Are you the kind of dancer who is motivated by the thrill of vying for placements against other dancers?
Or is it that you enjoy the excitement of the competitive atmosphere?
Or is it something else?
No matter why you compete, one thing is for sure:
The process of training for and being in competition makes you a better dancer.
Well, first off, we both know that a better dancer can mean different things to different people.
Like, some people want to be better physically, with faster turns, greater body control, powerful strides, etc.
Or maybe you’re more interested in discovering your inner artist–the emotional part. Working on bringing what you FEEL inside, out onto the floor.
Other dancers have it going on in those two areas, but they’re still not getting where they want competitively. This could indicate a need to work on that muscle between your ears–BRAIN CONDITIONING, my dancer friend!
So, if you could click your Latin heels 3 times and instantly become “a better dancer”…what would it look like?
No matter which aspect you wish to improve in your dancing right now, here’s a tip that will get you there faster:
Beginner dancers work on one concept at a time.
Expert dancers work on melding that new skill into the WHOLE of their dancing.
Think of it like working on a puzzle. When you look at a piece of a puzzle, you study it. Does it have an edge? Is it colored more red or blue? Can you make out any distinct image on it? Does the piece have an “in-nie” or “out-ie”? Once you study it intensely for a moment and “get it”, then you have to fit it into the grand scheme of the puzzle.
Stop thinking about that little piece.
Start seeing its place in the whole picture.
It’s the only way to make the puzzle to come all together!
The same goes for your dancing. This doesn’t mean that you won’t focus intently on improving a detail or singular concept at a time. You still will, like this:
- WORK it. (physical)
- FEEL it. (artistic)
- IMAGINE it as part of you. (mental. This part is really important!)
FORGET it. Yes, I said that. FORGET it.
And just DANCE IT within the whole of your routine. (Don’t worry. That “thing” you’re working on will keep getting better.)
Training for and being in competition forces you to work on details, to be sure, but then apply them within the WHOLE of your dancing.
In other words,
Dance in the MOMENT
And that’s really when the magic begins! When you watch your favorite couples on the floor, do they bring together the physical + the artistic + the competitive chops?
YES, they do!
Concentrating on a PART of your dancing without slotting it into the WHOLE of your dancing inhibits overall advancement.
Now, this just isn’t my personal experience.
Mindfulness, or the feeling of being “in the moment”, has been shown to enhance performance in elite athletes from various sporting disciplines. It’s what separates the amateurs from the pros.
So, my challenge for you is this:
Look towards your next competition. Select a physical, artistic or mental concept you want to improve and take sometime to work on it intently.
But not for too long!
Before it’s 100% solid and set, stop thinking about it alone and think about it in the context of your WHOLE dancing.
Now, when you go to competition, you may not do that one thing as well as you did when you focused on it only.
BUT, you will most certainly improve your overall performance.
And that is the goal, isn’t it?
Becoming a better dancer isn’t just about looser hips, more shaping, dramatic faces or even competitive focus–
it’s about ALL of it!
Keep adding those puzzle pieces to the BIG PICTURE!
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Want to learn more..
Hi Ferdinand. The best way to go about improving your dancing from the big picture perspective is to collaborate with your coach and/or partner. Developing the different aspects of your dancing separately (technical, artistic, mental) will help to bring them all together more seamlessly when you are ready to perform and compete. Good luck with your dancing!
Very interesting article, would you know that you’re ready to work on the big picture or still some separate work on técnical concepts
Thank you for your comment, Alejandro. If you have the rudimentary basics down, like the pattern, timing and general coordination between partners, you can start working on the big picture even then. Think of it as when an artist works on a small section of a painting, then steps back to see it from the perspective of the whole canvas. So, if you’re a beginning dancer, after you get the basics down, head to a dance party and put it all together as a big picture. If you’re further along and a new competitive dancer, you are definitely ready to be using this big picture method. Continue to focus on specific technique and artistry on your lessons and personal practice, but take some time when dancing to the music to “forget” what you’re working on, and dance in the moment. This will bring you closer to clarifying your big dancing picture.