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Dance/Drill Technique

This section is dedicated to optimizing dance and drill team technique. The information here will benefit team members and directors as well as dance and drill team hopefuls. This is an information exchange so please check back often for the latest updates. If you have any tips to add that you feel might benefit others, please email them to Together we will be able to acquire the most comprehensive listing of quality educational spirit resources. Thank you so much for all of your inspirational notes.

A dancer may be equipped with the best showmanship skills, innovative choreography, cutting edge music, and dazzling outfits to wrap up a performance aimed at entertaining the audience. Yet without proper technique to execute the dance as intended by its creator, the potential for excitement will be lessened. Learning the proper technique not only enhances the execution of the moves created, but also aids performers in clearly communicating their intended message to the audience.

Technique is defined as the method or the details of the procedure essential to expertness of execution of movement (Source: Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary). So what is everybody talking about when they espouse "good technique?"

When all of the above "fall into place" the movement performed seems effortless. Below are tips for learning and teaching good technique. If you have any tips to add, please email them to

Break down each movement into smaller parts so that you can perfect every aspect of that particular movement. Since the brain records the "muscle memory," it is not enough for a dancer to just be told how to execute an attitude turn. The student must physically participate and rehearse that movement in the same manner as performed for the muscles to "memorize" the proper execution of that movement. Through practice and time, the dancer will gradually begin to strengthen technical skills.

With this in mind, for best results design your classes to continually reinforce proper technique, especially for any difficult movements, leaps or turns which the team might include in performances now or in the future. Plan for enough time to get muscles properly conditioned so that movements may be performed with ease. Many turns, for example, require building strength in the supporting leg in order to be able to stay elevated with ease. These leg muscles take time to strengthen and cannot be rushed.

Include technical exercises in the warm-up and the center floor work which will later be performed in an across the floor combination. Gradually build the foundation for improved alignment and placement of body parts which will lead to the ultimate goal of proper execution. For example, to teach an attitude turn, use the warm-up to introduce lifting the leg from a passe with turned-out rotation from the hips. Next, have the dancer perform the attitude by stepping onto the supporting foot in a demi-pointe and traveling across the floor. The center of gravity should shift up and over with an extra lift of the leg in attitude before descent while concentrating on maintaining the balance in the "up" position. And last, practice the attitude turning making sure to keep the shoulders parallel to the hips.

Increase the number of technique classes in your dance curriculum and emphasize leaps and turns.

Some of the most common mistakes are lifted or stiff shoulders, poor posture, stiff hands and arms, not pointing toes and improper alignment of the body parts.

Utilize the off-season practice time to create several combinations that reflect the overall dance style of the team. Also add any leaps or turns which the team might include in later performances. Focus on providing detailed feedback to increase the dancers’ awareness of technique.

During off-season, invite a guest artist to offer a master class to students. The dancers are ready to learn new material, and will be receptive to receiving critiques from someone with a different point of view. By teaching new and challenging moves months in advance, they can later be added to any routine with greater ease.


Tips courtesy of Gina Sawyer and Leslie Goettsch. Visit Gina's and Leslie's Listings in the Dance Studios & Prep Classes and Leslie's consulting listing in the Consultants & Specialists categories of the Directory of Spirit Shopping.


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