Saturday, June 15, 2013

"The Plateau in Dancing"

After recital, I've had some students note that "they don't feel like they are progressing". Before they make decisions they may later regret, they may want to read my article. Please feel free to pass it along to someone it may help.

"The Plateau in Dancing"

No dancer moves up in level and progresses at an even rate. The rate is faster at some times, slower at others. Sometimes it might even feel as if they have “hit a brick wall”. Rate of progression is different for every dancer, just like fingerprints. At times it may even feel as if the progress has stopped entirely. Some may even go as far as second-guessing themselves, and choosing to blame themselves, or their teachers, for the faux pas. They could make the mistake of changing teachers, changing studios, even quitting dance altogether.

While the feeling is unnerving to the student, it is not a cause for alarm. All students will need to achieve a mastery of a certain curriculum of steps in a particular level before moving up to the next level. Often this process involves examination of the present list of steps placed before them.

It’s like being in a tall building. On the first floor are the basic steps. Each floor up contains a larger and more advanced list of steps. Taking the elevator won’t do it justice. You need to take the stairs, and examine everything on each floor as you go. Some floors will be more interesting, or just take more time. When you need to take time, it will feel as if you are not progressing. In fact, what is happening is that you are learning the steps on that floor, and mastering them (required) before you move up. This is normal, and an important part of the process. When you are done with this, then it will feel as if you are once again progressing.

The rate of progression and the time spent on the plateau depend on several conditions:

The age of the student
How many lessons per week they take
The students physical abilities
The physical/mental effort the student puts into the training
The amount of seriousness put into the effort.
How regularly they attend their lessons.

Some can spend a few months on a plateau, some might spend much longer. This can become quite frustrating– for the student, the teacher, and the parent of a younger student. The teacher must understand this concept– and the student (and parent) must also be made aware.

Patience is a virtue, and doing it right the first time takes less time and less frustration than needing to do it over a second time.

Another item needing clear understanding: The definition of “Mastery of a dance step”.

Article #162 Richard Hirschl
©Copyright Hirschl Ballet 1997

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