Getting the Most from Your Dancing
Some of our readers have called this post Part II of the September 2016 blog, "Why Are You So Stupid?" If you have not read it, please do (www.dancekinesis.com/single-post/2016/09/30/Why-Are-You-So-Stupid) You will not only find it enjoyable and enlightening, but it will refresh your memory and aid with understanding this entry.
We all enjoy receiving nice things often, accomplishing goals quickly, and reaping the benefits of our hard labors as soon as possible. Dieters want to see the slimming; gym-buffs want to see the sculpting; singles want to find Mr/Ms Right; and, dancers want to be the most sought after and best looking on the floor... right now.
As a dancer, if you have ever been on the receiving side of, "You should be doing it like this.", from a partner, then you are very familiar with the mostly unspoken reply, "Oh? It is so nice to know that you have mastered 'your' part so well, that you have had the time to master 'mine' as equally." Though it is not difficult to understand why we should know something of what is required from our partner, it is imperative to success that we firstly know well, our own. Here is where most learning takes detention.
The problem begins easily enough; most of us simply do not know how to learn. 'Learning' the things in these two blogs will do well for you in dance, and for many other areas of your life. It is not as difficult as one might believe. I will show you how.
Answer the following questions:
Do I know what type of learner I am?
Do I get the most that I can from my dance lessons?
Do I practice as often as I can?
During praticas, do I really practice, or do I just dance, and call it practicing?
During organized dances, do I dance with everyone, or do I seek out; my friends, the best dancers, etc?
During unorganized dances (social gatherings), do I still try to dance the best that I can, or do I say, "I just want to have fun; I'm not trying to be perfect."?
Let's answer them, again. Following these steps will help in leading you to become the best dancer that you can be.
1 & 2. Refer back to www.dancekinesis.com/single-post/2016/09/30/Why-Are-You-So-Stupid. Not everyone learns in the same way; Know how 'you' learn. Most of us do not get the full benefit/s of our lessons because we do not know; 1. how to learn, or, 2. what we should learn. Far too often, we confuse memorizing with learning. We are shown the 'steps' or 'patterns' to a particular dance. We ask to see them again and again until we feel that we 'know' them. We are, then told what type of music to dance to, and, Voila! "Look, Mom, I'm dancing!"
The problem here is that we have not learned anything. We have memorized a step or pattern. However, memory can be affected by a multitude of intrusions which cause us to 'forget' what we thought that we had learned, but had only committed to memory. Have you ever seen an actor forget a line, or a dancer forget a step or piece of choreography? Of course, we all have. These happened because something else happened, in a flash, or build-up, which caused that person to not be able to access memory. These failures might range from a split second lapse to a total space-walk. Conversely, have you ever completed some task without thinking about it, or surprised yourself at having done something or arrived somewhere without specific knowledge of detail? This is possible because that action or implication had indeed been learned. It is now a part of you, never to not be given normal circumstances. You have learned to walk; extraordinary circumstances notwithstanding, you will never not know how to. Learning how to [allow yourself to] learn is a largely unknown part of our maturity.
3 & 4. How often do you 'practice'; a) every chance I get, b) I never miss a class, c) after work everyday, d) as much as I can? The better answer is a), however, most of us do not really, even when we think that we do. I once had a Latin dance coach teach me about tucking the hips under to create a more correct posture and balance. She instructed me to do this when standing affront of the mirror as I readied myself in the mornings, while driving to/from the studio, while walking around the house, and standing in the shower. 'This' is the meaning of "every chance I get". If you are not doing this, then you are not practicing well.
Further, when we do practice, we often practice poorly. We often; 1) find one thing that 'does not feel right', and do it again and again and again until we are sickened of it, or we feel that it is better, or 2) dance for an hour with a partner, and talk about what a great 'practice' we had. Neither of these are good. The former has been proven by trainers from almost every field of physical activity to be inefficient. The better way is to work on 1 thing (Rise-Lower, Walks, Contra-checks, Dance Position, etc) for no longer than 5 - 10 minutes, and then change to something else. This method creates a mental and/or physical image or intent, then allows the brain and body to study and assimilate the practice without preconceived conditions or bias. One will find upon returning to the same activity, an often quicker and better understanding and improvement.
5 & 6. Regarding dances and events, a far too often heard question is, "Are there any good dancers
there?". Everyone wants to be the best that they can be, and to dance with the best dancers. The 2 immediate problems with this are; 1) Why would the best dancers want to dance with you?, and 2) A past partner of mine always said, "You are 'not' a good dancer until you can dance well with someone who is a rank beginner".
Dancing with friends and regular partners is, needless-to-say, wonderful. However, only dancing with these persons often causes one to become complacent, anticipatory, independent, etc. Dancing with these partners is a great way to hone and maintain our skills at whatever levels the partnerships may allow. Dancing with lesser known or lesser accomplished partners will do the very same, but in ways unavailable to us with so-called better dancers.
Not dancing to one's abilities, or lackadaisically ignoring proper movements, techniques, etc. simply because we "just want to have fun", or are in a non-learning situation, implies that 'doing it correctly is not fun'. As a body movement and dance movement specialist, and the creator of the DanceKinesis system, I have felt that it is these very things which make it fun the most. To simply dance a Bronze Foxtrot "Basic Step" or an International Quickstep "Four Quick Run" or a Salsa "Dile Que No" is as useless to me as trying to paint air, and only half as much fun. Yet, to 'feel' the rolling, hovering motion of the Foxtrot's 'Step - Swing - Recover' movement over the "Basic", the body swing that is the impetus for the "4-Quick Run", or the interactive drive and recoil of "Dile Que No", IS the fun of the dance.
What a shame it is that many of us will dance for the rest of our lives, and never know what it truly 'feels' like. Many of us will have 'memorized' hundreds of steps and patterns, and feel like we are having a great time doing them; but, doing them is not dancing them. To dance them is to feel the muscle movements awaken within the body, and to 'ride' the dance movement as it swings, glides, hovers, etc. across/over the floor, and to 'feel' all of these same things emanating from a partner as they interact with our own.
My hope for you is that you learn how to learn and how to feel, and how to truly dance.
As always, please share your thoughts, and... Come dance with me.