Dance Class Etiquette

Lets talk about dance class etiquette…

Once you enter the dance classroom there are certain codes of conduct and etiquette that should be followed.  These are commonly accepted as a sign of respect for both your teacher and the art form of dance.  Many are often unspoken rules or little signs of respect. I find that in my teaching and travels, many dancers just are not aware of what these rules of etiquette exist.

Even if dance etiquette is not discussed at your dance studio or with your team, it is still essential to familiarize yourself with these general rules if you ever plan to take class somewhere new or with a new instructor!  I have often seen dancers asked to leave class or cut from an audition for making some of these little etiquette mistakes. For many teachers, breaking one of these rules can either categorize you as an “untrained” dancer immediately or in some cases result in a request for you to leave class.

Sonya’s Top Ten Rules for Proper Dance Class Etiquette:

  1. No chewing gum.
  2. Dancers should always arrive early for class.  It is generally accepted that if you are more than 10 or 15 minutes late to class that you should not participate.  Missing the warm-up sections of class is very hazardous to your body and is a major distraction to the class, which is usually not appreciated by the teacher.
  3. No cell phones… at all.
  4. No talking in class.
  5. Always say “Thank You” to the teacher after class.
  6. Never walk through the middle of class.  Once class has begun, if you must move or leave for any reason, you should always walk around the perimeter of the room.
  7. Belongings, if they are brought into the classroom should always be placed to the back of the room.  It is never acceptable to place your water bottle, shoes or sweats in the front of the room.
  8. As a general rule, if you are entering a new class you should always start in the back of the room.  This is not always the case.  It is widely practiced throughout many studios, especially in Europe, that the front spots in the classroom are earned with time and are an honor.  I, personally, do not run my classes this way, but it is important as a new student to respect the traditions of the teacher or the dance studio. If you know before you attend a new class that the classroom is not run in this manner, then I would success finding a spot closer to the front so that you can see.  Of course this rule should NEVER be followed at auditions, masterclasses or dance conventions. For those situations, as a general rule, you should get yourself to the front and own it!
  9. Always watch other dancers in your class.  This is not meant to be a competitive glare, but instead a learning tool.  There is so much to learn from watching each other move and express to the music.
  10. Always apologize if you hit or bump into someone.  This is something that has often shocked me during my dance career.  I see this happen all the time, especially in the dance convention or audition world. It is my experience that the dance world is tiny.  You might not think that it matters that you just whacked the girl next to you in the face and ignored her existence… but it does! That disrespect for a fellow human might come back to haunt you later in life.  I realize that many dancers out there do not follow this rule.  I have seen first hand dancers who are horrible, push their way to the front and don’t care if they hit you.  It is always better to be the bigger person in this situation.  I have students ask me about this all the time.  “What should I do when someone hits me really hard and looks at me as if I should get out of her way?”  Again, be the bigger person and say, “excuse me.”   I can tell you that three, four or five years from now, you might be sharing a stage with that dancer, having to work alongside her or even audition for a job where she is the choreographer’s assistant!  Yes,  the dance world REALLY is that small!  As a teacher, if I see this behavior happen in my classroom, I am not happy! Remember your manners!

I will leave you today with one of my favorite quotes:
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else.  I only try to dance better than myself.”
–  Mikhail Baryshnikov
Lets further the art of dance together… ASK MS. SONYA,  I want to help!


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