Music fans are familiar with the hierarchy of “essentials” in a musician’s catalog of tunes.
There are the singles that everyone not living under a rock knows. Those are “The Basics.”
Then, there are the songs with which regular followers of a group will be familiar. Those are “Next Steps.”
Finally, there are the “Deep Cuts”. You’ve got to be an experienced listener to have these on your radar.
And, because it’s my dance party, and I can do what I want to…
I’ve applied a similar ranking to the essentials of dance etiquette. Share them with your students, teachers, or anyone needing a reminder.
The Basics of Dance Class Etiquette
- Dress appropriately and come prepared.
- Don’t chew gum or bring food and drinks (a closed water bottle is okay) into the studio.
- Never wear dance shoes outside the studio or wear street shoes in the studio. And check for loose screws …on your taps before you step foot on the dance floor.
- Don’t wear dangling or sharp-edged jewelry.
- Come to class showered with brushed teeth or freshened breath.
- Leave your stuff in a dressing room or locker (unless one is not available). Put any sanctioned personal belongings at the back or sides of unused studio walls (never the front).
- Don’t come late and if you do, enter very quietly.
- Don’t leave early. If it is a must, talk to the teacher before class. If you need to exit in an emergency (it better be good), exit as quickly and discreetly as possible.
- Don’t talk while the teacher is talking. Not even whispering to the person next to you.
- Completely silence and stow your cell phone. Even vibration is often audible.
- Listen first, then ask relevant questions.
- Respect the personal space of others.
- Respect the dance space. Pick up trash, your clothes, and don’t turn things on, off, up, or down in the space without permission.
- Watch your language, even when you mess up.
- Don’t “hang” or slouch on the barre or anywhere else, for that matter. Be attentive at all times, especially when waiting for your turn. Beware of negative body language (like folded arms). And never sit down unless you are asked to.
Dance Etiquette Next Steps
(Habit for Most Dancers)
- If you are late, don’t apologize until after class. Just wait for the okay from your teacher to enter the dance floor. Once permission is granted, find an easily accessible or inconspicuous place to warm up or participate.
- If you are sitting, or sitting out, sit tall. Never lie down.
- Develop spatial awareness and demonstrate it.
- Give the instructor space, but not too much space.
- Avoid the front unless you really know the combination.
- Refrain from correcting others (that’s the teacher’s job).
- Don’t quit in the middle… of the room, of the combination, or of the class. Go with the flow if you’re lost or confused. Never stop traffic.
- Part like the Red Sea when exiting. Don’t cross center or the paths of other dancers.
- It’s okay to mark combinations while you wait for your turn if you are out of the way.
- Do not repeatedly leave and then come back in without permission.
- If you find you have too many questions about something, save them for after class.
- At the end of class, applaud or thank the instructor and musician (as part of the group)
- Don’t visibly yawn or show boredom. You may get away with it in a lecture hall, but not dance class.
Etiquette “Deep Cuts” for Dancers
(Good to know)
- Bring a towel to wipe your sweat and germs off the floor or barre.
- Don’t take a class way above your skill level. If this mistake is already made, do your best, but stay out of the way of other dancers.
- Never walk out of a class or go sit down because it’s too hard or you feel frustrated. This is considered rude and you are branding yourself as a quitter. I can’t is not in your vocabulary.
- Applaud for demonstrators.
- Once you’ve claimed a space in the center or in a group, it’s generally yours for better or worse. But don’t be pushy or try to reclaim a spot if yours gets taken.
- At the end of class, it’s especially courteous to say thanks to the instructor and musician (one to one).
- Restrain movement in a crowded class until broken into groups. If you bump into someone, quietly apologize. Don’t make it a big deal.
- Never give your 2¢ on choreography to a teacher or choreographer unless your opinions have been requested. And don’t take it upon yourself to correct your fellow classmates.
- If you want help with something that will take more than a minute or two, do some research on your own and/or schedule a private lesson with your teacher.
- Don’t record or photograph anything without permission.
This is a big list, but you can help it grow.
What have we missed?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.