Monday, 11 September 2017

Studio Etiquette - Those Unwritten Rules

The dance world can be a funny old place and stepping into a studio can sometimes feel a little daunting to any newcomer. Bags piled up in a corner, curtseying at the end of class, people dropping into the splits seemingly at random...but do not worry! I'm here to breakdown the unwritten rules of a dance studio.

This post is aimed at those starting adult dance classes. The rules are generally similar in most dance studios but tend to be much stricter in children's, pre-professional and professional classes.

1: No outdoor shoes in the studio
This is just a common courtesy. Dance floors (the majority of) are incredibly expensive and wearing outdoor shoes can not only dirty the floor but also damage it. If you're attending a street dance class, trainers are pretty commonly worn but try to only wear them for class and not when walking your dog. Also, with outdoor shoes bringing in dirt, take into consideration a contemporary class that might follow yours...I don't think they'd be too happy to be rolling on a filthy floor!

2: No bags under the barre
It's common practice within the studio to leave all your bags in one place. There's usually a pile of them near the door. This is to help save space and also to make sure that you don't trip over any loose straps. Some studios will have a changing room and lockers where you can leave your valuables but for most adult classes, it's a case of dumping your bag with everyone else's. It's a good idea to leave your valuables at home and just bring what you absolutely need (phone, cash for the teacher etc...).

3: No food or drink (other than water)
Yes, please, please don't eat (or chew gum) inside the studio. For the same reason as rule 1, it can get messy and floors are expensive! Of course, water is an absolute must for any class but please make sure it's secure in a water bottle. You can place the bottle under the barre for easy access or keep it in your bag.

4. Be on time
By this, I mean arriving at least 10 minutes before your class. This is to help prevent any injuries by giving you plenty of time to warm-up. It also gives you a bit of headspace, to get in the zone for dancing and get you focussed and ready for class. Of course, as adults, we work, have other responsibilities so teachers of adult classes are usually much more flexible around timekeeping.

5. Don't take someone's spot at the barre
Now, this is a funny one and I have to say I've definitely been guilty of doing this quite a few times! This rule is really aimed specifically at ballet classes. For people who have been attending the class for a long time, they will usually stick to the same place at the barre each week. If you take their place, you may get looked at funny or even asked to move. It's quite silly to be honest but it can happen! The best thing to do is just find a new spot.

6. Be spatially aware
This follows on from the rule above. As dancers, we need our space otherwise things can get a little...well dangerous! At the barre, give yourself enough room to swing your leg in front and behind. The same applies for centre work.

7. No chatting.
Ok, it's not like some kind of Victorian classroom where you need to keep absolutely silent or else! It's more, just be respectful. Everyone taking a dance class will be there for different reasons, some will be there for exercise, some for fun and others may even be getting back into training or furthering their training. With that in mind, keep chatting to an absolute minimum and please never talk when the instructor is.

8. Asking questions
Now, this can be tricky and honestly, it's entirely dependent on the instructor. I've been in classes where questions are actively encouraged and I've been in classes where questions are actively discouraged. To play it safe, it's probably best to wait for the instructor to give you the go ahead. When asking questions, try to keep them short and relevant. Remember, practice makes perfect!

9. Pay your teacher
I know, it seems like common sense right? The thing is, in most adult classes, payment will be taken by the teacher at the end of the class and it's your responsibility to remember to go over and pay them. The amount of times I've seen people walk out and not pay is unpleasant but it happens.

10. The bow/curtsey
This will seem completely weird (and wonderful?) to a newcomer but you'll soon get used to it. In a ballet class, it's common practice to curtsey/bow at the end of class and thank your teacher and pianist (if live music is being used). In all other dance classes, it's common practice to either clap/thank the teacher or bow and thank the teacher. This might all seem a little over-the-top to begin with but it'll soon feel completely normal.

There are many, many more wonderfully peculiar unwritten rules to follow in the dance studio but I think I've got you covered with the basics. In adult classes, the atmosphere is usually much more laid back and no one is really going to mind if you rock up a little late or ask a few questions. I may do a separate post for pre-professional and professional classes as these are much stricter with a few more specific rules to follow. If you'd be interested in a post like this let me know in the comments below!

I really hope this post helps a little and makes you feel a little more at ease about attending your first adult dance class. If you haven't seen my previous post about what to expect at your first ballet class, then please check it out here.

- Kat

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