Do you know what is killing your dancing skills? Do you want to improve your dancing skills?
Let me start with the thought that some of my dance friends and I wonder about when we are out dancing.
This is how it goes… After dancing for a while and observing other people dancing at the club, I began to notice others doing some of the same moves I do. Seeing others do those steps so spot on and so gracefully, I suddenly begin to wonder it if it looks as good when I do it, or do I need to improve my dancing skills?
So, How to become a good dancer?
A “clean” dancer is not something easy to become, unless you are predisposed by birth to be one. “Clean” dancing is not an easy skill to pick up, but it most definitely can improve your dancing skills and can be fine-tuned with practice over time.
While dancing is a form of expression and not a military drill, understanding how to be good at dancing will allow you to lead or communicate with your dance partner better, and to understand what you are doing on the dance floor.
Whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced dancer, you have been told that having good stability and balance enables you to execute your motions more quickly and fluidly.
And while it sounds easy, you have to know that your base support (aka – frame) constantly changes when you’re dancing, whether you’re doing a basis step or a more complicated sequence, like the Double Cross Body Lead Espresso. Right? Right!
Remember, consistency is key. Progress doesn’t come from doing something once in a while, it comes from doing something every day. Consistency is one of the pillar for improving your dancing skills.
I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes about dancing skills:
“Discipline in your dance training equals freedom of expression on the dance floor.”
Now, How to avoid assassinating your dancing skills!
Ok, this is the part where you have to be pretty honest with yourself to identify your dance “assassins,” and make the necessary adjustments to stop them. By doing so you will improve your dancing skills and you will improve your dance technique, big time.
You stop learning to develop body awareness.
Learning how to enhance your dancing skills is not a complicated thing to do. But what are the elements of dance? What you need, believe it or not, is your body. This is the one of the biggest elements of dancing.
Why body awareness? Well, simply put, by being aware of your body, you will be able to mimic steps, motions, and positions, allowing you to be clean in your execution.
Always try to notice what your body is doing in relation to what you want it to do. For example, are your fingers together or spread out like a fan when you are turning or leading a turn? Are your toes pointing in the direction you want to turn or not? Is your frame tense or relaxed?
What's needed in order to improve your dance technique?
In order to learn how to dance better, you need to begin with a solid base. If your base is wobbly, it’s more likely difficult to hold your balance for a long time, especially when you are executing lots of dance moves during a fast song.
One thing that always helped me when I started to dance a long time ago is the power of the question, what skills are involved in dancing? I came across many skills, but in order to do them well, you need to be a real friend with the mirror.
Practice your essential steps as you look at yourself in the mirror to learn how your body moves as you do them. If you are enhancing your styling cues, what better way to do them then by watching yourself and making the necessary adjustments along the way. This is a solid way to keep your dancing skills in check.
You will suddenly realize, like I did, that keeping it clean and simple has it owns beauty, and is your best ally on the dance floor.
You forgot how to use your frame.
If your arm, or any other part of your body looks floppy or loose when you are dancing, you are going to look messy. The solution is simple; use your frame. The frame is another element of dance. Your frame will help you to hold movements and/or break momentum created by the steps you are doing.
Doing it in the right moment, and using the music as a cue, will create that “picture perfect frame.” Muscle memory is a powerful friend to have around, and practice is the way to improve it. In time, you will be able to control your movements without thinking about them, becoming a more precise, “clean” dancer.
To me, efficient movement is easy to recognize. Understanding how to create this effect, however, is far more elusive if you don’t understand how to use your frame to communicate the next dance step you are trying to get out to your dance partner.
What's the practical value of the elements of dance?
From a practical value standpoint, dancing with efficiency helps you conserve your energy and minimize bumps on your body along the way, if you know what I mean. From an artistic point of view, it allows you to make big impressions on your partner and those who are watching you dance.
Another element of dance to consider on how to become a better dancer is your transition. Transition along will help you improve your dance technique if you think about it.
Sometimes, we struggle and are so determined during training that it can be difficult for any dancer to recalibrate their priorities toward simplicity and ease.
Learning and mastering the art of transitional motion, or effortless movement, requires a new perspective and a smart strategy. Click this link to help you with effortless movement and, by default, improve your dancing skills.
You stop thinking about this thing called timing.
Just like in life, timing is everything. Right? Right! Having a great sense and understanding of timing is key to adding a cleaner approach to your dancing. The timing gives you the ability to slow down one or two beats, or to speed up a beat, to hit a specific motion for the step you want to.
Every time you are thinking to polish a new step you have learned, keep in mind to do the step with the 8-count system. This will help you control the motion and know when you can apply it without compromising everywhere else.
