Before getting into the nitty gritty of it all, let’s first acknowledge how exciting this moment is. Whether this is your very first class or it’s the first class after summer break, deciding to enroll in dance is a decision that will positively impact your life in many ways. 

For the students at Joanne Langione Dance Center in Newton, dance is a way to introduce movement into their lives, an opportunity to build ever lasting friendships, and an avenue to discover their very own artistic expression through the art of dance. But before we get carried away with the big picture of it all, let’s calm those pre-class jitters with a simple checklist to set you up for success.

Here are the five things to do before your first dance class: 

#1 Have your Dress Code Ready

Nowadays, most dance studios have a dress code or uniform required for each dance class. This makes choosing that first dance class outfit a breeze! Depending on what style of dance you choose, it is important to make sure you have all of the necessary items before the first day of class. The Joanne Langione Dance Center has made it impossible to not feel prepared when starting dance classes. 

With a fully stocked Dancer’s Boutique located inside of their state of the art facility, they have created a one stop shop for all dancewear necessities. Being able to try on dress code items, test out brand new tap, jazz, hip hop, and ballet shoes all under one roof takes all of the guesswork out of this new and exciting dance journey. The first day inside of a dance class might feel a bit overwhelming. The last thing you want to worry about is your outfit. 

And as silly as this may sound, having a trial run before the big day might be something that can help ease your nerves. Think of it as a dress rehearsal before a big performance! Throw on your tights, try on those brand new shoes you have been dying to put on since the day you bought them, and see how they feel before entering the dance studio. 

#2 Have a Positive Mindset

There is a common phrase that says if you look good, you’ll feel good. To kick it up a notch, it is often said in the dance world that if you look good, you’ll feel good, and if you feel good, you’ll dance good. Wow, try saying that 5 times fast.

Now that the dress code has been purchased, and everything fits right, it is time to focus on your mindset. You want to feel as good as you look so you can dance as well as you feel. 

Another tongue twister! Anyways…

You may think that having a positive mindset starts once the dance class begins, but that is where you are mistaken. Thinking about your mindset and how you want to feel in the dance studio should start weeks before your first class. The first thing to remind yourself when thinking about the first dance class, is that it is exactly just that: a class! You are there to learn, try new things, and to make mistakes.

Allow yourself the space to feel uncomfortable, maybe feel a bit silly, and to remember that every single person inside of the class has had to start somewhere just like you are doing now. Another important thing to remember when starting dance classes, is to find the place that feels right for you. The Faculty at Joanne Langione Dance Center provide a supportive and nurturing atmosphere in each and every class offered.  Having dance teachers that are motivating, inspiring, and truly want the best for you will make having a positive mindset a walk in the park. 

#3 Think About Your Goals

The dance year tends to go way faster than you might realize. To get the most out of your dance training, take a second to think about some of your personal dance goals inside of the dance center. Before you start to overthink this step, they do not need to be gigantic goals to accomplish throughout the year. 

Your goals can be as simple as improving flexibility, learning more about musicality, or even to branch out of your comfort zone and make more friends! Having a clear idea of why you are enrolled in dance can help motivate you to be present and apply yourself in your dance training. 

#4 Be Open to Feedback

There is so much to gain from being a part of a dance class. Being able to absorb and apply feedback during class is an essential part of dance training. When receiving constructive corrections, it’s only natural to feel frustrated or defeated at times. But going back to #2 on our list, your mindset is your secret weapon. Feedback inside of a dance class is an extremely positive thing. It shows that the teacher believes in your ability and cares enough to push you past your comfort zone. 

Your teacher is there to help guide you and motivate you to rise to your highest potential. So the next time your teacher provides you with corrections to work on, remember that they are giving you a gift. They see how talented you are and are ready to cheer you on through the entire process.

#5 Pack Your Dance Bag Necessities

The last thing to do before you embark on your dance class is to make sure you have the necessities. A lot can happen in a dance class and it is best to be over-prepared than to be under-preparedBefore diving into some of the best dance class necessities to throw into your bag, let’s chat about the bag itself. 

Choosing your dance bag is super fun. There are no rules or guidelines that you need to follow for this step which allows for your unique individuality to shine through! 

Once you have chosen your dance bag, here are the few “no brainer” items that should go in first: 

  1. Dress Code Items needed for class
  2. An extra pair of tights/leotards just in case of an emergency 
  3. All necessary shoes for class
  4. A water bottle 
  5. A small snack 

Once all of the “no brainer” items are packed and ready to go, it is time to think about some other items that can help you during your first day. 

This is typically different for everyone. Do you have a favorite sweatshirt you like to wear before class starts? Maybe you want to bring a notebook in case you learn something new you want to remember! The most important thing to remember when entering your first dance class is to have FUN. Enjoy every step of this new journey you are about to start. Let yourself feel those butterflies in your stomach right before class begins. 

That means you are stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. That step alone is already something you can be proud of. 

All that is left for you to do is…DANCE! 

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Shawn Mahoney

Shawn Mahoney began his ballet, tap, and jazz training at the Joanne Langione Dance Center and his early performing career with Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre in Boston, MA. As an apprentice, Shawn danced for American Ballet Theatre before joining Boston Ballet. At Boston Ballet, Shawn performed in Petipa, Balanchine, Kylian, Forsythe, Bejart and others. Shawn performed as a chosen member of “Tharp!”, a national and international touring company directed by Twyla Tharp. Ms. Tharp invited Shawn to be part of the creative and choreographic process for her Broadway hit “Movin’ Out” and performed in Tharp’s “Red, White, and Blues”. Shawn performed with the Suzanne Farrell/Balanchine Project, Sean Curran Company, Washington Ballet, and Bale Estado de Goias. As an educator, Shawn has taught internationally for Festa de Danca in Sao Paulo and Bermuda Civic Ballet. Currently, Shawn is on faculty at Emerson College, instructing dance classes to actors and musical theatre students and is a teacher and lecturer at Days in the Arts. Shawn founded Mahoney Agency, representing dancers for national engagements for the Nutcracker Ballet. Shawn is a sought out mentor for emerging artists and choreographers in ballet and contemporary dance.