warming up for dance

The Secret to Warming Up for Dance Auditions…The Right Way!

I get it. Warming up for dance auditions is challenging. You’re squished into a tiny holding room that’s basically a landmine of dance bags, water bottles, and feet. 

Half the room is doing their makeup, the other half is waiting to find out if they’ll be seen. And everyone else is being very particular about “the line.” 

It’s noisy, cramped, and definitely not an ideal space to warm up for dance. Especially if you are trying to actually warm up – not just sit in a deep second while you catch up with your friends.


But despite its challenges, studies show that warming up before auditions (or any physical activity)  improves performance. 

Active and passive warm-ups ensure your muscles are supplied with oxygen and are at the at optimal temperature for flexibility and efficiency, and it  helps to minimize stress on your heart. Because of this, warming your body up for dance also helps reduce the risk of injuries to muscles and tendons because they are already stretched and warmed.


Think of it like turning the air conditioner on. At first, the AC has to work extra hard to bring the temperature of the room down. But once it’s cooled, you can change the setting to “energy saving” which simply “maintains” the temperature by working at a lower energy level. 


So what should I do when warming up for dance auditions and classes?


A good warm up exercises bring the body temperature and heart rate up without over exhausting your system. 

The biggest thing is we want your warm up to be dynamic; consisting of an active cycle and a passive cycle (post warm up when you keep your body warm while waiting). 


A great way to do this is to have a consistent, active warm up that you do every time you are warming up for dance. That way, whether you are auditioning, taking dance class, or doing pre-production, your body is prepped to do what it needs to do. 


Then, after your active warm up, keep your layers on and stay warm. 


And Finally, don’t forget to warm up your mind. 


Studies have shown that athletes who prepare their minds before working out feel less stressed and more mentally ready use mental skills to exercise than those who did not.

Imagine walking into an audition room feeling less stressed, mentally focused, and ready to work physically?

A dream.


Want a sample of what warming up for dance should look like with all this in mind?

I thought you’d never ask.


Warming Up for Dance Auditions- Holding Room Approved!

Before we even start, I want you to first find a little space. In all my years as a professional dancer, I have learned that if you claim space people will give it to you. 

Now, don’t be a jerk, but find enough room to warm up, and people will respect that. Usually an acceptable rule of thumb is, enough room to do a plank will give you enough room to warm up. 

Let’s get started: 


  • Good Mornings:

Now that you have room, stand with your feet hip width apart and place your hands on your hips. 

Now, soften your kneels and gently hinge your hips back, keeping your core braced. You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings and a contraction in your glutes as you stand. 

Repeat this about ten times to “wake-up” the backs of your legs. 


  • Lunge with a Twist

For this one you’ll want to lunge forward, keeping your hips square. 

Then, slowly twist your shoulders toward your front leg,  and reach your arms in opposite directions. 

Finally, return to center and step back to parallel. 

Repeat on the other side, alternating for a total of 12 reps (6 on each side). 


  • Runner’s Lunge with Flexion and Extension

This warm up is wonderful for kicking on your glutes and core while also opening up your psoas muscle. 

To set yourself up, get into a lunge with bloth legs bent. For high intensity, place your hands on your hips rather than the floor. (If you choose to keep your hands on the floor, make sure your hips maintain a straight line with your back and remain square). 

Next, slowly straighten your back leg by pushing through your heel. Then, slowly bend back to the starting position. 

Repeat this for ten reps on each side. 


*Tip: the slower you move, the more challenging this exercise will be!


  • Kneeling Hip Tucks

Stay in your kneeling position for this one! Place your hands on your hips and, keeping your spine neutral, tuck your hips then return to neutral. 

You should feel the stretch in the front of the back leg, so long as your hips remain square, and your glutes stay engaged!

Repeat for 12-15 reps on each side. 


  • Kneeling Hamstring Hinges

You may want to place something under your knee for this one!

To set up, you’ll simply extend your front leg from your lunge so that one leg is straight in front of you, while your are kneeling tall on the other. 

To relieve pressure from your knee, make sure you are pushing into the shin of your bent leg and engaging your glutes and core. 

Place your hands on your hips and, maintaining a braced core, hinge your hips backward. 

Squeeze your glutes (much like a deadlift) to push your hips back to neutral. 

Repeat this for 8-10 reps on each side.


  • Hamstring Slides

For this next one, use your dance bag to rest your hand on for balance if you need! 

This warm up has the same starting position as our Hamstring Hinges, except, instead of hinging, you slowly slide your foot forward until you feel a stretch. 


Then, activating your hamstring, pull your hips backward to return to your neutral position.

(To add some extra range of motion, you can pull all the way back into a hinge before returning to neutral if you’re in need that day)!

Repeat this on each side however many times you need until you reach your maximum range of motion. 


  • Eccentric Push-ups (Standard or Kneeling)

Warming up for dance would not be complete if we didn’t warm up our upper body as well!

For this exercise, you’ll want to get into a plank position. (If that is too challenging for you, this also works from a kneeling position as well!) Your hands should aligned with your shoulder.

In your plank remember to gently pull your shoulder blades together, and brace your core. 

Slowly lower yourself toward the floor as low as possible with control. When you’ve reached your max, gentle let yourself down to the floor and reset in your plank. 

Repeat this for 6-8 reps. 


  • Mountain Climbers

Now, that our bodies are warm, let’s raise that heart rate a bit. 

