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What Actually Goes on in Dance?

Do you know what happens during a competition and practice?
NY Times
Ballet dancer

People know that there are dancers, but do non-dancers know what happens in a practice? What do they even do?

I am here to tell you. 

Firstly, there is tons of cardio and stretching to warm up muscles and flexibility. Cardio includes crunches, sit-ups, push-ups, mountain climbers, etc. This is done to get the muscles warm and ready to be stretched. There is a higher risk of getting hurt when stretching if the muscles are not warmed up. 

A dancer demonstrating one version of a needle

On the flexibility aspect there are things like splits, leaps, and needles. A needle is when the dancer or cheerleader “kicks up and holds an extended, straightened leg behind their body, all the while standing upright on the other leg.”

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Usually dance class starts with some sort of warm up including these things listed above. After the warm up, depending on whether it is a competition class or recital class, it would go different ways. 

In a competition class the dancers are taught a dance routine right away that they have to memorize and learn to perform on stage at competitions against other studios. The competition dates usually start in March but the dancers usually start learning their dances in September. Depending on if the studio goes to nationals, the end of comp season could vary between June and July. Some competitions include Elite Dance Challenge, Divacomps, Elite Performance Challenge, and Showstoppers. Of course there are plenty more. 

In a recital class, usually at the beginning of the year the dancers work on skills related to the class. In January or February they would start learning a dance to perform at the dance studio’s showcase in June. The recital is just a local showcase that only that dance studio does to present the talents of the kids who do not want to do competition dancing. Even so the competition dancers are still in the recital performing their comp dances and recital dances that they learned throughout the year. 

This was my trio for competition last year


This is basically what happens every year on loop. As a competition dancer, I have to go to practice every day. Still, competitions are one of the best things that I do and I hope I can continue to dance at my studio throughout high school.

At competitions we have tons of sugar and food, watch other people’s dances, and even congratulate other studios on their wins. During breaks we go out to eat at restaurants, and during awards we dance around like it’s a party. Yes, it is fun to win, but honestly even if we don’t it is fun being a part of it.

Dancing is so much more than it might seem. Sometimes other people might see it as a chore because dancers practically live at their studios. Or they only see the hardworking ballerina side to dance. I do Pointe and, yes, it’s difficult but still enjoyable. People don’t always see that side of it. It is understandable as to why it might seem like a terrible thing to do, but if you have the right teacher and you enjoy it enough, going to dance everyday for 1-4 hours can be fun. Even if you do it only as a hobby like me.

Now everyone reading this has learned what it is like to be a dancer, at competitions and in class. 

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About the Contributor
Alexis Gemme
Alexis Gemme, Staff Reporter
Hi there I am Alexis and I'm a freshman. I am a competitive dancer, and that takes up most of my free time, but when I do have a break I enjoy drawing and just trying different art projects that I find interesting. My least favorite subject is math, and I have two younger brothers.

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    Ted McCarthyMar 2, 2024 at 8:26 am

    Hi Alexis – I always am impressed at how much time and energy our students who dance put into their craft. That’s on top of HW, jobs, clubs, etc. Nice way to shine a spotlight on much goes into being a dancer!