What You Can Expect From Groove Dance Conventions This Year

What You Can Expect From Groove Dance Conventions This Year

Find out how you can prepare for Groove's 2016 Convention Season!

Find out how you can prepare for Groove's 2016 Convention Season!
Convention season is upon us, and that means physically and mentally preparing for those long, fun-filled days of sweating, learning and (obviously) dancing!

Groove Dance Competition is preparing for convention season, just like you. Groove hosts six dance conventions all over the country this year. The format for Groove conventions differs from others in that the convention is hosted over one day, and focuses on a smaller, more intimate class size. Each convention has classes available in many styles, including ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz and contemporary. By participating in a Groove Convention, students can earn scholarships to outside workshops, other Groove Conventions and Groove Competitions. 

Here, four Groove Convention teachers share some advice about convention season, how to prepare, and what they like to see from dancers in their classes.

How do you suggest students mentally and physically prepare for convention season?
Tiana Noecker
“I think it is always best to start off a new season of dance by setting yourself up with some goals. What is it that you want to achieve this year? What are you looking to accomplish, how do you want to feel, where do you want to go? Once you have a clear vision of what you want, you can then map your way to success. Focus on the areas you need to improve, what classes will help you, and what extra things you can be doing to help you reach your goals. If you are not sure of what you want, how will you know if you succeeded?”

Jill Lazzini
“My advice for preparing for convention season is to train hard in the studio. The stronger your technique is coming in to the convention, the more information we can share with you. When the technique is strong, dancers can focus on the choreography and style and can get more out of each class. 

As far as physically and mentally preparing, my advice is to get a good night’s rest the night before and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Be ready for class, physically, by stretching and taking care of your body, and mentally, by focusing and being open to new teachers and new ideas. A dancer who is open to new ideas and new teachers will have an easier time learning new choreography and styles, and they will enjoy themselves more.”

Matt Lopez
“I personally believe the more classes you take, the better it is you become. Get used to picking up choreography from different teachers from different genres and styles of dance. The more you can absorb from them, the more you can put under your belt by convention season. You will always learn a little something in every class you take.

If the opportunity to take class is not available where you live, learn from videos online. When I was a kid, we didn't have the internet like we have today. I had to record videos from MTV and watch dance movies that I would rewind and play. We are living in some amazing times in which our phones can teach us. Work on your craft. If your specialty is b-boying or b-girling, practice that every day. If it's jazz, ballet, tap, et cetera, practice!

To mentally prepare before class, picture how you want your class to be. Visualize how much you'll learn, focus on what you want to get out of it, and then work for it when you're there. Visualization is important in everything you do.”

Anthony Raimondi
“I think the best way to prepare for conventions is to just be prepared to take class and to learn something new. Go into each class with a positive attitude, and be open to whatever the teacher has to offer. I think the reason for attending conventions is to learn from someone new. It may not be the most comfortable on your body and may not be perfect, but it will allow you to grow as an artist and discover styles and movement that fit you the most.”

What do you like to see from dancers in your convention classes?
“I love to see dancers who are absorbing everything. They are paying attention to not only what I say in general, but also listening to what I may say to someone else. They are open to learning everything they possibly can and applying it directly to their dancing. Being fully present in classes is key.”

“I love to see amazing energy in the room. Seeing dancers dance with passion, and not being afraid to step outside of their comfort zone, is a beautiful sight. I enjoy seeing the ‘try’, the journey, and the effort that dancers put in to a new idea, no matter the age or level. It's not about being perfect; it's about learning, trying and enjoying the journey of becoming an artist and a strong technician. The effort and attitude that a dancer puts in to class means more to me than just technique. Those ingredients all working together is beautiful in class!”

“I like to see someone who wants it – someone who is living in the choreography and the music. I like to see someone who is creating his or her own story in the dance. The audience/choreographer may not always know what your story is, but you've given us the opportunity to connect with you and the dance. I also like seeing confidence and dancers who come to the front when I say, ‘Front, back switch’, or even in groups. It's easier for me to see you if you're in the front as opposed to the back of a huge ballroom.”

“In my classes, I love to see dancers being true to themselves and my movement. There is a misconception to have to be perfect and treat the class like an audition. In my classes, I want dancers to be able to make mistakes and be comfortable with it. Mistakes will inevitably happen, and class is the time to allow that to happen, especially when you are taking from someone you have never taken from before. Allow yourself to take risks and go places you are not used to going no matter how silly or uncomfortable it may be at first.”

What would you like dancers to get out of your Groove Convention class?
“I would be extremely pleased to know if even just one dancer walked out of my convention class having felt more positive about themselves, with a smile on their face, and if I knew that one thing I may have said, caused something to just ‘click’ in their head, then that would be the ultimate for me. I know that sometimes saying things in a different way, provoking extra thought, seems to help my students ‘Get It’.”

“I push dancers to just to be themselves. It's hard not to look around the room and want to be like someone else. But everyone is fabulous at something, and you'll never find your ‘something’ if you’re trying to be someone else. Also, there are times that you have to just enjoy yourself and dance. Often, the performance and attitude of the dancer will make a dancer standout.”

“I'd like to see them having fun. We dance because we love it. So I'd like to see the students enjoying and loving it as much as I enjoy teaching them – even if they make mistakes. It's okay to make mistakes. It's just a class, and we're here to learn. If you didn't make mistakes, you wouldn't be learning.”

“I would like them to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of my class. I feel like at the end of any class, you should walk out feeling like you accomplished something you didn’t know you could before.”

What is your favorite part about being a convention teacher?
“Are you kidding me, the whole experience is so rewarding. The energy is so high, the talent is incredible, the hunger and passion for dancing is through the roof, the supportive families are inspiring, there are encouraging teachers everywhere you turn, the Groove staff is top notch. So in short, being a part of any Groove event is electric. I consider myself extremely lucky to be a part of Groove and to meet the people I meet, see the talented dancers out there working so hard and to work along side some the best in the business.”

“One of my favorite parts of being a convention teacher is seeing students from all different studios supporting each other. It's so important in our very small dance world, to be supportive and respectful of each other. It's important that dancers see each other as fellow dancers and inspiration instead of competition. I also really enjoy seeing dancers grow from year to year. 

The Q and A is one of my favorite parts of the day. I love learning about the other faculty members and being inspired by them, and I also enjoy getting to talk to the dancers and seeing what is important to them and helping in any way I can.”

“The energy at conventions is through the roof. I love when a dancer can turn the choreography that I give them into something that is completely their own, and they can really embody the music. My favorite part is seeing that and the energy of the room. Depending on which company is running the convention, it can feel like the students are dancing at a concert. Groove conventions always feel that way!”

“My favorite part about being a convention teacher is meeting so many talented and unique dancers. Every dancer I see brings something different into class. It’s always interesting to see how each of them interprets movement a little differently and how they inspire each other to think differently.”

Eatontown, NJ -- October 2
Chicago, IL :: October 9
Pittsburgh, PA :: October 23
Mahwah, NJ :: October 30
Randolf, MA :: November 6
Annapolis, MD :: November 13

Visit www.GrooveCompetition.com to register for a 2016 Groove Convention!

By Allison Gupton of  Dance Informa