Get yourself into your plank position. Shoulders down, core activated. 

Start slowly, and without letting your hips shoot up to the ceiling, pull your right knee into your chest. 

Then, shoot it back, while your other knee pulls in. 

Repeat this slowly for 4-6 reps, then pick up the pace for 8-10 more. 


Warming up for Dance Auditions, Mentally: 

Warming up for dance mentally is especially important for auditions. 

There is so much chaos around you in a holding room, getting centered is incredibly important. 


A mental warm up also gives you the opportunity to tune into your body and make sure you have enough layers on to stay warm passively. 

This might mean throwing and extra sweatshirt in your dance bag, just in case the wait is long. But maintaining the heat you generated in your warm up will only help you in your audition. 


So, what’s a mental warm up?

A mental warm up centers your mind on the task you are about to do. It strengthens your mind body connection and preps your muscles and nerves for the quick communication that is about to be demanded of them. This, in turn, reduces the stress and anxiety often assicated with performance.  


Sound like that might benefit someone who’s warming up to dance in an audition or show?

warming up for dance mentally






Let’s try it.

This guided mental warm up recommends that you stand- but you can easily do this sitting with a long spine, attention focused on where your sits bones connect with the floor if preferred. 


So, put on some head phones in, and let’s try it. 


Stand tall with soft knees and your feet shoulders width apart. Breathe through your nose and inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. Hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest. 


Take another deep breath through your nose and inhale, again filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. As before, hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest.


 Resume breathing normally. (You can use deep breathing to calm yourself as needed.)


Now take a moment to get a clear mental picture of the main thing you want to accomplish in your audition (or show).  Close your eyes as you think about something that is within your control. 


What do you see in this mental picture of what you want to accomplish? 


Do you notice any sensations in your body? 


How do your muscles feel? 


What sounds do you hear? 


Make the mental picture as clear and vivid a possible.


Okay. Now, let the mental picture fade and focus again on your breathing. 

Stand tall with your knees soft and your feet shoulders width apart.


 Breathe through your nose and inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. Hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest.


Now bring back the mental picture of what is in your control to accomplish in this audition (or show). 


 As the clear and vivid mental picture of what you hope to accomplish reappears, what do you see? 


What sensations do you notice in your body? 


How do your muscles feel? 


What sounds do you hear? 


Allow yourself to fully experience this mental pictur and  fill yourself with the belief that you can make it happen today.


Let the mental picture fade once again.


 Imagine a warm glow forming in your stomach, right in your core. 


This warm glow is full of energy and is slowly starts to spread throughout your body.


As the energy spreads, jump up and land with both feet. (or, if sitting, roll through your spine.)


Shake out your arms and feel the energy starting to surge from inside you. Feel the energy launch you into the air again, land, and shake out your arms.


Keep that feeling of energy and, as you do, bring back the mental picture of the main thing you hope to accomplish today one final time.


 Check your energy level. 


Use the warm glow of energy in your body to raise your energy level or your breathing to find the level of energy you need and get yourself ready to perform. 


You have the appropriate level of energy, you know what you want to accomplish, you believe you can accomplish it, and you are ready to do it. On the count of three, we will clap our hands (or tap your thighs, or inhale and exhale) three times and go do it.


A mental warm up like this can be recorded in your voice memos and played over your head phones, or simply meditated on daily! Why limit yourself to pre-performance success if the same can be applied to workouts and other tasks?


Most importantly, I leave you armed not only with the tools for warming up for dance the right way. But I also leave you with a guide for those days when you’re not feeling up for creating something of your own. 

Let us know if you try it.  We love hearing about your wins!

strength training for dancers

The Do’s and Don’ts of Strength Training for Dancers

Strength training for dancers has been a widely debated topic for decades now. And while the question,

“Is strength training good for dancers”

seems like a no brainer to us here at Dancers Who Lift,  it’s still worth answering every time it’s asked. 

Because, YES! 

Strength training for dancers is an incredible way to resolve muscular imbalances in the body, build endurance, and increase mobility and range of motion. 

However, because there has been a lot of misinformation about what strength training for dancers should look like, it can be challenging to get started. 

But never fear! 

Dancers Who Lift is here with a list of six do’s and don’ts of strength training for dancers!



Perform exercises that look and feel “like dance”. One of the most common things we see when dancers start to weight train are exercises that look like dance, but just add weights. 

Maybe it’s ankle weights on your degágés and téndus. Or maybe it’s doing a shoulder press on a bosu ball while standing in passé or Arabesque. 

Unfortunately, while these exercises are incredible feats of strength, they aren’t the best way for you to build strength. 

According to the National Library of Medicine Cross-training is defined as the use of multiple modes of training to enhance performance in one particular sport.

This means order for cross training to be effective, it needs to work you out differently than dance does.Otherwise you’re putting yourself at risk for an overuse injury.   



Perform both compound and isolation strengthening exercises. Weightlifting for dancers has endless benefits. 

From increased mobility to preventing injury, and yes acheiving physique goals. Weightlifting is the perfect cross training tool for dancers.


However, starting your strength training journey can feel a little bit overwhelming. So, one plance we always tell our dancers to begin is with the basics. 

Learning how to do these five functional strength training moves will not only jumpstart your training, but will give you the tools to build an effective strength workout – immediately. 



Skip your rest days. And no, yoga class is not rest. A short jog is not rest.

I cannot say this enough:  If you are taking a rest day. JUST REST!

