Archive for the ‘Performing’ 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.


The nerves always ruin our performances. How do we get rid of that nervous feeling before we perform? How are we going to stop thinking about forgetting the routine while we’re performing–or tripping, falling, doing the wrong move. We always worry about what can go wrong, and often, one thing does go wrong because we’re thinking about it so hard.


Know the Routine
If you don’t know it–I won’t lie to you–you will mess up unless you’re lucky. Know it. You should have known it for months!

Simple, but helpful. Take deep breaths. It really helps you calm down.

Have everything ready long before the performance
That means making sure everything is perfect. Your hair, uniform, makeup, tied shoelaces, intact nylons, etc. You need to triple check everything so that you won’t worry about it while you perform.

Competitions are long, and sometimes we might forget to eat. Can’t perform without energy! Eat at least 1.5 hours before the performance.

Get a good night’s sleep, but an early start
Don’t wake up at 1pm (not that competitions start that late anyways), but don’t stay up until 1am. I’d say to wake up when you normally wake up (whenever school starts, probably around 8). If you sleep in, you’ll be sluggish.

No team parties the night before
Unless you can manage to all go home and get enough sleep (not likely), you shouldn’t have a team party. It sounds motivational so that you can bond and talk about the next day, but usually it leads to late nights and everyone tired the day after. If you do have a party, I’d say that it must end before dark and no junk food.

Get hair done ASAP
Drill hair (if you use curlers) takes a long time. My team used to take from 1-3 hours per person. Of course, if you use fake hair or something else, it’s not too big of a deal. If you are using curlers, get it done before dark so that everyone can go home and sleep.

Don’t practice the day before
It’ll just stress you out. Naturally, you will probably forget some moves, then be extremely nervous the next day because of your bad practice. Of course, running through the routine once is okay. Don’t stay up until three practicing (or learning the routine).

Have confidence
No harm in being confident. Lots of people say, “well, if I think I’m going to get 10th place, then I won’t feel so bad afterwards . . . if I think I’ll get first place and I don’t get it, then I’ll feel horrible”. Bad thinking. Be confident. It shows in your face. You want to win. Go win it!

Listen to the music! Sometimes people don’t and are so focused on moves, moves, moves. When they turn their ears on again, they realize that they are way off and will be lost. Sometimes the music sounds different because of the different speakers in the performing area. Be prepared. If the music skips, you can’t do anything about it. Breathe, don’t look stupid, and smile bright and confident. One time, I watched a team that wasn’t even that great, but their music skipped. They remained still, and ended up placing. That shows your confidence.

Don’t talk about how nervous you are
If you talk about it, it will spread. Don’t make it evident that you’re nervous. Keep it to yourself. Think about other things.
If you’ve known the routine, you won’t forget it
I always go crazy when someone, right before the performance, says, “how does that part go again? I forgot!” This makes everyone nervous, as well as yourself. You won’t forget it. Stop thinking about it. You’ve never forgotten it at practice.

Don’t let the audience intimidate you
Your audience is just people. You see them everyday. What’s the big deal? You won’t mess up and to them, you’re probably just a little face off in the distance.

Just perform. Perform like you do at practice. No nerves there. You know that you look way better though, because you should be confident in yourself and, hey, you’re wearing your drill outfit! You didn’t buy it for nothing. You bought that expensive customized outfit to win. And that’s exactly what you’ll do.

And of course . . . Smile!

Think every practice is for practicing formations? Wrong! If you get your formations right, then so what? Isn’t there this judging category called execution? Showmanship? Oh yeah…

When you’re planning practice, you have to leave room to practice everything–not just the formations part. And make sure you plan practices. Not five minutes before it starts, either. Plan ahead.

Planning is essential. At school, teachers have curriculums, and if you’ve noticed, the teachers that plan their year finish teaching whole curriculum and those not-so-great teachers will get to chapter two of your textbook. You want to finish the curriculum. This is the drill curriculum:


These have to look as near to perfect as possible for maximum effect. Moves usually are influenced by formations; for instance, a kick formation likely has a line in it so people kick together. What if that line is more like a zigzag? Yuck… needs work.


I would say this is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you’re tired. Those angles need to stay perfect, your toes have to stay pointed, and you have to trick your mind and make yourself not tired. But it’s not over yet. You have to keep going. Of course you can make a perfect T, but when you’re tired, that T looks more like a low V. Not good. Endurance is a part of execution also.


You’re tired and you have to smile? That sucks. But it’s part of the art. Keeping that smile bright shows how happy you are and how much you love to dance. It shows the judges how dedicated you are, how much you love being on this team, and how badly you want to win. This is one way that you’re going to convince them that this team is best. Smile. It’s easy, isn’t it?


So, in most states, you don’t get judged on this part of the routine. This means nothing. You get secretly judged and you should know this. These are the first and last impressions that you leave and they must be effective and energetic. Entering sloppily is an automatic impression that your team doesn’t want to win. Same with walking out sloppily. It shows how tired you are and incapable. Definitely not a good thing.


Bad posture will make your judges wince. It’s hard to keep that back flat, but it’s only going to be for a few minutes. You need to have good posture to do well in competitions. It’s just part of the drill art.

This is currently the curriculum, which I may be adding to later.

Captains and coaches, this is your job. You’re teaching this team, and you want every student to complete the curriculum of your class. One of the hardest things about drill is the concept of teamwork–every individual member has to ace every part of this curriculum. These are all tests that they must pass. If one person doesn’t, the whole team suffers.

So, in order to successfully complete this curriculum, you need to be planning practices two weeks at a time. So for instance, on Monday from 2:30pm until 3:30 you will work on angles; then, you will have a short break and from 3:35 to 4 you will work on formations. Make these agendas specific, and stick with them. There is no use to making a schedule it you don’t use it. Make sure you plan practices and get things done. Incorporate every part of the drill curriculum to ensure that your performance goes well. Spend more time on areas that need improvement and less time on the areas that you’ve pretty much got down. Let team members know the agenda. They have a right to know everything. Leaders, don’t treat them like your minions. Just because you have a position means nothing about the level of your skills compared to theirs. I hated being treated like a “newbie”. Remember to not name your team members either. “First-year”, “new members”, “newbies”–these are all discouraging. It’s like a first-year member is automatically worse than a second-year one. Experience is important, but practice is more important. There are many “first-year” (I’m not a big fan of this term) members that are better than “third-years”. It’s all about how much each member practices.

Now it’s time to plan! Don’t wait. Do it now!

Comment and tell me how this works for you.

Remember to smile bright! )

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!