Confidence is Key

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January 17, 2018


Confidence is one of our greatest tools as dancers (and as humans). Confidence allows us to step out of our comfort zones, try things we previously thought to be impossible and stand out in a crowd. Now, even the most confident dancers are still critical. The best dancers are still able to listen to and take corrections, are aware of the people around them and are constantly correcting their technique. However, we believe the best dancers correct from a place of confidence. They know that their teacher is giving them corrections because they care about their development, they know that they can learn from amazing dancers around them and they know at the end of the day, the most beautiful and frustrating thing about dance is that there is no perfect. Here are a couple ways you can approach your dance class with more confidence.

Listen to compliments.

Listen to compliments as much as you listen to corrections. Even if you don’t agree with what someone is complimenting you about, listen, take it in, and say thank you. Often our mind goes to a negative place when we are complimented. We say to ourselves “Maybe that battement was good but my turns were terrible”. Believe someone when they think you’ve done a good job. Save the compliment for later when you need extra confidence. Maybe your feeling nervous about a performance or about a certain skill you’re still working on. Take the compliment someone has given you and let yourself give it to yourself, for example “I have great stage presence” over and over to help ease your nerves. Compliment yourself, celebrate your successes and to make the dance world a little brighter by complimenting other dancers when you see something you love.

Start saying I can.

You’ve probably had a teacher who hates when you say “I can’t” in class. For teachers, this is a huge roadblock. To us, with those two words you’re saying “I’ve given up”, “I’m not confident in the work you’ve given me”, “I’m not interested in learning new things.” They are the most unproductive, most used, words in the studio. Often when my students are getting frustrated or they let an “I can’t” slip, I ask them to change what they are saying to “I’m still working on this” or “May I have some help Miss Shelby” but really that’s just the start. Forget about “I can’t” and ask yourself what you can do to achieve what you want. Have you listened to the teachers explanations and corrections? Have you asked for clarifications or tips? Have to observed your teacher, assistants or others in the class? Have you given yourself the time, space and practice you need to achieve what you want? Try to stay as productive as you can in all your classes and stay away from the “I can’t’ roadblock to keep your path clear.

Stop trying to look  “cool”

Dance is a performance art. Sometimes the things are choreographer or teacher ask us to do feel weird, unnatural or just down right funny. Who cares? Forget making a good impression or “looking good”. Dance class is a place to let go, to let our bodies explore things they’ve never done before and sometimes experience emotions or stories that we’ve never been through ourselves. Don’t be afraid to make bold choices, to really go for it. You’re teachers are there to guide you and make decisions they think are in your best interest. Trust them. Try everything. Have fun. Look silly. Let go.

Be yourself.

Often as dancers, we hold ourselves back by trying to look like someone else. We see our teachers or dancers we admire and we compare ourselves to them.  We want to be able to look like them, dress like them and of course, dance like them. We’re sorry to break it to you but you can’t. Every body is so different. Our genetic makeup makes us who we are including how flexible you are, how high you can jump, they way our body moves. You can always strive to improve or change these things through study and practice but your body will always be your body. Love  it for what it is. Celebrate your difference. Find what YOU are good at. Find movement and style that feels good for you.  Just like you try to be yourself around your friends, try to be yourself in dance class or on stage. There is only one you. Express and celebrate what makes you special and different and there’s no way you won’t stand out.

Confidence can be hard to find. Sometimes we have a lot and sometimes it seems it can all fade away. If we can find a way to lead with confidence in the studio and in our lives we might mind our dreams and desires come  more frequently and that we might have a little more fun getting to them.

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