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Not Practicing Can Be a Good Thing

toronto, dance lessons, dance companies

You heard right: sometimes practicing your dance moves over and over can do more harm than good. I’m saying this – knowing full well countless dedicated dancers will be howling in protest – because of a certain disease I’ve seen taking over the ballroom world (and I hear it’s happening in other dance forms as well).

That disease is called ‘routine’.

I’m not talking about choreography. I’m talking about the death of creativity. You see, when we practice the same moves over and over, often in the same sequence, we learn to do those moves ONLY in that sequence. You stifle your creative spirit, and your dancing becomes something worn out and tired, like an overplayed song.

Don’t get me wrong – practicing can be a good thing too. But, too many of us practice routines instead of exploring other combinations, technique by what they were told instead of by how it feels. If you don’t want to be a clone of an ‘average’ dancer, take heed!

Worst of all, is ‘drilling’. When we work a step over and over, without giving the muscles time to rest with a different movement, we create increasing strain on our body, often leading to injuries that cause us to lose much of the muscle memory we gained drilling in the first place.

Spend less time ‘practicing’, and more time just dancing, connecting with the music. Spend less time doing a technique the way you were told, and more time paying attention to how it feels in your body, and how to mesh that feeling with what looks good. Those are skills worth learning, and often neglected by all but the best dancers.

Finally, remember that all that hard-practiced technique will only take you so far. Much like Pinocchio wanting to be a real boy, you can only breath life into otherwise wooden combinations by letting go of the lessons and relying on your instincts.

I suppose what I’m ultimately saying is practice SMART. You aren’t learning steps and technique for their own sake; you want to dance at that social, win that competition, make it through that audition. Keep in mind what inspires you in the ones who make it, and that’s what your training will take you towards.

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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