited for something happening. I think people are always just waiting for something special to happen. If it’s every year? I don’t know.. I think in a way it depends on us, on dancers, cuz if we don’t do our part, I don’t think the crowd would go mental.”
– Petar Daskalov –

“If we don’t give, we don’t receive anything. So I think it varies, the public is very ready to give, to cheer you on, if you give to them firstly.”
– Zia James –

I dare say that I agree 100% with all of these great dancers. Those stairs, the smell, the legends from the front row who ALWAYS sit in the same place. The beauty of the Empress Ballroom and the music that the Empress Orchestra plays are absolutely fairytale-like. But I think the best thing about The Blackpool Festival is the audience: the clapping of thousands of people who share the same passion – dancing. You absolutely feel alive!

How about you? What’s your favorite thing about The Blackpool Dance Festival?

The post Why Do Dancers Love The Blackpool Dance Festival So Much? appeared first on Dancesport Life.

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Image Studios in Dancesport: Is Perfection Too Much?

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Dancesport is about beauty, harmony, elegance, and style. Details play such an important role, and dancers have become increasingly aware of their overall look on the floor. Nowadays it is impossible to think of going to a competition without first booking a professional hairstylist and makeup artist.

The Importance of Your Look

Dancers have sought after the perfect look since day one. Dresses, shoes, tail suits—everything—had to be flawless, especially for the main events of the year. But for the top couples, a perfect image wasn’t enough. It had to be distinct, unique. 

Champions not only put on a stunning performance with their talent, charisma, and innovative routines; they also make the spectators fall in love with their unique looks.

Creating a unique look takes time,  creativity, and talent. All these great couples want to show something that others hadn’t even thought about. That can be something super “extra,” or perhaps the exact opposite, showcasing a “less is more” approach. 

Self-Styled Hair and Makeup 

These days, it is difficult to imagine that dancers used to do their own hair and makeup.  Even for people who began dancing over ten years ago, it’s impossible to imagine dancers ever having done their own hair and makeup.

Then, there were only a few ladies—mostly the top dancers—who had their hair and makeup professionally done. But in most cases, you were on your own!

And I’m talking about the days when YouTube tutorials weren’t a thing. You had to develop a solid set of skills if you wanted to rely on yourself. If not, you relied on the support of your partner (not the best idea 😅), your mother, or a fellow competitor. 

The Birth of Image Studios

What was once unimaginable is now a reality: professional hairstylists and makeup artists (MUAs) for dancers whenever they are desired, otherwise known as image studios.

It started with just a few stylists working from small areas in nearby hotels or simply alongside the competition floor. But soon enough, they developed into huge, on-site workspaces where ten or fifteen dancers could be styled at the same time. 

The concept exploded over a few short years and the demand became immense. Just imagine: you can book a space a few hours before your first round. You can finally sleep without any stress, knowing that a professional will be responsible for creating your look. You’re off the hook!

In the beginning, this special service was only available at the main events of the year. Now, we have at least one image studio at every competition. Even though the price increases yearly, it doesn’t seem to stop dancers from booking professional hairstylists and MUAs. Dancers quickly got used to having someone else taking care of their hair and makeup, and now simply cannot imagine life without them. Let’s be honest: For boys, it’s just a matter of not looking lazy… But for girls, this has been the best thing in the world! 

Being Perfect, or Perfect Copies?

Where at the beginning, only the top couples showed off a perfect, professionally styled look, today almost everybody has perfect hair and makeup. And not only in the adult category; even children choose image studios. 

It’s easy to see why dancers are choosing image studios. Spectators enjoy it, parents feel extremely proud, and teachers never have to worry about how their students will look. The results are stunning.

But let’s just step back a bit and think a little more deeply. 

What do adjudicators look for? The competitors who stand out from the crowd!

On one side, image studios create the best look for you, but on the other side, everyone achieves this same level of “perfection”—the same look. Obtaining that level of “perfection” used to be unique, but it has become quite common.

Nevertheless, this can only be a reason to challenge the dancers and the stylists to research. Be innovative and creative. The beauty of dancesport is to show character and personality and your look should help you achieve that. 

 

Tell us how you make your look unique in the comments section!

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