Dance Articles > I Can't Dance Like Nobody's Watching

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by Don Silver, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. dancerman

    dancerman Active Member

    The more people who watch me dance the better. I have fun dancing no matter what. I know that shows whenever I am on the dance floor.
    I am not a "Great" dancer but I am a "Fun" dancer. For me that's what dancing socially is about? I know my dance partners enjoy dancing socially with me, so it works for me.
  2. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    That is an excellent attitude and I agree that social dancing is about having fun. You have it totally right; if my partner is having fun, my fun goes up dramatically. (Frankly, I can have a just OK dance but if she's having a great time, I enjoy it myself.)

    I hear people say "just have fun" and when I know I'm incompetent, then it's harder for me to enjoy myself. I understand it's a process and can fake it or ignore others while I'm working through it, but I'm not really having fun.

    As an instructor, I see some guys are having a great time doing some dancing that would embarrass me. I respect their attitude and see that is a positive but that isn't always me.

    Over the years (I'm in my late 40's) I've learned that I have more fun at things when I'm above average. While I pretend and power through it during the early stages, my fun expands dramatically when I'm in the ballpark.

    I see there is a spectrum of people, and some are having fun from their first days and some are like me and the fun starts after they reach a certain level of competence. Like I said, I can fake it when required, but my fun improves as my level increases.

    Are you similar?
  3. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    You are right, in theory nobody cares, watches or thinks much about me and my level unless I'm above average. Individuals vary as to how much they care about what others think.

    My working theory is learning to deal with audience/critics/friends watching is another skill to master and it gets stronger over time. For many of us it's a learned skill and takes some time.

    The more we practice being bolder, the easier it becomes to ignore others watching (and to start enjoying it).
  4. noobster

    noobster Member

    I'm more like dancerman for most things in that I don't mind looking silly or beginner-ish if I'm enjoying myself. Salsa is a bit different though in that there's another person in the equation, and unfortunately if I am not at least minimally competent, it's pretty unlikely that they are enjoying themselves. I remember feeling bad a lot of the time for the first eight months or so of learning salsa because I knew I wasn't giving my partners their 'fix.'

    So I think most learned skills become more fun as you get better at them; but this is even more true for salsa because as you get better your partner has more fun, and you can dance effectively with more skilled partners, so the fun factor is cubed. :)
  5. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member

    :smile: I thought I was the only person in the world who couldn't run! Thank you for admitting this! I force myself to jog sometimes, but outright running--just can't get it! I should join you for your once-a-week "running practice!"
  6. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member

    I try to concentrate on my partner when social dancing, but if I notice that someone is watching, that just adds to the fun.
  7. noobster

    noobster Member

    Noticing someone is watching just makes me all weird and self-referential. I hate catching a spectator's eye when I'm dancing. It creates this neurotic internal monologue where I'm like, "zoicks, are they looking at me? - nah, it's probably that I just happen to be dancing in front of them - but now they probably think I think they're looking at me even though it was just an accident we caught each others' eyes at all - maybe they think I'm trying to show off or something - or maybe they are noticing all my mistakes - urgh, my flow is out the window..." Complete buzz kill.
  8. Hock Siew

    Hock Siew New Member

    Looking back on my early days when I started social dancing in Salsa, I found that I enjoyed it just as much then; eventhough, I would not have been dancing quite as well at all :-( . Perhaps, it's a case of "ignorance is bliss". I just hope that the girls I danced with at the time had fun :) (and if not :oops: , am very grateful that they were so gracious! :applause: ).
  9. Hock Siew

    Hock Siew New Member

    I agree that one needs to achieve a certain minimal level to start enjoying oneself. But it very much depends on the individual and the person he or she is dancing with. If both are beginners; but they both accept that they are in the learning stage (well, we all are), and are willing to overlook each other's mistakes (I'm not going to go into things like accidents on the dancefloor, floorcraft, etc, etc, here), then they can still both have a good time.

