Ask Amy

Published in the June/July 2011 issue.

I want to do everything I can at my summer program to improve my dancing so I can be placed in a higher level this fall. How do I make sure I get the most out of every class? –Leila, MD

I used to keep a notebook of corrections over the summers. You want to apply your corrections in class, of course, but writing them down afterwards helps you remember to apply them the next day and the next. And don’t just focus on your own corrections—pay attention to those given to your classmates, because chances are you could benefit from them as well. Write down any conditioning exercises you learn, like Pilates or floor barre, so that you can continue to do them at home (I even used to draw little diagrams to help me remember sequences and positions!). Use your time efficiently, too. If you have a break and see a studio open, use it to practice something you’re having trouble wit

Making new friends is one of the best benefits of summer programs. That being said, make sure your social life doesn’t interfere with getting a good night’s sleep, because your body’s going to need it! (It’ll also be tempting to chow down on junk food now that you’re away from home, but don’t forget that your muscles need proper fuel to get through long days of dancing.) Try to avoid any drama with your new classmates—jealousy, petty fights and gossip will cloud your mind and distract you away from your goals.

It’s great that you are determined to advance to the higher level at your home studio, and you have great opportunity to improve this summer. Keep in mind, though, that improvement is a process that takes time. Try not to get frustrated if you don’t reach your goals overnight; acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small.