By Tara Sheena.
Dance conventions offer an amazing experience for young dancers to be exposed to new styles, work with some of the industry’s best teachers, and meet fellow dancers from around the country. However, they are also long weekends where the students often dance for up to eight to ten hours a day! With such a demanding schedule, it is important to remember to balance it all and take advantage of every opportunity. Dance Informa asked three convention pros to sound off on their top tips and compiled them below so you can enter this convention season knowing it will be the best one yet!
1. Eat well
Convention days are tiring and they can be even more exhausting if you aren’t eating well. Fruits and vegetables are a must and easy to keep in a small lunch bag so you can nibble throughout the day. Tim Perry of Starbound National Talent Competition notes you should “plan to have healthy snack foods on hand” for long days of classes and performance, where you may not be able to leave the site for a sit down meal. And most importantly, don’t skimp on the greens!
2. Take notes
Ron DeVito of Access Broadway explains that conventions are not meant to be an overwhelming experience, saying students do not necessarily have to “absorb everything at once.” He recommends taking notes on new styles that may be beyond your training or in order to remember strong points on styles you already know well. “You can always go back to it in your notes another day when you don’t have such a heavy schedule,” DeVito explains.
3. Use your time wisely
It’s no secret conventions are jam-packed weekends full of high-energy classes and insanely energetic performances. That’s why we love them, right? But, going for broke the entire weekend can leave you fatigued and more prone to injury. In between breaks in classes and competition, Ron DeVito suggests that you “find a spot to lie down and shut your eyes for fifteen to twenty minutes. Power naps can be very helpful on a long, busy day.” Avoid needing unhealthy energy drinks and sugary snacks for a pick-me-up by taking advantage of rest time when you get it. However, don’t forget to re-warm up and stretch after you wake up so your body is fully refreshed and ready to go.
4. Be open
The variety of classes available to you at a convention or workshop is truly mind-boggling. You will go from ballet slippers to jazz sneakers to tap shoes in merely a few hours time. Randy Coleman of International Dance Challenge highlights the importance of taking advantage of every class, whether or not you have prior experience with that particular style. “Who knows,” Coleman suggests, “maybe the last style or class of the day will become your next favorite?” Stepping out of your comfort zone is part of becoming a versatile dancer, as Coleman explains, “A truly successful dancer in the profession has never achieved that success by taking a couple of classes off and sitting on the sidelines! Work for it. You will come away with knowledge and growth one way or another.”
5. Have fun!
Dance conventions are a perfect way to expose yourself to professional teachers while meeting dancers from around the country. So many successful dancers got their start in convention ballrooms just like you, so it’s important to remember to have fun while you are working hard. “The opportunity to be exposed to such a vast variety over the course of a weekend convention is empowering,” Coleman notes. It is important to remember that everyone is there for the same reason: to express his or her love for dance! Remembering to have fun makes the long, challenging weekend an enjoyable time for all.
Top photo: Dance students learn from Wade Robson at The Pulse On Tour dance convention.