Do I Have To Be In Shape To Start Taking Dance Class?

It is never too late to begin dancing, ever!

(If you didn’t already know that, click the link then come back. I’ll still be here.)

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to another question I get a lot from teens and adults interested in starting dance lessons:

How physically fit do I need to be to start taking dance class?

For all of you “late beginners” wondering something similar. Here’s my answer…

"Mirror Image" courtesy Nazareth College is licensed CC BY 2.0

“Mirror Image” courtesy Nazareth College is licensed CC BY 2.0

First, a disclaimer.

Before starting any new workout or physical activity you should talk to your doctor.

I am not a doctor. Go see one and ask him/her if you are healthy enough to start dance training or classes.

Fit To Start?

If you are in good health, there’s really no reason to wait. Feel free to enroll in a dance class right now.

But will I be flexible enough right now? Maybe not.

Will I be strong enough to do everything my teacher asks of me? Unlikely.

Will I feel comfortable with my body? That depends on you. Lots of dancers struggle with this issue and it has nothing to do with size, weight, or muscle tone.

But if I’m probably not flexible, or strong, or comfortable enough, shouldn’t I do some things to get more flexible, strong, and comfortable first?

If you feel particularly weak or stiff, or if it will make you feel more confident, by all means, safely up your level of overall activity or add simple stretching to your daily routine in the weeks before you begin your first class. But it’s not necessary.

As you practice or train in dance classes, you gain body awareness while working on the kind of movements, flexibility, strength needed for the particular style or discipline you are studying.

You will find some things in class difficult if your muscles are tight and some stretches difficult without the proper technique. A lack of strength will make some skills challenging but sometimes the best way to build the strength needed is to practice the skill (provided you are practicing it properly with guidance from your teacher).

With time and focus it will all become easier.

And for many of you, participating in a rich and expressive art form that develops your flexibility, awareness, strength, control, and a host of other benefits, that process is more than enough. You are getting what you want out of dance.


But is dance class really enough for me?

I don’t know what your specific goals are. Reaching them may certainly take some work outside of dance class too.

A balanced fitness routine includes aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training, flexibility and stretching to improve aerobic capacity, body structure, body composition, balance, muscular flexibility and strength.

A typical dance class like ballet or jazz certainly includes most of the above but not consistently. A technique class is not designed as a fitness class, and therefore does not necessarily address ALL of your fitness needs. This is particularly true when it comes to aerobic capacity or cardiovascular endurance.

If you are planning to start earnestly training in dance by taking daily classes or multiple sessions each week. You can consider cross-training to help you reach your dance and fitness goals. There are many cross-training options for dancers. Just be sure you are getting enough rest and not over-doing it!

If you are planning to take a once-per-week dance class, the level of exercise typical in a dance class is better than no exercise. However, you will probably need to add other activities to balance your daily or weekly fitness routine for overall health.

I’ll be straight with you–you aren’t likely to get ‘ripped’ in a dance class. If your reasons for wanting to learn to dance don’t go beyond getting your body into prime physical shape, you may want to investigate methods or classes that would give you more bang for the buck in the fitness department.

Dance technique classes have amazing health (and brain) -enhancing benefits for those who want to learn to dance, or who want to practice and enjoy an art form that is also physical/athletic.

Particularly at the hour-per-week rate, it could take years of training to master the fundamentals of good dance technique. Your fitness level may actually improve a little faster than this but don’t expect to suddenly get that “dancer’s body” everyone seems to crave.

"KC Dance Day 2012" courtesy KCBalletMedia is licensed CC BY 2.0

“KC Dance Day 2012” courtesy KCBalletMedia is licensed CC BY 2.0

Be Courageous

“Late” beginners (let me repeat – it’s never too late!) often spend a lot of time thinking about starting dance classes before actually doing it. You are working up the courage to do something new and challenging.

While doing all of this thinking, don’t forget that it’s okay to feel new and challenged when you start out in dance. Everybody does, no matter their age, background, flexibility, or any other human characteristic.

Don’t let it keep you from starting, though. Go for it!


