This week’s challenge is another all-level challenge, but it’s an important one.
Working on weaknesses
None of us are perfect dancers. None of us ever will be perfect dancers (sorry to burst everyone’s bubble there…). And you know what, that’s OKAY!! Being perfect is a burden that too many of us attempt to carry and fail, and so we think of ourselves as failures and losers because we can’t hold up the unattainable. However, we don’t always need to stagger under all that weight. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should just all give up reaching for perfection because it is a goal none of us will ever attain. We can still strive for it, push ourselves, and reach the next level closer. This post, and another post I am working on, will cover some important issues about striving for improvement.
Dancers can be really hard on themselves, and I’m not immune. We watch our videos in horror, commenting on how awful that arm was, or “what was I thinking with that costume?” or “Geez, do I really have that many chins when I do a back bend?” We are all our own worst critics. None of this is very helpful, however, in improving our dance. Criticism rarely works. On the other hand, I’ve also heard of many dancers who never take classes or workshops, never video themselves, never analyze how well they are doing, and somehow still expect to morph into professional dancers. This isn’t helpful, either. You still need to work on improving yourself as a dancer.
So what’s the challenge?
Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the center of it. In the left column, write, “Things I need to work on” and in the right column, write, “Things I know I’m good at.” Now we are going to take a compassionate, but serious, look at ourselves and our dancing. Pick a song you absolutely love to dance to–whatever that may be–and video yourself. It doesn’t have to be professional, you don’t have to dance in front of your husband or friends, you don’t even have to do any special choreography for this. Just set the camera up on a shelf and dance in front of it. Dance the way you would dance if you were in a show, though (you could even put on a hip scarf and some lipstick if that helps), to make sure you dance your best.
Now, sit down with the video and your piece of paper. Repeat this out loud: “I am going to be compassionate and helpful to my dancer-self.” This may seem silly, but saying it out loud may just help you fully realize that. Now watch your video. For everything you list as “something you need to work on,” write something in the “good at” column. I try to relate my two columns together.
Here’s an example:
Things I need to work on Things I know I’m good at
arms aren’t soft; too rigid hands look nice
figure 8s get lost in the middle figure 8s great on right side
Toes aren’t pointed good footwork
You may feel a little bummed about the left column, but that’s why we have the right column. It’s now a law: every time you read the left column, you MUST read the right column. Sure, you may have a lot to work on, but look at how much you do right! And keep this in mind: DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER DANCERS. Only look at yourself, and how YOU do. And another thing: if you have nothing in the left column, you may need to reexamine how you view yourself as a dancer. If you have nothing in the right column, you need to be more compassionate with yourself.
Here’s the challenge: pick ONE…just ONE…of the left column “problem areas” and work on it this week. Again, be compassionate. Whenever you feel down about how hard it is to keep your arms soft, just remember that your hands look great. Now take a deep breath and work on those arms! Keep this list handy; we’ll be using it again soon!