How to Practice with a Vision for Your Next Competition
Have you ever thought of making yourself, your choreography and your attitude ready taking into consideration the specific place where you are going to dance? That’s having a vision. In this article we will focus on how important it is to do exactly that.
Preparing for an event, dancers go deep into every detail to make sure that everything is at the top of the game. From diet, costumes, technical practice, stamina to mental training, they have to be as close to perfection as perfection itself; the stakes are high. But when you focus so much on those, somewhere along the way, you might lose sight of other important aspects.
First of all, we have to distinguish three different situations:
(1) you don’t know anything about the venue;
(2) you know information from other sources about the venue of the venue;
(3) you’ve been to the venue before.
The first case is when you never had the opportunity to be there, you never watched any video from past editions and nobody ever told you anything about the place. You simply have no clue of what to expect.
In the second case, you’ve never been to the place, but you have watched some video or heard something about it.
The third case is when you have already been in that place and maybe also danced that competition previously.
We actually can delete the gap between the first and the second case very easily. A quick research on YouTube will give you enough material to let you approach the preparation and fill in the missing information. So, you find yourself in the first or second case: let’s find out which precious details you should catch!
Catching the details
The first step is to determine the dimensions of the floor.
Look at the couples standing, take some referement around the floor, watch some couple you may know better than others and try to understand if they are dancing their usual routine or if they stretched it or reduced it to fit the floor.
After this, check if there is any orchestra playing, listen to the speed and the length of the music, if it is slightly faster than usual or slower and if it is a tough competition with long music or not.
Now you can research more on the venue itself. Make sure you find out if it is an elegant place, like an hotel conference hall or a theater, or a more casual venue such as a sport hall with a basketball court. Notice if the people around are near the floor, maybe sitting at the tables, or far away in the tribunes. Check also the lighting quality, if it is poor or fantastic, and also the color of the floor: this will help you choosing the right makeup. and, if you have different options, choosing the best dress to start with and the one to wear for the evening session.
The specific preparation
Once you have enough information about your next event, you must translate this into your preparation.
First, compare the dimensions of your practice floor with the one of the competition, if it is too large, try reducing the size by placing some chairs on the floor, or if you are not alone there, put some referement on the side or on the wall. If it is too small, you should find the possibility to practice at least a couple of times before the venue on a bigger floor. If you can’t do that either, try to stretch your routines and simulate the kind of drive and motion you should have for the competition, without giving to much thought if you can’t fit in that practice floor you. Just try to dance some part of your routines, but with full dynamic.
Start using more often than usual the kind of music that will be played at the event. Especially for the major competitions, there are well-known playlists that you can easily get online, so you can put yourself exactly in that atmosphere every time you play those tracks. By the way, you don’t need necessarily to own those songs, you can play on YouTube a video of the final from a past edition of the competition you are preparing for and use the audio for your own practice! Many top-couples use this method to motivate themselves and to keep focused on the event already several weeks before the competition. In this way, they also get comfortable with the speed and the length of the music.
For all those details around the floor, try to think about them especially during your stamina sessions. While dancing, see in front and around you the crowd, imagine it as it will be the day of the comp. See them sitting at the table, so your performance must be directed to a near spectator, your eyes looking almost down. Or open yourself to reach the public sitting far on the tribunes, be wider, with greater amplitude of the gestures and direct your eyes far beyond the first row.
Learn from the pros
In many other sports this is a common way to approach an event. For example, Formula 1 pilots before a race (when they are still travelling and not yet at the venue) use simulators to get acquainted with the track they are going to race on. This is how they get ready before they actually start driving on the real circuit.
Also, tennis players start several weeks before to train on the same kind of ground and with the same balls they will find at the tournament they are training for.
In the end, the suggestion is to focus not only on yourself, but on what is around you and where you will be performing next, so that your practice will as specific as it can be.
The more you try to recreate around you the competition vibe during your practice, the best performance you can show the day of the event.
Italian, dancing since the age of 5 and currently based in Moscow. With his partner Ekaterina Utkina, he is in the top 50 WDSF Adult Standard World Ranking, representing the Russian Federation. Find him on Email: [email protected] Facebook: facebook.com/matteodelga; Instagram: instagram.com/matteo_delga/.