There are a lot of things that separate good dancers from poor dancers and great dancers from good dancers. Background, physical talents and years in the game are all factors that come into play. As a teacher I live in a world where I’m consumed by getting the most out of what I have without making excuses. That being said here are 10 things that you can and should be doing if you want to take your West Coast Swing dancing to the next level.
1. Commit to getting better
Nothing starts without a goal and the commitment to follow through. You have to know where you are going and be willing to stay the course. Committing to getting better is a both a mindset and a process.
2. Learn to dance by yourself
Too many people in West Coast Swing are limited by ‘needing a partner.’ Hogwash! Learn to dance on your own and practice on your own. All serious dancers do.
3. Take music seriously
There is no way around this one in the West Coast Swing world. We are so driven by different kinds of music that if you don’t become a bit of a music nerd you are giving away a step to the dancers who do.
4. Learn to love drills
Learning to isolate techniques to drill them is a fast track to better learning. I personally use drills before most lessons and practices and have for almost 10 years now. They are very valuable.
5. Develop a relationship with a coach
Notice I said relationship? Too many people in WCS run around taking random lessons from random coaches. While each coach has something to offer I think this process is flawed. I don’t have time to fully cover my thoughts on the subject but does Tiger Woods take lesson from different golf coaches ever week? Right! Find a coach that you can develop a long standing relationship with and it will pay off in spades.
6. Develop a work ethic
You have to develop a consistent approach to practice if you want to gain momentum. Just like going to the gym or eating healthy, it doesn’t really show results if you only do it once in a while.
7. Learn to cope with self doubt
There are ABSOLUTELY going to be periods of self doubt. Know that they will come and do your best to work thought them when they come.
8. Take overall physical fitness seriously
Sometime it shocks me when people want to move like hight level dancers yet they let their basic physical fitness get away from them. Things like Yoga, Pilates are great for dancers. As we get older some form of resistance training is helpful as well. Combine these with a healthy diet and you’ll be in much better shape to take your dancing seriously as well.
9. Realize that learning curve is not a straight line
Bad dances, bad competitions, bad lessons and crummy days are just a part of doing business. Learn what you can from them and come back smarter the next day. Don’t get discouraged. Learn the lesson and move to be better next time.
10. Learn to dance with different partners.
One of the best things you can do is to cultivate the ability to dance with a wide range of partners. Not only partners that are brand new but also partners that are far ‘out of your league’ Its good to be able to the the skill and courage to dance with everyone on the spectrum of abilities. Its the essence of social dance, the essence of West Coast Swing.