It's no secret, I eat, breathe, sleep and process dance daily. 

When I'm not in the studio, you'll often find me bopping along the sidewalk with my headphones in. Since I was a child, I would choreograph music videos and dances to every song I heard. I still do. 

I've had the pleasure of working with so students from various walks of life of the past year - children, adults, women, men, seniors, those with disabilities, pre-professionals, and more. 

I've been thinking a lot about tips of the trade - by no means to have the right answers for do's and don't as a dancer (I'm still figuring it out!) but I do get asked quite often for advice on a few things. 

Bingo! Blog post inspiration. 


1. Cross-training. 

I can't stress this enough, especially for my developing dancers. I struggled with repetitive injuries, body image, etc. for years when I was dancing 20-plus hours a week. It just didn't make sense - I was doing everything right from ballet class to stretching to resting. 

Everything changed when I started swimming. Two days in the pool completely changed the overall tone of my body and worked those muscles in a non-weight bearing medium. When I started doing yoga, I found all the strength to ground and secure my balances, turns, and more in my leg movements. 

Every body is different. I've had colleagues find spinning, Pilate's, hiking, running and many other activities also beneficial. I strongly encourage cross-training outside of a dance studio or gym to build up cardio and endurance strength. 

2. Watch, watch, watch. 

Go to shows. Any show. All the shows. 

Dance is a visual art. We learn by watching, copying, interpreting and adjusting. Watching other professional artists in our medium - and outside of it - opens up your mind to so much more. Some of the phrases I've loved most have come from watching how bands play music live. I love watching the arm and fingers move on a guitar, and have integrated that movement into my choreography. You never know where that inspiration can come from. 

3. Find your niche. 

This is way easier said than done. But the dancers, choreographers and artists who are not only enjoying success, but also enjoying being successful in the arts are just being themselves. 

Heels dancing is "cool" right now. I prefer to dance in a 2.5 inch heel character shoe compared to a 6-inch shoe. It's just comfort level. 

From that, I found that I identifying with more cabaret and contemporary movement as my centre of gravity is lower to the ground in those shoes. Then I met a few real life pin-ups, and knew that's what I wanted to be do. I refuse to conform to what society and the dance industry thinks a "heels dancer" should be. 

4. Take a class way outside your comfort zone. Then do it again. 

My first Sass Class was like that! I almost didn't go in the room because I was so scared. 

Thank goodness I went in. I got hooked, made the best friends of my life and started a new career. 

My other colleague made me go with her to an ecstatic dance class about six months ago, and I was completely weirded out and scared to go in the room. It was a freestyle class for 2 hours with a bunch of strangers...on Sunday morning. 

But we kept going back. Every week brought up something new. I'm still terrified every time I take that class. But it brings me back to a very "human" place, and I learn a lot of the dancers around me (most whom are retired contemporary and modern dancers in their 50's). 

Just a few thoughts. Dancers - what are your tips and tricks of the trade?