As any dance student will tell you, a dance studio is not complete without a mirror. This essential learning tool is a key part of every dance class, allowing students a precise way to confirm that they are properly executing their dance movements.
And yet, the same tool that helps dance students improve can also hinder their progress. If dance students form an unhealthy attachment to using mirrors during practice, this can lead to an unfocused performance on stage. What’s more, students will lack confidence when dancing without being accompanied by their own reflection.
Instead of looking at themselves in the mirror, a good dancer needs to focus on choreography. And to get to that point, a dance student – of any style, whether they be a ballet dancer or hip hop – will need to stop relying on old habits.
Here’s how to practice dancing without a mirror:
Mirror use can be very beneficial to a dance student. It can help align your poses and movements, clean up group routines, and allow you to properly judge your movements. Unfortunately, one of the major drawbacks to using a mirror is that dance students tend to focus too much on their own reflection.
For all the practicing that dance students do, practice only serves as the preparation for a performance. Without a mirror, dancers may be disorientated and lose their focus when transitioning from the dance studio to the open stage for the first time.
Overcome this problem by getting your dancer to enlarge their focus. Instead of dancing to their image on the other side of the mirror, have them extend their focus further, growing their performance in size so that it can be felt at the back of the auditorium.
And, instead of always pointing the head and eyes towards the mirror, try incorporating choreography that offers a different focus instead of one that is lost inside the mirror.
Although doing something new is hard, it doesn’t compare to the difficulty of breaking a bad habit. So if a young dance student in your life has been taking dance lessons for many years, getting them to stop using a mirror may be very difficult if they have formed an attachment to it.
If this is the case, encourage your dancer to avoid using the mirror during practice as their next step as a dance student. With years of experience behind them, challenge them to use their skills in a new way rather than following the same routine as before.
In addition to dancing at home, student dancers can avoid mirror use by facing different directions during rehearsals. If looking away is not possible, the dance teacher can try covering up the mirror.
This is one case where unpracticed dancers may have an advantage over experienced dancers that have become overly attached to mirrors. The less you use a mirror, the less dependent you are on it.
An over reliance on mirror use makes dance students more concerned about the way movement looks instead of the way it feels. They may be performing dance movements correctly as taught by their dance instructor, but they have yet to internalize this movement as their very own.
A good dancer understands movement in a physical way instead of visually. Using a mirror makes you rely less on your proprioception, your body’s natural ability to sense movement and location. Recover this essential dancer’s ability by practicing without a mirror, and record the results as a way to assess progress and make adjustments.
A dancer needs to trust in their own body. Live in the moment, and feel the movement instead of seeing it!
It will take practice and hard work, but your dance student will see that practicing without a mirror can be greatly beneficial to their dance progress! Soon, your dance student will be performing on the dance floor with confidence!
Are you looking for more dancing tips? Read our blogs to find out what are the best clothes to wear for acro dance class, or the ideal age to start ballet classes for your child.
CDM Dance & Music is the GTA’s go-to dance studio for learning ballet, tap, jazz, and more! We offer many recreational dance lessons, online dance lessons, competitive dance programs, and more! Contact us today!