    However, I do know how you feel. When I dance with a much better dancer than myself (and especially if I'm dancing with an awesome dancer); I do wonder whether they enjoy it. But on the other hand, I don't really bother about other people watching.

    And I do agree that as one becomes better, one does gets more out of it. I keep finding that there is so much more to appreciate in the dance, the longer I keep dancing. :)
  10. Hock Siew

    Hock Siew New Member

    Same with me. When I'm watching people dance on the social dancefloor, I will usually watch the better dancers, or dancers I like for a specific reason. I will only look at beginners for a few seconds at most (unless I know them personally or am the one who brought them there :) ).
  11. noobster

    noobster Member

    Everybody I danced with was better than I was when I started! I didn't do group lessons really, so I didn't know any other beginners. I just took privates and went out social dancing. I got my rear end handed to me by more experienced dancers on a regular basis.

    Definitely agree! The only thing that kept me going through those first eight months or so was the knowledge that it was going to be really fun if I could only break through the beginner barrier. I was so right btw! :D
  12. biggestbox

    biggestbox Member

    one thing that I'm working on is to motivated my dancing with my eyes, whether you are focused on your partner, audience or looking straight down or straight up, I dance my best when I have a sense that I am dancing outside of my body. sometimes when I look at myself in the mirror, i don't see myself I see a stranger that moves as if someone else is controlling him. As dancers we have no control over the result of our dancing, we can only control the effort we use to make the action. As a quick example, beginner turners try to control everything about a turn. I can only do 4 or 5 turns on one foot, but i never feel like I'm making the turn. i am making an action and the turn happens. School, class, and lessons all teach you HOW to do things. they correct imbalances that you might not be aware of, When you finally dance however, it is just pure attack.
  13. chocolatchica

    chocolatchica New Member

    Oh my gosh me too! I thought it was just me. Yeah I ran once to catch a bus and felt like an idiot because I saw people watching me. I wouldn't run if a pitbull were chasing me. Lol. So I feel you.....
    P.s. love your avatar. That look is priceless
  14. rajendra

    rajendra New Member

    actually i hav completely different opinion over this topic

    Actually i feel that dance should be always like no body is watching u. The reason behind this is, that in that case u'l dance like anything and will enjoy dance completely..that will give u satisfaction.
  15. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    In theory I agree with you. The ideal dance gets outside yourself and you are in the moment, paying attention to your partner and the music. Spending energy on what other people think is a waste and non-productive. Today I can do that most of the time salsa dancing, but I'm not a beginner in that area.

    In other words, we are on the same page overall. Dancing like nobody is watching is the right goal, but it's not something I can do until after I reach a certain level. Based on the e-mail I get, many others share this issue. We get satisfaction from being above average at different activities, even if that isn't the ideal mindset for learning. My satisfaction grows with my overall accomplishments.

    If someone tells me "Just dance like nobody is watching", that doesn't flip some switch for me where I can stop being aware of my strengths and weaknesses at that time.

    For example: I take a hip-hop class twice a week. In that class I'm fine when following the instructor. I stand close to the center of the room, near the front of the class, ignoring everybody and just working on my stuff. I'm surrounded by people who overall are MUCH stronger than me.

    But sometimes he clears the floor (60-75 people or so), and just has the guys dancing (10-20 of us normally).

    Now all the ladies are around the room watching. Nobody cares about me directly, so it's all in my head. But my stress level can go much higher at that point because it's a large room and I don't blend. (I do go to the center, and I don't try and hide even if I'm uncomfortable.)

    That is a severe challenge for me... sometimes I can ignore the crowd, other times I feel out of place. Nine of ten classes I'm the senior member, and the next oldest person is 10-15 years younger than me. (Which does NOT matter... I choose to be in the class, and everybody is extemely nice to me... )

    Of the guys, I'm often among the least experienced, and a couple of the guys are near pro level, because the instructor is off the charts good. (Side note: In some of the classes I've been around world-class hip-hop dancers, and I see what it looks like when you're among the best...)

