This question has been an age-old debate for many years now. Nature vs. nurture is a debate that comes up for all art forms. Dance is no exception. Some dancers have gotten better with practice and have mastered the techniques to an extent that they are technically brilliant.
On the other hand, few have a certain ineffable lightness and other-worldliness in their movements, an intuitive awareness, and grace that shows how they can create beauty through their bodies. And you are forced to think that maybe, it’s an inborn talent. Some people are just born with it!
Many people say it is an innate gift and the dancers were created to dance. But even the most talented of the dancers would vouch for regular practice and updating their skills in their quest from good to great. They can put in the enthusiasm and zeal for honing their talent only because they possess a natural inclination to dance!
There are though, people, who have a desire to dance, and as a result, they take classes, practice dancing, and become proficient over time. This type of skill is a secondary or acquired gift.
Many dancers and admirers frequently ask -"what it takes to be a good dancer? "Is it a natural talent or something that with enough effort and practice can be learned?
The TV shows like, "Dancing with the Stars" is an excellent example of how natural talent can be pitted against acquired and perfected skills. Celebrities contesting learn the same steps as their professionally trained teammates and perform them with somewhat success. Some of the stars are quick to catch on and perform complicated moves as effortlessly as trained dancers, while others can never seem to grasp the techniques and movements.
This goes to prove that, while anyone can learn to dance, the natural talent for this art form, cannot be taught. Just like painting, some are just born more inclined to dance than others.
How would you know if you have it in you to be a dancer?
How do you know if the talent you have is something you are born with or otherwise? Whatever you feel, one should not discourage young children with a passion and motivation to learn dancing.
The old saying “Have feet, will dance" stresses precisely that.
Skills can be taught, learned and improved upon, no matter if you are born with the dancing talent or not. Everyone has some sense of rhythm, (even babies do!) and can be shown how to dance along the beat of the music.
Though that will not make you ready for complex dance routines like ballet, and it might still be out of reach for some, those that lack the innate ability to dance can still take part in dancing in their unique way and enjoy themselves.
Should we say that dancing is both a natural as well as acquired talent?
It would be too simple, but think about it this way- When it comes to dancing talent and skills ought to complement each other.
Unless a dancer born with innate abilities gets trained and continues to develop her skills over the years, her road to becoming an established and respected professional dancer is uncertain.
She may have all the talent in the world, but without her practice, dedication, discipline, hard work and motivation, her talent might remain untapped or unnoticed. In fact, she might not even know she has the innate sense of rhythm and natural ability to dance, better than the others till she goes for structured training and honing her skills.
How does one go about dancing then?
In truth, we all can dance, but we all can’t dance well.
Some dancers can move their bodies better than we can. Talent is something that you are born with. It is not something that any training, lessons, and even practice can bring to you. It is something that you have been gifted with.
Some people are naturally born with being flexible. But they weren't born with the knowledge of how to dance perfectly. Most dance icons were anywhere close to dancing till they at least started to walk. They were just like you and me, unaware of their innate abilities.
When the time came, they showed promise and were lucky enough to be spotted by the right mentors who cared for their talent and helped them hone it further.
Compare this with an average dancer who, with sheer grit, determination and a strong desire to succeed mastered the art with years and years of practice.
Talented or skilled, what separates a successful dancer from the rest?
Dancing is mostly natural, ask children. They will move to the music on their own. But then, why do so many people find it tough to dance when they grow up?
Several things hamper your progress as a dancer, and these are true for talented as well as skilled dancers alike!
Successful Dancers are Self-Conscious
Your motto should be "Dance like nobody's watching." You need to stop worrying about looking foolish. When you start learning anything new, you don’t want anyone watching your silly mistakes. Dancing is such an overt form of self-expression; you have to stand in front of a crowd using your body to express a feeling, but don’t let this self-consciousness bother you!
True, when you are practicing, you will soon realize that everyone is making their own mistakes.
You are indeed not the only one struggling with the steps.
If embarrassment is what is holding you back from learning a dance form, leave it behind when you enter the studio.
Successful Dancers can Adapt
The way you walk, or even dance in informal events, may not be the same as you would dance while practicing ballet or other dance forms. Young dancers are usually more agile and effortless, adult dancers often hold themselves back due to resistance to change. Our muscle memory, the patterns of movement that we learned growing up – the way our body instinctively, are difficult to let go off.
Dancing requires you to move in a certain way, might be different from the way your legs and arms remember walking. Be patient, and help your body ease into new movements until they become part of your muscle memory too. Then you will be able to make the moves almost without thinking.
Successful dancers don’t stop until they get the right Teacher
Sure, in the last studio, you tried to learn dancing and failed miserably. Like any other skill, dancing too has good teachers and bad teachers. There could be amazing dancers who failed miserably as teachers and vice versa. So if you joined a dance school and didn't have much to say about what you learned, don't be too quick to give up. Try another dance school. I am not suggesting that the teacher is incompetent, either. Sometimes, teachers have a different style of teaching, and maybe your learning style didn’t match. Each student is different, and good teachers will adapt their teaching methods, but that is not always the case.
Successful Dancers don’t Give Up
You have to learn to know when to let go of a style of dance that was too technical or didn’t suit you. For example, complex rhythms and fast footwork of flamenco may be too much and so would be starting cold with ballet. The typical dance forms are very demanding on your bodies and require a lot of preparation before you start dancing. If it still doesn't work, maybe it’s time to change your dance form. Start with ballroom dancing and move on to salsa.
Successful dancers develop a sense of rhythm if they don’t have it
Dancers who can keep time with rhythm and beats are really lucky. Lack of rhythm is the biggest obstacle but nothing serious. Some people are born with a sense of rhythm, which often forces you to think that you either have it or you don’t. But the sense of rhythm can be learned; learning to keep time and master dance steps at the same time becomes easy with regular practice.
Dancing takes a lot of confidence, and people who lack confidence in dancing don't have the power and the right vibe. You could be born flexible and may have traits that will help you dance. Some people are naturally flexible, but unless they are trained to dance, they may not turn out to be good dancers. An inflexible person could reach the same level with regular practice.
Social psychologist Malcolm Gladwell once famously said- "What is rare in life isn't talent, its effort."
Dancing is no exception. You can learn to dance whether you have been born with natural talent or not.
If you have the passion, you can enhance your talent, as well as learn a new dance skill. Take every chance, every platform. Learn from your mistakes. It’s not just about looking cool. Dancing is a gratifying hobby and even profession for some. All you need is to be patient with yourself. Whether you are born with the talent or striving to learn it, remember that you are in it to be happy and have fun. Whether you are born with the urge to dance or not, you can get into the groove!
Remember, it’s never too late to learn!