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.
Most people may know Derek Dunn for his impeccable turns and alluring onstage charisma. But the Boston Ballet principal dancer is just as charming offstage, whether he's playing with his 3-year-old miniature labradoodle or working in the studio. Dance Magazine recently spent the day with Dunn as he prepared for his debut as Albrecht in the company's upcoming run of Giselle.
You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."
About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."