R.E.S.P.E.C.T. the Dance: Lessons in Dance Class Etiquette

Every dancer out here knows this summer in LA has been wild. There are more dancers than ever before- which is a beautiful thing. People are here from every city in the world- to take class, practice their craft and be inspired.

The enthusiasm for learning and training is so awesome… but what’s not awesome is the lack of class etiquette! When I went to dance school, back in the stone age, we didn’t only learn to dance- we learned RESPECT. We learned how to TAKE class properly… and I’m afraid those messages of discipline and proper behavior are long lost. So I’ve dug them up, dusted off the cobwebs and have decided to list some of the most important aspects of class etiquette here.

Think class etiquette isn’t important? More important to just get the choreo and have fun? Well how about this- I can promise you that if you are not behaving properly in someone’s class, the instructor notices. I can also promise you that no matter how dope you are, if you are rude or disrespectful- or just outright oblivious in class- that choreographer will not book you for work. If you cannot behave properly when you are paying to be somewhere – why would you when we are paying you to be there? Time is money and no one wants to work with someone who is not focused, cannot follow instructions or slacks off.

Does that sound important? Well good. Because it is. You build your reputation, and therefor your career, as a dancer every time you step onto a dance floor. Take class, but take it seriously and correctly, or don’t take it at all.

Yes, dance is fun- but here in LA its also a JOB and training is not to be taken lightly. People are paying hard earned money and dedicating their lives to being here. People have moved from their homes and families, some dancers are so broke they are living in their cars or with multiple roommates, or maybe working two jobs- just for the privilege of being in LA to train and pursue their dream. It is our responsibility to each other, to the dance community, to make a positive learning environment where dancers can grow and excel.

1. Do not talk when the instructor is speaking. So often in class I see dancers turn around and talk loudly to their friends while a teacher is addressing the class. That’s really rude and huge no-no if you ask me!

2. When dancers are performing in groups at the end of class, MOVE ALL THE WAY OFF THE DANCE FLOOR. it’s fine to practice on the side but make sure you are as far off the floor as possible. If the choreographer is filming, be sure to clear the back as well. CLAP when the group goes out and when they finish. When its your turn to perform in a group don’t you want space and support from your classmates and peers? I’m sure you do. So, treat other dancers with that same respect.

3. When a teacher asks you to switch lines, SWITCH LINES.

4. When a teacher asks you to “watch”- STOP moving and watch the instructor. Don’t dance along with the instructor- JUST watch.

5. If you want to stand in front, WORK HARD. You are at the front of the class and are often serving as an example to the people behind you. If you have no energy or want to mess around with friends, stand in the back. If you are in the front dance full out and work at your full potential.

6. When the teacher asks the front half of the room to squat down, the front HALF needs to squat down- not just the front line. If you are from the middle to the front, regardless if you are off to the side- squat down.

7.PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. If you want to tape yourself at the end of class, fine. But you should not be touching your phone to take selfies or doing anything else during class. Also, if you are going to have someone else video tape you, have them squat down directly in front of you. Sometimes, people will stand in the middle of a group, or reach their arms almost in the faces of other dancers in order to capture their friend while other dancers are trying to practice or perform. Be respectful of every other dancer in the room when you are taping or taking class.

Those are my most important rules for class etiquette when training in professional dance studios. Learn em, love em, USE EM!

Have any that I missed? I’d love to hear what you think is important and appropriate class behavior! Leave your most important rules in the comments below. Happy Training!

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