Navigating Training & Improvement

Today is a special and generally lengthy post, all about improving quickly through self-correction and many other techniques.  I will also be talking about this topic in a video that is at the top of the post below!  Enjoy.

Here’s a video about all of this:

Many dancers do complain about a lack of classes provided at any given school or studio that they happen to attend – contributions to this situation and variable in training may include lack of profit of the studio, lack of facility, or lack of time.  These items are not “up to you,” thus creating an un-controlled factor.  Let’s define that:

uncontrolled factor: A factor in education or training that cannot be changed by a student, it is given to them and is permanent, very difficult to change, very costly to change, or very laborious to change.

These uncontrolled factors can be distributed among aspiring dancers in many ways and through many programs and aspects of education:

  • schools or studios
  • financial support
  • psychological ability
  • physical ability

Each of these aspects include more detailed situations that can be discussed separately.

The abilities (the last two aspects on the list above), are similar to the end of a rope.  Many dancers have not fully reached the ending (or their potential).  The reaching of your potential is a controlled factor.  It is within your reach.  We just introduced two more terms, so let’s define them:

potential: The point after available improvement when psychological ability and physical ability become uncontrolled factors.

controlled factor: Anything that can be changed using mindset and work ethic.  For example, you can improve your turnout until the structural setup of your hips doesn’t allow any more external rotation.

So, let’s give more examples like the one we gave above, but more general:

  • psychological ability  (until potential is reached)
  • physical ability  (until potential is reached)
  • exposure
  • professionalism

Again, as you can see, both psychological and physical ability are listed under both categories.  They are controlled factors until your potential is reached, then they become uncontrolled factors.

Here’s a venn diagram explaining it all:



Overcoming Uncontrolled Factors

So, now that we’ve discussed the difference between the two factor types of education and training, let’s talk about navigating uncontrolled factors and getting around them using the controlled ones.

For this section, we’ll go factor by factor and find solutions for each one.

What should I do if my studio or school doesn’t offer enough classes?

You can solve this problem by working on classes at home and conditioning a lot.  When looking for a studio, you will want to make sure that by age 14 you are offered 6 classes a week, and by age 13, 5 classes at the least.  But, if this is just not possible in your area, you can make those requirements happen on your own.

I love Kathryn Morgan’s barres and centers on YouTube.  Check out her classes playlist here:

She also offers classes online through PowHow, in addition to private lesson.  The link to her blog where she talks about it is below:

You can also do barres and centers on your own with music.  I like the app “Ballet Class.”  It offers music labeled by combination, plus you can adjust the speed, volume, number of phrases, preparatory counts, and much more.  I highly recommend it!

My parents don’t have enough money for me to go to lots of summer intensives, compete, and get all of the ballet products that everybody else seems to have.  How can I improve just as much while still staying in our budget?

You can make a lot of products on your own.  There are many ways that you can save money on the small things that will eventually build up.  You can then put that money towards the big things that you want to do – like summer intensives, auditions, and ballet competitions like Youth American Grand Prix or the Prix de Lussane.  Here are some ideas:

  • Save pointe shoes by airing them out.  You can set up a fanning station or stick them in a fridge.
  • Normal clothes are basically warm ups.  You don’t need all of the special ballet warmers for shirts and pants – sweatpants and a t-shirt or sweatshirt are totally fine.  You can also knit or sew things like legwarmers and skirts.
  • Quality vs. quantity.  Do your research before buying a leotard.  Make sure that it fits your body type (check out the Kathryn Morgan video I linked in my Audition Advice blog post) before purchasing so that you don’t need to have tons and tons of them.

I hope that this helps you improve and navigate training.

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