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Time to hit the books, or the studio?

           Time to hit the books, or the studio?

Figuring out what you want to do with your life after high school can be extremely difficult. If you’ve grown up dancing, and have been serious enough about it to consider pursuing dance as a career, then it’s time to figure out what you need to do to make it happen. You can of course just dive in and audition for roles or a spot in a company, get an agent, or move to a big city to train and audition. Or, you can go to a post-secondary school to further your training and prepare for your dance career, while getting an education.  

What are your steps?

Ask yourself what it is you want out of your education. Do you want to teach, do you want to dance professionally? What styles do you want to focus on? There are so many options, so take time to really think about it. Some people want a degree as a back up plan in case their dance career doesn’t work out. Some people want the option to study something else while kick starting their dance career (minoring in kinesiology is popular amongst dancers).  If a degree sounds like a long term, intimidating plan, look into your diploma options!

Next, you need to determine what you want to get out of the program. Most Canadian schools offer options for ballet, contemporary, or commercial dance. Simon Fraser University, for example, is Contemporary based. You’ll study ballet, but the prime focus is on modern techniques such as Graham, Cunningham, and Horton. Ryerson offers a broader curriculum which includes modern, ballet, contemporary, and jazz. University of Regina offers an education degree with a focus on dance, preparing you to teach in public schools. George Brown College aims to prepare you for a career in commercial performance.

Find out what your options are

We’ve provided a list of post-secondary dance programs in Canada. Keep in mind that we have only listed Canadian schools, but there are international options, as well! We have also only listed Colleges and Universities. There are many additional professional training programs in Canada, we’ve just limited our list to those offering post-secondary accreditation.

Diploma Programs:

Undergrad Degrees:

  • Simon Fraser University
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Major in Dance
    • Extended Minor in Dance
    • Joint Degree/Diploma program with the National Ballet School
  • University of Calgary
    • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Dance
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance
    • Combined BA (Dance) / BKin (Kinesiology)
    • Minor in Dance
  • York University
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Honours
    • Bachelor of Arts (BA) Honours
    • Concurrent Degree in Education (BEd)
    • Joint Diploma/Degree with the National Ballet Schoo, of Canada
    • Joint Diploma/Degree with the School of Toronto Dance Theatre
  • Ryerson University
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Performance Dance
  • University of Regina
    • Bachelor of  Arts Education Program (BEd) combined with Bachelor of Dance
  • Concordia University
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Major in Contemporary Dance
  • University of Winnipeg (In Partnership with Winnipeg’s School of Contemporary Dancers)
    • Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) Honours in Dance

Do Your Research

Your first step will be to check out the websites of the schools you are interested in. Find out when application deadlines and auditions are. It’s also worth your time to reach out to current students and alumni: ask them about their experiences, what they love about the program, what they find challenging, and what the audition experience was like.  Look up what their alumni are up to. Attend an info session or check out the campus. 

Find out what you need for the application & audition

In addition to your High School Requirements and the basic application process, dance programs will require an audition. You’ll either need to attend an audition (which means travel, staying in a hotel, making sure you have someone to accompany you), or submit a video audition- in which case, you need to make a video. You’ll also need headshots, a dance resume, references and/or reference letters, and you should be prepared to answer questions in an interview setting.

I hope this has given you some new information on your options for studying dance at university. There are so many great options out there, so find the one that’s right for you. Good luck on your journey!

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Cross Training. You’ve probably heard the term before, but do you know what it means and why it matters to you as a dancer? Well, cross training simply refers to training in a sport or activity other than the one which is your main focus. By doing so, you improve the skills and fitness needed for your main activity. In our case, it means doing activities other than dance to supplement your dance training. We’re going to explain why you should cross train, and how you can get started.

jump-rope

What & Why?

Geneen having fun while keeping fit!

           Geneen having fun while keeping fit!

Why should you bother with cross training? Well, it’s a great way to continue to improve your fitness, gain skills, and reach goals. We all have different natural strengths and weaknesses. No matter how great your teachers are, or how many classes you take, sometimes there are going to be things that you need to focus on in your own time in order to see improvement.