Reverse Black Swan Syndrome

“Oh look! There’s a ballet school in the neighbourhood! You know, I’d always wanted to learn ballet.”

“Why don’t you?”

“…no, really?”

“Yes, let’s sign you up for class!”

10 minutes later, mum had paid for me to attend a term of ballet classes. Thus my ballet journey began, in the most unremarkable and typical of fashions.

Except that I was 24. I was clinically depressed and anorexic.

How Ballet Helped Me Recover from an Eating DisorderIt started in university.

I’d taken up my parent’s suggestion that I should study law at the top law school in Australia, leaving my family behind on the shores of Singapore. I had once been a terrible student who felt like a constant disappointment to them and I thought the prestige of a law degree would make my parents proud.

I floundered. The law school was filled with some of the brightest young adults in Australia – children of judges and top lawyers. I felt like a fish out of water, barely scraping through. Everyone seemed to be smarter, having to work half as hard for twice as good results.

I decided to do everything in my power to make up for my perceived inadequacies. I holed myself up in the library, studying, from 10 in the morning until closing time. I read that good nutrition, exercise and weight loss would give me more energy to study and better concentration. So I started walking home from the university, gradually adding daily jogs and circuit training. I changed my diet, eating food that I read would enable my body and brain to maximise productivity. It seemed to work. My grades went up.

But every time my marks improved, they had to be bettered. Anything less it would mean failure; that I had regressed in some way.

My life began to be lived in numbers

…the hours I studied per day, the amount I exercised, the number on the scale, the marks I obtained on every assignment and exam. I started counting calories, keeping my intake to a daily net of 1200. I couldn’t trust myself. I could only trust the numbers. They reassured me that I was being disciplined, and doing everything I could to be as good a student as possible. Any deviation would bring on huge waves of guilt. I stopped socialising. My idea of fun became watching episodes Gilmore Girls or Battlestar Galactica over midnight dinners of bagels and vegetable soup. Even my designated ‘rest day’ on Sundays was spent cleaning my house, grocery shopping, going to a church I didn’t care for … doing anything I considered ‘responsible’.

I did really well at the end of my penultimate year. I was also really sick. My period had stopped for 6 months. I was tired, hungry and cold all the time – even getting out of my chair was an effort. I couldn’t sleep well, and my legs would cramp every night. My bones ached to their very core. I was perpetually dehydrated, despite chugging tons of water to fill the starving ache in my stomach. Sometimes I would look out of the glass windows of the law library late at night and contemplate smashing through them, hurtling 4 stories down until I became nothing.

My parents knew something was wrong, but nobody knew I had an eating disorder because I was neither underweight according to the BMI index, nor was I particularly fixated on my figure – only the numbers on the scale, an obsession that was easy to hide.

I tried to help myself. I stopped counting calories. But these things are harder to climb out of than fall into, and my BMI dropped below 18. Now, finally, the doctors said I had a ‘proper’ eating disorder (they called it ‘atypical anorexia’). My university granted me academic leave. I went home, and began the traumatic process of recovery.

That led me to the ballet school.

Min being stretched in ballet classThere are few young girls on earth who don’t dream of wearing tutu and pink tights.

Growing up, my sister and I were similarly taken with the idea. Our ballet aspirations were vetoed by our mother, who declared that we would probably succumb to the boredom of repeated plies and rond de jambs, and put us swimming instead. As a student many years later, I would treat myself to twice yearly performances of the Australian Ballet. It was even more entrancing watching it when I was 22 then dreaming of it at 2 years old. The cacophony of pointe shoes gently frittering across the stage, the soft tulle of a ballet skirt wafting in a dancer’s wake – it was like entering a dream world, where for 2 hours I could forget all the troubles that were weighing me down, and focus on what was happening onstage.

It was this memory that stayed with me, and sprung back up to the forefront of my mind when I walked past that ballet school. I’d gained few kilograms I needed to get back in the scientifically healthy weight range fairly quickly. I was still, however, as weak and tired as ever. My mother thought an hour of basic barre work would be a welcome distraction that wouldn’t prove too taxing on my still-fragile body. I was ashamed and frightened, but I was also determined to enjoy life again. And so, to ballet class I went.