Resting will actually get you further along in your fitness journey than you can ever imagine. 


Why? Because resting gives your muscles time to recover and rebuild and that is when strengthening occurs. Infact, rest days are a great way to train your body to recover more quickly. In fact, according to the Nation Library of Medicine, 

“Due to the symbiosis between sleep and recovery, it is clear from the current findings that athletes should have a detailed individualized and multifaceted recovery plan in place involving sleep, nutrition, hydration, and other physiological and psychological aspects (Sakkas). 

So, quit skipping rest day. You need it!



The best way to rest is to schedule it. Just like scheduling your workouts or dance clases, put your rest days in your calendar. 

Plan something restorative for your mind or emotional healthy that day like a walk through the park, a lunch with your friends, or an afternoon reading your favorite book.  

But remember, the more you do, the more you need to rest. Dancers are notorious for packing their weeks and then giving themselves one afternoon of rest. 

That’s not going to cut it. Strength training for dancers should occur somewhere between three and for times a week. And, In between those sessions, are dance classes and auditions. That’s a lot of stress for your body to manage. 


That means we need to be resting at LEAST one full day per week if not more. 


And listen, resting is not just about sitting around. There are tons of ways to promote recovery as busy dancers. 

So, next time you feel like your body might need a rest,  take it  knowing you are doing more good for your body than “pushing through it” ever could. 



Forget to fuel yourself for strength building. There is this awful myth that healthy snacks for dancers consist of small handfuls of nuts and protein bars. And while those things aren’t bad for you, they are not nearly enough fuel for what dancers demand of their bodies. 


Strength training for dancers, on top of training as a professional dancer, ups the ante for how much we need to consume. We are professional athletes, and it’s time we start eating like them. 


Free energy estimator - macro calculator for dancers




Eat proper amounts of nutrients to fuel your body to build muscles and stay energized. As dancers we are professional athletes. This means that we share the same dietary needs as a professional athlete. 


Strength training for dancers can only go so far without proper fuel! In order to build muscle we have to eat more protein and yes, more carbohydrates.


Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get your brain in gear during a dance class or audition?

Do you ever feel like you can’t picking up choreography as quickly as usual?

Have you ever just felt lethargic after a long day of rehearsals?


All of these issues can be largely helped by simply consuming enough protein and carbs to adequately fuel your body. Dancers need to eat a balanced diet of protein, carbs and fats throughout their day in order to meet the demands of their job. 


And if they want to get stronger? Well, then they need to eat even more. You can’t level up without fuel. It’s as simple as that. 



Confuse quantity with quality. There is a long held belief that the longer you spend in the gym, the more work you’re doing. 


Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. 


Sure, you could spend an hour and half everyday in the gym and you’d see progress. But what if I told you that you could see the same amount of progress, and even more useful progress with a 45-minute workout?


This is because there is a distinct difference between training and working out


Training is specified, to your unique needs and goals. 

Working out is a general way to burn calories, increase heartrate, and increase aerobic capacity.

Longer is not better. Intentional and goal oriented is. 



Focus on specific, intentional training to equalize imbalances, strengthen muscles, and increase endurance. 


Strength training for dancers can be incredibly specific. We even created an entire workout dedicated to improving your pirouettes. Imagine how much your dance technique could be transformed by increasing the strength and power at your end range of motion? Hello sky high extensions and soaring leaps!


So stop lifting just for the sake of lifting and start training for your specific dance goals. 


Need some inspiration? Here are 20 conditioning workouts for dancers!



Set unrealistic expectations and goals. Dancers tend to have an all or nothing mindset. That’s why strength training for dancers can be so challenging. 


We often feel like, if we have to do a modification or if we can’t complete a workout, that the workout isn’t as good as if we could do the workout full out or to completion. 


But the truth is, imperfect action is ALWAYS better than perfect inaction.

In fact, imperfect action adds up overtime to that magic word we all strive for: *consistency.*



Remain consistent despite setbacks. The more often you show up for yourself, the stronger you will become both mentally and physically.


Strength training for dancers is as much a mental reset as it as a physical one. Strength training takes time and consistency in both physical action and nutritional consumption and mental fortitude. 


You’re on tour and the hotel doesn’t have a gym? That’s okay. Strength training can be done anywhere.

You don’t financial access to a gym with equipment? That’s okay! Bodyweight training is still an effective tool of strength training for dancers. 


There will always be an excuse. But dedication will always win over motivation. So, unless your body is asking for rest. Choose to show up for yourself day after day in this fitness pursuit.



Do it on your own. 

Strength training for dancers is still a relatively new idea in the dance world. What does that yield? A lot of misinformation about what it is and how to do it. 


Think of it like dance. 

You could teach yourself ballet via youtube videos and online articles. But your technique will improve and grow much faster if you work with a ballet teacher privately or in a class. 


The same is true with strength training. 

You can do it on your own. But your progress will move so much faster if you have someone to guide you through it.  



Find a community that can support you in your journey. It’s scientifically proven that having accountability helps athletes reach their goals. 

Not able to afford personal training? That’s okay!

There are tons of low-cost or free opportunities to strength train. Dancers Who Lift has tons of free tools, from the 5-day turn course, to the Mindset Reset, to the Energy Estimator. 

And that doesn’t even mention the Dancers Who Lift Blog that’s chock of work outs, nutrition tips, and even mental health guides for professional dancers. 

Strength training for dancers is so beneficial. I hope this list of dos and don’ts has helped you sort out a road map of success for your goals! 


