It happens to all of us; no matter how talented or experienced you are, sooner or later you will hit a point where your dance progress plateaus. When trying to reach the next level feels like beating your head against a wall, and as effective.
This is a defining moment for you - the point at which you push on to achieve your goals, or turn away from them. There is no shame in either decision, unless you leave feeling there was still something left untried.
Hopefully, the suggestions below will keep you from ever feeling that way.
Remind yourself why you are doing this.
I’ve talked about this previously, but it’s so important I have to say it again: Know why you are dancing. If it’s a reason you can feel passionate about, it will keep you trying new things when others would have tossed in the towel.
Practice, or practice more.
As your dance progress carries you into more and more advanced steps and technique, you may find you need to squeeze in more practice time in between classes to achieve the same rate of improvement. This is normal!
For one thing, more advanced steps require greater precision, meaning you’ll need to hone your muscle memory more to make it look good. And for another, you can’t just learn new steps; you also need to refresh the steps you learned previously.
Stop judging, start learning.
When the going gets tough, it’s tempting to start comparing yourself unfavourably to other dancers in the studio. This can feed into a belief that dance progress beyond a certain point is only possible for the gifted few, who possess a ‘natural talent’ that let’s them push the boundaries.
They may indeed be talented, but talent alone can’t beat hard work. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. The power to improve is in YOUR hands.
Also, try not to judge yourself. Your dance progress will be littered with countless learning opportunities we often mislabel as ‘mistakes’. If you often take your missteps personally, start reprogramming your thinking along more constructive lines.
For example, rather than ‘how could I be so stupid?’, try ‘what can I do to improve this outcome?’
Try a different angle.
Do you find yourself thinking, ‘if they ask me to try that step one more time, I’m going to lose it’? Sometimes, you just need to try a different strategy to reinvigorate and accelerate your dance progress. Here’s a few examples:
- Dance a different style that uses a similar movement (ex. cha cha is very similar to rumba)
- Dance the step very slowly, or very quickly.
- Pause every 30 seconds, to make sure you still remember your technique.
- Try a lesson with a different instructor.
- If you take group classes, consider buying a private lesson for some one-on-one expertise.
Take a break.
Again, there’s no shame in quitting if you aren’t getting the same joy from your dancing that you once had. Sometimes we just need a little break, to let our body rest and remember why it loves dancing so much. But there’s plenty of reasons why you might not return.
Maybe your priorities have shifted. Maybe you’re happy with your current ability level, and aren’t willing to sacrifice more time and money. Or maybe you were preparing for a big event, like a wedding dance, and now that it’s done, you can rest on your laurels.
If it’s really time to go, be glad you made sure this was what you wanted before you said goodbye. And if this advice turns you around and lets you continue your dance progress, fantastic! May your renewed determination carry you for years to come.
About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada. Click here to see when Ian is available for lessons.