Guest Post: 5 Things Good Dancers Do Differently

With competition season rehearsals kicking off for our studio, soloists are always looking for ways to outshine the competition.  This week we have an article from guest contributor Wendy Dessler, about what you can do differently to set themselves apart from the pack – enjoy!  Wendy is a “super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking.”  Hope you enjoy her insights!


In 2009, it was recorded that there were more than 450 million professional dancers in the world. As with any difficult profession, (and dance is a difficult profession) there are levels of expertise. There are great dancers and good dancers and many dancers who are talented but will never reach their ultimate goal of being the best.
There are certain things that a good dancer does differently than the talented but not spectacular dancer. These are tips they learned from someone better than them and incorporated into their lives. This is how we grow. So, let us give you a few tips to help you see the world of dance through their eyes.
  • Take inventory of your surroundings

Every platform and venue are different. The dancer has been practicing in a particular studio and without even knowing it, in their mind, they know every inch of that studio. They know the distance they have to turn, jump, and move. If there is anything around the floor, they know exactly where it is and as they practice, they calculate those inches.
Before a performance, test out the stage if possible. Take inventory of the area you will be given to perform. This will maximize your comfort and control.
  • Floor, lighting, props, and distractions

Check the floor. Where are the markings? How do your shoes perform on the floor? (Always have rosin with you to treat your shoes if needed) Where are the props and what are they made of? Are there mirrors, spotlights on the floor, sound or other lighting equipment? All of these things could potentially distract the unprepared dancer.
  • Cross-train


Incorporate other physical challenges into your life. Build your body and muscles in every area for longevity in your performances. Try swimming, biking, or running in addition to your dancing and you will realize a major return on that investment.
  • Dress appropriately

Take into account what you are doing and use your attire as a tool. If you are practicing, wear your dance attire made for that purpose. You can take advantage of a good discount dance supply store and always have the right tools on hand. If you are auditioning, impress them with your talent and the fact that you know what to wear for every style of dance. Few ballerinas will get a part when they audition in hip-hop clothes.
  • Learn to listen to your body

A good dancer is in tune with his or her body. They understand that food is fuel, but the body needs different fuels for different demands placed upon it. If you are preparing for a long performance, you need protein and lots of it. But, if you have been performing for longer than expected, and you are running out of steam, you need some fast acting carbs. Know how to use food. Chocolate milk is a great instant refuel drink for times like that. Experts agree it is better for you than those expensive protein drinks. It gives you instant energy from the sugars and carbs and protein that rebuilds the muscles.


While dancers must eat a healthy diet, do not discount the need for special treats and your ability to draw something good from them. You can use candy as a quick fix in some occasions. There are proven benefits to athletes eating small amounts of candy. However, it’s definitely not wise to go to the candy counter every week. You could order some in bulk and have it around for yourself and your dance friends when needed or wanted. For a supplier, check this out.

Practice these tips and you will soon find yourself growing as a dancer and helping others to reach their goals as well.


Thanks Wendy for your post – Wendy is a super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking.

January Challenge: What’s in Your Bag?

Did anyone ever have any of the bags above? (The first one is a vintage bag from Etsy)

A dance bag is a dancer and dance teacher’s most valuable possession.  Back when we used to use CDs instead of iPods, my bag weighed 50 lbs from the giant CD case I lugged around… now it still is pretty hefty, because I filled the empty space with water bottles and props. #notthesharpestpointeinthebag

January’s Blog Challenge Mission:

So for the first Blog Challenge of the new year, I want to know:

What’s in your dance bag?


Grab this snazzy badge for your post
if you’d like to  be-dazzle your blog!

How to Participate: 

If you have a blog:

1) Take a picture, make a video, write a post or find one that fits the theme (it doesn’t have to be a new post if you’ve already written something that answers the question).

 2) Then make sure you leave a comment below with a link to your post so we can all read it!

Don’t have a blog? 

No problem!  Participate by leaving a comment below, tweeting @thedancebuzz or posting to our Facebook wall a picture of your dance bag, or comment with your favorite item in your dance bag.

