You've done it, we all have.
Whether you were walking into your local Arthur Murray for the first time, or attending your 5th Dance-O-Rama® - we are always watching, assessing, and sometimes - making comparisons.
When done the right way, watching others can be the catalyst to new and inspiring things in your dance journey. When done the wrong way, we get a laundry list of things we feel like we aren't doing. These are dysfunctional.
The sooner you recognize them, the sooner you can delete them forever.
The 5 Dysfunctional Comparisons Of A Dance Student
TV Show Professionals
Why We Do It: Because we like Dance TV shows, and the people on those shows are great at what they do.
Why We Should Stop: Comparing yourself to a professional dance celebrity, with zero body fat, heavily rhinestoned, and a two time dance champion is about as fair as comparing your jewlery collection to Queen Elizabeth's.
What You Should Do: Get inspired by their performance ability, costuming, or technical expertise and put it into a work cycle. Dance TV shows aren't on long enough to show you all the work the dancers put in to deliver that performance.
"Dance comparisons become negative when we are feeling negative about our own dancing. When you feel positive, you recognize positives in others, you can appreciate their skills, and you are more likely to become inspired to get better." @ArthurMurrayUSA
Instructional Dance Video
Why We Do It: We are always looking for quick-fix approaches to get better at something.
Why We Should Stop: Why do we have pharmacists? Because they deliver the right medication, in the right dosage, to the right people. Instructional dance videos can be prescription strength, and yet you can get them over the counter. Self-medicating your dance skills this way exposes your mind to lethal amounts of dysfunctional dance comparisons.
What You Should Do: If dancing is a drug (the healthiest addiction out there), then your dance teacher is your pharmacist. Leave it to them and you'll be less likely to overdose.
Why We Do It: We all have an inner dance critic that wouldn't be happy even if you levitated to accept your next dance award.
Why We Should Stop: There are times that your gut is absolutely wrong. Your gut is telling you to roll your eyes right now. Your gut is still wrong. Dance frustration, predicated on an internal feeling, is a recipe for dance lesson disaster. Why? Because even if you are making progress, there are times that you're the last to know.
What You Should Do: Communicate these feelings before they crystallize into dance confidence shattering rules inside your head. Sometimes you need to be reminded by a voice, like your dance teacher, other than the footwork, arm styling, and dance frame critic residing in your head.
Need some help understanding your Dance Progress? We recommend this article:
Your Dance Partner
Why We Do It: Because they are in front of you.. All The Time.
Why We Should Stop: A guy should never ask the question, "Who looks better in this bikini, me, or my gorgeous wife?" Leaders should not compare, or be compared, to followers. Followers should not be compared to leaders. These are different roles, in different departments, that happen to work for the same company.
What You Should Do: Ask your teacher or coach the question, "What can I do to be a better leader (or follower)?" What you should not do is ask your dance partner this question in the middle of an argument.
Need some more help with your Dance Partner? We recommend these articles:
Other Dance Students
Why We Do It: As long as people watching has been a hobby, people will use others to size themselves up.
Why We Should Stop: This is the pebble, that starts the avalanche, that triggers the volcano, which results in dance program apocalypse, heavy sighs, and the stink-eye at the studio water cooler. There's a non-dancing, couch potato, anti-social version of you in another dimension - that's the only person you should be comparing yourself to.
What You Should Do: If you find that you are watching other dance students and focusing on what you "can't do" and what they "can do", then it's time to refresh the perspective on your dance progress. With your teacher, coach, or studio supervisor you can set up some new goals, watch a dance video from your history, and evaluate your progress.
For more details on how you can achieve this, we recommend this article:
3 Functional Dance Comparisons
Being inspired by a costume in ballroom dancing, is the same as with Halloween - absolutely encouraged. Even if the inspired costume is the starting point to your eventual costume, it will serve as a physical guide. In some cases, the dance costume you're inspired by may even be for sale. If the fit is right, that may be a great investment.
Taking inspiration, or using, someone's dance music is about as criminal as a parking ticket. Do it from time to time and there's no real problem. Doing that with somone else's entire dance routine, however, is a major offense.
3. Execution: Micro Over Macro
Nothing can overload your circuitry, deplete your resources of dance confidence, and get your negative inner-monologue running faster - than creating too many comparison points (Macro). Instead, try watch someone you admire, find dance inspiration in one or two specific things, and avoid trying to download everything.
The dance journey you are on is like your fingerprint.
You can compare yours to everyone else's, but it will never match up completely. Attempting to alter it, in favor of another, will only take away your unique dance identity.
The next time you are feeling negative, critical, or stuck making a dance comparison - just remember, there are countless people you know that will never get a chance to dance as beautifully as you do.
Not taking the time to appreciate that would be the most dysfunctional thing of all.