It was just 4 of us in that first class. Staring into a mirror in shorts, fitted tops and tights being encouraged to pull up your body and hold in your stomach can make a person feel incredibly self-conscious, but not once did anyone express dissatisfaction with their physical appearance.

Most of the time I would be glancing at the clock, waiting for the hour to be up so that I could go home and agonize over food. I had to eat 6 meals a day, so I would have tea before I came – usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But I’d starved myself for so long that I never felt full, and the fear of hunger was just as terrifying as the guilt of eating. At the same time, my brain would tell me that I had to be in class to burn every calorie I could. Whenever there wasn’t ballet on that week, I would struggle to cope without my usual dose of exercise, sometimes breaking down or even throwing a tantrum like a 5-year-old. I had suppressed so many emotions for a long time, and now they were all tumbling out of me.

As the months went by and I grew more nourished, I started to enjoy myself more.

The original group of ladies drifted away, one by one. Even the teacher changed. I was still there. The newer students were closer to my age, vivacious and fun-loving. They were the first group of friends I had made after being home for a year. Ballet became a safe place, where for an hour I could laugh and forget about the darkness that haunted my life. Instead, I could focus on learning and improving every week, in an environment where there were no grades, no pressure to perform. There was no such thing as failing. I was free to learn without worrying about being judged. If someone was having trouble with a combination, our teacher would break it down and repeat it with them, with the rest of us cheering them on. No matter how bad a day I was having, I always had a good time in ballet class.

There were things that I had to learn how to cope with too. Many – if not all – young women had insecurities about their body. I had to learn not to be affected by talk of dieting, weight loss or the size of hips, thighs and waists that came from women whom, to my mind, looked perfectly lovely as they were. I could not control how people thought. All I could control were my own actions, and what I needed was not to lose weight or diet. I needed to get better.

Ballet makes you terribly aware of your body’s abilities.

I learnt that I had awful turnout, low arches, hyperextension, a tendency to overarch my lower back and slumping my shoulders, and a pretty woeful sense of coordination. But then I started to notice other things about myself. I was a hard worker. 80 sautés, a hundred leg lifts, 6 repetitions of the same exercise – whatever the teacher threw at me, I would do. When the other girls were stretching I would prop a leg up on a chair and practice over splits. I enjoyed staying back after class to receive more corrections. Few things were as gratifying to me as learning. I would try everything, even if I was pretty sure I was going to look ridiculous. The worse I was at something, the more determined I was to overcome it. So my turnout wasn’t great or I still sickled my feet in passé position. What was more important was that I was continually working to improve.

I started watching ballet videos and movies, reading articles about dance. From Center Stage to Svetlana Zakharova, I wanted to know everything about this beautiful, exacting art.

Inevitable in all my trippings through the ballet world was the subject of nutrition. In a profession where slim, long lines are prized, there were articles at every turn on what to eat and what not to for achieve maximum athletic performance while keeping excess weight to a minimum. Lean meat, low fat, non-fat, good fat, bad fat, low carb, gluten-free, whole grains, energy bars, kale, chia seeds – so many terms bandied about that echoed the information I’d abused and used to punish my body.

But I wasn’t a professional dancer, I reminded myself firmly. Nor was I trying to be.

It would be terribly incongruous with my reality to try and live like one. Eating like that hadn’t made my body happy, nor was it ever going to. I had not been raised on oatmeal or salads or steaks. I’d been raised in a Chinese household, where food was a communal event and rice, noodles and breads were our happy foods. We’d been eating like that for generations and no one had suffered for it.

My brain was finally nourished enough to think rationally.