I’m getting my post ready to go and am looking forward to taking a peek inside of everyone’s bag! 🙂

Dance Etiquette & Advice

Kind of loving this post at These Are The Lives We Lead about dance etiquette.  My favorite parts:

Love dance!
  • “NEVER mark. Why pay for a class and mark until you get into groups? Groups occur for MAYBE 10 minutes. Most of which you’ll spend trying to figure out the parts you’ve been marking.”
  • “Touching your toes and sitting in a grande plie 2nd for a minute does not a sufficient warm up make.”
  • “Be hungry to know everyTHING about your art; ESPECIALLY its history. you would not be here without those that came before you.”
  • “If you don’t make the youtube video, don’t get the job, or don’t get called out for the “special” group; it doesn’t mean you stop coming to class. In fact, the very opposite. You KEEP SHOWING UP. perseverance and SHOWING UP is often how a job is booked.”
  • “.. know that dance does not come over night.  Or over months.  Or even years.  It happens throughout a LIFETIME process that is to be adored despite struggle.  Love every second of it for genuine reason and you will probably find yourself doing all this naturally.”
I wish all of my students read and understood this.  Good advice for getting the most out of your classes!

10 Hair & Make-Up Tutorials For Recital

Recital season is upon us in the US, and with it comes lots of parents and kids who have never done stage hair or make-up before!  I used to do demonstrations for some of my classes, but it is difficult to find the time when everyone is available, so I have switched to emailing YouTube links.  My students’ parents love it when I point them to a YouTube tutorial – and I have learned a few tricks myself!

Here are some of my favorite tutorials for applying stage make-up and doing hair.  And be sure to share your favorite tips and tricks in the comments!


For older students:

(JAM Cosmetics)
For children:

(JAM Cosmetics)

From start to finish w/little explanation, just her applying make-up:

More specific tutorials

Continue reading

Dance Imagery, Illustrated

Finally got around to posting this for the April Challenge – favorite Dance Imagery!

I was reading Moira’s response to the challenge about Irish Dance imagery (or lack thereof) and realized that all of my imagery happens when I teach modern, jazz or ballet… not too much in tap class.  I am going to pay attention in the next few months and see if I can’t come up with some tap imagery.

In the meantime, here are my favorite images, which all happen to be in ballet.  Probably because my youngest students are my ballet class and I try to use a lot of imagery to help concepts stay in their minds and bodies.  Enjoy… and please don’t laugh too much at my drawing skillz 🙂

Balloons on the ears!
Balloons tied to your ears:  To keep necks long, and ankles, knees, hips and shoulders over toes in releve, I ask my students to pretend they have balloons tied to their ears to keep them lifted up.

Continue reading

Mantras for Recital Season

Sometimes recital season makes studio owners and teachers want to pull their hair out!  Here is a list of mantras to keep you going, keep you positive, or make you smile, even through the most stressful days.

I think I can, I think I can!
It’s almost over… It’s almost over…

Tutus… sequins… and glitter… OH MY!

One step at a time.
When in doubt, fade the music.

Dress the part.  Act the part. 

No words, just the sound of a cork *popping* out of a wine bottle in X weeks…

When in doubt, just take the next step.

Keep your head up.

No one reads handouts or signs.  Just accept it.

You can do it!

Keep calm and carry on.

No matter how good or bad the current situation is, it will change.


Hairspray, duct tape and safety pins will fix anything.
It’s not brain surgery, it’s dance.

I am strong. I am awesome. I will succeed.

Best wishes for your recital this year!

~ Cait

Setting Goals: One Step At A Time

One step at a time… like learning
ballet positions.

Want to read more about setting goals, specifically for dancers and dance teachers?  Check out "Circle Time" at Dance Advantage.  January 2012's topic is "Setting Goals".

January is the perfect time of year to talk about setting goals for the New Year.

As a person who wears "many hats" (dance teacher, studio owner, blogger, wife), its important to set goals in each area of your life.

And what's even more important than setting goals is figuring out how to accomplish them!

Are you serious about wanting to accomplish your goals?

Well, here's an exercise you can do to help SET and ACCOMPLISH your goals for 2012. You will need at least 30 minutes to an hour, so set aside some time for yourself.  This is time for you.  It is important. Do it.

Take out a piece of paper and label columns with all the different areas of your life – don't forget to include a column for personal goals or family!

Here's an example of what your column heading might be

Read more »