The Mindset Method during a (jazz) dance lesson.

A translation of the Mindset Method to a jazz dance lesson series for young adults.

By: Amanda Brouwer
Position: ArtEZ Bachelor Dance in Education, Arnhem, The Netherlands

This is a short introduction to the BA thesis Amanda Brouwer has written for her graduation at Artez Dance in Education. The thesis of the researcher is written on behalf of theErasmus+ project ‘’Next Move’’ and as a final exam for her study at BA DD Artez. The research consisted of deskresearch, interviews, surveys and a practical internship. In this introduction the researcher will give the reader some examples of her work with dance amateurs during her internship.

The paper can be downloaded here (EN)This method is also available in Dutch


Mental coaching during a jazz dance lesson: The Mindset Method

A total of fifteen lessons were given to a group of advanced dancers at the dance school “In Dans” in Doetinchem, Netherlands. The age of the target group varied between the age of eighteen and twenty-seven. The researcher taught technical jazz lessons. During the first five lessons the researcher taught the material and created a bond with the group. During the following ten lessons the Mindset Method was inserted in the lessons. The Mindset Method is a method for mental coaching used in the world of top athletes. Converting these work forms into a jazz dance lesson is the main goal of the thesis from the researcher. How can you work from a physical approach but also apply the theory of mental coaching into a dance lesson?

The first lesson was dedicated to the six pillars from the Mindset method: friendly eyes, good mistakes, curiosity, self knowledge, self discipline and acceptance. In de following nine lessons the nine instruments were divided. The nine instruments are: triggerwords, visualization, breathing, mobility & heartbeat, recovery point, rituals, eye control, sound and inner music. (These pillars and instruments explained in the full text of the thesis).

In the following text you can read examples of three lessons that contain work forms that were interesting in the research in relation to the experiences of the researcher and the pupils. The themes (derived from the Mindset Method) of lessons are: visualization, mobility & heart rate and recovery point.

Reardon, J., & Dekkers, H. (2011). Mindset (Herz. ed.). Amsterdam, Nederland: MindsetPublishers


Class 1

Overall technical goals:

At the end of the series of lessons the pupils:
1 re able to connect movements by using flow and by applying a flowing movement quality.

2 are able to use their weight during a floorwork exercise in relation to being close to the floor with hand placement and arm strength.

3 can discern the differences between a curve/contraction/round back/arche and they are aware of the origin of the movement executing it during an exercise.

Specific Mindset goal:
At the end of the lesson the pupils are able to visualize an exercise and let the visualization have an positive effect on the exercise in relation to dance.

Mindset work form: Visualization
Thinking in images, the connection between the mental and the physical state and imagining situations and how you act in these situations, this is called visualization.You will become familiar with fears if you evoke them consciously and you will be able to recognize these fears. Training your weaknesses and strengths is a good exercise. First visualize a certain mistake and the negative emotions that come with this mistake. If you realize after this that you can make the same mistake again, but you know how to correct it, it is most likely that you will be taken by surprise by your anxiety.

Work form
Use a difficult exercise from your dance lesson. Divide the pupils into couples. Let the pupils watch each other, focusing on their partner. After the exercise let the one who is dancing think of what didn’t went so well during the exercise, what could have been better? Let the one who is dancing visualize the whole exercise. Let them do it with their eyes closed, visualizing the exercise in their head. Repeat the exercise, do it again. Then let the couples write their experiences down or talk to each other. Let the one who was dancing talk about the difference between the first and the second time dancing. Did the visualization help? Why did it help? Explain. The one who was watching talks about what they saw and what the difference was. Afterwards you switch roles.

The researcher used the visualization work form with a floor exercise. The pupils are not used to do floor work and have some difficulties with it because it is new for them. After the visualization exercise there was a huge difference between the pupils doing the floor exercise. They felt more confident and got to anticipate about the following steps during the exercise. The pupils were in a consistent flow and the exercise was more clear.

Class 2

Specific Mindset goal:
At the end of the lesson the pupils have done and learned a new lesson by mostly doing it physically without verbal explanation.

Mindset work form: Mobility & heart rate
Mobility has an immediate effect on the heart rate, which is a perfect indicator for your level of energy. If your heart rate is too high you can take this back to an optimal level by extending your recovery point en deepening your breathing. The ability to reach the state of mental rest is in connection with your heart rate and condition. Your body has to recover well and fast to get out of the story thinking.

Work form
Give a new lesson, or a lesson with a lot of new exercises. Approach the new material from a physical perspective. Let the pupils get to know the new exercises by doing them over and over. Don´t give verbal explanations but focus on the physicality. After the lesson, talk about how the pupils experienced the physicality and if it worked for them.

The researcher had a whole new lesson and used the physical approach in different ways:
– New warming up: do a run through once physical without music, after one run execute the warming up with music, let the pupils experience and pick up the warm up by doing and repeating it physical
– Tendu/Plié: after a short verbal explanation about adding some new material, execute the exercise immediately physically with music
– New stretch: execute physically immediately with music
– New jumps on the diagonal: execute physically immediately with music, repeat
– New jump combination on the diagonal: execute physically immediately with music, repeat
– New across the floor combination: execute physically immediately with music, repeat
– Floor exercise: execute physically immediately
– New end combination: run through the combination once without music, no verbal explanation, after this execute the combination with the music, repeat

The pupils of the researcher really liked the physical approach. It was conditionally hard, but the pupils felt that by the physical approach, the lesson could carry on more without stops. By working hard physical and often repeating the new exercises, the pupils could also remember the new material.

Class 3

Specific Mindset goal:
At the end of the lesson the pupils have executed the recovery point phrases in between strenuous exercises and let these recovery points affect the total dance class positively.

Mindset work form: Recovery point
Consciously using recovery points is a requirement to perform with an optimal focus. If you are on high alert mentally and physically, you can go for it.If your muscles are feeling tensed, then tense the muscles and relax them again. It also helps to let your arms and legs ´´hang´´ and ´´shake them out´´.

Work form
Create a short phrase that consists of muscle relaxation and relaxing, that you can repeat on a song that is pleasant to hear.

The researcher used the following phrase as a recovery point (song: Grace VanderWaal – Moonlight):
– Stretch out tensing all the muscles and release with plié and arm swing, in second position parallel 4 times
– Roll down swing from right to left in plié with your arms loose, in second position parallel
8 times
– Roll back to standing position and shake your arms and legs separately,
16 times total (arms 8 times, legs 8 times)

Place the recovering phrase in between exercises in your lesson that are conditionally strenuous. The researcher placed the recovery point after a jump combination on the diagonal, after an across the floor combination and after the end combination. Afterwards, talk with the pupils about their experiences with the recovery moments in relation to their dancing. The pupils of the researcher talked about that the recovery moments were pleasant to start the following exercise with a fresh mind and that the recovery moments felt like a home base that they could come back to, to relax their muscles and reload.

This method is also available in Dutch