How to enjoy dancing with confidence, regardless of where you are on your learning journey.
by Filipe De Barros – West Coast Swing Lisbon
Dancing is such a wonderful part of our lives, isn’t it? We’ve all been touched by the beauty and joy of it. Unfortunately, this joy can be marred by a lack of confidence and by us being hard on ourselves.
I’ve been dancing now for over 15 years and the passion is still as bright as ever! However, there have been many times I’ve experienced these negative thoughts and feelings. I’m sure you might have experienced this too and I would love to share my experience in the hope that it might help you enjoy dancing more fully too!
I’ve been on a learning journey in how to feel good about my dancing. In how to grow, learn, and enjoy it, without being self-critical. I know many of us have been there. So, here are some tips that I have found useful in bringing the beauty and joy of dance back. I hope they help you break out of this mindset and to enjoy where you’re at more.
1. Love the learning journey:
I’ve often watched back videos of me dancing and had the thoughts, “You should be better than this.” together with feeling low about myself. But recently I’ve found I’m getting a lot better at accepting where I am in my dance journey, which has allowed me to enjoy it a lot more!
It takes time to learn things, switching to recognising this has helped me enjoy the process! Learning new skills is a fun thing and it’s not being easy that can make it all the more wonderful once you master it. If it was easy, everyone would do it!
2. Know your why:
I think it’s important to look into why we dance. If we dance just to impress others and to gain validation, this can be unhealthy. Perhaps take a deeper look at your reasons for dancing and what’s driving you. I probably didn’t realise that wanting to impress others was driving me, at least partly, for a number of years
I remember not placing in the top 3 in many west coast swing competitions and I felt incredibly sad and upset. Of course, it’s normal to be a bit disappointed, but I really let it affect me. I even felt jealous of others doing well – not a good place to be!
Recently though, I’ve taken time to listen to other people explaining their reasons for dancing and I’ve been very inspired. Now, one of my reasons for dancing is to create art, to express myself, and to inspire others (this last part is outside of my control but it’s wonderful when it happens!). Of course, I would love to do well in competitions and it’s nice to get the likes on social media, but this is not the important reason I dance!
It’s lovely when you can watch people dance from a perspective of openness, appreciation, and non-judgment – simply to enjoy their expression. Dancing is more than clean lines or perfect technique, it’s also about the person showing us something of them-self…and that’s amazing.
3. Technique is important but don’t let it be the sole focus:
Technique is, of course, very important and helps us in our craft of West Coast Swing and in the other dances we do. However, I feel it’s also important to express how we feel and this often can be shown through our faces.
If we worry too much about technique, we may lose the ease in our body, stifle our creative choices and lose the expression on our face of how the song makes us feel. We’ve all been there where the face shows no expression because we’re in our heads. Or worse, we are pulling a silly, sad or confused face.
4. DANCING AND OTHER AREAS OF LIFE:
Dance often reflects other areas of our lives and so if we love ourselves and others, it shines through in our dancing. In partner dancing, for example, accepting ourselves and our partner can make for more enjoyable dances and can help your partner feel more at ease.
By being more at ease with yourself, can help you enjoy your dancing a lot more, persevere in your journey through the highs and lows, and to connect more with your friends in class or with your lovely dance partners.
Bring your joy, energy, and life to the dance.
5. Change your mindset & practice with a camera:
As uncomfortable as it may sound, video recording my dance practice has helped me grow more confident and comfortable in performing in front of others. It also provides great visual feedback to help me know what I want to improve upon. The filming process, watching back, and editing the videos to share with others has also given me a lot of joy.
In fact, I now post regularly on either my Instagram or YouTube channel. In the beginning, I was self-conscious about posting my videos and the judgment they would face, being very aware of the imperfections in my dancing.
But, watching back past videos has helped me to appreciate the growth I have made, which may not be so obvious without video evidence! Also, having a friend film me in some of my videos in a public place has helped me to lose a bit more of the fear of dancing in front of people. After the initial worry, you ease into it and become less concerned with others watching – it’s freeing!
So next time you see a video of yourself or someone else, why not have the mindset of appreciatively watching yourself? We can watch from a perspective of valuing the artistic expression chosen in that snapshot of time and be grateful for areas we see that show us where we can improve on in our journey, rather than ripping ourselves apart.
I once heard someone say that it doesn’t matter whether you choose big or small movements, just commit to them. Don’t be shy my friends!
Perfectionism is overrated in my opinion!
I hope these thoughts are helpful and you’re very welcome to reach out to me with your thoughts, tips, questions etc. Have a wonderful day!
P.S Here is a video on dancing with more confidence
P.P.S If you want to join me on my dance journey come say hi at [https://www.youtube.com/c/filipedebarros1/ @filipedebarros1 on Instagram].
My YouTube channel helps people get better at dance, with a special focus on west coast swing and solo dance.