We all like to look up to the good dancers. I support this; it’s great to have role models.
But how did they get so good? Stop spending such a massive quantity of your time wondering! It makes Rebecca sad.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s not magic. It’s also not “natural talent.”
Dancers get good by doing lots of things differently. Read on to find out 22 uncommon actions they take and why you should too.
NOTE: Most lindy hoppers I’ve asked aren’t 100% satisfied with their dancing. If you’re in that camp, follow the directions at the end to get the most out of this post.
1. Overcome excuses about why they can’t practice. Ain’t no way you’re moving up if you can’t gain some momentum in your dance practice.
2. Take music seriously. If you need convincing, you’re not ready to advance.
3. Use both a mirror and video regularly in practice. Oh, I know there’s resistance to this. I dare you to try this every week for a month, then come tell me you failed. You won’t do it. Fail, I mean. It will be a raging success, and you’ll wish you’d gotten over yourself earlier.
4. Analyze themselves on video. It may pain you at first, but the cringing doesn’t last for long.
5. Ignore the haters. If everyone likes you, you’re probably boring.
6. Learn to dance without a partner. Relying on your partner is a crutch. If you can hold your own on the dance floor, nothing can stop you. Plus practicing alone is surprisingly good for you.
7. Strive to constantly make new discoveries about dancing (rather than waiting to be spoon fed the answers). This is a crucial part of developing your unique perspective and voice. Don’t be a dance robot.
8. Seek out instructors/mentors they mesh with and who push them.
9. Practice the shit out of everything. Does this one need explaining? Of course you’ll need to do high-quality practice, not mindless practice.
10. Disregard their inner critics’ harsh thoughts. Your inner critic is just a little child trying to distract you from doing worthwhile things. Hit the ignore button.
11. Take aches and pains seriously. Our world is full of promising dancers who ignored their injuries and failed to excel. It’s never too late to start treating your body right.
12. Develop a unique voice and perspective on dance. You’ll need to figure out what this means to you. I can only promise that this is usually a difficult process. But hey, you’re looking for hard things to work on and making your own discoveries now, right?
13. Work on hard things. Most dancers focus on what comes easy. This is good for your ego in the short term, but so-so for your dancing. Look for and practice moves and concepts that challenge you. It gives you the most bang for you buck.
14. Listen to jazz [or insert your genre here] just for fun. Just because there’s a picture of a rubber ducky wearing a storm trooper helmet above doesn’t mean you can skip this.
15. Test themselves regularly. Practice is not “the thing.” Do The Thing you actually want to do! Perform, enter comps, choreograph, teach, film dance videos—whatever calls to you. Go do lots of that, then do lots more.
16. Always work on improving fitness. Good muscular balance and aerobic conditioning augment your dance ability. If you’re looking for a place to start, try glute exercises.
17. Avoid shit talking, complaining, and making excuses. This type of negativity just holds you back. Jealousy and self-sabotage anyone?
18. Ignore their judgmental thoughts. We all have ’em, and they are terribly distracting. Go get to work!
19. Truly believe they can do it. It’s the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. You always have the ability to improve. Ponder that, take it to heart; it IS the truth.
20. Find friends who support them. Possibly the most confounding item on this list. Adults these days have a hard time finding good friends, don’t we? And then there’s the expectation that we should be able to do it all alone. Bullshit. Every successful person has a ton of support from their friends. This applies to dancers too.
21. Get consistent, accurate feedback during practice. Your partner, instructor, mirror, and video can all help.
22. Commit. You’re going to be doing this a long time. Keep going, even when it gets really tough. And it WILL get tough.
Do This Now!
Grab a notebook and ask yourself, “Which have I done well at? Which are falling through the cracks?” Evaluate yourself honestly; no one’s watching.
For each action above you can improve on, jot down a few notes about how you can improve.
For example, I want to analyze myself on video more often. My notes might say, “Take a 60 second video halfway through practice. Watch it 3 times, pick 2 things to work on, then work on them for the rest of practice.”
Remember: It’s not magic. As soon as you start taking these actions to improve your dancing, you’ll see results. Go on, I dare you to try!
For more help getting your practice groove on, download my course Secrets of Better Dance Practice.