There Is No Shortcut to Success – Aleksander Makarov | Tips from the PROS
Tips from the PROS is a series where artists share some of their advice on how to do it right. It explores the dance world and offers tips coming the best of the best.
Since I’ve been teaching for many years, I was able to notice that most dancers want to get the answer to the same thing – how to be the best dancer. They hope you’d reveal to them some extraordinary tips, a miracle recipe and give them a shortcut to success. Well, in life things don’t work that way.
You’ll learn through dancing and training that improving your skills (this includes technique, basic steps, communication with the partner, performance and the way you express yourself) takes A LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT.
In this article, I’ll share with you what I learned as a dance teacher and as a former professional dancer about getting the most out of your training.
Keep your feet on the ground
In the dancesport world, it’s easy to get hyped up about success and goals, which is understandable. Dancers meet a lot of people, and music is a huge part of their life. However, you should keep your feet on the ground, and be as objective and realistic as possible.
I’m not talking about setting low goals and losing faith in yourself – of course, you shouldn’t do that. I’m talking about expecting things to go fast and focusing on the results rather than on improvement.
Champions know the importance of enjoying the learning process. If you’re only looking for the results, you’ll easily get discouraged and lose your motivation. So, listen to your teacher’s advice and work on things that you need to improve. That will create the results in the future.
Do your part of the deal
A teacher is there to steer you in the right direction and help you learn the basics and technique. But, your teacher can’t do it all.
What’s the point of having a private lesson and then not working on the things your teacher showed you? Both you and your partner should practice what you learned in the class. So, be serious about it as the training is the only way you can work on your skills and improve them.
“How long will it take me to learn that?” – No one has an answer to this question.
Dancers always want to know how much time learning a certain step or technique will take. Let’s be straight right away – that’s impossible to know because we’re all different. Every couple learns at a different pace. For example, some couples need 3 hours of practice, while others can learn the steps within one hour. Some lessons might be very easy for you, while for others can be very hard. It’s different every single time.
So, don’t give time too much thought. Instead, focus on learning what your teacher told you to learn and doing that correctly. That’s all you need to think about. Then, when you see your teacher next time and you go through the steps/technique again, he/she will give you a feedback so that you know where you’re standing.
Build dance stamina
I know that you’ve already been told to work on your stamina, I’m not telling you anything new here. But, do you really, really focus on building stamina? This doesn’t mean going to the gym a couple of times per week and jogging. This means training every day and doing a wide range of exercises to improve your stamina. So, if you’re not doing all that, I advise you to start.
Maybe you think that’s not as important as working on the choreography, or working on your speed, but think again. Every dancer who has been to a competition knows that stamina is the key to success; not speed. Don’t take me wrong, surely that other things matter too.
However, if you can’t dance all five dances in a row and look great at the stage because you’re tired, your muscles are in a huge pain, and you’re out of breath, let’s be honest, you won’t get too far in the competition. Plus, you’ll have many competitors, and you have to be on a par with them.
Building stamina is one of the most important things to focus on at your training classes, so don’t underestimate it.
So, that would be all I have to say to you about making the most out of your training. You’ll be amazed by how much confidence you’ll have at the competition when knowing that you did everything you could to build your stamina, speed, confidence, and other skills that make your style and dance different from your competitors. Dancing is about giving your best every single time.
If you want to find out how to use feedback to improve your skills rather than to be mad at the world, read my second article.
Also, if your eyes are tired from reading give a listen to the podcast I was on.
Photography: Rachel Neville
Aleksander Makarov is an iconic figure in dancesport who teaches champions like Madis Abel and Aleksandra Galkina. Along with his partner, Katrin End, they won International Championships U21 and 2nd and 3rd place at Blackpool under 21. His dream to be an international dance teacher came true, so he travels a lot and shares his knowledge with dancers all over the world.