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

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

  1. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    I doubt you're making a fool of yourself, and hats off to you for being out there doing something.

    I'm taking hip-hop classes where the longer term goal is on individual, free style dancing. So far I'm still very uncomfortable on my own, but I see as long as I keep at it my day will happen.

    Many partner dancers start with a dance background (party dancing or other) and that experience makes shines/solos much easier.

    The rest of us have to grow into it over time.
  2. Tiantian26

    Tiantian26 New Member

    I am so happy to find this forum, and i am happy to read such kind of articles, dancing is my dream, i can not live without dancing! Thanks for sharing!
  3. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome to DF T26! :cheers:
  4. BlueSkies

    BlueSkies New Member

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for this article, it was very interesting. The "oh no they're all watching me and I'm rubbish" thing totally destroyed me when I was trying to learn salsa... I'd make progress for a few months, then have a bad experience and quit for 6 months and of course, get nowhere fast.

    Nowadays though it's a different picture. I left salsa and started Argentine Tango but in the time between attempting the two dances I'd grown and learned a few things about myself.
    - Firstly, the "map is not the territory" concept. Essentially I was (and still am) my own worst critic and what I had decided people thought of me wasn't the truth, it was only my critical picture of myself. The most powerful thing I could do was not to change myself, but to change my view and stop telling myself everyone else thought I was rubbish.
    - Secondly, I realised I could get a massive kick out of doing something that scared me, and every time I did so, it got easier and even more fun the next time. I started to actively look for things I was scared to do.
    - Finally, I realised that I get a great deal of pleasure from learning any skill, but can't stand the feeling that I'm not progressing.

    So when I approached Argentine Tango it was with a very different mindset, I was able to concentrate on the learning process, and enjoy all the little challenges of doing things that scared me a bit. With my new map of the territory, I blasted through "beginner hell" and fairly soon felt competent and felt I could see myself progressing.

    Now, If I'm honest, having people watching is only relevant if it gives me a little bit of fear to overcome for the fun of it. For example, I helped out demonstrating tango in a busy shopping centre, dancing with crowds of people watching and commenting, dancing with random strangers from the crowd... something that would have been flat out impossible for me a few years before.

    There's a beautiful thing I've experienced in tango (which I'm sure happens in other dances as well), where everything apart from your partner and the connection between you just disappears. If you bothered to think about someone watching it would only be to think that they couldn't possibly understand what's happening between the two of you. That's what I'd propose as "dance asif noone is watching". It's when the embrace ends and you blink and think to yourself "Huh, there are people here..."

    Of course, as you point out, just saying it doesn't make it so, and worrying about it probably makes it worse. Perhaps it's like the eastern philosophy of "empty mind". Certainly in archery, another former hobby of mine, the best performances came from a total absence of conscious thought and the absolute confidence that the next arrow was already in the 10, before it was released.

    Thanks again for an interesting article and interesting followups.

  5. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Interestingly enough I did a demo last night at a class, and I felt I hadn't got the attention of the people in the room, my partner thought I'd chosen a difficult piece to dance to, but then i thought well I cant change those things, I'm damned if I'm going to stop and change the music so may as well enjoy it and most of the time I dance internally anyway not as a perfomer; so maybe I cant control how people respond and I dont need their approval I need my own. (another kettle of worms)
  6. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    How did it go down? I mean did the class enjoy it/comment?
  7. sandy87

    sandy87 New Member

    Interesting. I totally can dance as if no-one's watching, and if I'm honest, if someone's watching I like it more (though my lead suffers a bit).

    Not even for a bus, from a dog, or to the hospital. When I run, I just know EVERYBODY IS WATCHING AND MOCKING. Because other people can run and I cannot.

    Maybe that should be my goal for dance growth. Go running once a week so I can get more empathy with those who are self-conscious dancing!
  8. Joy In Motion

    Joy In Motion Active Member

    I must say that if your partner is doing shines and doesn't realize or care that you either don't know any shines or don't feel comfortable doing them, he or she should not continue doing them, at least not very much. Dancing is like having a conversation. Why would you continue to do something that is not contributing to the partnership and the connection between the two of you? One of my frustrations on the dance floor for sure. I think a big part of being able to enjoy yourself when dancing in front of others is trusting that your partner is paying attention to you and making it an enjoyable exchange. I think oftentimes we are just as afraid of our partner embarrassing us as we are of embarrassing ourselves. And it isn't a matter of how many moves they know but how attentive they are in their dancing to both the music and their partner. A big key. Your attitude toward your partner and the dance can go a long way toward putting them at ease and bringing out the best in them.
  9. Joy In Motion

    Joy In Motion Active Member

    Ah, yes, flow. You are right on with your descriptions. You might want to check out a few articles I've written about flow in social dance. Phrases like "effortless action" and "relaxed concentration" from flow research came to mind when I read your post.

    To tie these two themes together, the issue of overcoming one's fear of performing in front of others in a social dance context is absolutely essential in order to experience flow. I find Argentine tango communities discuss flow more than any other dance form (even if they don't use that term), but I have found the experience to be present in every form of social dance. I think it's a combination of boldness and humility that gets us there.
  10. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    For me, if I get into any dance deeply enough, it's a meditation and all past and future disappears: there is only the moment. I find it much easier with AT, since it's such an intimate dance. Any thought about someone watching is a distraction from the dance. Of course, if I'm performing then I owe the audience something. Therefore, I rarely perform anymore: it's not as much fun.
  11. Joy In Motion

    Joy In Motion Active Member

    There is indeed something about the close embrace that seems to wipe away distractions and allow for greater connection and flow. When I dance tango in open embrace, I am much more aware of an audience, and the same applies for dancing salsa and west coast swing. I think it also depends on how many couples are on the floor. The more space you have, the more you feel like there is a spotlight on you. Whether that is good or bad depends on individual preference. Knowing people are watching you does not prevent flow, but it might feel like a different type of flow.
  12. emilyanderson

    emilyanderson New Member

    when you are dancing in front of a audience, you need to make sure that your audience is enjoying.. if you are not comfortable dancing in front of a large number of people you cant perform your best.
  13. jrj073000

    jrj073000 New Member

    I definitely agree, and so would the guy in this commercial.
  14. DancinDrea19

    DancinDrea19 New Member

    I always let my nerves get ahold of me when dancing in front of many at comps...even though I know half of them aren't paying attention.I don't know I just get too nervous...I wish I could dance like no one was watching..
  15. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    heh, my problem, doing our FA regionals, is that I know that most people in the room ARE watching me. wish everyone in region didn't know my family. :)
  16. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    Interestingly enough I have just found out that I dance better when I actively seek out somebody in the audience to watch me. Very odd for somebody who is usually the self conscious sort.
  17. ballroomdancer33

    ballroomdancer33 New Member

    Maybe when you have forgotten yourself and have already embraced the language of the dance that is when you can dance like nobody's watching...;)
  18. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    As in so many things (in the arts, in writing, sports, and so on), there is a lot of motivation to practice and get good at something when you know that someone will see your efforts--as when you prepare for a showcase. Not everyone is a performer, it's true; but knowing that you will be seen can inspire you to work on your dance technique. And when you improve, when you are just dancing for fun it will be even more fun, feeling a sense of confidence and proficiency. You can let yourself go, dancing much more instinctively and not worrying too much about what you're doing. Letting your muscle memory take over, allowing you to let yourself both flow over and with the music...

    "If you cannot be a poet, be the poem."

Share This Page