Let us know how your journey is going in the comments or give us a follow @dancerswholift on instagram and Tiktok. And if you find that you do want to work with a trainer, check out our Embodied Artist or Body Mechanics programs. We’d love to be a part of your community.

How to become a professional dancer

How to Become a Professional Dancer: Expert Advice on How to Transform Your Passion Into Your Livelihood


Learning how to become a professional dancer is equal parts very complicated and very simple. 


On one hand, all you need to do is attend a professional dance audition and get hired. 


On the other hand, there are a lot of steps to getting you to that audition and performing at the level necessary to book the job. 


Even if you went to college for dance or theatre, taking what you’ve learned and applying it to the real world is a challenge. Between finding an agent, getting headshots, formatting your resume, and finding auditions, learning how to become a professional dancer in “real life” is hard work. 


That’s why I’ve put together this guide with everything you need to know about how to become a professional dancer. 



Now, I’m not going to sit here and insult your intelligence by informing you that in order to become a professional dancer you need to have dance training. So, for the purposes of this guide, I’m going to assume that you have a solid foundation of dance training behind you. 


That said, continuing your dance training while you are actively pursuing your career is paramount to your success as a professional dancer. 


Professional athletes don’t just cross-train. They cross-train and they practice their sport so they can try different strategies, strengthen challenging skills, and continue to improve.


The same is true of professional dancers. Taking dance classes regularly not only keeps you in shape, but it allows you grow artistically and helps you continue to improve as a dancer. 


Taking classes also allows you to remain adept at all genres of dance that interest you. And, in the end, the more versatile your dance training, the more you have to pull from artistically. 


So, how do you find pre-professional and professional dance classes? 


Places like Broadway Dance Center, Steps, Peridance, and Gibney are great for New Yorkers. And in Chicago you have Visceral, Giordano, and Chicago Tap Theatre

But even if you aren’t in a big city, a quick google search and let you know of studios in your area that offer drop in classes.


Cross Training: 

While we are on the topic of training. Let’s talk cross-training. 


Cross-training is an imperative tool for anyone exploring how to become a professional dancer. 


As alluded to before, professional dancers are professional athletes and they need to train as such. It takes incredible strength, stamina, and mobility to do what we do. And in order to prevent injury and maintain our physical capacity, we need to cross-train.


So, what is cross-training? 

It’s working out in a way that is different than your chosen sport. 


For example, a football player looking to throw the ball farther does not simply play football between practices and throw the ball just like he would in a game to get better. 

Might he improve a bit? Sure. 

Might he also get an overuse injury? Possibly. 


So, to prevent injury and throw the ball farther, a football player lifts weights, throws medicine balls at the floor, and builds general strength and increases his end-range mobility. 


Similarly, a dancer wanting to jump higher, should not only practice jumping, but train their legs via deadlifts, squats, and lunges to increase their end-range power.

personal training for dancers



Okay, so you have training and you’re taking classes. But how to do you actually book the job to become a professional dancer? 


Well, sometimes, taking class often enough builds relationships with choreographers and you’ll get opportunities just from taking classes! (More on that later!)


However, this is not the norm. No, the fastest road to becoming a professional dancer is auditioning. 


So, how do you find auditions? Do you have to have an agent? I’ll tell you. And No. 


You do not have to have an agent to get auditions. In fact, there are a lot of websites specifically designed to help dancers find auditions. These sites list upcoming auditions for shows and gigs that you can either submit for or put in your calendar to attend.


The biggest ones are: 

Casting networks – Casting Networks is mostly geared toward film, TV, and commercials and it’s a great resource for finding short gigs between long jobs. 


Backstage – Backstage is an excellent resource, not only for finding auditions, but for learning about trends in the industry, hearing from casting directors, and reading about other actors’ experiences. 


Actor’s accessActor’s Access is one of the best tools you can have as someone learning how to become a professional dancer. Here you will find postings from casting directors seeking dancers and actors for projects. You can then submit your materials directly to the casting team and even leave them a note to introduce yourself and tell them why you’re the best fit for their project. 


Answers4dancersAnswers4dancers is wonderful in that it is the only site listed here specifically geared toward dancers only. Here you can find auditions as well as a wealth of information about the dance industry today.


PlaybillPlaybill is one of the best ways to find dance auditions specifically for live theatre. Simply click on their “Jobs” tab, set your settings, and happy hunting!


Now, if you are a concert dancer looking to audition for a company, these auditions are usually listed on their site. Another thing to note is that some of these auditions cost money. Usually the cost is not much more than a drop in clas would be, but it’s always important to check!



Okay, so you’ve found an audition to attend. The next order of business is to make sure you have the appropriate resume.


 For concert dancers, your resume may look a bit different as many companies like to have a brief description of your work above your credits. 


For theatre and commercial dancers, your resume will mostly consist of your credits and training. There are tons of resources like this one that can show you how to format your resumes. 


But when it comes to listing your credits for both commercial, theatre, and concert dance you’ll want to be sure to list the show,  your role, and the director or choreographer that lead the project. 


What are credits?

“Credits” is just a fancy way of saying “roles/shows you’ve performed.”


Beneath your list of work, you’ll want to list your training. This is where you can list your college training if applicable, you can list any private coaches, or even intensives you’ve attended. 



In conjunction with your resume, you’ll also need an 8×10 headshot. 