The quality of your dance movement must be executed spot on, or it will look messy, unless you are intentionally looking for a particular effect to bring a smile to your partner’s face.
Never stop connecting to the music and always try to stay on top of it. (Not in front of it or behind it!) If you’re not with the music, it is more like you’re not in sync with the dance step.
Now, the flip side is, if you are becoming way too focused on the actual moves themselves, it can cause you to lose the dance originally intended or come off too robotic. See, in order to show off your dancing skills, you must always keep working on it.
What's the holistic approach of timing?
My holistic approach to timing is the following: In dance, timing refers to moving to the beat of the music.
Having perfect timing means more than just performing basic steps perfectly to music beats. However, you can master it, and as a result, it we become easy to move to the beat.
But it will take lots of practice to teach your mind and body how to actually feel the beat of the music.
Feeling perfect timing is being able to let go and allow yourself to express your feelings through your movements, instead of trying to keep count of the beats in your head.
When you achieve perfect timing, your dancing will appear relaxed and natural. You will no longer need to count beats, as your body will be fully aware of its place in the music at all times.
You give up learning new dance steps.
When you first started to dance in social situations, did you remember wanting to glue yourself to a wall with permanent adhesive? That’s normal and no, you’re not lame. Social dancing is hard in the beginning, because you have so much pressure to look cool, sexy, and fun — all while keeping the rhythm, and pretending your moves are completely thought out and look spontaneous.
Well, that’s not the case anymore, because you have conquered that fear and have the ability to show off your dance skills. And just because you have achieved this level of success does not mean you have become an awesome dancer who has it all figured out. You make a subconscious decision to stop learning new steps. Big mistake!!
This is something you should do
Keep challenging yourself.
If you’ve think you mastered your level of dancing but want to improve your dance skills, try learning something specific, like a new dance step, how to enhance you leading skills, or how to use your frame with ease.
Take ownership of your shortcomings.
Whatever level of dance you think you are, take ownership and realize that you don’t know everything, and there is always something to improve upon to become a better dancer.
Sure, it is easy to place the blame on your dance partner for not doing the right thing or for the timing to be off, but when you are willing to swallow your dance pride and take ownership of your mistakes, you will cultivate respect for yourself and be more open to learn.
We’ve all heard it before.
“Practice makes perfect.” There’s no way around it. You have to train and rehearse to improve your dance skills, and give the necessary attention and energy to “clean” it up to become a better dancer.
Practice is the one thing that will help you improve your dance technique.
You give in to the Ego syndrome.
I believe this one is pretty scary because, generally speaking, the stronger you get as a dancer, the larger your ego might get, and as a result, the speed of ego expansion surpasses the actual dance growth. I am not saying that you can’t show off your dance skills, but what I am saying is as the ego grows, it’s also has potential to slow down your growth as a dancer if you are not paying attention.
In my personal experience as a dancer, chatting with people at the club allows you to hear things, like blaming others for a “bad dance” or being unable to have fun with a lower-level dancer. Another one is feeling superior in a class setting, or being overly critical of other dancers and unable to accept constructive criticism of their own dancing.
These might be some of the early symptoms of the “dance ego syndrome.”
I understand that it is not easy to take criticism and accept the areas of dance that you need to work on, but it’s a surefire way to keep your ego in check.
My personal solution for you in regard to the “ego syndrome” is: stay humble. You have to be humble. Just because you reach a certain level of dancing doesn’t mean you are a professional and just because you perform once or twice doesn’t mean that no-one can compare to you as a dancer.
The day that you think you know it all It will be the day that you stop trying to grow and you will stop learning from more qualified dancers than yourself.
So, being a dancer is about using your skills to consistently perform well with any partner, but being an awesome dancer takes willpower to chisel out the dancer you want to become.
Being an awesome dancer grants you the ability to eliminate the “assassins” to your dancing skills. If you get trapped by one of the “assassins” mentioned above, you YOURSELF, have to be humble enough to own it and to cultivate the discipline to overcome it.
Never stop learning how to develop body awareness when you are dancing. Be good at using your frame to guide your dance partner time and time again. Focus always on your timing, but never forget the holistic side of it and it rewards as a dancer. These are the thing that will improve your dance technique if you never stop learning.
And finally, develop a way to learn new thing, a new step, how to lead easily, and how to use timing to present your dance in your own unique way.
When the opportunity presents itself to enhance your dancing skills, you will not hesitate or falter if it is in line with your purpose to be good at dancing.
So, what other “assassins” should we add to this list to help us with our dancing skills?
your dance studio | YDS