By: Mrs. Mandy
The answer to this question varies dependent on what the dancer aims to receive from their dance training. First, ask yourself these questions: Do I want to continue dancing or working with dance in my professional life? Do I want to excel in my craft and benefit from the life skills dance gifts its students? Do I use dance as an expressive outlet, form of exercise, or take class just for fun?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should be dancing a minimum of 2-3 hours per week, preferably split up on different days. The more time dedicated to your craft will increase your opportunity for growth. Learning dance technique is just like learning another language or subject in school. How will you retain from what you learn in your mathematics or French class if you only take that subject once a week for 1 hour? By multiplying the time you spend studying a subject, you are increasing your ability to succeed in that subject. With exercise, one can not expect to see results from physical work only 1 hour a week. To gain muscle, lose weight, or build stamina a person must multiply their work outs and separate them throughout the week.
Dance is a physical art form, making it more important to train your endurance and muscle memory with repetition. An athlete who plays soccer or baseball attends practice multiple times a week, as well as a game usually every weekend. Baseball players who only practiced their batting once a week for an hour surely could not feel confident that they can accurately, safely, and consistently hit the ball when approached with the opportunity at a game. Dancers should be categorized similarly, with practice in class multiple times a week to create confidence and safe execution in their performance, which sometimes only takes place a handful of times in a season!
Something that is also important to notice are the valuable life skills and lessons dance instills in students that they may not be exposed to elsewhere. Dance teaches young students to persevere, to make goals, to have respect, to be humble, to work hard, teamwork, and to be responsible and reliable. These skills also need attention and practice, and do not stick to your character without continuation of practice. A dancer who visits these skills multiple times a week, persistently over the years, will have a more developed, positive and mature outlook on how to handle whatever life throws at them in their future. They will be more prepared for success in life than the child who is not giving enough exposure to the benefits that dance gives our youth. Just like any other skill, these must be practiced and perfected often.
A young dancer who dreams of dancing professionally in a company or show, teaching, or following a career related to dance should dance for as many hours a week as their age. A 13 year old dancer should be dancing 13 hours a week to prepare, and a 10 year old dancer should be dancing 10 hours a week to prepare. These hours can be split up between rehearsals, class instruction, and practice at home as long as the student is consistent. This may seem like a lot of time spent on dance, but a young student who wishes to be a biologist will take multiple hours of science and math related courses in school, topped with more hours of homework, and more hours to work on projects or college submissions. It’s all about perspective and what needs to be done to achieve your goals.
Everyone wants something different from dance, and that’s the beauty of the art form! It has so much to offer you! Physical strength, mental stimulation, memory training, valuable life skills, social interaction, the list could go on and on. What’s important is that a student knows what is required of them to achieve their personal goals through dance so they can feel confident and comfortable with their performance.