One More Time is a phrase that dancers often hear. It never means one more time! This is something a dance student learns very early on in their dance education. Dance is very repetitive. The exercises learnt at the beginning of the year, will be repeated every week. Over and over Routines for comp are repeated. Concert dances are learnt and rehearsed for weeks and months.
Repetition can bring Boredom
This constant repetition sometimes causes boredom in young dancers. Around exam time is an especially ‘boring’ time. At this time it is essential to be continually going over everything for the exams. Though the anticipation of exams does much to counteract this boredom. This is why many young dancers say “Ballet is Boring”.
Repetition Helps Us Improve
Repeating the exact same step or exercise is how we are able to improve. Once a dancer has learnt and remembered a new exercise, they can concentrate on doing it better. Doing the same exercise means they can think about the technique more and work on elements to improve.
Repeating exercises also helps with muscle memory. A dancer finds that they will automatically do the steps once the music starts. I often tell my students to not think about the steps, your body knows what to do. Sometimes the brain gets in the way. If you think about what you are doing too much, you get it wrong.
Dancers have many things that come automatically to them. Arms that go with certain steps and heads etc. These things are learnt early on and repeated many times. They just sink in and seem to just happen without thinking about it. This comes from repetition.
Repetition makes Confident Dancers
Repetition breeds confidence. If you know what you are doing, you can do it with confidence. Nerves set in on exam day or concert day. Standing on that stage, or in the exam room, you know what you need to do, you have practiced over and over. Your body knows what it has to do, once that music begins. The familiar calms the nerves.
Standing on a stage is very different from rehearsing in the dance studio. At dance comps, you may not have ever danced on that stage before. It is unfamiliar and a little dis-orientating. At concert time, many students have to be talked through where they should be on stage, by picturing where they stand in the studio. “This is the front and this is the door to the kitchen. Where should you be?” Once the routine has begin, everything falls into place.
Every Time You Should Get Better
Every time a dancers does a routine or exercise, it should be different. You should jump higher, turn cleaner, use more feeling and energy. You should be trying to improve on each performance. Repetition lets you work on your fitness. If you dance a routine many times in a rehearsal, when you only have to do it once in performance, it should be easy to put more energy and effort into the performance.
When rehearsing the comp team, the first time, is not always the best effort they can give. But it should be. Performances are on time only chances to do your best. It shouldn’t take three goes to get to that standard. But rehearsing a routine over and over will allow you to give it your all, the first time.
When you are tired and your teacher says one more time, you know it won’t be. This is the time to really make yourself do the best you can. At performance time, it will make pushing yourself to do your best, so much easier.
One More Time is an Opportunity
A dancer needs to hear “one more time” and think, this is another chance for me to make it better. So often, a dancer thinks “not again”. You should see it as another chance to perform. Younger dancers ask if they can do it again, when it is something they like to do. You should always have this enthusiasm.
Boredom in Young Dancers
As a teacher, we know that this repetition is an important part of what we do. Therefore we need to find a way to incorporate repetition without students becoming bored. Younger students need to have some variation early on. When it comes to exam time or concert time, we need to keep them interested by talking about the exam day or the concert performance. Mixing up classes in the early terms keeps them interested. Little kids love to “do a pose” at the end of an exercise. They come up with such interesting ones.
In some of my classes, I let them help each other with tips for improvement. This makes them look at their fellow students and try to pick out what needs correcting. The aim is that they will then think about that correction and apply it to themselves. So often, when I ask what you need to remember to do, the students will tell me what I tell them they need to work on. At least I know they do listen.
Recently in one of my younger classes, I got my students to work in pairs. One student was the doer and the other gave them corrections. i have mentioned this in the blog https://www.focusondance.com.au/tired-dancers-can-learn/. I found that the students listened well to their corrector and followed their instructions. The fact that they said the same things I do, was interesting. It is a bit like when your Mother tells you something ten times, you ignore it and then someone else says the same thing, you listen and do it. a dance teachers voice, sometimes becomes white noise.
Repetition is A Good Thing
Repeating something over and over, isn’t a bad thing. In dance it is essential. Repetition leads to familiarity and confidence. It helps with fitness and improvement of technique. Repetition is only a bad thing when you keep doing the same thing and not getting a different result. For dancers, every time you repeat, it should be a better version than the last time. When you repeatedly put one foot in front of the other, you get somewhere.
When your teacher says “One More Time” , take a deep breath and give it your all. Maybe then you won’t have to do it again. Goodluck.