I don’t know a single dancer that hasn’t at some point lost their mojo. This can happen for a whole variety of reasons. Someone makes a thoughtless comment that knocks your confidence, you suddenly feel like your dancing is getting worse instead of better, every dance starts to feel the same. It all just becomes less satisfying. If you’ve lost your dance mojo here are some tips to help you rediscover the joy of dancing!
When I think about the times that I’ve lost the love of lindy (or blues, balboa, etc) it has usually come down to one or more of these three things: falling into a rut, having my confidence knocked, or feeling like I’m not improving so I’ve divided the tips into those three categories.
Falling Into a Rut: When you first started dancing every class was a revelation and socials were a wild ride of just trying to make it through each dance without embarrassing yourself. Now though, your classes feel repetitive and you seem to find yourself having the same formulaic dances with the same people to the same tracks over and over and over. Before you decide that you’ve outgrown your lindy hop phase try spicing things up a bit.
- Widen Your Sites—If you usually dance with just a handful of partners this can get a bit old. It’s time to widen your sites. If you usually only dance with people from your classes and non-threatening newbies, try asking more experienced dancers in your scene (if you’re feeling timid start with a safe bet, like your teachers). If you’re a more experienced dancer and tend to only dance with the other higher level dancers in your scene, try dancing with the newbies—it can be great fun and introduces new challenges.
- Travel—Try out different classes and socials in your scene, attend a dance in the next town over, go to weekend festival in your own scene or in another city or another country. Dancing in different places is a great way to pick up new ideas, hear different music and meet new people.
- Try the Opposite Role—You’ll gain a more in-depth understanding of the dance and you’ll have twice as many potential partners at every social.
- Add Skills—Moves aren’t the only thing you need to keep your dancing interesting. If you’ve got enough moves down to make it through a social dance, then you’re ready to start thinking about other aspects of the dance like technique, quality of movement and musicality. Learn some solo jazz, experiment with variations, take a musicality class. All of these things add texture to the dance and make it more than just executing the same moves over and over.
- Take a Break—Sometimes taking a break is the best option. Whether you try out a different dance style or explore your other non-dancing hobbies for a bit you’re likely to come back with a whole new perspective.
Knocked Confidence—Maybe you didn’t get into the level you expected to at a weekend or you didn’t make it to the finals in a comp. Maybe someone said something about your dancing that made you feel rubbish or you just feel like all the good dancers are avoiding you. It may be that your dancing isn’t where you thought it was or it may be that all the negativity is just in your head. Either way your confidence has been shaken and you need to find a way to get it back.
- Anchor Yourself—The first order of business is to remind yourself how you actually dance when you’re not all up in your own head. Find your Anchor and have a lovely dance with them! Your Anchor is someone that you nearly always have good dances with without even thinking about it, and someone that you know enjoys dancing with you as much as you enjoy dancing with them.
- Make an Effort–If you’re feeling like no one ever wants to dance with you put in a bit of extra effort. If you usually dress down try dressing up. Instead of hiding in a corner behind a bunch of tables hang out at the edge of the dance floor. Instead of waiting for someone to ask you to dance you go and do the asking.
- Dance in Public–Dancing in public can seriously boost your confidence. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been dancing or how imperfect your technique is, to a bunch of non-dancers you are AMAZING! If your scene has outdoor dances or live music nights that a few dancers attend those are a great option or grab a few friends and lindybomb a jazz festival, a club night or a busker. Having an audience can feel a bit nerve-wracking at first but seeing the admiring looks on people’s faces can give you a real boost.
Stagnation—The final topic to address is feeling like you aren’t progressing, that your dancing has stagnated. When you first start your dancing improves massively each week as you learn new moves and come to grips with different concepts but once you’ve got a pretty solid repertoire progress can feel slower and more subtle. If you’ve hit a plateau in your dancing it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing left to learn. If the best lindy hoppers in the world can still find ways to grow as dancers the rest of us should have plenty of material to keep us busy. At a certain point though you may need to put in a bit more effort to continue improving. Here’s a few ideas to jump start the learning process when you hit a plateau.
- Classes—When was the last time you took a class? If it’s been a while it may be worth having a look at what’s on offer around you that could offer an opportunity to tighten up your technique or add to your repertoire. If there’s really nothing for you locally book onto a weekend somewhere else.
- Video—If this isn’t something that you’re already doing on a regular basis it’s really worth a try. Filming yourself can give you all sorts of insight into your dancing. Are your feet where you think they are? How’s your posture? Are you anticipating? Are you giving space? Does your favourite variation look as cool as you think it does? What are you doing with your arms? All this and more!
- Private classes—Regardless of your level of experience, a private class is a great way to improve your dancing. You’ll find out the specific things that you need to work on to become a better dancer and get tips on how and what to practice to continue improving.
- Train—At a certain point attending classes and socials may not be enough to keep your dancing progressing at a rate that you’re happy with. At this point it may be time to start training. Find a partner or a group of friends that are equally motivated and meet up regularly to work on stuff. If you can’t find a partner, work on your solo dancing. If you need inspiration, this book has a lot of great ideas to draw on.
- Compete—Some dancers need a deadline and a bit of outside pressure to really get motivated. Does this sound like you? If so maybe you should try competing. Competitions force you to think about your dancing in a whole different way and can motivate you to work more with a partner, think about choreography, learn more flashy moves, learn more variations, work on quality of movement, etc..