I learnt how important it was to eat. Skipping a meal or not eating enough would leave me weak and unable to enjoy myself during ballet, much less learn. I learnt of the unimportance of food as well. My ballet friends were the first people outside of my family whom I enjoyed a meal with – a terrifying experience for any anorexic. There is so much out of your control from the dining location to meal choice. And what if they wanted dessert?! In time I realised it didn’t matter what I ate or how much. What mattered was the company I was in and the time we were enjoying together. I was seeing a counsellor for my mental illnesses, and a lot of terms came up which helped me understand why my brain worked the way it did: high-functioning aspergers, giftedness, perfectionism, OCD. It could be easy to let these labels define me, but in my friends and family were people who saw me only as an individual.

I realised I could eat absolutely anything I wanted, whenever I wanted to. I just had to trust my body. In the beginning of my recovery, I craved fried foods, juicy hamburgers, swirls of cold, creamy ice cream, and hot peanut butter oozing out of thick slabs of toast. This was because my body was in desperate need of high-energy food that was rich in fat and protein. As I got better, eating too much rich food would naturally induce my body to crave simpler, cleaner meals, and vice versa. If I was hungry, I could eat more, and if I wasn’t I could simply eat less. I didn’t have to rely on numbers. I didn’t have to earn enjoyment by suffering for it. It was okay for me to eat. My body didn’t balloon; my weight didn’t skyrocket. Recovery really was as simple as ‘having a hamburger’ – to be able to do so guiltlessly and with pleasure.

Joy Womack for Cloud & Victory

On a whim, I decided to a start a online store to sell t-shirts with designs based on all the things I loved – especially dance.

After several weeks of research, I’d contacted a contract shirt printing company, coded a webstore and created some designs on Photoshop. I called the shop ‘Cloud & Victory’, named for my parents. It was meant as something to keep me sane while I finished the last semester of university. I’d spend my free time creating designs and funny graphics, which I would post on Tumblr. I loved the work, and people seemed to like the shirts. I thought maybe I could try pursuing this after graduation. I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I would try it for 3 months, I said. 3 months became 6, and 6 months became a year. I’m still doing it.

Cloud & Victory has become so much a part of my ballet journey. It’s been a gradual, slow process, but through it I have gained confidence in myself, and learnt how to deal with the many challenges that inevitably come. I have been blessed with so many opportunities to meet, work and come to know amazing, inspiring dancers. That they love what I do is so rewarding, and some of them have not only lent me their generous support, but their friendship and their faith – and helped me rediscover my faith as well. You rarely reach the higher echelons of the dance world by beating yourself up, and dancers serve as my inspiration for how to turn perfectionism from a destructive force into something constructive.

My first work trip was for a Cloud & Victory shoot with two wonderful dancers, Joy Womack and Mario Labrador. The lead up was an exercise in holding myself together – what if I wasn’t good enough? What if something went wrong and I couldn’t handle it? I’d never styled or directed a shoot before, much less with professional dancers! What if I was incompetent, a fraud? It turned out that I could hold my own, and the experience turned out to be a truly fantastic one that I will forever treasure.

I bought myself a white leotard, a beautifully-tailored Degas, when I finally graduated from university. White is infamously the least kind colour on a person’s lines, but I didn’t care. I abhorred dark-coloured leotards, and when I looked in the mirror during class, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t lean and slender, or that I couldn’t get my feet to that perfect 180 degrees alignment. What I saw was myself in the pristine leotard of my dreams.

I knew – I don’t have an eating disorder anymore.

I still have bad days along with the good ones. Though no longer depressed, I still deal with chronic anxiety as I build my self-confidence. The anorexia has left me with anaemia before my period, during which time I have to struggle to complete my work through a haze of fatigue and dizziness. I am constantly trying to balance between working hard without pushing myself to extremities. Recently after an experience which triggered a traumatic memory, my mother found me hiding underneath my bed, sobbing like a frightened child, feeling so hollow and lonely after having released a terrible memory. She didn’t say anything, just held me as I cried. The next day, it was back to work as usual. The pain didn’t disappear overnight, but I knew in time it would. The lows aren’t as low anymore, and they grow fewer and further between. Every day I find new and better things to fill the emptiness that comes with breaking free of the hold this illness has had on me.

I once interviewed a dancer at the Mariinsky Ballet named Xander Parish. I asked him about dancing the role of Albrecht in Giselle, and how to maintain good form in such a grueling role.

