Since my life has settled down (after a pretty momentous few months) I’ve been trying to take more ballet class and step my training up a notch. I’m currently taking class Monday-Thursday and try to take class on Saturday and Sunday wherever possible. Each class is 90 minutes long, with a variety of teachers (usually 5 different teachers at 3 ballet schools), so I get a whole range of corrections. It can be hard to take on board all these corrections, especially if they are small/subtle changes, and even harder to build on them class by class.
That’s why I have a dance journal.
What is a Dance Journal?
I’m going to give a complete non-answer here: a dance journal is whatever you want it to be. That wasn’t very useful, was it? Sorry!
It’s true though: there’s no set definition of what a dance journal is or what should be in it. I think of a dance journal simply as a tool to help me progress in my ballet training. Personally, my journal is a small notebook (make sure you pick a nice one – you’ll be writing in it a lot!) that lives in my dance bag. It’s there for me to put in any notes that might be useful to look back on in the future.
Abstractly, my dance journal is both my reflection and motivation. It enables me to build on my corrections from class to class, and to look back and see my progress. It enables me to see if bad habits are forming, or if I’m improving a particular movement or technique.
What should I put in a Dance Journal?
So what should you put in there? You’ve got a lot of choice and it’s really down to you and what you think will be useful.
Here’s a few things I put in my Dance Journal:
- Corrections: This is definitely the bulk of my journal. After class I’ll try and write down all corrections I was given, although sometimes I don’t remember them until a day or two later!
- Metaphors and Imagery: If a teacher uses a particular piece of imagery that I find really useful then I’ll note it down.
- Nice combinations: If there’s a particularly nice combination in class then I’ll note it down. I’m probably not going to use it in the future but it’s a nice memory to keep.
- Choreography: If I’m learning a piece of choreography, I’ll keep notes in my journal. It’s not necessarily the entire piece, but hints and prompts to help me.
- Achievements: This is something people (including myself!) often forget to note down – when something goes well! Nail a triple pirouette? Put that in your journal!
Why should I use a Dance Journal?
Do you want to maximise your progress? Can you spare (literally) five minutes after class to write down some notes? Then there’s no reason not to use a dance journal!
A glimpse into my Dance Journal…
So, how do I use my dance journal? I thought I’d share some notes from my recent classes (along with a pic of my first ever dance journal!).
Don’t leave chest behind in pirouettes – move trailing arm before anything else to get chest round before anything else.
Don’t do 32 jumps, do a single jump 32 times – last should be as good as the first.
Work on engaging the core without tightening the chest – especially for developpés.
Make every balance grow – keep pushing through standing leg and reach chest up and over (think of a cresting wave).
Frappés should be cheeky and cute. Balancés should be sexy.
Hold muscles like water – can’t hold with clenched fists or open palms. Need to be somewhere between.
Got a “great!” during my grand jeté in grand allegro – and teacher said the woman in my group and I were in “perfect sync”. Yay!
Do you have a Dance Journal? What do you put in yours? If you don’t have one yet, how about adding it to your Christmas list…?