Archive for the ‘Execution’ Category

Sorry for the long dormant period of this blog! School has been demanding, what can I say? 🙂  But I will be trying to get some more posts in.

This is for those dancers that have trouble dancing “passionately”. Your dance instructors keep telling you that you lack passion, but how do you obtain it?

I used to have this problem with playing piano. Sure, I did a good job and I played all the notes correctly and in time and even added in some great dynamics, but my teacher said that I was a little robotic. I couldn’t help it; it was just how I played.

How did I fix it? It all changed in one day. I decided that I’d practice for a long time, and I sat at the piano for about two hours straight practicing just one song. This was the day that I began actually loving the piano; before this, I played but I couldn’t say that I loved playing. I might have been good at it, but being good at something and loving it are two completely different things.

One concept of passion is loving what you do. I know, I know–you love to dance but you still lack the passion that your instructor wants. Maybe the problem is that you’re tricking your mind; I know several people on my drill team who said they loved being on drill, but I knew that they did not love it in their hearts because of their horrible practicing habits. If you love to do something, pratice is a reward rather than an arduous task. I used to hate practicing piano; if this was true, how could I love playing? After the day that I practiced for two hours straight, I was completely changed. From this day, I began practicing all the time. Now that my school schedule is so demanding, I have barely anytime to practice and any time that I do have is spent practicing. I love practicing.

One quote that my music teacher told me comes from a famous musician (I forget who): I never practice; I always play.

I think this quote enforces that “practice” should be just as fun as playing. So many people find practice as something that’s unfavorable. Attributing practice with the term “play” has changed the whole aura of the word. Practice suddenly becomes fun.

The steps to developing passion:

1. Begin to LOVE practicing
How do you do this? I say to do it the way I did. Spend at least two hours practicing one dance, and you will be completely changed. And spending two hours at a dance lesson does not constitute practicing. Go home, and set two hours just for practicing–no breaks. You may be surprised at how much you change at the end.

2. Practice like you perform
Put lots of energy into your practice. Lots of people love performing but hate praticing. If this is so, then perform everytime you practice!

3. Love & be moved by the music
A large aspect of dancing is the music. When playing music, in order to play passionately you need to become moved by the music. Same goes for dance.

Remember, passion is about loving what you do. You know how you can just tell in someone’s face what mood that person is in? A smile indicates happiness; a frown indicates sadness. Well, passion is similar, but harder to describe. It’s not just a smile or a frown, it’s an aura and a feeling. Music can make you feel a certain way just because of the aura that it brings; a passionate dancer does the same. Someone can look at you and decide if you’re passionate or not just like someone can look at you and decide your mood. When I watch a passionate dancer, I feel moved and engulfed in the dance. It’s a very hard thing to describe, but when you have it, you know it. First thing–begin to love practicing.


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So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for :).

Here is my suggested 3-step routine that will help you elevate your kicks. The only thing is, like the one with the splits, you need to be doing this everyday. I think that’s the hard part. This isn’t a week-by-week thing. You need to continue stretching, practicing, and strengthening your legs everyday. If you reserve 15 minutes a day for each step, your kicks will be 10Âş higher in 3 weeks. I hope three weeks is short enough for you to keep up your motivation!

This might also be a good idea to do with your team, so that everyone will have high kicks in three weeks.


1. Stretch
You must be flexbile in order to get high kicks. Some stretches and stretching routines are in my splits article.

2. Stregthen
You need leg stretch to get your kicks high.

Everyday, you should be kicking. Try kicking with heavy clothes on your legs or heavy shoes on (no high heels!). It will force you to use more energy. It’s kind of like lifting weights, except with your legs. If you have an elastic exercising strip (I forget what those are called, but it’s basically a stretchy rubbery rope that you pull with your arms to exercise), use it. Put it around one ankle, step on the ends with your other foot and bring your leg as high up as you can.
Another one: lift your leg up in kick position as high as you can without a bounce. Hold it there for fifteen seconds and try not to waver too much. Switch legs.
It might also help to lie down on the ground and have a friend stretch with you. Lie down, face up. Point both toes and keep both legs straight. Have a partner elevate one leg as far towards your nose as possible. The strengthening part comes here–you try to elevate your leg high while your partner pushes you back. Doing it to a count/beat/music will help.
Kick to a medium tempo song, 2-4 eight counts. Kick for as long as you can do the kicks perfectly. Once you start getting sloppy, stop and take a break. Your goal is to be able to kick the amount of 8-counts in the routine, perfectly. So, keep up the endurance. Everyday, do three sets of kicks, and make them all perfect. The length of the set depends on your good your endurance is. If you can only do one eight count perfect, that’s fine. Just keep doing it everyday, and you’ll see that number go up to 1.5, 2, and eventually to the number of eight counts you will need to last. Remember that the routine doesn’t end with kicks, either! So make sure that after kicking, you still have some energy left.
The best way to improve your kicks is to keep kicking. Endurance is a huge part of having good kicks. Once you’re tired, your unpointed toes and bend knees and bad posture won’t matter–you just want to get it over with. You need to have enough energy so that you can think about these things.