Cross Training can also be a fun way to switch things up. You love to dance, obviously. But sometimes doing an activity without the pressure to reach an elite level can be a welcome change. You don’t need to stress about how good you are at your cross training activity: you’re doing it to help you dance! Choose something fun, and don’t take it too seriously. CoreDance Founder & Director Geneen Georgiev loves keeping her cross training playful, with monkey bar workouts at the beach, and martial arts!

How?

How can you implement cross training into your already busy life? After all, you’re already at the studio 5 nights a week, and you have school, friends, and family. Our advice? Just add one session a week, about 1 hour. Involve your friends and family- go for a bike ride, or a Sunday hike!

During holidays and breaks from dance, add more to keep yourself in peak condition. We all need a break from dance (even just a little one) so Christmas, Spring Break, or Summer Vacation are perfect time to add a little something different.

biking

                     Go for a bike ride with a friend!

What to do?

So what sortyogas of cross training are useful for a dancer? Well, that depends on what you want to get out of it.

Do you find that you’re struggling with flexibility? Perhaps a yoga class would be perfect for you. Are your teachers telling you that you need to work on your core? Try going to the gym or focusing on strength training at home: standing on a balance board or working with a stability ball can be extremely beneficial in gaining core strength, as well as balance.

Some other suitable choices for dancers include pilates, swimming, biking, hiking, running, aerial silks, and weight training. Figure out what it is that you need to focus on, and find an activity that complements it!

Tips & Reminders

Choose activities that are specific to the style of dance you do, and what you need to improve on. If you want to improve your stamina, focus on cardio like swimming, biking, or running. If you want to  increase your flexibility, choose something along the lines of yoga or pilates. If you’re looking at overall strength and fitness, hit the gym or add some resistance/weight training at home.

Remember that cross training should be supplemental to your dance training; it shouldn’t take over, or cause you to be tired during your dance classes. Keep it fun, and don’t over do it!

 

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Geneen’s favourite: monkey bars & rings at the beach

 

We’ve all been there: searching in vain through an unorganized bag, trying to find a missing shoe or 1 more bobby pin. Throwing everything onto the change room floor, desperately sorting through orphaned socks and miscellaneous debris.

But what if- what if your dance bag was organized? Imagine it: you reach into your bag and find that missing shoe? Or a spare bobby pin is actually where you expect it to be?

We’re going to help you make this dream a reality.

We’ve listed the essentials, as well as the “just in case” items that all dancers should have on hand.

 

Hair Pins Vs. Bobby Pins

    Hair Pins Vs. Bobby Pins

1- Hair Supplies. You know you will need these.

  • Hair ties. Sometimes they just snap, and at least once a week someone will ask to borrow one. Be the girl with thehair ties.
  • Hair brush. ‘Nuff said.
  • Hair pins. Don’t try to make a bun with bobby pins. Use these.
  • Bobby Pins. Use these to keep your layers out of your eyes.
  • Hair nets. Keep those flyaways under control.
  • Hair spray. See above.

2- Massage Balls & Therapy Supplies

  • Resistance Bands. For stretching and strengthening. Great if you need to rehabilitate an injury.
  • Pinky ball or tennis ball. It’s an affordable personal massage therapist that lives in your bag!

    Cozy Layers

     Cozy Layers

  • Massage Stick. Work through those muscle knots!

3- Warm Up clothes & Extra Layers. Keep warm during those times when you’re not moving.

  • Thick socks. The cuter the better.
  • Leg warmers. A ballet must have.
  • Sweat Pants. Throw ‘em on between classes.
  • Long Sleeve Shirt or adorable sweater.

4- Ready-to-go Snacks. You need to have snacks that keep well in your bag, and don’t require much preparation.

  • Water bottle. Hydration is key.
  • Protein powder- mix with water for sustenance when you don’t have time for a real meal
  • Protein bars. My favourite home-made protein bar recipe can be found on My Sequined Life
  • Nuts & dried fruit- Almonds, walnuts & dried fruit are my faves.

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5- Dance shoes. Obviously, pack for the classes you take. But if you do ballet 5 days a week, you might as well let those slippers (or an extra pair) live in your bag.

Tip: Store each pair of shoes in a zip lock bag. That way the pairs stay together & are easy to find, & delicate fabrics stay in great shape.

