I’ve been dancing for over 10 years now. I’ve heard (and seen) a lot of inspirational things. But, there’s 10 thoughts in particular that stuck with me. These 10 thoughts influence much more than only my dancing; they influence my perspectives on the world.
I hope you find them as poignant as I do.
“Don’t dance. Just walk.”
New dancers frequently spend a lot of time trying to dance. I was one of them, until a teacher told me to focus on walking instead of dancing. Suddenly, dance made sense to me.
Any task broken into its basic pieces is far more attainable. Start small, with a single concept. Build on that over time. It is the most sure path to success.
“I’m not asking you to be someone else.”
Many people want to move like their favourite pro. But, the greatest dance success comes from learning how to move like yourself. You don’t have to be sexy, smooth, or fun like your favourite dancer – you need to be sexy, smooth, or fun like you.
This isn’t limited to dance. You can use the tips and tricks of other people to grow or solidify your abilities, but finding your own voice is far more powerful than imitating someone else’s.
“Anyone with the right teacher can learn to dance.”
I’ve yet to meet a person that couldn’t learn to dance. It all depends on their teacher. Some people have an easier time learning to dance because of their background – but any person is still capable of learning eventually.
Whether in dance or life, a great teacher is worth their weight in platinum. The right mentor can lead you to achieve things you never thought possible. But, with a poor teacher, learning is difficult – or even impossible. Don’t be afraid to let go of a bad teacher, or find a great one.
“The people you should admire most are beginners.”
I don’t need much confidence to go dancing. I know the people, and I know the dance. By contrast, beginners are coming into an unknown world. That is courage.
If you can find the courage to embrace being a beginner, you will have the ability to become great. Become a beginner as often as you can. Learn a skill. Be guided by those around you who know more. Find the confidence to enter a world that is new to you.
“If you think you’re already there, you’ve already lost.”
Most people stop when they reach the finish line. Whether it’s a project, a race, or skill development, the finish line signifies the end. In dance, assuming you’ve reached ‘the end’ of your growth means you will never become great.
The best dancers are the ones who never find ‘the end’. Instead, they seek opportunities for future growth. The same goes for any other pursuit: the most successful are the people who never reach the end. Instead, they’re always looking for the next chapter.
“A great dancer isn’t always a great person.”
In the world of dance, we have our idols and stars. The stars are generally great dancers. But, that’s not a guarantee that they are great people.
The same goes for the rest of our lives. Whether it’s a boss, celebrity, or person you admire, the success of someone in one sphere is not assurance of their goodness as human beings. Some really bad dancers are fantastic people, and some really fantastic dancers are pretty rotten people.
“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”
It takes a long time for some people to learn that ‘No’ is an OK word. In sensual dances, this includes dancing at the distance that is comfortable for you.
This is similarly true in life. While we don’t necessarily want to do something that we decide to do anyways (like practicing basic footwork), we always have a choice. We even have a choice when a person refuses to dance without the thing we don’t want to do: we can walk away.
Of course, there are sometimes situations where the negatives outweigh the benefits of sticking up for yourself. This is where we need to add a second part to the quote: it’s also OK for people to say ‘No’ to you.
“Dance is an exercise in patience.”
It’s really easy to get frustrated when learning to dance. Despite dancing being rather fun, there’s usually some things we really, really hate working on. It takes a lot of patience to get through the tedious exercises and into the fun stuff.
This is the same for the rest of life, too. Whether it’s getting through a school assignment or waiting for that next big break at work, life is a serious of patience tests.
“Making it look easy is hard work.”
Anyone who has tried to copy ‘easy-looking’ dance moves understands this.
To make something look easy, it has to be relatively easy for your body (or mind). You have to have the strength, control, coordination, and muscle memory to make stuff happen. Same thing goes for non-dance things. For example, writing. It takes a lot of hard work to write ‘effortlessly’.
The more you practice, the ‘easier’ it will become. Just think how hard the basic step was on the day you started dance.
“How you say it is just as important as what you say.”
A basic step is a pretty ‘simple’ concept in most dances. However, how a person executes the basic has a massive impact on the rest of the dance.
Many people get confused between the concepts of speaking clearly and speaking inconsiderately. In a very simple example: the difference between “You will do that” and “Please do this”. Both are saying the same thing. One is nice, the other is a rough order.
No matter what you ever need to say, try to say it with kindness. Even if you think the person is a complete asshole. Even if it takes more words. There’s always a way to be both clear and kind. Always.