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What is the purpose of a dance rehearsal?

Dance rehearsals are not a time for learning the steps or choreographing new pieces. Rehearsals are a time for perfecting the performance.

Apart from the obvious logistical considerations such as checking the timing of the performance, the stage cues, the costume functions and the practical arrangements for physically making the performance happen, one of the main purposes of a dance rehearsal is for the dancers to practice and develop their interpretive skills.

During rehearsals dancers fine tune the timing of their movements with each other and work with the musicality of the piece. The artistic director works to give the dancers emphasis and projection so that the piece is ready for an audience.

The audience needs to see that the dancers are interpreting their moves and performing them with confidence and expression, telling the story through their performance and conveying choreographic intention so that the piece does not become just a series of moves. The dancers learn how to use their expressive skills whilst adding in their own style to compliment the style of the performance piece.

We're loving this rehearsal video from Janet Jackson's Youtube channel. Checkout the energy and also the diversity in dancers, dance styles and body types.

During rehearsals the dancers are also developing physical skills further such as strength, stamina, flexibility, agility, balance & coordination. Whilst these are all learned during regular dance classes, a dancer does not fully explore their limits until they are pushed in a dance rehearsal by an artistic director who is asking more and more of their bodies. The director will push and challenge the dancers to jump higher, leap further, lift their legs higher, stretch through a movement to overstretch.

Once a dancer understands what is required in the performance of the piece, they return to their own practice sessions to develop the required skills even further.

The dance rehearsal also provides the brain with the opportunity to use muscle memory. This is only acquired through repetition of a move over and over again until it becomes so ingrained in the dancers’ memories that they can perform it without even thinking anymore. It’s the same for a concert soloist playing without a musical score, they have practised their piece so many times that they no longer rely on reading the music.

Dance rehearsals can be long and tiring, often going on for hours and hours late into the night. It can be the only time that all the dancers get to practice together, so making the most of this time is crucial. Eating well, staying hydrated, having the appropriate footwear and changes of clothing are equally important. No one wants to get cold or stay wet from perspiration whilst waiting for their turn in the rehearsal.



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