Answers to questions on the minds of every new dancer and practical tips to ease into the world of dancing
You have watched movies like Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose and think WOW, what does it take to dance like that!? Dance is awe-inspiring, soul-stirring, terrifying; it can make you want to get on the dance floor right that instant and it can make you hug the wall the next because there is just no way you are going to be able to dance like that, you say.
To all of you contemplating dance as a part of your lives for the very first time - Bravo! You will be pursuing one of life's greatest joys. No matter what age, shape, size, skill level you are at, I hope this post will encourage you, and give you some practical advice for the journey you are about to embark upon.
So You Want To Dance.
They say dancing enables you to find yourself and lose yourself, all at the same time. There is profound truth in this, but first I want to declare that Dance is so popular because it is so much fun. When you first join you will probably be shy, but in a couple of months you'll be having fun, and you won't be shy anymore. Pick a good teacher and dance class, and soon your dance buddies will be an extended family.
Dance studios these days cater to all interests and are coming up with new dances ranging from the intriguingly named ‘Slosh' to waltzes, foxtrots, quicksteps. Explore one or explore all!
What Do I Need For Dancing?
You only need two things for dance. You and maybe some music. So don't get flustered by all the merchandise that is available, and do resist from picking up the hottest dancewear available in the market straightaway! Check with the studio or school if they have a dress code first. You can pick clothes you are comfortable in, skinny tights and leotards are not always mandatory.
If you'd like to, invest in some dancewear that you love seeing yourself in, because we all know that when we look our best, we feel our best. You don't want your movement to be restricted by a tight skirt or pants, so choose comfortable and flowing clothing that will not impact your ability to let loose. And yes, you will need some music, but more on that later.
Where Can I Dance?
For newbies who are shy, start with a space that is free of any judgment, such as your bedroom or home where no one else is there. Dance studios, house parties, clubs, carnivals, dance festivals, a local community center or YMCA, dance is everywhere for one who is interested. Miss no opportunity to shake a leg.
A Career Out Of Dancing?
Many dancers take dance lessons for years to prepare them for a career as a professional dancer. They continue to take dance classes almost every day of their entire careers and may include additional lessons in music or acting lessons to become stronger performers.
Keeping in top shape and remaining informed about the dance industry will help get you hired and give you a long, successful career. Among other challenging aspects is the fierce competition for a limited number of jobs, the all too common risk of injury, the physical toll it takes and the toll the irregular hours takes on your personal time.
The world of dance offers jobs of a dancer in a ballet company, independent contemporary dancer, choreographer, and teacher. You could hold jobs in theater production, own your private dance studio or even explore spin-off careers in dance therapy, stage management, and costume design.
How Can I Feel The Music?
Do you remember the last song you fingers or feet tapped to, or maybe it was your head swaying to the tune...To dance to music, learn to identify the beat. Listen real close and start to tap your foot or clap your hands to the beat. Depending on the song, the beat may be slow or fast.
Listening to music that has a strong drum beat makes it easier to identify the rhythm for a newbie. High energy songs that feature the beat and rhythm more than the lyrics usually pump you up and get you moving.
Should you worry about others commenting?
If there is just one thing that stops the whole world from dancing, it has to be this- the fear of being judged. To be honest, most people are so self-absorbed on the dance floor worrying about their technique and dance moves that they will rarely make you the object of their attention.
If you are worried someone is watching, keep your movement low key instead of spastic and once you have achieved the confidence, go all out! Tune out negativity, find your support system and you will combat snide remarks fairly effectively.
Practical Tips For Every New Dancer
- Pick a style that reflects your personality, or, maybe not
Jazz is insanely popular because it is fast, upbeat and gets the heart pumping. It is also generally happy and fun, and it isn't big on technique as ballet. Spend some time understanding the styles of dance there are around. On the other hand, if you always wanted to do something different, go for it!
- Learn some basic moves
Watch some movies or youtube videos, practice at home perfecting some basic moves. Start with arm movements, extend it to the shoulders...similarly, incorporate the hips after you master some foot and leg movements. Sidle onto the dance floor, even if it is only for a brief moment initially and build your confidence as you get perfect executing those basic moves.
- Dance with a partner or group of friends
When it is a social setting or a dance class, you are more likely to feel comfortable dancing if you know the people around you. Use this support system to help lose your inhibitions and soon you won't feel like all eyes are on you. Similarly, dancing with a partner allows you focus on your partner rather than on whether or not people are judging you
- Always stretch to prepare your body
Walking to class or riding a bike into the studio, warms up your body, gets you in the mood for movement and prevents the risk of injury that is all too common for those who are new to techniques. And stretch to cool down after you dance; a ten-minute session will ensure you work out that soreness that is all too common amongst new dancers.
- Observe how other people dance
In my opinion, the easiest way to learn to dance is to watch how people dance in music videos and movies. Take note of movements and try them out, if you're at a club or party, be inspired by moves which you can then incorporate into your dance on the spot, or save them for when you're practicing. Be a dry sponge who absorbs information like water and figure out what works best for you.
Paulo Coelho once said, "When you dance, you can enjoy the luxury of being you". Life is short and full of music, so don't waste a moment letting any of your fears come in the way. Take one step, then another and soon you will be dancing.