    I am dramatically better at ignoring the others today compared to when I first started, but it's an ongoing mind game. Many of us have to work and get beyond a certain point before ignoring the others is realistic. A great goal, but not where I start.

    Just telling me to "dance like nobody's watching" doesn't do it for me. But we can all get there if we work at it, and it's worth the effort.

    Let us know the techniques you use to beat the game mentally.
  16. emeralddancer

    emeralddancer Active Member

    I am glad I found this ... I dance well in front of others especially if it is for show. If I know the routine. But I can not break the barrier yet when I am in my private class and others are around. I see these others and think that I must be a failure, though I KNOW they are there practicing. I just hate making mistakes in front of people. I do not have a way to break out of it ... I just keep doing what I am told and am slowly letting go and just focus on what I am being taught, how to execute it, etc ... I am learning to embrace the joy I feel at dancing! I am a work in progress!
  17. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    I'm with you on that... a few months ago I found a hip-hop "party dance" class which focuses on dancing with different grooves. It's more about taking a feel the instructor sets up, then making minor adjustments as the comfort level increases. With regular practice I'm starting to get more comfortable, but I can see it's a journey for me. Some days are much better than others, and I've taken two private lessons with the instructor (a third is now scheduled) to be sure my foundation is strong.

    Leading while partner dancing is one skill, solo dancing or shines is another. Depending on where you start, most are stronger in one or the other, and they tend to build their dances based on their strength and comfort. Over time most get stronger in the other area, but that is mostly a choice.

    Most of dance improvement revolves around that dirty word called "practice" and the more I do, the more things start working for me.
  18. flashdance

    flashdance Active Member

    I used to find it quite scary to perform in front of others on my own. When my teacher asked us to perform our routines in front of her before our exams a few months back I just fell to pieces!

    I wasn't going to bother with the exam at one stage so decided to get a bit more practice at the gym I goto - it worked as I got the routines and also alleviated my fears as the whole gym can look into the studio... so kill two birds with one stone ;) People do watch sometimes - just smile back :D

    It's a good feeling performing in front of others... kind of like the rush you get when on a rollercoaster - it's great :D ;)
  19. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    Performing in front of others is always a kick for me. As a musician, I love it. Some of that is I've been on stage thousands of times over the years, I talk to my drums and overall feel very "at home" on stage. Over the years I've learned how to recover from the mistakes and issues that happen if you perform enough.

    My overall confidence in my strengths allows me to minimize the stress of mistakes. I may know I've had a bad night compared to my abilities, but the audience rarely knows. That's simply enough time and practice over many years.

    All that said, in a newer environment for me (dancing), I know how little I know compared with where I want to be. It's easy for me to see how much is a work in progress.

    I was at a class last night and the instructor started pulling people out to freestyle. He didn't pull me out (thankfully) but the people who did it were all a year or more ahead of me, and a couple were semi-pros on their way up to being full-time dancers.

    I can see I'll get there, but I would have looked silly next to these more experienced dancers (a hip-hop class). I am at that point where I'm fine being a mimic, but just getting to where I have things in mind that make sense with the music on my own.

    Someday I'll feel comfortable doing my thing, but I'm still a work in process in solo dancing. I know what it feels like from music, but I'm working on getting outside myself in some dance styles.

    BTW - I was totally fearless as a young musician. Since I thought I was great, I played better. Later I was embarrassed looking back and realizing how immature I was (read: bad). I suspect that colors my dancing, where this time I know I'm a work in progress.
  20. Moonstone

    Moonstone New Member

    When I first started to dance.... I can't dance and not thinking people are watching. Now, there are only 2 situations I cant dance like nobody is watching
    1) My dance partner and I are the ones on the dance floor
    2) I have to do some shines since my dance partner is doing. I cannot simply stand there and do nothing right? But the thing is, I don't know any shines so my
    "shines" are basically free-style and I think I'm probably making a fool of myself. :p

Share This Page