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Getting the most out of your Le Bop class


Coming to your first couple of Le Bop classes can be a challenge, but after a while you may feel like you are no longer improving. Maybe you think it’s not worth coming to the class anymore because you aren’t learning anything new. However, each class is what you make it, and there is always a lot to learn, even for advanced dancers!

Here are a few things to think about in your next class:


Footwork and timing

Pay attention to the footwork and timing being taught, even if you think that you already know it. You might find that you’ve been doing it wrong the whole time! It is easy to cheat with footwork and then get into the bad habit of continuing to step incorrectly. The moves will feel and look a lot better when you are stepping on the correct foot at the correct time! You may be taught alternative footwork or timing to that which you might have been taught before. Don’t dismiss this – give it a go and see if you like the feel of it. There may be multiple “correct” options!


Also check to make sure your form is correct throughout the move. Are your feet neatly side by side as you step together, or are they still apart? Are your steps too big or too small? Are you sliding your feet or shuffling around, instead of taking distinct steps? All of these points are perfect to think about during beginner class, when you are already familiar with the moves being taught!


Connection


Leaders, think about any parts of the sequence that the follow is having difficulty with. Are you giving them clear directions? Are you giving them enough time to recognise your signal? You may need to slow down and exaggerate your signals to adapt to the skill level of the follow!

If there are multiple points of connection with the follow, check that you are you using all of these to lead the move. If you are switching from one point of connection to another, are you doing this in a smooth way? Practice making your second connection before you let go of your first one. Your connection should be smooth and consistent, avoiding any jerky stops and starts throughout the sequence.

Follows, make sure you are actually following the lead being given, and not just performing the move from memory. Only react when the lead tells you to! You might think you are “helping” by doing the steps yourself, but you are actually preventing the lead from learning! Also remember to provide resistance to the lead, even if the connection is through your neck, shoulder, or hip. Practise applying varying degrees of pressure. You will need to vary the resistance you provide for each lead!


Posture


Most of us are used to holding ourselves with a slight slouch in our shoulders. When you are dancing, roll your shoulders back and down, and think about keeping your stomach tight. You may find that your abs get a bit of a workout during the class, just from holding your core! Use the mirrors to check that your body is correctly aligned in each position as you move through the sequence.


Musicality and styling

Although each move is taught to particular counts in class, there may be parts of the move you can speed up or slow down to match elements of the music. Try really listening to each song that is played, and dance to the music – don’t just go through the steps.


You can also use styling to highlight aspects of the music and to show off your musicality. Do you have a spare arm you can use to accentuate the rhythm? Can you do a sharp head flick to highlight a beat?  You can make moves your own by adding your own styling and adapting this to the song that is being played.


In some cases, the teacher may suggest particular styling options for you. Make sure you give these a go. If the styling suits you, you can add it to your styling repertoire! Also think about alternative styling options. Style the move in a different way each time you dance it, and see how many variations you can come up with!


Adding to your repertoire

You may feel like you know all of the beginner moves, but how many do you actually use? Use the beginner class as a refresher of the moves you already know, and then actively concentrate on putting them into your freestyle. With over 50 beginner moves being taught, it is unlikely anyone remembers them all!


If the moves being taught are new to you, concentrate on where each move starts, and what you need to do to execute it. What is the handhold? What foot should your weight be on? Think about what moves you already know that will end up in that starting position. Mix and match the moves being taught with those you already know! Practise leading each move that night, to get it into your muscle memory.


Followers, you often have a choice about how to react to the lead. Pay attention when you are shown a way to react that is new to you. Think about the difference between what you would
usually do, and what is being demonstrated. After class, you might want to practise seeing if you can switch between the two, without putting the lead off!


Final thoughts

You will never run out of ways to improve your dancing. Why not use each class as a learning experience? For each class you go to over the next few weeks, I challenge you to pick one element listed above and concentrate on it for an entire class. That way you can continue to improve your dancing, one class at a time!


Beata