“If you’ve prepared well in the studio the classical ballet should take care of itself,” was his answer.

And it struck me that so it is with life. All we can do is work hard, to the best of our ability and when we step on stage – and all the world is a stage, if you believe a certain famous bard – we just have to trust ourselves…and let go.

Miko Fogarty for Cloud & Victory

Min; owner, Cloud & VictoryMin is the owner of Cloud & Victory (C&V), a ballet-inspired, ethical clothing brand. Founded in 2013, C&V has attracted an international following in the dance community, and counts dancers from the Mariinsky, ABT, Staatsballett and Ballet West amongst its fans. When she’s not working on new designs for C&V, she makes funny ballet graphics for C&V’s various social media pages and interviews inspiring, talented dancers for the C&V Sessions blog . Min has been an adult ballet beginner for some years, and has happily survived going on pointe since 2013. She is based in Singapore.

Writers Offer Dance Wardrobe Wisdom

In most locations, fall brings some serious style change to the studio.

It’s a time to break out the knit cover-ups, boots and mukluks, scarves and long-sleeve leotards. Not to mention we all start thinking about costuming for upcoming performances and competitions.

In October, I asked fellow bloggers to Join Our Circle and share their “Wardrobe Wisdom.” I love how varied the responses always are for these topics and this is no exception.

What Not To Wear: Teachers In Tutus

via Maria’s Movers

Maria responds to a job advertisement she saw for a teacher of young children by sharing her point of view on teacher’s wardrobes. She also discusses why what teachers wear should not be a substitute for teaching. Being a good teacher should stand alone!

Dance Fashion for the “Mature Dancer”

via Rori Roars

Rori responds to the needs of adult beginners by offering a thorough collection of tips on what to wear to class. Covering shoes, warmups, hair, support, and ways to save money, Rori has more to say on dance fashion than she thought she would!

Tangerine Ballerina


More Wardrobe Advice On The Web

Costume Time

“Costumes are so important to the overall tone and polish of your recitals.  And as I’ve said over and over again, your recital is your single most important marketing technique.” DeAnne Boegli discusses the importance of seeing costumes first-hand or reading descriptions carefully, and making recital time memorable.

Is a Dress Code Really Necessary?

The Healthy Dancer walks us through the psychological and physiological reasons attire matters in class.

No-Nonsense Series

Boys Do Ballet Too has a series of posts that offer no-nonsense tips for the guys on tights, dance belts, shoes, and more.

5 Ways To Beat The High Cost of Dancewear

Tights And Tiaras knows that dancers operate on slim budgets. Henrik gives a handful of options for cutting costs on dance couture.

Drama-Free Costuming: Yes, It’s Possible!

Right here at Dance Advantage, Suzanne Gerety speaks from experience, providing advice on how dance studio owners can reduce costume grievances and griping, and their own stress, at recital-time.

Flash of Yellow Dem Bones

Do you have thoughts on dance attire, dance fashion, or costumes?

Share them (or your link) in the comments!

And, if you want to participate in our monthly Circle, check out our upcoming topics HERE.

Adult Ballet’s Dark Side

Today’s article is by a guest author and dance teacher who, for what will probably be obvious reasons, would rather remain nameless. I know who this person is but my lips are sealed.

Besides, real names, faces, and places don’t really matter in this ultimately universal context and are withheld to protect the innocent… and the guilty!

Dealing with Adult Personalities in Ballet Class

Warning: This article is not for the faint-of-heart or for those who believe all ballet instructors are made of spun sugar and sprigs of lavender.  If you are a teacher, you will recognize some of these personalities.  If you are a student, you may be one.  You have been warned.

Let me begin with a caveat.  I adore all of my students.  I truly do. I teach newbies and pros alike, teens through adults.  I am proud of every single one of their achievements and am grateful for their hard work, dedication and generous spirits.  I have never had more fun in my life than when I am with my adult students.

That being said, I have to vent.  

We all do.  We teachers meet just about every type of personality in our classes. The vast majority of them are positive and fun, sincere and gracious,

…but then there are the more unusual ones, the quirky ones, and the downright nasty ones.

