Q: Do you have any advice for how to clean competition pieces?


A: The best way is to clean as you choreograph. This will keep inaccuracies out of your dancers' muscle memories from the beginning.

If this isn't possible, try asking half of your class to perform 16 counts of the choreography, while the other half watches and critiques. Assign your dancers specific partners to observe. If there are questions about what is correct, discuss the matter as a group. Continue to do this every 16 counts until the entire piece is clean. Working together as a team speeds up the cleaning process and teaches accountability. I often tell my dancers: "A group is only as strong as its weakest member. Don't be that person—you are all too good to be that person."

When I use this cleaning tool, my senior dancers will often take on a leadership role and work with the weaker dancers on the details of the choreography. The ability to handle critiques from your peers is not always easy, but it's an important tool in developing a strong team. Teaching each person to be responsible for herself and to own her part within the group will keep things on task and prepare your team for competition season.


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