When it comes to the dance world it can be easy to feel like an outsider at times. There are so many everyday challenges with dance training that the idea of mastering them all can seem totally overwhelming - taking and remembering corrections well, breaking in a new pair of pointe shoes, possible wardrobe malfunctions, the list goes on and on. Today I'm giving you 5 simple hacks to make your dance life easier and help take your mind off those daily annoyances we all face as dancers!
1. Making Your Pointe Shoes Quieter
You all know what I'm talking about, right? You put on that gorgeous new pair of shoes you just spent 15 minutes bending and scraping and perfecting to realize you sound like an elephant every time you land a jump. Brand new shoes take a lot of work to break in, and everyone's routine will be different depending on your foot shape, strength, and type of shoes. BUT, the one thing we all face when it comes to new shoes? That loud, annoying, sharp clap of the box on the floor that has everyone turning to look, including your teacher. So what can you do?
First, what you definitely DON'T want to do is take a hammer to the shoes. Too often I see young dancers banging all over the box just to find they've damaged and dirtied the shoe without actually making any improvement to the sound level. The correct way to quiet those loud shoes is to simply hit the bottom of the box against the floor.
Now you're probably like, wait, that's it? No way! YES way! I'm telling you, all you need is 15-20 hits against a hard-surface floor and you'll find that sweet spot where your shoe is so much quieter yet you haven't damaged its strength and stability. The key is to focus in on one very specific spot - right above the ball of the foot, where the satin gathers to meet the sole on the underside of your shoe. If you can hone in on that specific area for 15-20 hits, you'll find that perfect shoe quality you're after.
2. Ballet Buns That Stay All Day
With a ballet bun, everyone approaches their style a little differently - whether you like yours low at the nape of the neck with a part at the side or pulled straight back and placed high, we all know that your hair can have a huge effect on how you perform in class. If you're in the middle of barre work with most of the class ahead of you and your bun is already loose and falling out, your distraction level will be high for the rest of the class. You've tried spray, hairnets, extra pins, but nothing seems to give you that bun security you're looking for.
The answer? SPIRAL BOBBY PINS. I remember so well the day I discovered these as a dancer - with silky, straight hair it was so hard to get my bun to stay in place all evening. These screw-shaped bobby pins changed everything for me. You end up needing less pins overall, your hair goes up so much quicker and you never have to worry about that slipping and sliding bun. DONE.
3. Stopping a Run in its Tracks
I think we can all agree, there's maybe nothing worse than pulling on a pair of tights before heading to class and finding a huge run in the leg. Sometimes it's our nails, sometimes a ring, but whatever the cause, runs are zero fun (not to mention they look extremely messy and unprofessional). And the worst part is, a run just keeps running...
You could simply throw the tights away and start fresh, though if you're an experienced dancer you'll start to recognize the endless cycle. Runs are always going to happen, so if you're constantly throwing away tights in favor of new ones it's likely your parents (and their wallets) won't be pleased. But the solution to this one is so simple - clear nail polish.
When a run starts, nip it right in the bud with a coat or two of clear nail polish. Doing so seals the run at the early stage before it can spread and become a huge annoyance and eye sore. It's best to coat the entire run, let it dry, and then turn the tights inside out to do the same on the other side. Your tights with thank you forever for saving their lives!
4. Remembering Corrections and Critiques
This is an area that can be so difficult for dancers to stay consistent in, especially serious students on a pre-professional track of study taking every class under the sun multiple times a week. Shoulders down, ribs in, spot, extend the lines, was that correction for jazz or ballet class? Or was it for modern?
It can also be embarrassing to have a teacher give the same correction over and over, their level of frustration evident. Eventually, they may even stop giving you critiques if they don't see you taking any of them seriously. The best way to keep track? Keep a class journal.
You could do this many ways - one notebook divided into separate sections for separate classes, different notebooks for different dance styles, one log-style journal where you track corrections on a day by day basis. It's totally up to you. The key here is to note corrections right after class if you can, or at the end of the night when you finish for the day.
But notes are only as good as the frequency with which you review them, so take a look at them again in a day or two and then again a week from now.
*Insider Tip: teachers usually give individual corrections that are meant for the whole class. Even if a critique was given to another dancer, write it down and implement the correction yourself as well.
5. Avoiding Bothersome Blisters
We've all been told that blisters are an inevitable part of dance training. You'll get them, you'll get them often, so have your Neosporin in your bag with a pack of Band-Aids ready to go. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't be prepared for blisters if they happen, but what if you could prevent them in the first place?
My go-to product for years has been a little life-saver called Friction Block by the Band-Aid brand. It's a small blue stick that looks a lot like a mini deodorant, rolling up each time you wear it down. I would put this all over the areas of my feet I typically got blisters (basically everywhere), but especially on my big toe and pinky toe, my toe knuckles, my bunion area (EW I know) and at the back of my ankle where the heel of my shoe sat. This is great for any type of dance, even if you're barefoot, but it's definitely a game-changer for pointe work. Just remember to reapply every few hours for long nights or major rehearsal days.
That's a wrap on the first segment of dancer hacks! I hope these tips are helpful to you, and I definitely plan to post more tips and hacks in the future!
Happy dancing loves :)