Headshots are very important to professional dancers because they are often the first impression casting has of them. That’s why it is so important for them to represent not only what you look like but who you are. 


A good headshot draws the viewer in and gives them a small glimpse of what you’re like. Headshots can be friendly, engaging, fierce, or moody. The important thing is that it represents you and is appropriate for the project you are auditioning for. 


While any photographer will be capable of taking a good headshot. Take your time to do some research.

There are photographers who dedicate their entire careers to producing excellent headshots for performers. And since headshots can be costly, it’s important to know that you’ll be getting exactly what you need.


Similarly, there are photographers who dedicate their careers to photographing dancers. Professional dancers often need full body shots either for company auditions or for their websites and social media. These can be incredibly helpful tools for marketing yourself as professional dancer. 

Headshots for Professional dancersbecome a professional dancerProfessional dance Shot

professional dancer







There is a pretty rampant myth out there that you can’t book work without an agent. And while having an agent sometimes makes booking work easier, it is completely untrue that you have to have an agent to book big jobs. 


Furthermore, I’d like to emphasize that having an agent that is not a good fit for your goals can sometimes hold you back. 


However, agents can be an incredible help in getting you into audition rooms that otherwise might not be open to you. This is because casting offices sometimes have what’s called “agency submissions” or “agent appointments” before they host an open call or union run audition.


Having an agent that can vouch for you as a performer and recommend you for projects means you will not only be seen at the auditions you find and attend, but you will also be submitted by your agent or projects. 


Why is this helpful to someone learning how to become a professional dancer? 


Well, first, because more auditions means more opportunities. But also, because the more a casting director sees your resume and headshot, the more likely they are to bring you in again and again. 


So, how do you find an agent?

Finding and agent that connects with you and vice versa can be a long journey. 


The most important thing to remember is that working with an agent is a team sport. Once you get an agent you don’t stop looking for auditions and wait for them to get you in the room.

No.  An agent will want to know that you are working along side of them to attend auditions.


That’s why you need to find someone that is excited to represent you, understands where you fit in the industry now, and understands where you want to go in the industry. 

And that’s why it’s so important to get to know yourself as a professional dancer before you add an agent into the mix. Because if you don’t know where you fit and where you want to go, how can you expect them to know?

A few things to consider: 

When you research agents for professional dancers take a look at where the agency is located. That will give you an idea of who they are connected to in your industry. Make sure their connections are ones that are applicable and desirable to you. 

Next, take a look at the type of artists they represent. Do you fill a hole in their roster that they might be looking for? Do you fit the types of projects they’d be best at submitting you for? These are all important questions to ask yourself before you submit to an agency.

Then, once you get an interview, make sure you know the answers to these questions:

  1. What shows/gigs/companies do you see yourself fitting into right now?
  2. What are your goals for your career?
  3. What connections have you already made with casting directors, choreographers, etc. that the agents will be able to capitalize on? 

Knowing the answer to these questions will help both you and your prospective agent understand if this agency is a good fit. 



Networking is a very important tool to use when exploring how to become a professional dancer. For professional dancers, networkin can be tricky because it’s not like we have corporate mixers the way other industries do. 


Or do we?


That optional cast dinner with the creative team? That opening night party? The way you speak with the monitor in the holding room for the auditions?

Those are are examples of a dancer’s “corporate mixer.” 


The reality is, our industry is relational. We collaborate and create art together, sometimes becoming as close as family with our cast.

But never underestimate how closely members of the creative team, stage crew, and more are watching.


The truth is, many of the jobs I have booked have been through referrals from past directors, stage managers, and even teaching assistants from classes I’ve taken. 


So yes, you can absolutely utilize websites like Actors Connection to make connections with people out of reach from your current network. But do not underestimate networking by taking the same dance class consistently to get to know a choreographer or their assistant. 

Do not underestimate the value of connecting with the creative team on the job. 


Now, if this feels icky to you, I want you to think about it this way: 

You are going to be making friends in this industry no matter what. You will be working with these people no matter what. Wouldn’t it be valuable to build an intentional relationship with the people you work with no matter what they could get you? It just makes work more fun!


Suddenly, you aren’t networking. You are being yourself and building relationships. And that type of networking is what yields jobs and auditions more than any pay to play class ever will. 



If you’re learning how to become a professional dancer you’ve likely heard the phrase, 

“If you can do anything else, do that.”

Well, I’m here to reject that. 


Dancers are incredible people. Our minds are trained to do so many things at once and all the while make it look effortless. Most of the dancers I meet are quite capable of doing almost anything they set their mind to. 


But what I think anyone learning how to become a professional dancer needs is passion. 


Pursuing a career in dance is challenging, exhausting, and full of rejection. The only way to be tenacious under those circumstances is to love what you do so much that you don’t really want to do anything else. Even if it might be easier and more lucrative, your heart always comes back to dance. 


That is not to say that a professional dancer has to be singular either–I mean, Dancers Who Lift was created by a professional dancer while dancing professionally. But at the end of the day, all of the hustle and hard work that it takes to become a professional dancer, has to be worth it to you. 


So, what do you think? Do you want to learn how to become a professional dancer to the best of your ability? Train along side other professional dancers? Expand your network instantly? 


Think about giving Dancers Who Lift a follow. We’ll be here. Training, teaching, and cheering you o

How to become a better dancer

How to Become a Better Dancer: 6 Secrets for Leveling Up Your Technique

When I was in college a professor  whose job it was to teach me how to become a dancer told a horrifying, yet true limerick: 

“Somewhere there is someone working harder and longer than you and when they meet you they will beat you.” 

