You’ve been taking dance lessons for some time now, feel perfectly comfortable with what you’ve learned, and are totally at ease with dancing in front of your instructor, partner, and other students at your studio… but the idea of dancing in front of anyone else, anywhere else throws your stomach into knots. Well, you’re not alone! It’s common. It’s natural. It’s a matter of confidence and a mental roadblock that many people, including other dancers, have had to overcome at some point in their lives.
As humans, we tend to find ourselves overly concerned with other people’s opinions, nervous about what others with more experience will think, and just too shy to step out of our shells. But as someone learning to dance, and who possibly aspires to scale their growth as a dancer, it’s important to know that nervousness, self-consciousness, insecurity, and anxiety are among the most self-limiting emotions and they’ll keep you from reaching your full potential. There’s good news, though: You can get over these hurdles and, if you were drawn to this article, then you probably were already aware that you needed to, so you’re off to a great start!
Whether you’re a student of dance or you spend your time dancing alone at home, the tips below will help bring you out of your shell and unleash the confident, self-assured, star-studded dancer you’re sheltering within!
1 | Love Yourself
Confidence starts from within and it stems from lots of self-administered TLC: self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance. Do nice things for yourself – stuff that makes you smile and makes you proud. Accept the imperfect human that you are (because nobody’s perfect) and be perfectly okay with it, embrace your imperfections and accept that you simply can’t please everyone, pat yourself on the back and acknowledge all of the things that you do so well, and simply believe in yourself! You have to make loving yourself “a mission – not an intermission” and, naturally, the next step will be confidence where the greater you begins to surface, becomes apparent in your everyday life, and most certainly translates to your performance as a dancer!
2 | Stay Physically Fit
It’s undeniable that taking care of our physiques positively sways our self-esteem and confidence, so consider eating well and engaging in a physical wellness regimen. When you work out, your body responds by releasing endorphins and increasing levels of serotonin, both of which have been found to trigger positive feelings in people, resulting in a general sense of well-being. In addition to the biological response, just knowing that you’ve put work into yourself is confidence-boosting, which can play a major role in how you look and feel when you’re on the dance floor! As the saying goes, “If you look good, you feel good and, if you feel good, you do good!”
3 | Practice, Practice… Practice
They say it “makes perfect” and it’s true! Those who spend more time practicing tend to perform better than those who do not, so don’t just leave your lessons at the door – be sure to practice what you’ve learned in between. According to sleep studies, practicing what was taught to you the same day at least once before bed can be particularly beneficial, as your chances of retaining that information overnight increase significantly. Not only that – when you practice more, you’re engaging in repetition, which helps boost your recall potential and deepen your levels of muscle memory, and when movement starts to feel like first nature, your technique improves, which makes you more comfortable overall. On this trajectory, you’re bound to be much more confident in your execution – even when that means dancing in front of other people.
4 | Get to Know Your Anatomy
Spend a bit of time learning more about human anatomy and its relationship to dance technique. Understanding your own anatomy down to your physical capabilities, limitations, and anomalies can serve as a guide for just how far you’re able to take your technique. If there happen to be certain limitations in your range of movement, for instance, familiarizing yourself with human anatomy – and your own specifically – can give you a better understanding as to why. No need to beat yourself up over limitations that you simply can’t control, so you can wipe your slate clean of feeling incapable and know with confidence that you’re doing your best!
5 | Try Something Different
Challenge yourself by dancing with different people; whether you dance alone, or you’re a lead or a follow, practicing with someone other than yourself, your instructor, or your primary partner is a great way to step out of the box and sharpen your skills – it can be inspiring and refreshing, as well! Take your challenge to the next level by exploring new movements through various ballroom and Latin dance styles, like the Viennese Waltz, West Coast Swing, Salsa, Argentine Tango, Lindy Hop, or Merengue. Working with different dancers and trying new styles are good physical and mental challenges that allow you to face the fear of making mistakes, build comfort, and elevate your confidence.
6 | Put Yourself Out There
Get on a dance floor and dive in head first! If the music is speaking your language and you feel that drive to dance, don’t be a wallflower or sit there modestly bobbing your head when all you really want to do is “shake your groove thing.” Go for it! Dancing in public, social, or formal settings, such as weddings, parties, nightclubs, competitions, ballroom showcases, local fundraisers, and the like is such a good way to get over any insecurities that you have about people watching you while you dance. It’s also a great opportunity to improve your floorcraft and show off your hard work, which will send your confidence scaling the charts without a doubt!
7 | Let Go of Your Inhibitions
Dance lessons are structured, yes, but at the end of the day, they’re not entirely formulaic. Once you’re comfortable enough with what you’ve learned and continue sharpening your technical prowess, you’ll eventually want, and will be encouraged, to step out of the mold by adding flair and embellishments through your own personal style, develop your floorcraft, and, perhaps, experiment with improvisation. Dancing is very much an art: It entails creative expression of oneself, and should come from the heart, soul, and mind; when it does, it no longer feels like you’re just memorizing steps and choreography – it feels natural! So, set the bar higher and allow yourself to be one with the music. You’ll feel free, you’ll move better, and your confidence will be sensed by all, you’ll be more of a joy to watch and dance with, and, naturally, a heightened perception of you as a dancer will follow.
Surely you’ve noticed a common theme in all of these suggestions: Confidence on the dance floor stems from a paired effort between the work you put into dancing and the work you put into yourself. Maintain your physical and emotional health, challenge yourself, push your limits, choose freedom, be uninhibited, and, of course, continue to practice and learn! While training and learning technique are essential to your journey, both positively impacting how you feel, no amount of either will completely replace your self-perception – that’s where the nurturer in you comes in. You can do it!
What are some things that have helped you to be more confident on the dance floor or what are some methods that have been recommended? If you’d like to share your journey and be the inspiration to someone else, want to ask a question, or would simply like to leave your thoughts, feel free to email us or comment below!