The point of having a dance group is to have them all dancing cleanly and neatly together as a team so that the judges and audience can understand your piece better.
So let’s look at how to clean up your dance group, as I don’t know about you, but this is the hardest thing to get right for me, especially when the dancers all think that they know it all already.
So whether you are preparing for a big competition or simply rehearsing for your annual recital, here are some tips that will help your dance group to look cleaner, more polished, and in the end more professional.
How To Perfect Your Dance Group
Give Yourself Time
Make sure that you have plenty of time before the performance to teach your dance group. By rushing, you will not only diminish your dancers’ confidence, but the group will look unfinished at the final performance.
Teach The Dance Movement Thoroughly
When you first teach the dance group the piece, you need to invest more time and attention to what and how they are learning the dance.
If they don’t learn it thoroughly the first time, you have to reteach the piece come polishing up time.
Explain each movement pathway and intention of each step as well as the style of the step. Make sure that each dancer understands how to do the section before moving on. It is important that they know how to execute the piece mentally too so that all you need to do at the end is clean it up.
Cleaning up the piece will be quicker and easier if your dancers all know exactly what they are doing.
Start Cleaning Section By Section
Don’t be tempted to go frame by frame or picture by picture as this will feel unnatural. Rather take a section that they can move even if you take it 4 or 8 counts at a time.
Correct angles and levels that are wrong and take time to adjust your dancers then run it again until the section is clean before moving on to the next.
Join the last few counts of a previous section so the dancers can tie the sections together.
This way, you’re not losing any of the cleaning you did earlier, but practicing it more times along with the more newly cleaned sections.
So to recap:
1. Clean the first 8 counts, do it full out.
2. Clean the second 8 counts, try the first and second 8 counts together, full out.
3. Clean third 8 counts, try first, second, and third 8 counts together, full out.
The only way the dancers will get a full out feeling into their body is if they’re cleaning and practicing full out. Don’t let them mark their work.
Try Splitting Dancers Into Smaller Groups
Instead of running the set with the entire team, try splitting the team up into smaller groups of 4 or 6. Then have that group perform the entire set on their own!
It is easier to spot differences with a smaller group as you will be able to see what each individual performer is doing a lot easier. Use the rest of the group to also look for discrepancies and crit each other. This forces the team to dance full out, as they don’t want to look sloppy in front of their teammates.
You could also try pairing your dance group up and have each partner only watch the other and give constructive corrections.
Watch For Timing Issues
Instead of getting the dancers to match each other, get all of them to match the music, first and foremost. It is no use if they are all doing the same thing, but aren’t in time with the music.
Try just listening to the music together and let them hear any of the highlights in the music or what poses to strike on what part of the music. Make sure that they are hearing the background music and not just the lyrics.
Let the music guide the dancers’ timing. Once they’re all on the same page with the timing, it will be much easier to tell who is off and where.
Get It Into That Muscle Memory
Repetition is key to getting something perfect. A lot of teachers will stop when they see a section clean once. Make the team repeat it until it is perfect 5 times in a row. In this way they don’t just practice to get it right, they practice so it is impossible to get wrong.
Review Everything Again At The End Of The Class
Once the dance group has the piece make sure to keep it clean by letting them go through it quickly at the end of class twice. 1 mark and once full out.
This will help the dancer’s muscle memories and will end the lesson with a feeling of accomplishment.