And while this might send any over-achiever into a “hard-work-spiral,” It’s not untrue.  Anyone pursuing a professional dance career has been to an audition and thought 

“Wow, everyone is so good.”  

Which is often quickly followed by, 

“I need to get my booty to class!”

And while it is true that class time for a professional dancer never ends. There is a lot more to becoming a better dancer than just going to class. 

Free 5 Day Turn Course dance workout


First of all:

It’s important that we define what “better” is. Are you wanting to be better at a specific style? Are you wanting more control? Or are you just feeling “blah” in class and hoping to sharpen up your skills overall? For our purposes, let’s define “better” as leveling up your technique. 

Because at the end of the day having more power, more control, and more agility will improve your dance technique in any style of dance you want to pursue. 

Sound good to you? Good.

Learn how to become a better dancer by following these six steps:

First way to learn how to become a better dancerActually Warm Up

Let me guess, the first thing you do when warming-up for class or an audition is drop into a deep second position plié, hands on you knees and you alternate dropping your shoulders forward and back to get a great stretch. 

Did I get it right?

Well, what if I told you that while this feels great, it actually isn’t helping prepare your body to dance at all. In fact, static stretching of the lower limbs has been shown to negatively impact explosive movement performance for up to 24 hours poststretching! What does that mean? It means that sitting in a split or hanging out in a frog before auditions is actually impeding your performance when it comes to jumps and power. Now, I know how it feels to have tight hips and thighs before an audition, but dynamic stretches (stretches that move in and out of a position) can loosen you up just as well, while simultaneously warming up your body.

So what does a good warm-up look like?

A good warm up should increase heart-rate and blood flow so that more oxygen can be moved to the muscles. This will activate the connection between your nerves and muscles which will improve your efficiency of movement. In fact, this study showed that a well created warm up could improve performance in 79% of criterions examined! 

Now, if you’re focusing on how to become a better dancer I know you are an over achiever. So let me emphasize this: a warmup should not exhaust you. But a warm-up should raise your heart rate and *maybe* even get you sweating a bit. This can be accomplished by performing a few compound bodyweight exercises like air squats, push-ups, hollow holds, cossack squats, and dynamic stretches. 

If you’re still struggling with tightness in certain areas, foam roll. Studies have shown that foam rolling can help loosen muscles without the adverse affects seen  in static stretching.


Contrary to what you may have been taught, weightlifting is an incredible cross training tool for dancers. In fact, I’m willing to promise you that weightlifting is absolutely the key to how to become a better dancer. At dancers who lift we’ve seen dancers go from “not being a turner” to whipping out triples in class without even thinking about it. We’ve seen extensions get higher, and control increase exponentially. 

But more than anything, dancers who start a weight training program report higher levels of confidence in class, in auditions, and on stage. Confidence is the number one thing that will set you apart from other dancers. Because you will no longer be worrying about landing that jump, controlling that battement, or completing that turn. Instead, your mind will be free to enjoy the movement. To show everyone in the room why you do this in the first place. 

threeDynamic Stretching

Like me, you may have been taught that it takes 30 seconds for your muscles to fully relax into a stretch. This information lead to years of sitting in stretches for 30 seconds, taking a deep inhale, then relaxing deeper into the stretch on the exhale. And repeating every 30 seconds for about two minutes. While this is a good way to work on the flexibility of your muscles. It’s actually not an effective way to increase your mobility and can actually be detrimental to your performance if used during a warm up as it limits your power. 

Instead, we recommend dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretching has been shown to improve speed, agility, and acceleration. This is because it requires that you actively tighten your muscles and move your joints through their full range of motion while you stretch. 

Think about it. When you’re doing a Battement or a Firebird, your muscles and joints are not relaxed in a stretched position. No. They are actively working through a range of motion. Dynamic stretching works through a muscle or joints full range of motion, strengthening the end points to ultimately increase the range of motion. You want to learn how to become a better dancer? Start using dynamic stretches consistently.

Some examples of dynamic stretches are: hip windshield wipers, hip lift offs, low lunge rocks, squat twist and reaches, arms circles, leg swings, and so many more. 

Looking for some mobility flows?

Scroll through the Dancers Who Lift Instagram Reels and follow along!

Fourth way of how to become a better dancer Fuel Yourself

This one is a biggie. I see dancers online bragging about their Cold brew and granola bar before an audition or rehearsal and I think, 

“No. Gorgeous, gorgeous, dancers eat a balanced snack before they dance!”

Have you ever been in audition or rehearsal and felt like you couldn’t retain the combo or pick it up as well as usual? That’s likely because you hadn’t consumed enough protein beforehand. 

Ever felt like, despite taking four dance classes a week three HIIT classes, and walking all over the city you were getting exhausted by the end of a 20 minute audition? That’s likely because you aren’t consuming enough carbohydrates in your diet. 

Ever felt like that last hour of rehearsal was ten times slower than the rest of the day? You probably needed a little more fat to carry you through. 

The reality is, dancers are athletes and we need to fuel our bodies accordingly. Because of how active we are, both in and out of the studio, it is incredibly necessary that we consume a balanced diet of protein, fats, and yes, carbs. 

I promise you, once you start eating enough. You’ll see massive improvements in your dance technique.


