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5 Things that Are Holding Back Your Dancing

Do you know why you go to work in the morning? Why you love your partner, why you support your family, and yes – why you dance? Many think they do; they even have great arguments for it. And many are wrong.

The thing is, while our conscious mind may have grand designs and ambitions, your unconscious mind has other plans. I’m not saying your unconscious is your enemy – it warns you about many issues that arise before you even know it. But it does make mistakes. Let me give you an example.

Ever been faced with a new prospect, and suddenly felt a sense of fear? Maybe you felt lethargic, and your mind started coming up with reasons why you couldn’t do it. No, you haven’t been struck by an affliction; your subconscious warned you away. Let’s talk about 5 ways it might be getting in the way of your dancing.

1. Lack of vision.

When we don’t know why we want to do something, it’s harder to motivate ourselves to do it. Most students come into a dance studio with only vague ideas of what they want. Then when they realize the work involved, their interest rapidly fades away, leaving them frustrated and feeling like they’ve wasted time and money.

Do this ASAP: Sit a quiet place, and spend some time thinking and feeling what you like most about dancing. Write it down somewhere you can see and Read. It. Often. Taking on a new skill means practice, not just in the skill itself, but in remembering why it’s worth it for you.

2. Fear of failure.

A+ students beware: This one is for you. If you’ve grown up around expectations that you be top of the class, dance lessons can be a giant slice of humble pie. Dance presents some unique challenges, because of the vastly different types of movement involved: Sooner or later, you’re going to hit something that can’t be learned easily.

The key to beating this one lies in rephrasing the voice that beats you up every time you do something less than perfect. My current favourite is envisioning success on the other side of a ‘field of failure’. Every step you take might be a ‘mistake’, but it also teaches what you need to move one step closer to where you want to be.

3. Fear of success.

Every bit as debilitating as fear of failure, this is the reverse of the same coin. Most of us carry some feelings of inadequacy from childhood, picked up from schoolyard bullies or a thoughtless remark from a parent. These feelings can rear their ugly heads whenever we dare to step outside of our comfort zones.

If your progress starts to create feeling of fear, take some time to accept that they are there; trying to deny them is like denying a child her candy – she’ll only scream louder. Instead, coax them with baby steps: Maybe you don’t need to go to that social right away. But, could you dance with a friend or two watching?

4. Physical injury.

I’m not talking about obvious injuries like broken bones here, but the subtler strains, pulled muscles, and stretched tendons we develop through wear and tear. Although we may not be conscious of them, our body learns to compensate by enlisting surrounding muscles, which can cause larger imbalances in our dancing.

Stay alert to feelings of pain, tightness, tingly feelings or ‘pins and needles’ while dancing, and try warming up and stretching the affected area to the best of your knowledge. Consider seeing a sports massage therapist if the problem persists.

5. Impatience.

It’s a fast-food world, and we want everything delivered to us yesterday. Small wonder then, that the necessary time required to excel at dancing is more than our limited attention spans can tolerate. And yet, by refusing to delve deeper, we only scratch the surface of what dancing can truly do for us.

Slow down by taking yourself as deeply into the movement as possible. Feel each movement, every change of pressure with your partner, and how these feelings become more enjoyable with practice. Not only will you be rewarded for your patience, you also will have a great way of measuring and celebrating the little victories.

Check out even more things that can hold back your dancing here.


About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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