Smart Practice

A Tribal Belly
Jiva is a Russian dancer from the Indian beaches of Goa and sees the Universe as her home. Asia, Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia are those countries among many others where Jiva shines her light through the dance. At the age eighteen Jiva started her career as a professional dancer at the latin dance band “Baila Con Migo” founded by Oliver Parades. Where later she continued as a leading teacher. | Photo: | Link | Java, Bellydance, Russia, Asia, Latin Dance, Ukraine, Latvia,

Setting practice goals

What are you practicing?

On a long-range level we’re practicing to grow and improve. The short bursts of practice keep us moving, and journaling helps us see the impact of our work. These two daily habits, along with making sure we’re practicing safely, can move us forward towards our big goal of becoming a better dancer. Is that enough?

It is common to need something a little more specific to keep the momentum going on those rougher days when thing after thing is jumping in between you and your practice session. Setting dance goals can make all the difference in keeping you on track.

We set goals all the time, right? At work it’s common to have quarterly or annual goals. In our personal life we often set goals around the house or around desired habits. So, why not in dance?

“A better shimmy”, however, won’t take you very far. For goals to be helpful, it’s best to make them S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. Let’s break this down by setting a SMART goal around improving your shimmy technique.

   In 3 months, I want to be able to sustain a knee-shimmy that is visible on video recorded from 6 feet away for 2 solid minutes.

      Visible on video
      2 consecutive minutes
      Recorded from 6 feet away
      Within 3 months

Martha Graham
Martha Graham

Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer whose influence on dance has been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts, Stravinsky had on music, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture. | Photo: Martha Graham |
Making SMART goals makes it more likely you’ll be successful, and there’s nothing more motivating than reaching a goal.

Starting small, think about one month from today – where do you want to be? Grab a piece of paper and a pen and do a brain dump of what you’d like to accomplish over the next 30 days in terms of your dance. Once you have your list, edit each item into a SMART goal. Here’s a sample from my list:

  • Solo Choreography
  • SMART: I want to develop choreography for a 3-5 minute song by September 9th to be performed on September 24th, 2016.
  • 3-4 new ATS moves
  • SMART: I want to be able to lead ATS improv with an additional 3 moves within the next 2 months.
  • Group Composition draft
  • SMART: I will develop 3 motifs to be used in my next group composition within the next 30 days.

You can see that, once I dug deep and made my goals SMART, I realized I needed to adjust my timeline to keep things Realistic and Attainable, and that’s ok! Seeing and making these adjustments is part of the process.

Take the time out to sit down with pen and paper. Mapping out where you want to go defines your practice and gives you focus. Even if you don’t look at the list again, you’ll benefit from the process of creating it. Of course, working your list will get you even further…more on that in an upcoming article!

For now, keep warming up and dancing daily, keep journaling, and keep your goals in mind (and in reach).

Practice in motion
Practice in motion

Practice in motion. | Photo: Rachel Oftedahl | Goals, Practice, Smart, Plan, Habit, Malik Turley,

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Updated Jan 14, 2018 6:23 AM EST | More details


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