Do You Have a Dance Hobby Blind Spot?
It's happened to the best of us. You attempt to change lanes only to quickly veer out of the way of someone in that lane... as if they appeared out of nowhere.
That "nowhere" is your blind spot and we have them in more places than just your commute to and from work.
Let's take a look at some of the most common blind spots we can have when it comes to your dance hobby. Whether you're a casual social dancer, a professional competitor, or somewhere in between - finding the blind spot is much better than unintentionally veering right into it.
Early in your dance hobby, you're establishing a primary direction and a dominant foot. Meaning: Leaders are usually traveling forward, starting with their left foot. Followers, backward, and starting with their right.
This creates a blind spot in patterns that require the leader to travel forward with their right foot or backwards with their left (ex. Change steps or right box turn in Waltz). Conversely, for followers, patterns that ask them to travel forward, instead of back.
In both cases this blind spot typically causes a reduction in power due to unfamiliarity.
Develop a practice combination with your teacher that incorporates movements utilizing stepping forward or backward with either the left or right foot. You can even utilize a coaching lesson to ensure that the effort is equal and consistent with both directions and feet.
Ever extra-curricular activity you've ever cared about probably involved practice. Whether it was flute lessons or field hockey, there was no shortage of it.
So why would your dance teacher get a little squirmish when it comes to practicing at home?
Because the practice that advances your hobby in the most efficient and effective way is supervised, not solo. Particularly in the beginning. Why?
Imagine a marching band for a moment. It's comprised of a variety of instruments, each working in collaboration with each other to not only play the music, but to move in harmony.
That's like your body on the dance floor.
There are so many moving parts that one misinterpretation can affect the rest of the "band".
Utilize the Practice Parties. Not only does it offer the most effective method to logging productive practice minutes, but the staff are there to assist when you need help.
In a singing duo you'd have exactly one other person you could blame for things. In a dance duo, it's the same deal. Dance disagreements are bound to happen but a higher frequency, or intensity level, of them is a clear sign that there is a blind spot when it comes to each person's role.
In the singing analogy, a two part harmony doesn't sound better when the both people try to sing identical notes. It's the execution of both roles, in tandem, that creates harmony.
For ballroom dancing, the leader's role covers everything from the clarity of the pattern, changing direction, and sticking with the beat of the music - on paper.
For followers, it's about developing the sensitivity and patience to wait for each signal. Waiting to receive a signal from a tentative leader can be a spiritual journey in patience, but it's no less important.
Read this article on Leading and Following to clarify your role. Use an analogy to help build perspective and objectivity as you refine your way through this process.
There's always one person you went to school with that bragged about how they never studied yet always ended up with good grades. Whether that's true or not, let's call it what it is... an outlier (or "flat-out-liar", in some cases).
Developing your dance skill can't be done in this fashion.
Unfortunately, the process of learning isn't as sexy as an instant result. But instant results rarely happen and if they did, they'd be gone just as quickly as you got them.
Find other processes that you've gone through to make a better comparison - How long did it take to feel established at a new job? How many chapters of that last novel did it take to understand the characters? How long did it take for you to feel confident parallel parking? The timeline may vary for each of these questions but all involved a process, not an instant result.
Vince Lombardi, hall of fame coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, "winning isn't everything... it's the only thing."
Which may be great to fire up a football team before a game or in the final timeout on a critical game winning drive... or in a post-game press conference when the game has been won.
But having a goal that is as binary as you win or you lose is a blind spot in your hobby. It shuts the door on personal milestones like improved confidence, technique, or stamina, and can turn an incredibly fun and productive dance event into something less fun, and something that doesn't feel worth the effort or investment.
Later in his life, Lombardi himself declared that he was misquoted with that famous line. His redacted version of that quote is, "winning is not everything... but making the effort to win is."
Your goal, whether you're a social or a competitive dancer, is to be the best version of you.
There are so many wonderful challenges to focus on that are worthy of celebrating that it would be a crime to trade in all of those victories for one result from a panel of judges, or one dance invitation someone didn't accept.
Anything can be a blind spot until you recognize it. Heavy emphasis on the phrase "until you recognize it."
So whether this article has helped to raise your awareness to these common challenges, or even if it has validated the feedback of a dance friend trying their best to help, consider this a big step toward increased awareness going forward.