As actors, it’s important to enjoy each step you take in your acting career and one of those steps is being able to dance. You don’t have to be the next Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, but there are many advantages to being able to dance that go far beyond just dancing.
Taking dance classes helps you to be more mentally alert, more focused, and less tense. The skill can also help you think on your feet during auditions, even helping with mental and physical stress.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons it’s important to take a dance class as an actor.
1. The more mentally alert you are, the easier it’ll be for you to take direction.
According to Christopher Bergland in “The Athlete’s Way,” dancing “improves brain function on a variety of levels...studies show how different types of practice allow dancers to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory.”
Learning to dance means learning how to be quick on your feet and learning choreography is a cognitive demand. Another cognitive demand? Learning lines. By increasing your cognitive power with dance, you can memorize lines faster and easier.
2. Dance class will loosen you up mentally and physically.
Learning to dance will put you at ease with your body and physicality, which will, in turn, help you be more comfortable in auditions. To be able to freely express yourself in an audition and to convey emotions through your body with ease is a gift.
I’ve seen many actors show up for auditions who are rigid and tense. Their movement and performance aren't natural, likely because they’re tense.
Think about when you have a casual conversation with a friend: you don’t stand there stiffly, you communicate with ease and use mannerisms that come naturally. This is how you should be when you audition so as to communicate with natural ease and expression. Dance class can help with this.
3. A strong, flexible, tension-free body gives you physical confidence.
When you’re agile and responsive, you’ll be better able to use your imagination and be more expressive. The ability to create your character and have different emotions and attitudes in a scene is part of your actor’s toolbox. Dance will help you move freely.
4. Dance helps you focus.
When you take a dance class, you’re concentrating on following the instructor. I don’t consider myself a dancer, but I take a dance class twice a week and make a point to focus on the moves and routines I’m being taught, not the projects I have to cast, what I’m going to make for dinner, or other life problems. Instead, I’m wholly focused on what’s right in front of me. This actually helps when it comes to casting since dance class has honed my ability to focus on the task at hand.
It doesn’t matter what kind of class you take, just find something that interests you or sounds fun—jazz, ballet, hip-hop, ballroom, African, tap, whatever. Just get your dancing shoes on and feel more empowered as an actor!
*This post was originally published on Nov. 8, 2017. It has since been updated.
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