1. “Me, me, me. I have a question.”
IMAGE A young student raises hand in class IMAGE

Photo by Ta Duc

She always has a question.  You could have given her a tendu, en croix combination and she has a question. She never pays attention to the questions someone else asks – and then she repeats them as if you never answered. She always has a question after class.  Always.

Only answer if you have nothing else better to do.

2. “Don’t look at me.”

She hides behind everyone else.  She doesn’t mark a combination when you demonstrate.  She won’t apply a correction in front of you.  She’s afraid to have anyone look at her.  She actively cringes when you approach her during class.

Pet her gently and correct her when no one’s around.

3. “Don’t criticize me in front of Juliet.”

I have few adult men in class. Most are usually good sports who like to flirt and enjoy being surrounded by women.  Occasionally, these Romeos turn into bad sports, as I had one man do to me.

For over a year, he’d come to class religiously, worked hard, had a good time, participated in our shows – and then he fell in love with a much younger girl in class.  Suddenly I couldn’t correct him. He flipped out and caused a major ruckus. He and the girl stopped attending, much to the relief of the rest of the class and me. This was probably the only time I didn’t try to keep a student.

Sometimes, you gotta say good riddance to the bad apples.

4. “Why didn’t someone call me?”

She comes to class infrequently but on the one occasion when the teacher is sick and the class is canceled, she becomes indignant that the office personnel did not contact her.

She’s a very busy woman, you know.

5. “I want to buy your technique.”

You have talent and she has money and she wants to buy her childhood dream from you. She can’t be bothered to take class with the rest of the adults, who are not nearly serious enough for her.  Instead she wants to hire you for private lessons, two hours per day, six days per week, until she becomes a professional. If you somehow manage to arrange your schedule to accommodate her (this is not recommended), she will flake after two lessons – having found another ballet instructor who fits her ideal better.

6. “I should be much better than this/her/you.”

She’s so easily disillusioned. She used to dance when she was a kid, two or three decades ago.  Or she has taken a lesson or two and expects to succeed in an intermediate class.  She doesn’t see her progress, doesn’t understand that ballet is hard.  It requires discipline, consistency, and focus.

But she will get frustrated and never return, no matter how much you explain that if it were easy, everyone would be a ballerina in one lesson.

7. “I can’t do that.”

You asked him to do tombé, pas de bourrée, glissade, saut de chat. Everyone else can do it.  You’ve broken it down step by step for him even though this is an advanced beginner class and anyone taking it should know this.

You suggest he try a different class and he says…

7A. “But this class fits my schedule.”

Yeah, you can’t argue with that, can you?

8. “That’s my space.  And so is that.  And that.”

She stands in front, despite not knowing the combination.  She stands at the end of the barre despite not knowing the combination.  She jumps into the first group across the floor, despite not knowing the combination. And she gets in everyone’s way because she (all together now) doesn’t know the combination.

Zero spatial awareness, zero class etiquette – and she doesn’t see herself in your corrections.

9. “That’s not how I learned it.”

She took class years ago from a strict Russian-trained teacher who used to hit people with a stick and make them do grand plié from 5th position in the center into en dehors pirouettes. You’re not even giving her the correction at the barre but she has to offer her opinion.

When you suggest there are many ways to perform pirouettes, she replies…

9A. “I challenge you, sir, to a duel.”

Do NOT give in.  Do NOT waver.  Move on quickly.  Trust me, this sort of behavior infects the class like a fast-moving virus.  One person challenges your expertise and then soon, anyone else who’s having a bad day or feels the need for some attention, will jump on the bash-you bandwagon.

10. “I had a really bad day and I want all of you to know it.”

She swears under her breath.  She falls out of a turn and then stalks away with her fists clenched by her sides. She takes every tendu reeaally seriously.

Okay, we all have bad days. If this person is a regular student and this behavior is occasional, I will try to tease her out of it.

Or, ignore it.

11. “I loved it!  I’m coming to all of your classes!”

And then she…never…comes…back.

