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Ask Amy: How to Work Through a Training Plateau

I've noticed that my progress has plateaued. Class starts out pretty well, but once we get to center, it seems like I am not improving whatsoever. Help! —Sade


You're not alone; all dancers experience a plateau at some point. Chances are you are improving, but slowly—maybe so slowly that you don't realize it. I've often found that fresh ideas and a good dose of inspiration help. Is there a master class or workshop you could take? A perspective from a different teacher can help you realize things you hadn't considered before, or make a common correction suddenly "click."

Instead of fixating on higher legs and perfect pirouettes, think about musical nuance, your expression and port de bras, moving your body through space.

Think about how you approach class, too. Improvement doesn't just "happen" with blind practice—you need to actively build upon concepts from barre in center. If your teacher has asked you to turn out more from the standing hip in an attitude balance, for instance, think about that later as you practice attitude turns. You might also try taking a lower-level class once a week. Being the most advanced dancer in the room will give you a boost of confidence, but the class will also help you explore the basics of your technique.

Whenever I've been frustrated with my progress, focusing on my artistry really helped. (That's what we're all doing this for anyway, right?) Instead of fixating on higher legs and perfect pirouettes, think about musical nuance, your expression and port de bras, moving your body through space. Trust me: It will make a difference in how you feel and how you dance.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

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