|Some moves require more practice|
I’ve had those moments, and it’s simply part of learning. Sometimes we have to shift gears mentally, find a different approach, and take a few days or more to work though more challenging materials. In the end it’s worth it, but some days are not as simple as others.
If you never have tough days you are either exceptionally gifted, or you are not pushing yourself to grow. I’ve missed the exceptionally gifted gene, so I’m in the “pushing myself” mode.
While I teach quite a bit, I also take classes myself, especially in areas that are not my strengths. In addition to building a broader dance foundation, it keeps me humble, it pushes me in new directions and it gives me additional perspective on the learning and teaching process. I certainly relate with my students who are struggling with some aspects of dance.
The other night I was my own adviser, reviewing something I filmed at a recent private lesson. I had to say the same thing I say to students, except to myself. (It's easy to tell others something and realize the same advice applies to you.)
I had one of those “gee… this should be easy…” and “maybe this is too tough for me” and finally the “maybe I’m simply not a dancer” moments. But we all know that the dirty word for advancing is spelled “p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e,” and that doesn’t mean just one night or a couple hours one time.
Regular, consistent practice over time makes a huge difference, even if there are moments along the way that make you wonder.
So what did I do? I practiced for about 15 minutes, took a break, and then did a little more. Not killing myself or beating myself up for lack of progress, just a little more practice so I could end on a positive note. I also realized that doing the same exercises to slower music might help, and that made a positive difference.
Slower practice is sometimes much harder than it looks, but for many moves doing things slower gives you time to make more adjustments.
When you’re not getting it, sometimes it’s OK to just chill out and not worry about it for today. Try to slow it down, do a shorter practice, but return to the exercises as soon as possible, with another short practice. If it’s working, keep going; if not, repeat the process of short practices over a few days. Sometimes you simply have to go do something different, unrelated to dance. (That's how I started this article.)
I’ve seen it over and over with others, and in my own practice; almost anybody can master any dance skill they decide they want, assuming they to put in enough effort. This concept is huge in social dancing, where perfection isn’t the game, but making a great connection with your partner is more important. You improve for yourself, and you can set any standard you desire, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always have great days practicing.
(Competitive dancing is another subject, requiring a stricter mindset, but similar concepts apply IF you are willing to take the time and effort.)
When you’re having your tough days, cut yourself some slack, try things slower or faster, cut your practice time and/or do some “fun” dancing, something you previously mastered that was hard in the beginning.
As a rule try to end your practices on a higher note even on your down days. Do something positive and fun just before you take a break. Everybody has occasional down periods; just don’t let them keep you down. Remember, that dirty word called “practice” doesn’t mean being miserable. We all have to find ways to work through the tougher materials, while keeping our overall attitude positive.
Let me know how you work through tougher periods or learn challenging materials.
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
Micro Practices: Quickies are OK
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