The studio doors are soon to be opening up again and there will be so many aspiring dancers starting dance college this September. As exciting as it is, starting full time vocational dance college can also be very daunting. We had a chat with Kitty Rich, third year student at Bird College who let us know her top tips for those starting dance college this year.
‘What are the dance classes like, do you get thrown into the deep end straight away?’
With my experience, the first few weeks felt quite intense as practical classes started pretty much immediately as I walked through the door. It was inspiring to be in a new environment, dancing with new and such talented people. It made me super excited for the next few years. I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t slightly intimidating to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people (it definitely was) but I knew it was ultimately going to push me to be the best I can be.
In the first few months you may be stripped back to basics so be prepared to spend a while in jazz fourths and flat-backs. Everyone comes at different levels so it just means it’s more of a level playing field before things get more difficult. It’s worth it though as you come out of the other side stronger and less likely to get injured so it’s a win-win.
What advice would you give to someone who is nervous about making friends or fitting in?
It may seem like you’re the only one feeling as nervous as you but no matter how calm people may seem, everyone is in the same position. Everyone is finding their feet. Everyone wants to meet people and make friends. So be confident and try and instigate conversation. Simple things like “where are you from?” or “how long have you been dancing for?” are always great conversations starters to open up the conversation. You never know… That person you’ve made conversation with may end up being a friend for life. What have you got to lose?
‘Do you have any tips or advice on how to juggle cooking, cleaning and looking after yourself as well as being in full time dance college?’
Train yourself to tidy up after yourself as you go. The last thing you’d want is to come home from a long day at college to a messy room and a sink full of washing up. You will thank yourself later!
Meal prepping dinner and lunches will be your best friend. Find meals you love that you can stick in the fridge or freezer ready to heat up. Batch cook them on a day you finish earlier and you will be sorted for a few days. It’s amazing.
I also love to spend a Sunday night pampering myself. Doing a good stretch/roll out after a long soak in the bath whist in a face and hair mask is my favourite form of self care.
Do you have any advice for someone on how to stay motivated?
All of the exercises above can be performed as part of your warm up or on their own as an ankle conditioning session. Always make sure you have a safe environment to work in, and consult your teacher, physiotherapist or podiatrist with any questions.
How do you handle constructive criticism from your teachers and peers?
Getting constructive criticism is like gold dust. There’s so many people in a class so if a teacher is looking at you and gives you a correction, that’s a good thing. Even if it doesn’t seem it at the time, look at the bigger picture. That correction may transform the way you dance or perform. Always look on the bright side.
Is there anything you recommend bringing with you that you can live without?
A good-sized bag to take to college is a necessity. You don’t want one that’s too big so that it hurts to carry but you also don’t want one that’s so small that you can’t fit everything in. A nice in-between will be perfect.
A foam roller, massage balls or even a tennis ball are AMAZING at getting the knots out of your body.
Bring nice outfits that you feel confident in. If you feel good, you will perform good.
Injuries are quite common so having ice and heat ready to go is essential. A reusable ice pack/frozen peas and a microwaveable heat pack will be great to use in an emergency. Fingers crossed no one will ever have to use them but it’s always good to have just in case.
A good stock of hair products and accessories will help to make it super quick and easy to do your hair.
A nice, big water bottle. Stay hydrated.
‘Finally, If you had three top pieces of advice for someone who is about to start dance college what would they be?’
Making mistakes is part of the process. A teacher once said to me ‘I love it when students fall over because it means they are pushing themselves to new extremes’. Practice makes progress so don’t expect yourself to perform perfectly all the time.
Your friends and peers may get opportunities that you might not get so finding the balance between being happy for them and expressing that but also having the awareness that it’s okay and normal to be gutted for yourself is super important.Your time will come.
Dance college is what you make of it so finding the balance between serious training and having fun is super important. You get out of it the effort that you put in so just try your best and it will be amazing.
Dance college is a place to learn and grow so remember to be yourself, work hard and you will do just fine! P.S don't forget to have fun too!
Give Kitty a follow for more back to college advice
The Move Dance Team