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3 Things Irish Dancers Should Consider When Planning Independent Practices


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Julia is a champion dancer with the Teelin School of Irish Dance in Maryland. She recently came back to competing after a seven-year hiatus, and is still working on adjusting to being back in the competitive world of Irish dance. When she isn’t training, she works as a journalist in Washington, D.C. You can connect with her on twitter, where she goes by @RussellJuliaD.

Sometimes when you don’t have your teachers with you in the studio telling you what drills to do for how long, it can be hard to know how to use your personal practice time. This is a big challenge for me as I move beyond just working on my stamina and start focusing on more technical things like turnout and pointing. My teachers have given me and my fellow dancers a lot of great advice when it comes to figuring out what to work on during our personal practice time, so here are some of the things I take into account to try to make the most out of the time I have in the studio without my teachers:

1. Judge’s Comments

Looking at what the judges saw in your dancing during your last feis is a great place to start when you’re deciding what to focus on during your independent practice time. And if multiple judges gave you similar comments, or you consistently get comments on a certain aspect of your dancing, that is definitely something to work on!

2. Teacher Feedback

I think this is the most important thing to consider when you’re planning out your personal practices. Unlike judges, your teachers see you dance on a regular basis and know exactly what you need to work on. You can even consider bringing a little notebook to class to jot down notes or making a list on your phone as soon as practice is over to keep track of the feedback your teachers are giving you. Your independent practice time is a great time to start going down that list and working on the things your teachers think you need to improve upon.

3. Setting Priorities

This is the thing I find most challenging about making the most out of my independent practices. Everybody has a list of things they could work on to improve their dancing, so how do you figure out what you should start working on first? I feel like I am still in the process of figuring out what my own priorities are, but my first step is using my personal practice time to work on the things my teachers comment on the most. My next step is to schedule a private lesson with one of my teachers so she can help me prioritize even further, and maybe even make a list of the things I need to work on, starting with the most important.

Once you have a list of things you need to work on and you’ve prioritized it so that you know what to focus on first, decide what kinds of drills and exercises you will do during your independent practices (this is something else your teacher can help you with if you enlist her help with setting your priorities), and set a plan for how much time you’ll spend warming up, doing drills and practicing your actual steps. And don’t forget to do all three steps all the way through at least once!
Photo credit: Image belongs to and is courtesy of blog author.

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