I already know you are rolling your eyes. But the fact of the matter is, watching two hours of TV at the end of your day is absolutely not enough rest for you to become a better dancer. One of the most important ways you can work toward improving your dance technique is giving your body enough time to recover and get stronger between classes, workouts, and auditions. 

Constant exercise, and that includes walking all over town, does not give our body enough time to rebuild between training sessions and rehearsals. And what happens when we don’t have enough time to recover? We fatigue faster, our precision and control lags, and our risk for injury increases exponentially. 

As dancers we put our bodies through insane amounts of stress; mentally, physically, and emotionally. Every day we push our minds and bodies to the limit and on top of that we are striving to achieve our dreams. Without rest, that stress can wreak havoc on our bodies leading to lack of choreographic retention and lazy technique. 

So, want your technique to be insanely consistent? REST. 


You want to know how to become a better dancer? Be consistent. If there is anything you take away from this entire blog let it be this. Small consistent steps toward a goal will always better than inconsistent leaps.

Whether you are trying to get stronger, improve your mobility, or balance your diet, consistency is the key to your success.

And the best thing about consistency is, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Maybe you start by committing to doing fifteen minutes of dynamic stretching every other day. Then, as that becomes consistent, you add in eating one extra serving of protein each day. Then after that maybe you start lifting weights two times per week–even one time per week–until you get the hang of it. 

Maybe you’re doing everything on this list. Maybe where you want to gain consistency is showing up once a week to a technique class. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to start!

Consistency does not have to be perfect. It just has to be consistent. 

So, where do you think you’ll start today? Let us know which of these helped you learn how to become a better dancer in the comments or on our instagram @Dancerswholift!

Leaping For Joy: A Dancer’s Guide On How To Jump Higher

Are you a jumper or a turner? A question asked of every dancer at some point in their career. And while some of us naturally jump higher than others, did you know that you can train yourself into being both a jumper and a turner? It’s true! And this quick read will outline exactly how you can train to jump higher and longer than you ever imagined. higher jumps

Scientifically speaking, a training program focused on achieving higher jumps should include both weight training and plyometric training. This means that your workouts should include a mix of lifts to improve lower body power and plyometric exercises that will challenge your endurance and end range of motion strength. 

Free energy estimator - macro calculator for dancers

Here’s the thing, understanding how a jump is structured allows us to train each portion of a jump to yield  more power and control. Powerful leaps and jumps are made of three phases: Eccentric, Amortization, and Concentric. 


Let’s take a look at each of these and learn how to train each section and jump higher: 


The Eccentric:

The eccentric point of your jump is two-fold. The first time you utilize this point is in  the “loading” portion of the jump this is the pre-stretch of the muscle which creates stored energy. Later, you re-enter the eccentric point of your jump as you land. This same type of pre-stretch is used for force reduction and deceleration. At this point in the jump knee and ankle stiffness are important for effective force absorption.

A great exercise for training knee and ankle stiffness for landings are pogo jumps.  Bonus? Pogo jumps will bullet proof your Achilles Tendon!

Studies suggest that eccentric training exercises can prevent injuries in dancers– especially when dancers are fatigued. The key to training eccentrically is identifying the eccentric portion of a lift and slowing the tempo down during that phase of the lift. Eccentric exercise occurs when muscles are being lengthened under tension.

For example, an eccentric squat is very similar to a standard squat. However, in an eccentric squat, the lowering portion of the move (when your calves and thighs are lengthening) is done at a slow tempo and to the lowest range of motion possible.

Another great eccentric training exercise for jumps are heels drops. Stand with your toes on the edge of a yoga block or stair, press to relévé then slowly drop the heels below the stair. 

The Amortization: 

The Amortization point in a jump is the time between the end of the eccentric phase/downward force and the concentric phase/upward force. This phase is the key to more powerful and higher jumps, because the shorter the amortization phase the more effective and powerful the plyometric movement. This is because the stored energy is used efficiently in the transition. If there is a delay between these two (like say, sitting in your plié) the stored energy created in the eccentric phase is wasted.

This is another reason why training eccentric movement to end range of motion is important. Because, the stronger your eccentric end range of motion becomes, the faster the amortization time. 

But how else can you train to increase your speed and power through the amortization phase? Plyometrics. Plyometric training will help you jump higher in general. But it will also increase your muscular and aerobic endurance, which will in turn help the amortization time. 

Some examples of plyometric exercises are: Skater hops, Broad jumps, Jump squats, split squat jumps, tuck jumps, and box jumps.


The Concentric:

The concentric point of your jump is the shortening of the muscle where the muscle contracts and produces force. This phase is assisted by the stored elastic potential energy from the eccentric cycle. The concentric phase is critical in any jump. 

How do we train the concentric point of a jump? Largely, by strength training. This study done at Valpraiso University showed that athletes who added Olympic lifts (like dead lifts and power cleans) were able to jump higher and farther than those who did not. 

Some exercises you can add to your training to build strength and power to your concentric phase are: squats, back squats, dead lifts, Romanian dead lifts, single-leg Romanian dead lifts, split squats, lunges, split squats with a push off, split squats with a power drive, Bulgarian split squats, courtesy lunges, and reverse lunges.  

Bottom line,  in order to jump higher in class and on stage, we need to be cross training with weightlifting and plyometrics and there are a lot of exercises that will yield higher jumps. What might be more helpful is to film yourself jumping and try to identify which portion of your jump needs the most work. 


Are you struggling with controlled landings? Focus on eccentric movements. 


