The Dancer's Diary

Here's a thing.  I used to publish a monthly newsletter.  You loved it.  And you were sweet enough to write and tell me you did.

You just didn't like waiting for it.

So I'm doing the only thing I can – I've turned it into a blog.
You won't have to wait for entries anymore – I'm going to publish articles, thoughts, ideas, tips and encouragement just as soon as I write it.

And if you want to have a look at back issues of the old newsletters, they're below…

Have you missed the (dance) boat?

January is done.  Broken your New Year resolutions?  Lost any weight yet?  Feeling much fitter?  No?
If you think you’ve missed the boat when it comes to health and fitness for this year, is it really too late to join a dance class and get going?

Yes, you’re done.  Just give up, order a pizza and wait ‘til next year.


Think a little differently about the kinds of places that offer dance lessons. 

First place to look is no further.  Do a dance class at home, right now.  It doesn’t matter where you do your class, as long as you do it – your body doesn’t know the difference.  Getting the blood pumping and your heart rate up is the same no matter what kind of room you’re in.  Within a few minutes of changing into something comfy and perhaps moving a bit of the furniture out of the way, you can be in class, no excuses.  Do it now.


How about looking at classes in your nearest college or university?  Many colleges offer classes for their pupils that are open to the general public too.  And because of the college calendar some of those classes don’t start until February, or they are run on a drop-in basis throughout term-time.  Personally, I do my hardest weekly class at a barre workout lesson at my local university.  And the new term of classes for 2018 didn’t start until this week.

So don’t just look at studios and gyms for classes – education and community centers, arts workshops and theaters, clubs and bars, and school sports centers have all been venues for really great dance classes.  Think about it from the teacher’s point of view.  He/she will look for somewhere that’s just got a big clear space and is fairly cheap to rent by the hour so think like a teacher and track down those classes. 

And lastly, an absolutely fantastic place to find not only dance classes that you aren't aware of, but also a like-minded soul who might make a great class buddy to go along with... Facebook groups.  Unless you live on the moon, there's is probably a bunch of Facebook groups in your local area that know of classes and courses that could be perfect for you.  It doesn't take too much detective work to find and join them and they are an absolute goldmine of information and connections. 

Get searching now and find the class for you.  Wherever it might be.  Including in your own living room. 

And put that pizza down.  It isn’t January any more.

Should I go to dance class when I’m not feeling good?

So, you’re not on your death-bed, but you don’t feel great.  Do you go to dance class or not?

Pains and strains should be fully rested before you attempt any dance class, especially if they are in your back or any joint, such as ankle, knee or hip.  That’s just common sense. 
If you’ve suffered an injury such as bruising, it’s fine to dance in class as long as you’re aware that you need to be a little careful of your movements.  Spend longer on the warm up and MUCH longer on your cool down.  Stretch, stretch and then stretch again.
Oh, and tell your teacher before the class starts.  It’s polite to let her know that your movement is restricted.  You don’t want her to think you’re doing it all wrong.

Coughs and colds, it depends. If you are infectious or think you may have a virus, then absolutely not.  The amount of sweating and close contact in dance studios turns them into a petri dish of germs at the best of times without you adding several million more bugs to the mix.  So no, if you’re coughing, sneezing or any other explosion of bodily fluid is likely, please, for your sake and everyone else’s, stay away.

Even if you walk into class perfectly healthy, don’t overlook the fact that you may be assaulted by a whole battalion of germs from your class-mates. 
Anti-bac wipes are a really good kit-bag item – clean your hands before and immediately after your class. You’re going to be touching surfaces that a lot of sweaty (and perhaps unhealthy) people have touched, so don’t wipe your hands across your face during class.

All that said, if you’re simply feeling a little under the weather, perhaps just a little run down, dance classes can kill or cure.  Most times it’s cure (thankfully).  I find that it’s like a jolt to the system that helps to re-boot me, re-set everything.  That blast of adrenalin, the blood pumping again, can sweep away the last bits of feeling down. 
Last time I was feeling a bit worn out it worked wonders for me.  I’d had a bad cold for ages.  It had eventually gone but left me feeling wrung out and totally lacking in energy.  But my new term of classes was due to start.  Did I miss the first one and give myself longer to recover?  No.  I did toy with the idea of staying away.  But in the end I gathered my kit bag and dragged myself to class.  And by the end of that one hour, I felt like a different person.  Yes, it was a tough class and I really felt it the next day, but it swept away all the cobwebs and gave me a real shot of vitality.  It was like a breath of fresh air and I’d recommend it to anyone who just needs a pick-me-up.

But in all other instances, where genuine illness or injury is present, I would say stay tucked up in the warm comfort of home until you’re well.  Then dance your heart out once you’re fit and healthy and back in class.

Why, when it comes to what to wear to dance class,
you're asking the wrong question...

OK, so, it’s the beginning of a new semester of dance classes, and you’ve finally decided to sign up.

You call the studio or teacher, with one main question on your mind: “What do I wear?” 

To which, the teacher will probably say something like “Whatever you feel comfortable in”. 

The teacher is trying to be warm and welcoming and encouraging.  These are all good things.  But their answer leaves you more confused than ever.  Your pajamas are comfortable right?  But those won’t do, surely?  So what does ‘comfortable’ mean?

Now, hopefully the teacher will tell you if there’s anything you definitely need to bring – whether it’s making sure you have some socks for ballet class if you don’t yet have ballet slippers, or making sure that you wear shorts or a leotard for pole dance class so you can grip onto the pole properly.  But apart from a few real specifics, the ‘comfortable’ instruction is really common, and doesn’t actually help you.
But here’s something that will.  You’re actually asking the wrong question.

At the heart of your query is a desire to fit in. You don’t want to turn up and be the only person dressed a certain way.  Wearing what most of the other pupils wear is going to give you the confidence that fitting in does.
So your question shouldn’t be “What should I wear?” but “What do the other pupils usually wear?”.
That way, you’ll get really insightful specifics, and you’ll be able to pitch your outfit just right.

Back issues


May 2017
Quick dance fitness for summer, a dizzying dance video, and being really nosey

April 2017
More Fabletics, Fred Astaire, charms, the nerves of the night before

March 2017
Bad dance pupils, Sergei Polunin, Fabletics, a tiny tip for the very shy

February 2017
Bad dance teachers, Alvin Ailey, the gross-est ever story, Rudolf Nureyev

January 2017
Best tips for home learning, Ryan Gosling, watching dance performance, RIP Ana-Alecia


December 2016
Hair & makeup for class, learn to dance in 10 mins, ballet progression, The Red Shoes

November 2016
Dance gifts inspiration, bluff your way through Nutcracker, mix up your class music

October 2016
World ballet day, the best question to ask, make your class love you, dance movies

September 2016
Amy Purdy, dance kit bag, ideal leotard, barres for home, Kendall Jenner

About me

My full bio is here

I’ve been running for over 16 years. 

Before it launched I’d already been researching adult beginners’ dance classes for several years, and of course long before that (from when I was tiny) I’ve been dancing myself. 

I love the dance world.  And yet, often see things in it that make me want to scream.  With a few tweaks and well-placed tips, both pupils AND teachers can get so much more from their experience of attending or teaching adult beginner’s classes.  This diary is my opportunity to pass along all those little things that can make dancing all the more delightful. 

So welcome the shy, the experienced, the talented, the nervous, the enchanted, the two-left-feet lot.  You'll all find something here to help, encourage, inspire and invite you deeper into the world of learning to dance.  It's a magical place.

I wish you all, as ever, happy dancing

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