3. Practice, in context
Practice your kicks in the routine, because those are the ones that matter the most. Do the whole set. If you feel exhausted by the end, you’re not there yet.

Comment and tell me how your kicks are looking. 🙂

Angles matter a whole lot. If one is off, the whole team is off. Every single little thing counts in drill. So, how do you make all those angles perfect? How do you awe the judges that are watching your every move?

Well, you can’t have perfect angles without good posture. Roll your shoulders back and push them down. You need an arched back and your body should be stiff. Only after attaining this posture should you practice angles.

Start off on your own. Practicing angles in the mirror is ideal because you can see exactly what each and every angle looks like. After going over every individual angle, practice with counts and the music. Make sure that these angles are placed in the correct locations and while you’re at it, keep your movements sharp. Angles that are correctly placed but not sharp won’t exactly do you much good.

After this, plan a day with the team to practice angles (or suggest a practice to your captain or coach). By doing this, you can learn to match angles. Stand in a line with people relatively your height and hit each angle one by one. A captain or coach that’s standing in front of this line should see every single arm at the same position. Go through maybe a few 8-counts with this angle-matching method each practice. Your arms should be pretty sore by the end of this, because it takes a lot of repetitions to get the angles just perfect. It’s probably not a good idea to practice angles for over half an hour at a time. Arms will get sore and you shouldn’t strain the team. Just wait another day and let the soreness lead to built muscles!

An important concept about drill is that everything matters. You can’t just be sharp and have crappy angles; likewise, you can’t just have good angles and no sharpness. It all has to go together. Remember though, you need to take things one step at a time. You can always start off by practicing angles at the beginning of the year so that they are well memorized by the end! Good luck!

After practicing an entire drill routine, you may feel exhausted, sweaty, and worn-out. You definitely don’t want to do it again, but you know that you have to because you need to improve. But you’re still winded every single time you do the routine. What do you do?

Many “drillers” (from here on out, I will use the word driller to refer to a drill team member) create “tired spots” during their routine. Sound familiar? This is the part of the routine–usually near the middle–where you are tired and lose the ability to stay sharp and, at the same time, keep your posture back, angles strong, smile bright, etc. This is definitely not the right thing to do. Judges can look at you at any point in the routine, and you can’t just hope that they don’t see you when you’re tired. It happens, and you shouldn’t risk it.

Drillers also tend to be weak at the beginning of the routine so that they can show it all off at the end (or visa versa, where you’re super-sharp at the beginning and show your tiredness at the end). This is a wrong solution also, because again, a judge can see you being sloppy and probably won’t appreciate it. So, what’s the solution?

Ultimately, your goal is to keep your endurance throughout the whole routine. Sounds impossible, right? It’s not. So, how do you do it?

One way to accomplish this task is to try completing the first four 8-counts of the routine as sharp as you can without giving up. Don’t be sloppy because you’re tired. Mentally tell yourself to do it. Pretty easy? Now take a one-minute rest to catch your breath and get some water. Now do the same thing, except with the first six 8-counts. Harder, isn’t it? This activity is both a mental and physical exercise. Endurance involves both. You need the mind to push yourself but the physical strength to actually do it. It’s like waking up in the morning. You know that you have the physical strength to get up, but you need to make your mind agree with you. So, this exercise makes your mind work hard to motivate you, but at the same time, your physical strength is improving because you are making yourself work harder. The hardest part about this exercise is actually getting started and motivating yourself.

Another way to improve your endurance is to do half of the routine everyday. Once you’ve finally got the half-way point down (usually the point with the most endurance problems) without being super tired once you’re done, add the whole routine in and do it once a day. You’ll be able to push yourself harder at the end, which is usually where everyone else starts to breath heavily and become extremely tired.

Captains and coaches often make this same mistake: “If I make these girls perform the routine ten times in a row, their endurance will improve”. This sometimes works, but it is simply painful, time-consuming, and hardly effective. Making drillers perform the routine once is already tiring, so will tiring yourself out ten times improve your endurance? Maybe a little, but it’s not a fun process. Girls will already start losing their sharpness and giving up the second time they perform the routine. So, what this method does is make girls give up and make them tired with little improvement in endurance. I know that doing the routine a million times made me angry at the captains and coach. It had no purpose and I was tired; I just didn’t want to do it and all I could think about while I was doing it was how stupid this was and how much I hated the routine and how long it was and how tired I was… I don’t think that’s exactly a good thing.

Being on a drill team requires a lot of endurance. The thing about drill is that it is a performing art. It’s not a sport like track or cross country. Drill has to look “pretty” in order for it to be good. You don’t have to have good posture or a good smile when you’re running track, although you need endurance. For drill, you must make yourself mentally stronger to make every angle perfect and every move sharp. You can’t even make yourself look tired. So you need to start improving that endurance!