Finding it hard to get off the floor? Combine plyometrics and weight training to shorten the amortization phase and build power to push through the concentric phase. 


Having a hard time with a specific jump or wanting an “over all” workout to jump higher?


Check out these workouts: 

Auxiliary Workout for Higher Jumps


Cross Training Exercises for Jumps


Lifts for Better Jetés


Tips and Exercises for Calypsos!


Exercises for Center Jumps


at home core exercises

7 Epic At Home Core Exercises (That Aren’t Crunches!)

Dancers are constantly told that they need to have a strong core. Core strength is about so much more than rippling abs – especially for dancers. Weak core muscles can not only cause problems in your technique, but they can lead to lower endurance and even injury


Yet, due to our jobs, we don’t always have access to a gym. That’s why having an arsenal of at home core exercises can definitely come in handy. But I’d be willing to guess, my core exercises and your core exercises look a little different. 


You see, dancers across the country have been doing the some variation of the same crunch combination since the dinosaurs walked the earth. You know the combo: center crunch, single-leg-crunch, switch, lift-both-knees-to-90-crunch, both-legs-straight-up-crunch, straddle-crunch, side-crunch, switch, static plank, collapse. 


More and more evidence is coming out that crunches are not the be-all-end-all for core strengthening. In fact, crunches only target a very small portion of your core and can create lower back pain


So where does that leave your list of at home core exercises? Looking a little thin? That’s okay! I have compiled a list of seven at home core exercises that will take your core training up a notch!



weight lifting for dancers personal training





Dynamic Planks

A dynamic plank is a plank that is not static. In other words, you’re doing more than just “holding” the plank. Dynamic planks are a fantastic at home core exercise because, first, they are equipment free and, second, they engage more than your abs. Dynamic planks engage both your superficial and deep abdominals, but they also fire your glutes, obliques, shoulder girdle and hips, for stability. 


Good examples of dynamic planks are: around the world planks, plank pull throughs, up-down planks, RKC planks, and side planks with flexion. Want some other plank variations? Try out these five core moves for a dynamic core workout. 

Bird Dogs

Bird dogs are a Dancers Who Lift favorite. Why? Because Bird Dogs train your body to maintain a neutral and stable spine while your limbs work seperately. These exercises are particularly great as a part of your pre-show warm up. You can do them anywhere and they get your whole body engaged and focused. 



We here at Dancers Who Lift LOVE the bird dog. It’s. Great dynamic, functional core exercise. So often as dancers, we fall into the trap of static core training, such as planks for time. And while this might *feel* really effective, ultimately when we’re dancing, we need to be able to engage our core as we’re moving! The bird dog is an optimal exercise for training contralateral movement— while maintaining postural alignment! Additionally, this movement works for hamstrings, the glutes, the rectus abdominous, the obliques, the spinal extensors, the lots and the posterior shoulder musculature ! So it’s a lot of bang for your buck ! It can also be easily progressed or request, depending on the dancers strength and ability. 👉A regression (easier) might look like just moving one limb, or not having the limbs leave the floor 👉 a progression (harder) might look like maintaining a hovering quadruped position, or even working in a full plank position, or potentially holding weights in the hands. If you want to learn more great movements like this, and how they can apply to one’s dancing, join our free ab challenge for dancers ! Link is in my bio! #Dancerswholift #shelifts #mobilitywod #movementitmedicine #strongnotskinny #fitness #dance #nycdancer #abs #selfcare

♬ original sound – dancerswholift


Dead Bugs

Another DWL staple and wonderful at home core exercise is the dead bug. Dead bugs are fantastic at working your deep core muscles, preventing back pain, and promoting strong spinal stability. The best part? There are TONS of variations on the dead bug so no matter what your mood, you can choose the variation that works best for your needs. 


Reverse Crunches

Reverse crunches are sneaky hard. But, for this exercise, you will need to find something stable to hold onto while you’re lying on the floor; this could be a couch or bed frame, something that wont move as you do these. Once you’ve found it, lay down and grab hold of it with your arms above your head and get started. Ready to level up your reverse crunches? Try out coach Ariel’s Dragon Flag reverse crunch here

L-Sit to Bridge

Okay, this little combo will have you SWEATING. Add this at home core exercise to your pre-show ritual and you will be warm and ready! Start in an L-Sit, hovering your booty just above thr ground. Then, push your hips up toward the sky until your body is in a table top position. Finally, return to the L-sit starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat. Want a visual for the form? Click here. 



I know, I know. But before you yell at me that push-ups aren’t a core exercise, take a moment and think about good push-up form. Yes, that’s right, good push-up form is basically a plank. Therefore, is a push-up not a type of dynamic plank? Push-ups are a true full body exercise and they will do wonders for your core strength when done correctly. The key to making push-ups a part of a dynamic core workout, is ensuring that you are mastering your form before you progress to the next level. Not sure what that looks like? Give this form break down a quick scan. 


Hollow Holds

Finally, we get to hollow holds. Hollow holds are fantastic for targeting your deep core muscles. Hollow holds work against back pain, increase pelvic floor strength, and will do wonders for your front extensions! Hollow holds also have tons of variations like hollow holds with flexion, banana rolls, supermans, and hollow hold rocks. 

So, which of these core exercises will you add to your workout? Pick a couple and let us know how it goes! Want us to check your form? Tag us in a video on instagram @dancerswholift. We’d love to give it a look!