Most people who come in for lessons tend to be intimidated by the support beam in the middle of our new student ballroom. To make the beam more dancer-friendly, we named him Ned, dressed him up, and added googly eyes. It sounds crazy, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the simple act of visualizing your obstacles as tools to improve your dancing. So without further ado, here are five obstacles every student encounters and how you can use those obstacles to help create success in your dancing.
- Physical Obstacles
- In the beginning, navigating around small dance floors, avoiding chairs, or dancing around a spilled drink can feel equivalent to a huge tree in the middle of the bunny hill or trying to stay between the lines when you’re driving a car (I definitely thought driving would never get easier). However, know the issue seems a lot bigger than it is, so dress it up, throw googly eyes on it, make light of it, and navigate around it. After all, practice makes perfect.
- Human Obstacles
- No one likes running into people, but the reality is that little bumps are going to happen. Embrace your bumper dancer and make light of it (“Tag! You’re it!”). Now, to get more comfortable around people, your teacher will give you one or two “get out of emergencies” steps, so challenge yourself with a game: aim for someone on the dance floor and just as you’re about to run into them, use your emergency step and get out of their way. Isn’t that why promenades were invented?
- Ability Obstacles
- As a new student, it can be intimidating to dance with more experienced students. Challenge yourself to dance with everyone in the room. Another dancer would rather dance than not. Take it from someone who’s sat out more than just a song or two: dancing is much better than keeping the bench warm. So don’t hesitate: ask them to dance!
- Music Obstacles
- Your teacher wants you to do a rumba but there’s hustle music playing. What do you do? Challenge yourself! If you hear the beats of the music, ask your teacher if you can dance to the music while maintaining rumba timing. Or make a point of getting caught up in the counts your teacher gives you.
- Social Obstacles
- Asking someone to dance and then attempting a conversation on the floor can seem awkward and uncomfortable. To make you more confident and build your skills, come to a practice party. Simulating a social mixer at our parties will help you get more comfortable socializing with people and will really pay off at the next work party or wedding you attend.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll encounter obstacles throughout your dancing career much like in life. And when the going gets tough, you may want to take the safe route. After all, a ship at port is safe. However, ships are built to weather storms. A foxtrot on a big, empty floor is fun, but you learn to dance so you can be a dance ship and weather the storm with style and finesse. My challenge to you? Change your life by changing your mentality and view every obstacle as an opportunity. Anchors aweigh!
To give you some triumphant music on your dance journey, here’s the “Anchors Aweigh” song