You gave her corrections at the barre. You praised her petit allegro.  You chatted after class about her past experience, how she found you, what her goals are for dance, and you gave her your card with your blog and email.  You answered all of her questions about getting the most out of her developpe a la seconde, your preferred epaulement for saut de chat, and what you thought of “Black Swan.” She swears she’ll be back. And then you never see her again.

Don’t kick yourself; it’ll happen again — and again — and again.

IMAGE A woman stands in darkness. Yellow light shines behind. IMAGE

Photo by Gisela Giardino

As teachers of adult students, we have to handle the negatives of our job in very different ways than we would if our students were teens or children.

For the most part, divas don’t last long in my class. If they’re too disruptive, they don’t come back because neither I nor my other students reward their bad behavior.

The baseline for all interactions is respect. Not deference, mind you — we are still the rulers of our tiny fiefdoms, but, let’s be honest, if we don’t treat our students (no matter their age or experience) with respect, we will soon lose our tiny fiefdoms.

Do your very best to make sure everyone has a good time, that they enjoy themselves but also grow as dancers.

My husband is amazed at how much fun I have and how upbeat I am when I teach. I smile and joke and laugh all the time when I’m in class. It’s the most rewarding job I have ever had and I consider myself pretty darn good at it.

Still, there are a few students who ruffle my feathers, either deliberately or merely incidentally. And for the ability to vent about them, I am truly grateful to Nichelle. Thank you for allowing me to get this off my chest.

I may be Anonymous but I’m not Alone.

Is that all of them?

No, no, no way.  I’m sure many of you have LOTS more personalities that you deal with or that I have somehow blocked out of my mind.

If so, let’s hear about them in the comments. Your email is not shared when you do so feel free to protect your identity with a pseudonym.

Do You Blog About Dance? Be One of the Top 20 of 2011

It’s Time!

At the close of 2010, because everyone BUT the dance community seemed to be making a Best Dance Blog list, Dance Advantage decided to try something new:

IMAGE Top Dance Blogs 2011 Logo IMAGEOur own award contest, where real dance blog readers pick their favorites.

The Top Dance Blog contest was a great success so we’re bringing it back this year and we want YOU to participate!

Here’s how:

If you have a blog and roughly more than 70% of your posts revolve around DANCE (any form or genre), you are eligible to participate.

First, decide which of the following categories is the best fit for your blog:
  • Dancer Musings (Career/College/Professional) – Pros or pros-to-be discuss the dance lifestyle
  • Teen Dancer – 18 years and under
  • Adult Dancer – 19 years and up
  • Teacher Talk (Education/Training/Instruction) – Dance class topics for or by teachers
  • Speaking Dance (Dance Writing/Criticism/Audience Education) – Covering the dance world for audiences
  • Dance Organization/Artist – Companies or choreographers talk performance, process, production
  • Business Blog – Content for the community by dance-related businesses
  • Collaborative – Magazine style blogs that are multi-author and have a diverse focus

I know that you have a unique voice in the dance blogosphere, but I hope you’ll find your best match among these categories. You must choose only ONE category.

The first 5 categories will be single-focus blogs (written to discuss one topic) and in general, will be personal blogs. If you publish primarily audience-focused articles/reviews, your best category is Speaking Dance, no matter how many authors contribute.

The final categories listed are more likely to have multiple writers. The best fit for most dance school or studio blogs will probably be the Business Blog category, though some academies may also consider the Organization/Artist classification if the blog focuses primarily on a student performance company. The Collaborative Blog category would suit any blog that has more than one author AND does not fit neatly into any single category.

Next, each blogger or blog owner must enter their own blog into the competition by publishing a blog post about the contest.

In YOUR post, ask readers to show support of YOUR blog with a comment on YOUR post.

That’s important, so I’ll repeat it…

In YOUR post, ask readers to show support of YOUR blog with a comment on YOUR post.

You have until Tuesday, December 20 to round up as much comment support as you can.

Finally, let me know you’ve thrown your hat in the ring.

