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Home > Dance Performance

Brain vs. Brawn: The Key to a Dancer's Success

Remember the age old joke of dancers using more brawn than brain? Most dance students seem to think that technique is everything. A dancer’s success is indeed based on physical capacity, but it is equally based on mental capacity. So what is it that makes some dancers stand out more than others? Sure, great genetics of the body combined with talent will do the trick, but mainly it is the mind and will of the dancer that got them there.

A Smart Dancer Progresses Faster
In order to not only perform well, but to progress, dancers must retain a mental stability. Focus, comprehension, memorization skills and adaptation are all extremely important to a dancer’s progression.

Some dancers take class after class and don’t seem to get any better while others just fly by the rest of their classmates. Is this because they are just better? No. It is because they know how to take class. A dancer who learns how to stay engaged and connected with the lesson on a constant basis discovers more tips to progress and spends more effort on corrections. A dance student must listen to the corrections given to any class member and personally apply it.

Let’s face it; some dancers have a hard time getting ahead because of the lack of focus. If the mind isn’t memorizing quick enough and the choreography seems to be a mental challenge during every class or rehearsal then maybe it’s time to take a deeper look into the cause. A dancer who cannot focus is virtually useless when it comes to performing.

A smart dancer decides they are going to be great and then they are. They give it every last drop of mental capacity as well as physical. So no, it is not true that dancers are all brawn. It takes a certain type of intellectual to study ballet, or to learn the art of tap dancing.

Tips on Focus and Memorization
There are a number of things a dancer can do to increase focus:

  • Go over choreography before and after rehearsal (or class).
  • No talking or daydreaming during class!
  • Leave the cell phone turned off during class or practice.
  • Get enough rest at night; a lack of sleep will surely cause focus to waiver.
  • Keep emotions in check: if emotions are causing a lack of focus, try to use them as an energy source which helps rather than hinders progress.
  • Dress for the occasion; pick out a favorite dance outfit or take extra preparation time before walking into the classroom.
  • Take good care of the diet; dancers who lack certain vitamins or minerals may find it hard to concentrate! Also, a lack of fats for the brain can easily ruin a dancer’s focus (a dieting dancer can easily run into this problem); take Omega 3, Evening Primrose Oil or Flaxseed Oil supplements as well as a multi-vitamin.
  • A dehydrated dancer is a distracted dancer: make sure to drink at least two quarts of water daily (64 oz).
  • Visualize a Great Performance! Many great dancers practiced dancing in their heads as often as in their bodies!

There are so many distractions for each and every dancer ranging from stage fright and personal body image, to simply talking too much! Dance takes 110% focus. A dancer who learns how to master this in the classroom will be more likely ready to master it in auditions and on stage. A mentally sharp dancer is the type of dancer who finds real success. A dancer who knows how to focus their mind is most likely going to find success in the dance world. Being alert, quick and smart is just as important to a dancer’s career as physical ability. One certainly cannot succeed without the other. Remember, dance from the heart and head and the body will follow!

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