Andrew Stone

Andrew Stone

Find out how dance can improve your posture, fitness and communication skills with tips from the jazz instructor from London's famous Pineapple dance studio.

Raise Your Game: When did you first know that you wanted to be a dancer?

Andrew Stone: I started at a time when the film Fame was around and it was really inspiring. Many TV shows were dance based and there weren't really things like computer games to entertain ourselves with.

I was quite dyslexic in school and I didn't do very well in my GCSE's, so dancing became my focus. When I got to14 years of age I decided I wanted to do it professionally.

RYG: What can dance give you?

AS: It's the best gift in the world to be able to get up and dance because it's the best gym. You artistically stretch your brain and you physically stretch your body to a higher point than a singular rotation movement like running. It makes your whole body move in lots of different ways, and it can make you very flexible as well, which is good for later life.

Profile

Name:
Andrew Stone

Job:
Dance Instructor at Pineapple Dance Studios, Covent Garden, London.

Dance styles:
Jazz, pas de deux, funk

I naturally find that I want to stand up straight. An open chest gives you very positive body language. If you need to give a good impression, such as in an interview, then you need to present yourself well. It gives you that physical positivity.

RYG: What sort of skills can you learn from dance?

AS: Dance is great for developing communication skills. We do a lot of talking with our mouths, but we don't necessarily realise the signals we give out physically with our body posture when we're talking to people.

You will never see a dancer standing with their shoulders hunched or their arms crossed. They will always have a very open, positive posture. That's good and it can even rub off on other people's moods.

RYG: What wider skills can you gain from dance?

I've always been a performer and always will be. Dance allows confidence to grow and inhibitions to fall away, and I pride myself on building people's confidence.

After a dance class you feel amazing because you've done your exercise. Dance releases endorphin chemicals into your brain and makes you feel alive and wanting to get on with the rest of your day. That positivity can help you to communicate better with other people because it gives you a much better mind set. Socially it brings you together with people.

Dance also improves your ability to concentrate because your brain has to work in so many ways. You're being stretched physically and mentally. You've got to focus on the steps and you have to communicate and interact with people.

That is why we go and watch people such as the comedian Lee Evans. No matter how funny he is, he's a great communicator. When you see the way he moves on stage and how he sweats, as a dancer I can relate to him. He communicates with his whole body.

RYG: How fit do you have to be to dance?

AS: If you want to take dance to an extra level, you have to be physically fit. You also have to put the years of work in.

It depends on what kind of dance you do. Ballroom isn't quite as high impact as other dances, but you need to have good core strength to be able to control yourself and partner. Jazz dancing requires flexibility and good cardiovascular fitness.

If there's no pain, there's no gain. You've got to sweat to improve. In ballet forms such as grand allegro, which involves big jumps, you could have a two minute solo.

RYG: How important is diet and nutrition for a dancer?

It depends on your metabolism, how much you eat and what you eat. Don't ever get wrapped up with what other people think you should look like. It's what you dance like which is what matters. It's the imperfections that make you perfect.

All I require of people when they come to my class is this, you don't have to be the best, you don't have to do it well, but give me 100% and I'll give you 100%. Find out what you love and dedicate yourself to it.

RYG: What advice would you give to somebody looking to get involved in dance?

AS: It's always good to have ballet lessons when you're young, even if you want to be a break dancer.

Have the confidence to go along to your local dance studio and find out which dance is for you. Classes are not very expensive and it really will benefit you, not only in that dance class, but in other aspects of your life. I'd even recommend footballers to attend dance classes once a week. It teaches you balance, awareness and flexibility.

Get videos and watch the best dancers. I've danced with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and it all came from trying to work at something that people would respect me for. Give it a go.


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