The Art of Proactive Practice

What you do when nobody is watching is what separates a champion from everybody else.


Why do you practice and what are you practicing? How are you push yourself forward in your dancing?

I don’t mean what dances are you running through, but rather what elements are you working on in your dancing? What separates you from the dancers who are you where you want to be?

As a beginner we learn what good dancing consists of: turning out, crossing over, pointing the toes, staying high on the toes, solid rhythm and timing, etc. We go to class and wait for our teacher’s comments to help us improve. As we mature as dancers, it’s crucial that we listen to our teachers AND learn what our strengths and weaknesses are so we can take responsibility for improving our own dancing too. Unless you have a teacher following you around 24/7 and physically placing yTeh our legs where they need to go, you must learn how to watch, constructively critique yourself, and improve elements in your dancing to make the most out of each practice session. We call this Proactive Practice!

When we wait for someone to tell us what to improve, we are being REACTIVE! We are simply reacting to feedback given. Everyone starts off reactive because that’s how we learn what great dancing entails, but eventually we must be proactive in our approach too!

If you have a blank stare on your face because you aren’t quite sure how to do this, don’t worry I’m here to help! Here are a few ways you can learn to Proactively Practice:

Ask yourself the right questions! If you really want to do something, figure out how to do it! Rather than just showing up to dance class or your dance stage to practice, think about what you want from yourself in the class or practice. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish! Here are some examples:

What do I want?
How can I get there? (Be specific! What elements do you need to improve to get become a better dancer…and to ultimately get where you want to be?!)
What are dancers doing who are already are placing where you are wanting to place? How can I do that?

Study top dancers as much as possible! If your IG feed is anything like mine, there are approximately 5 ba-zillion dance videos that pop up each day. Some incredible dancers pop up and it’s a great opportunity to learn what judges are looking for and how you can improve! Don’t just passively watch and think about how much better they are…LEARN from them! Learn what you can work on!

3. Keep track of your teacher comments. Teacher comments are gold!!! These are people who have danced, watched Irish Dancers for decades, and see you dance all the time…they know dancing! If your teacher tells you to turnout, write it down, and drill it into every part of your dancing. When your teacher gives you a critique, go above and beyond and work on turning out in every dance!

4. Record yourself and watch your dancing. Sometimes we may think we are doing something but it actually looks totally different than we what we are doing. For example, we may think we are pointing our toes, but when we watch ourselves, we realize we aren’t pointing like we envisioned we were in our heads. The camera doesn’t lie so record yourself, watch it and write down what you need to work on… then work on it.

5. Take progress videos. Ever wonder if you are improving? It can be difficult to tell when you getting better if you see yourself dance every day. Take progress videos of yourself. Notice what you are improving on and give yourself a pat on the back. It doesn’t have to be a long tedious process…get your phone (or ask a family member to use their’s if you don’t have one), record yourself, watch it back on the phone, VOILA!

If you are wondering WHAT to look for in your dancing, here’s a checklist to get you started! Remember, just reading through this and knowing is just one part of improving…take this chart and TAKE ACTION today! 🙂 Let’s do this!!!