Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vague Dance Advice: How to Rephrase it

All dance teachers, coaches, judges seem to give vague or overly simplified advice from time to time, and being on the receiving end is baffling, frustrating, and limiting. But muddled as the advice is, usually they have an actual point.

With that said, here are some commonly used vague and/or frustrating phrases followed by an alternative phrasing or meaning.(Feel free to make up your own.)


Relax what? Relax how?

Possible translations: Take deep breaths, visualize a memory of you enjoying yourself, relax tight muscles.

Just have fun.

Frankly, the learning process is not always fun. There are many times when you’ll need to keep chugging on in the face of adversity. This is a personality trait called grit, and it’s an extremely important component of your success.

Possible translations: Be okay with making mistakes. Remind yourself that you're doing the best that you can and that you are here because you enjoy what you're doing. Bring a sense of humor into your dancing whenever possible.

Stop Over Thinking

This advice is usually given in slight exasperation or annoyance when you are talking through your ideas and learning process. It can have the effect of minimizing your intellectual capacity and enthusiasm.

Possible translations: Try it and find out if your ideas work. Be okay with making mistakes. Use trial and error to feel out an answer or what works best for you. Everyone is different; your own style is what makes you stand out. Let loose and discover that style.

You’ll do Fine

We all know we’re going to look at least a little stupid at some point. When a teacher or friend says this, it can feel like they are dismissing your fears.

Possible translation: I believe in you, and I won’t judge you for making mistakes. Even if you give a poor peformance, you can still learn from it and use that knoledge to do better.

The Leader Leads, and the Follower Follows.

It encourages you to think conventionally about the meanings of “lead” and “follow.” Dance partnership is a two-way communication that is more complex. For example, the leader must learn to be constantly responsive to the follow, and the follow must learn to be fully engaged in the creative process.

Possible translation: Connection will feel more simple and intuitive the more you get the hang of it. Think about one thing at a time. Focus on the connection and music.

Listen to Lots of Music.

People without musical training don’t know what to listen for in music. You could listen to thousands of hours of music and still only improve marginally. Plus the word “lots” is misleading. How much is “lots?"

Possible translations: Learn how to listen to music. Listen to popular songs repeatedly and try to dissect them - their tempo and beats. Learn to identify different types of music, for example the 1,2,3 beat of a waltz.

The Way to Get Good at A Certain Dance is by doing that Dance

First, not all practice is created equal. Second, there are lots of non-dance things you may need to do to improve, depending on your individual strengths and weaknesses.

Possible translations: Do a lot of high-quality dance practice outside of social dances. Ask a trusted dance teacher for specific advice tailored to you.

Not every piece of advice is going to work for you. Meet whoever gives you advice halfway and try to get to the heart of what they are saying.

Which of the above translations is most valuable to you? Is there another piece of dance advice you hear a lot?  How do you translate it?

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