Being A Well-Rounded Dancer
January 22nd, 2020 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
To be the best dancer you can be, you must know your basics. Taking as many styles and genres from as many teachers as you can will only help you on your journey as a dancer. Whether your dance training takes you from the Nova to the Select Level or to a career as a professional, here are some reasons to make sure you are doing your best to become a well-rounded dancer.
Be A Chameleon
Of course, you start by learning the styles that interest you the most. I have always loved Jazz. I remember taking from every Jazz teacher I could when I was growing up. From Rachelle Rak, to Dave Carter, to Joe Lanteri. I thought they were each wonderful! As much as I learned and absorbed from these teachers, it wasn’t until I studied ballet and tap that I began to excel at Jazz. With the other styles, I was able to fully understand body lines and rhythm. It is important to study all styles of dance to become an all-around better dancer.
If you decide to take your dance training to a professional level, having the knowledge to execute multiple styles and genres can only help. I can’t tell you how many jazz auditions I’ve been to and they ask, “Who can tap?”. While a reason like that doesn’t always mean you’ll get cut, it may be a reason they’ll keep you. Dancers have to be chameleons. They must be able to do many things and adapt to whatever the choreographer is looking for. As a professional you will have to find a way to make yourself as marketable as possible. (This includes voice training as well!)
Know Your Origins
A lot of styles we learn today are fusions of other styles. Our dance world today has turned into a huge melting pot of genres. In the best way, we are blurring the lines between what defines a genre. While dance is taking on a fusion of all styles, it is still important to know your origins. The origins of styles like Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Tap are still widely taught throughout the United States. While dancers may want to jump right into styles like Contemporary, it is imperative to know your origins. A style like Contemporary has elements like hyperextended lines, inverted floor-work and complicated gesture phrases. If you don’t know your basic origins, performing a style like Contemporary might not be as successful. You have to know the rules before you break them.
Do your best to be a well-rounded dancer. Studying as many styles as you can will immensely help your training. Whether you decide to become a professional or just dance for a few years, learning as many styles as you can will only make you a more adaptable person.
Marissa Anderson is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.