A publication to engage the dance community. Learn. Discuss. Contribute. Enjoy.

Wrapping Your Mind Around Dance

By Dr. Chris Hanson

What does one's mindset have to do with learning dance?

When I first began dancing, many remarked on how quickly I picked up the steps. It certainly helped having a background in music and movement—no question. The other thing that helped me learn quickly was the mindset and attitude I brought with me to dance.

When I first decided to dance, I made the conscious decision to refuse to be embarrassed by my mistakes. There is no way to learn social dancing without having ten to twenty uncoordinated dances. You will be unsure of yourself, you will lose the rhythm, and you will experience all the other fearful moments you are imagining. Remember, this is temporary and everyone else went through this, too.

Ask yourself this: what is more embarrassing, having a great time on the dance floor while learning or gazing longingly at the dance floor wishing you could get over your fear?

The other mindset I brought with me was that I was already a dancer. There is a temptation when first starting to think, “I am still learning to dance.” Many are stuck thinking, “Once I learn enough about dance, I will be a dancer.” There is a big problem here. Those great dancers you see in the studio—Joy, Byron, and Todd of Social Dance Studio, to name a few—are still learning to dance. In fact, one of the reasons they are so good is that they never stopped learning. Once you have foundation classes under your belt, you know enough to get on the dance floor. The trick is convincing yourself that you are both still learning to dance and already a dancer.

Finally, never take your body, your steps, or your mistakes too seriously. Always keep in mind that the music and the dancing are made up by people no smarter than you. So have some fun out there.