Making the most of Dance Camp
- June 24, 2016
- by Deborah Searle
Are you ready for dance camp or summer intensive? Dance Informa spoke with leading camp and intensive directors and instructors to help you get the most out of this year’s event. Get ready for an enjoyable, memorable and rewarding dance experience!
The first day of dance camp can be daunting, but if you’re prepared you can jump right in and start having fun. “The best way to prepare for dance camp is to be physically fit and active in the weeks leading up to camp. Stretch regularly and participate in dance or other activities so that you don’t get too sore at camp”, advise Cindy Clough, Executive Director, and Kelley Hegarty, Private Camps, of Just for Kix Camps.
“Come in focused and ready to go”, adds esteemed teacher Richard Hinds of Broadway Dance Center’s Summer Workshop Series. “You need to make sure you are taking advantage of the entire year before to work on technique, style, stamina and focus. Workshops can be quite intense and require you to be at the top of your game.”
“Be a sponge and absorb everything! Take advantage of every moment you can”, stresses Richard Hinds. To enable your brain to absorb all that is taught, make sure you eat right and get enough sleep. “Getting plenty of sleep after the first day of camp is essential,” shares Nancy O’Meara, instructor at Camp PULSE. When you wake you want to “feel refreshed and ready to take on another incredible day of dance.”
Be open to learning new styles, techniques and routines from teachers that are new to you. “Come with an open mind and don’t be afraid to try new things! Camp is about experimentation and pushing your boundaries as a dancer. Don’t get caught up on trying to do things perfectly. Instead, try something totally new and outside of your comfort zone. You may be surprised at what you can do,” say Cindy Clough and Kelley Hegarty.
You may be attending camp with your dance team or class mates, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the opportunity to make friends. “Use the time to get to know all members of your team better. Take a class with a team mate you don’t know well yet, sit by someone new at meals or room with someone you would like to get to know better. The team bonding that takes place at camp really sets the stage for great team unity all year,” advise Cindy Clough and Kelley Hegarty.
Neil Schwartz of Broadway Dance Center’s Summer Workshop Series agrees. “Introduce yourself not only to your teachers/choreographers, but most importantly to your fellow peers. You can make some good friends in the process.”
Expect to learn amazing choreography and know what’s expected of you. At Camp PULSE, Nancy O’Meara shares that you can learn cool routines from TV shows like Glee, Shake it Up, Victorious and Good Luck Charlie, but to really embrace the choreography you need to pay attention and “expect to work,” says Sheila Barker, instructor at Broadway Dance Center’s Summer Workshop Series. “When you commit and go full out you’ll be surprised at the amount of growth you can get in a couple of days.”
“You will be working with an array of teachers who will offer you lots of different styles. Some will be a natural fit for you and others you will have to work a lot harder to find,” counsels Richard Hinds. So be ready to challenge yourself! “Have an open mind to the creative process and don’t stress. Trust the process and let your instructor guide you to growth”, encourages Sheila Barker. “Come to have fun and learn as much as you can. No pressure, no stress. The choreographers are there to give you as much as you’re willing to receive. Whether it’s pure choreography, a correction, or even a compliment, take it all in and learn from it”, adds Lane Napper from Camp PULSE.
Be attuned to your body. “Listen to your body. If you feel any aches or pains, take care of them right away” advises Neil Schwartz. And “make sure you stay hydrated so you can keep your brain power flowing”, advises Shelia Barker.
You don’t want to forget the fabulous routines that you learn. “Take down notes immediately after class, when it is still fresh in your mind, and review all of your routines at night”, suggest Cindy Clough and Kelley Hegarty. Nancy O’Meara agrees, saying, “review everything you learn each day right before you go to sleep.” A video camera can also be helpful to record routines in class (if allowed) or to tape yourself performing them after class. Also jot down any questions you may have. “I can guarantee you that any of the teachers would be willing to sit and answer your questions. Use them. We are here because we want to see you grow and get better,” urges Richard Hinds.
“If you feel that you have over packed, chances are you packed correctly,” advises Neil Schwartz. Take several different types of dance shoes, and don’t forget your tennis shoes. “Being prepared for any style of dance is always helpful and you will feel more confident wearing the appropriate shoes,” advises Nancy O’Meara. “Be prepared for anything,” concurs Richard Hinds. “You never know what is going to be asked of you. Last summer I did a Fosse day so everyone was required to wear all black. The next day we did Shoeless Joe and I wanted everyone in some sort of athletic gear and sneakers.”
So what else should you bring? Cindy Clough and Kelley Hegarty recommend that you “bring a small bag to carry to each class with a water bottle and a notebook. Other items such as ibuprofen, band aids, and extra hair ties may come in handy too, as well as some snacks and sports drinks for the evening.” And “don’t forget your favorite dance wear”, adds Sheila Barker.
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