Keeping the focus and excitement during your dance practice rounds, which you do before every competition, is not easy. So, why not try mixing up your “finals-rounds-run throughs” to challenge your brain to always give your 100%?
To start off, first agree with your partner how many sets of rounds you are going to dance. 4 rounds of full out dancing is usually what most couples do. Below are 17 ideas to make your final rounds different at practice. So, pick ‘n’ mix 4 for each practice and commit. BTW, these apply to both International Standard/Latin & American Smooth/Rhythm.
1. A Typical Final.
Typically, a final is up to 2 mins per dance, with 30-45 seconds break between dances. Whether you have 4 or 5 dance sets, stick with these time frames.
2. First, go Separate. Then – Together.
Each routine would be danced twice. Your first dance (for example, ChaChaCha) alone, then with your partner. Then move on to the next dance (Samba) – dance it alone, followed by dancing together. Repeat with every dance.
3. All Dances Alone. Then – Together.
Dance all dances by yourself, then with your partner. Remember, dancing alone doesn’t mean you can do less and save the energy. Blast it up and give it all.
4. Count the Music.
To make sure you still keep using your brain, play the music at 95% speed and count the timing and beat values of your choreography out loud, all whilst dancing. Don’t forget to breathe 😉
5. Final With Feedback (my partner calls it “Final with Complaints”)
Dance your first dance by yourself, then together. Once completed the first dance, stop and give each other feedback and points for corrections. Do the same for all dances, and don’t get too personal.
6. Quicker than “Quick”.
Set the music speed higher (at 105-110% or so) and do the full set of dances, 2 min each and 30-45 seconds in between.
7. A Song that lasts FOREVER
Set the duration of music for 2 mins 30 secs (with 2 mins 15 secs of full out dancing) and get ready to breathe heavily. Do it with every dance. 🙂
8. Start in the Middle.
Start each dance from half-way point of your routine, so your energy in the middle is as high as it is in the beginning. Dance full out for 2 mins with every single dance in the set.
9. Obstacle Course.
If you guys are practicing alone in the studio, put obstacles around the floor (Chairs, bags, or anything you can find) The more obstacles, the better it is. Move them around and ensure your energy remains the same when you approach them.
10. HID (High Intensity Dancing).
A full round of all dances with 20 seconds in between and no water allowed on shoes (Come on, use the proper transfer weight technique to keep your balance!) And no drinking until after the final dance.
11. It’s Show Time!
Final with Audience. Bring some toys to the studio or print names/pictures of famous dancers. Put them on the walls around the floor and every time you face them whilst dancing, imagine they are watching you in real life. Perform and give it all you’ve got!
12. Little Space, Same Steps.
Limit your floor space by 50%, but ensure your steps are as powerful and energetic as if you were on a big dance floor. If you’ve got the LOD dances, adjust your choreo accordingly.
13. Back to Basics.
Basic to Open. Dance a full round final, alternating basic figures with your own open/competitive choreography. Ensure the basic is lead & follow and set cues for transitions into your open routines. Do the same for all dances.
14. YouTube Finals.
Find a video of a full final, or separate dances, filled with audience noises, cheering and clapping. Imagine this is your final and dance your heart out!
15. Your Dance, Your Choice.
In any order they’d like, one person decides which dance their partner would dance “full out” in front of them. Then switch, and the person who just danced now picks a dance for their partner. Each of you should dance the full round, full out!
16. Sing Along!
Play the music and dance a full round, whilst singing out the rhythms. The purpose of this is to give your control of your breathing and irritate your partner, since, I’m sure, they love your angelic voice.
17. The Killer Final
Start with a Typical Final of 5 dance and dance throughout each, then a final of 4, then 3, 2, until you have 1 final dance left – This shall be you honour dance, and you dance it as such! There is a 30 seconds break between dances and 1 min break between rounds. The choice which dance to leave out is alternated and decided between partners.
On the side note, there is a great practicing app for your phone or tablet, which is called Ballroom Competition Trainer (IOS / Android). It allows you to choose music for your finals, set times for breaks and even fade the songs. So, no more quick breaks to pick the next song! There’s a free version and a paid version which has more options.
To finish, these are some of the ideas my partner and I use to practice, and keep ourselves focused to make sure we don’t Plateau. It’s important that your practices excite you and they are not always the same. I would also like to hear the ways you practice your rounds, which I may have possibly missed. Please leave a comment below with your suggestions.