Your Ultimate Guide to Taking Class At Home
So you're on layoff—or, let's be real, you just don't feel like going to the studio—and you decide you're going to take class from home. Easy enough, right? All you need is an empty room and some music tracks on your iPhone, right?
Wrong. Anyone who has attempted this feat can tell you that taking class at home—or even just giving yourself class in general—is easier said than done. But with the right tools, it's totally doable—and can be totally rewarding.
Get the Right Floor
Carpet: no. Proper dance floor: yes. Image courtesy Harlequin Floors
We all know by now that dancing on improper flooring can result in serious injury. But even if you're just doing barre, the carpet or hardwood floor in your home won't properly replicate what it feels like to be in the studio. Harlequin Floor's home studio kits include a sprung floor to protect your joints as well as a variety of cover surfaces to choose from.
Save stretching for after class. Photo by Matthew Henry via stocksnap.io
Just because you're not at the studio doesn't mean you can skip warming up. Before you do any demanding movement, be sure to get your heart rate up and your blood flowing—whether that's through ab work, light cardio or whatever fits best into your practice. Remember: Stretching is not warming up, and should be left for after you've finished dancing. (Couldn't hurt to throw in a foam rolling session, either!)
Make A Plan
Plan out your class before you dive in. Photo via Unsplash
If you're used to taking class from someone else, it can feel daunting when you have to train yourself. Before starting class, come up with a gameplan: Map out each of the combinations you plan to do, including the number of repetitions. Better yet, bring a teacher to you by using one of the many online dance training platforms available.
Grab A Barre
Image via us.harlequinfloors.com
Nope, the wall won't work. Sorry. (Seriously though, anatomically speaking, bracing yourself on a wall just isn't the same and can throw off your alignment.) Harlequin makes lightweight freestanding ballet barres you can set up anywhere, with adjustable feet for stability, no matter how uneven the floor.
Maintain the same level of focus you would have if you were surrounded by your peers. Photo via Unsplash
When you're in your home—and not surrounded by a teacher and peers to hold you accountable—it's easy to get distracted. Unless you're using it for music, place your phone in another room, and try to clear out as much clutter as possible. Find ways to make class fun—by choosing combinations you love, or setting goals you can feel good about achieving—to help incentivize you to stay on track.
Spice Things Up
Dancing at home can be an opportunity to try things you wouldn't normally do in the studio. For instance, use a Harlequin turning board to practice proper alignment in your turns. The board is also a great portable option for tap dancers on the go.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.