Comment on this blog post (the one you’re reading now) and tell me…

  1. Which category you are entering under.
  2. The permalink to your blog post about the contest.
How to get to the next round:

Though any blog can enter, only blog posts with the most comments will be finalists in the voting round.

Comment support will be compared in all participating blogs. The TWENTY with the most support will qualify to compete for the Top Dance Blog of 2011 title.

The blogs in each category that receive the most comments will also be eligible to compete for the top spot in their classification. So, even if you do not make the Top 20, there is a chance you could still win your category.

Again, you need reader engagement to be a finalist. As soon as you publish your post start promoting it and encouraging comments!

How to win:

On December 27th I will open the polls for our Top 20 and for each category. I will also post a ‘Thank You’ list of all participating blogs (with links).

Voting for the top slots will take place December 27 – 30.

During this period, if you are a finalist, you’ll want to send as many people as possible to vote in our polls and secure your ranking.

Readers’ votes will be tallied and the results posted during the first weeks of the new year.

IMAGE Top Dance Blog Contest logo IMAGESome DOs, DON’Ts, and a PLEASE

In the post on YOUR blog about the Top Dance Blogs of 2011 competition:

DO add our contest logo. (Click on any logo image for the URL, or Right-click/Save-as)

DO make it clear to readers that they should show their support by commenting on YOUR post about the competition (not mine).

DO encourage your commenters to share why they read your blog, what makes it special, or which are their favorite posts.

DON’T be sneaky about comments. I expect that all participants will behave honorably, monitoring and deleting any duplicate comments from readers. Offering incentives to commenters and/or padding your comment count in any way will disqualify your blog.

DON’T mention competing blogs (positively or negatively). Keep your post about you.

PLEASE link back to this post. Here’s the URL: Dance Advantage thanks you!


Will Dance Advantage compete too?

Nope, we’re just hosting this shindig. If Dance Advantage is your favorite dance blog, SHARE news of the contest on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc AND encourage your favorite dance blogs to participate.

As a blogger, can I comment in support of my favorite blogs if I have entered my own blog?

Yes! Please do.

As a reader, can I comment in support of more than one dance blog?

You sure can – ALL of your favorites.

As a reader, will I be able to VOTE for more than one blog finalist?

One vote per category, and only one blog out of the Top 20.

As a blogger, if I don’t make it to the finalist round, can I encourage my readers to vote for blogs that have?

Absolutely! I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

If I was a finalist/winner last year, can I participate and/or win this year?

Yes, yes, and yes. This is only our 2nd contest so, as yet, we have no limit on the number of terms a blog might win in succession.

I have a small blog with only a few readers. Why should I enter?

This is an excellent opportunity for you to engage the readers you DO have and find out why they keep coming back. Even if there are only 5 people who read and comment and no matter your chances for qualifying in the Top 20, this is valuable. You’ll enter 2012 with encouragement to keep blogging! Not to mention, some quality links from our blog to yours.

AND, if that weren’t enough, this year we’re also selecting one blog for an Editor’s Choice award. This blog will be treated much like a category award winner and will go to a blog Nichelle feels is noteworthy or up and coming, regardless of comment count or readership.

What do I get if I’m a Top Dance Blog winner?

  1. See above. (We want every blog to be noted and have an opportunity to engage their readers. It’s why we’ve created a contest with two rounds.)
  2. You’ll receive a badge for your website to display and leverage your ranking.
  3. Category winners will be featured together in an upcoming article on Dance Advantage and the overall Top 20 winner will receive their own dedicated feature.
  4.  You’ll have the satisfaction of being chosen by actual dance readers as a Top Dance Blog.

What does Dance Advantage get out of it?

I get linked to by participants, reach new types of readers, and thereby grow my audience. Plus, I get to be a connector – introducing readers to new blogs that suit their interests.

I also get to help fellow blogs, which by their nature, depend on each other to grow and survive. Though this is a competition, I believe it is a positive and friendly way to build a stronger sense of community and show that dance blogs occupy a significant, healthy, and thriving corner of the online dance community.

What didn’t I answer? Feel free to comment below or contact me with your question.