Jazz teacher Maria Yacoob gives you a helpful breakdown of what to expect on your first few visits to Pineapple Dance Studios.
So, you’re reading this article. Which means you’re thinking about coming to dance at Pineapple Studios. First of all, can we say a big hello and welcome! Pineapple isn’t simply an unrivalled studio centre, with a bigger timetable and wider range of classes than any other studios in Europe. It’s also a real community, filled with friendliness, dedication, and mega-watts of positive energy.
Because Pineapple is so famous in the world of dance, you might think it’s a place for professional dancers only. It’s not. It’s for anyone who wants to learn, enjoy and practice dance, regardless of ability, age and anything else you care to think of. Pineapple really is for everyone.
Drop in, but please don’t drop out!
Most Pineapple classes (beginner’s included) are drop in. You come as, and when, you want. Obviously this has big advantages, because it means you only pay for the classes you do. You can do as few, or as many classes as you want each week, and there are classes in a multitude of genres, at all different levels, every day and evening.
Pineapple classes labelled ‘beginners’ are pitched at a relatively high level, but there are good reasons for this. Think of it this way… If a teacher were to run a beginner’s dance course over ten weeks, they would start very slowly, and build up until you had a basic grasp of steps, technique, music and feeling in that form of dance. Pineapple beginner’s classes are pitched at the ‘week ten’ stage of that course. If we pitched our classes at the ‘week one’ stage, people would get bored very quickly, because we would simply be repeating the absolute basics over and over again.
Also, lots of teachers (particularly in street dance and jazz) like to keep their classes (beginner’s included) moving at a fairly fast pace. This keeps the energy levels running high throughout the class, and enables people to feel like they’ve had a workout in a class, as well as learnt the dance.
What this means, both in terms of the range of moves you will encounter, and the speed at which you are taught them, is that you will find your first few Pineapple classes a big challenge. But don’t give up! The first class is the hardest, because everything is new. Your brain and body are working incredibly hard, trying to process moves and sequences. But after that initial class, in each subsequent class the moves will feel a little more familiar, and a little less frightening. And lo and behold, after a few weeks or months, you’ve grown into the level of the class. The moves you initially found tricky now come with ease and grace.
In the language of dance, repetition is the key
There are two crucial things to remember when you are learning a new form of dance. Dance is a language learnt by your body, and repetition is the key to success.
When you are learning a new spoken language, your brain has to first of all translate every phrase from your native language into the new language. “My name is Maria… je m’appelle Maria”. But if you repeat the new phrase often enough, it becomes second nature to say it in the new language.
This is exactly how you should think about learning dance. First of all your head is spinning with information and trying to translate it to your body… “Step to the left, right foot behind, turn, shoulders, rhythm, balance.” But come to any class a few times, and you’ll see a large element of repetition. Warm ups are the same every week. Technical moves and exercises are repeated every week. Choreography contains standard moves in that type of dance, which crop up time and time again.
With all this repetition, you will develop something called muscle memory, where your body starts remembering how to do the steps, without you having to think about it. This is the point at which you can let go and just dance. For some people, this point comes quickly, for others it takes longer and can be frustrating. But however long it takes it’s worth it, because that’s when you experience the pure, unparalleled joy of dancing.
There’s no judgement at Pineapple, only support
Finally, let me reassure you about all the other people you’ll encounter in a class here, because I know that it’s easy to feel self-conscious dancing at Pineapple on your initial visit. First and foremost, no one is going to watch you or judge you. This is because the people who teach and dance at Pineapple want you to come and be part of the class, and encourage you to love dance just as they do. And also, it’s because everyone is so focussed on learning and getting the steps right themselves, that they simply don’t have time to look at anyone else.
Please don’t compare yourself unfavourably to other people. In any Pineapple class you will find a mixed level of abilities, no matter what ‘level’ it is labelled as. In a typical beginner’s class you will find people who have been coming for years, mixed with people who are coming for the very first time. Your best gauge for comparison is you, and your own improvement over time.
If you don’t understand, please just ask
If there are moves you find particularly tricky, just ask the teacher for an explanation, either during the class, or after. And if you’re still having trouble, maybe think about having a private lesson. Most teachers are happy to organise an hour’s one-on-one tuition, which can really help you understand exactly what your body needs to be doing, and allow you to progress quicker in the regular group classes.
And if you have any further questions that haven’t been tackled in this article, please just give us a call on 020 7836 4004. Our reception team are a super-lovely bunch, who know Pineapple, its teachers and its classes inside out.
Now, all there is to do is get down to Langley Street and start dancing. See you in the studio!