 

6- Toiletries. Sometimes you head to class straight from school, & you just need to freshen upDuet a bit. Fresh breath is especially important when you’re doing partner work, agreed?

  • Deoderant
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush
  • Tooth paste
  • Tampons

7- Miscellaneous. Don’t let a blister ruin your day.

  • band aids

    20160910_160546

    Use a carabiner to store hair ties

  • Toes tape/athletic tape
  • Advil
  • Zip lock bags (for sweaty clothes)
  • Sewing kit
  • Nail clippers
  • Toes spacers
  • Toe Pads

8- Extras. Extra clothes. Extra Snacks. Extra Hair Stuff.

  • Tights
  • Shorts
  • Sports Bra

notebook9- Notebook & Pen

  • For jotting down inspiring words from a teacher, notes & corrections, or a combination you loved

10- Ipod/MP3 Player & headphones

  • For warming up & getting yourself in the zone before or between classes
  • Practice your choreography before class

We hope this helps you pack the perfect dance bag. Did we miss anything? Comment below to let us know what you would add!  Look for our “Performance Bag” edition closer to competition season!

12418066_834598376649866_8178964828093773914_nSeptember is almost here, and with it comes the shift from sunny care-free days to schedule and routine.  You might not be ready for “Back to School”, but you’re probably ready to head back to dance! The beginning of
a new dance year brings so much excitement: Seeing your dance friends after a few months apart, wondering what songs your teachers will choose for choreography, amping up to learn the latest “it” move.

However, after two months of vacation, heading back into the studio can come with a few challenges. Here are our Top 5 Tips for easing back in, and making sure that you start your dance year off right!

#1- Attend an End of Summer Intensive

Nothing helps you get back in shape faster than an intensive! Find a studio in your area that offers summer classes and get yourself moving. Our good friends over at M.E.M. Dance Co. are offering a Pre-Season Intensive the week before Labour Day! Check out their website for more information. http://www.memdanceco.com/

#2- Start Slow

Maybe you did a summer intensive or two. Maybe you watched a lot of Netflix. However you spent your summer, it’s important to remember that your body will need to re-adjust to dancing multiple hours a day.  It’s better to take it a bit slow than to jump in unprepared and end up with an injury.

Be extra aware during high-impact moves, like jumps. Landing complicated jumps when your ankles and knees aren’t yet ready will put you at risk for sprains, strains, tears, and even breaks

Your teachers know what you are capable of, so don’t feel like you have to impress them. Start small, and work your way up! Why not drop into a beginner class and refresh your basics?

#3-  Set Goals

Once you’re feeling back on track and ready to kick it up a notch, set a few dance goals for the year. Try setting a goal for flexibility, technique, and performance. Goals are a great way to measure your progress, and to challenge yourself. Tell a teacher or dance friend so they can help you keep on track.

#4- Stretch and Strengthen

StretchTake time every evening to do a few gentle stretches at home. Make it a part of your bedtime routine. You already know that it’s important to stretch when you’re warm, so do it after having a bath, or make sure to do a little cardio first!

Rebuild strength in your feet and ankles using a Theraband (they’re cheap & available at Sports Equipment stores, physio offices, & Walmart). Check out these exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6us2J8gFLc 

You can also strengthen your feet and toes with toe gymnastics: try picking up pencils with your toes, stand on a towel and “gather” it up with your toes, try to lift each of your toes off the floor one at a time. It’s harder than it sounds!

#5- Recover

It might not hit you right away, but you are going to experience some soreness after the first few days back in class.

Everything hurtsThe best way to ease the pain? Proper self care.

  • Invest in a foam roller. You will love it
  • Use balls to massage the muscles of your feet. My fave: Acuballs. But bouncy balls work, too!
  • Take a bath with epsom salts
  • Go to bed early
  • Eat nutritious meals and snacks, & make sure to drink plenty of water

My final tip for getting ready to dance again? Plan a Dance Movie Night with your dance besties.  My favourite (and cheesy) picks are “Center Stage,” “Save the Last Dance,” and of course the entire “Step Up” franchise.  Or try something inspirational, such as “First Position” or “Pina”.

Good luck, and have a great “Back to Dance” season!

 

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