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How to practice your dancing and never look bad again? Full-Out vs. Marking it.

How to practice your dancing and never look bad again? Full-Out vs. Marking it.

Many dancers go by the rule of Practice Makes Perfect. However, simply "turning up" and walking through your steps is not going to make you any better than you were yesterday. This is why I prefer to use this quote:

Practice Doesn't Make Perfect.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!

Think about the last time you came to the studio and practiced your routines with your partner, teacher or alone. How much energy did you put into it? Were your legs as straight as your teacher keeps screaming during each lesson? Were your fingers projecting like lasers and eyes piercing anything they look at? Or did you just shuffle your feet with arms resembling dangling sausages and eyes having as much passion as a brick wall? Be honest, we have all been there!

In dancing we practice our routines either Full-Out or we are Marking It. What's the difference?

Dancing full-out is about imagining and delivering as if you were on a stage ready to perform. Your posture is intact, your feet and legs are awake and working, your face and arms are fully engaged. The energy level is the same as you would expect at a competition or a show. Nothing is holding you back.

Marking your dance is about walking through the steps with no body actions, disengaged centre, no "intention" and little or no toning in your legs and feet. Marking your dance may help to remember the pattern but that's pretty much it.

Now you can ask yourself which one of the above you do most often at your practices. Full out dancing, marking it or maybe something in between?

There are at least 5 reasons why you should consider doing more "full out" and less "marking it"...

1. Muscle Memory

It takes about 3-6 weeks for your brain and body to develop a habit. With that in mind, we should be very careful with what and how we practice. When you use your muscles in a specific way, they will grow to support that movement. If you have no toning in your abs and never use your legs, do you expect for it to suddenly happen at a competition or a show?

Full out dancing gives your body the ability to adapt to the movement you want to create and fine tune it.

2. Being out of comfort zone

When you push your body to the maximum, you open the doors to new ways and possibilities. Through full out dancing I have discovered muscles I never knew I could move and started learning to control them. If you never push your body to its limits, you are very likely to miss the opportunity to discover the full potential of your body.

Did you have lessons before, where you teacher pushed you so hard and at the end you said: "oh I didn't even know I could move like that" or "I had no idea I had muscles there"...? Well, now imagine that these could have been moments where you had a glimpse of what your body was actually capable of...

3. Power is exciting

Practicing with energy and full dedication makes you feel you have achieved more. Your mind is in 6th gear and impulses from the brain keep firing through the spine to your muscles. You are automatically more awake and concentrated.

Also, when you put more energy into your dancing, your partner will immediately feel it. Not only that, but also he/she will feed from your energy and will try to match it too.

However, I don't mean to be more physical and muscular by putting energy, yet I may be frequently reminded by my partner to stop moving her like she was an elephant. At the beginning, you may feel out of control, but this is the only way to learn the control...

4. Sweat it out

The very simple reasons why full-out dancing is important, is because of the fitness you gain from it. All the calories we burn and toning of the bodies we achieve are exactly what we want. No one ever got "a dancer's body" through marking their choreographies all the time. When you can, go full out and get your heart pumping a little bit faster.

5. Everyday is an audition day

When you practice, you never know who is looking your way. And be sure, that people are looking at you so you better look the part. Do you want to be remembered for your floppy duck's feet, spaghetti arms or hunchback?

If you have a chance to go to a competition, have a look at how some of the World's best dancers warm-up. When they "go through" their choreographies before the show, they already commit to the movement. When you are at the top, you just can't afford to look bad at any moment. Should we apply the same principle on every level? Certainly YES! If we want to be the best, we should have exactly the same attitude and think like champions!!

Over time, this way of practicing will become your basis and your body will not know any other way to deliver the movements. Be patient and determined. Put your mind and body into it.

Next time your teacher asks you to demonstrate something, impress them and start giving it 100% every single time for the duration of your lesson!

I always say to everyone to practice their choreographies exactly the way they should be danced full-out. Otherwise your brain and body, will remember the small, unfinished arm actions, shuffling your feet on bent knees etc. Relying always on "marking it" will take you much longer to produce the quality of dancing you would like to have.

At the competition or show, you will do what you have practiced the most,

not what you think it should be.

Everyone has their own ways to practice. Dancing full-out is not easy and definitely more tiring, but you can achieve far greater results at half the time. I suggest you experiment with it and set yourself a goal, for example for 30 minutes of practice I am going to dance full-out only (slow or fast). Possible?

I would really like to hear what your thoughts are on full-out dancing and marking it. Which one do you use the most at your practices? Leave a comment below.

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