Ballroom Dance > I Don't See Myself as a Dancer...

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by BoogieWoogieBugleBoy-Co.B, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Hi Everybody,

    So I've hit sort of a mental block in my dancing. I don't "see" myself as a dancer. I'm dancing part-time, and work full time in tech. So, I don't really see myself as presenting well, and so feel clumsy on the floor. I end up not wanting to be seen when I'm dancing.

    Obviously this is of course quite contrary to any kind of competition, where the objective is to be seen--you won't see any of the pros hiding in a corner of the floor, right?

    Anyway I'm hoping that maybe someone out there can offer some helpful advice on how to reconcile this.

    Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (Company B)
  2. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    How long have you been dancing? It's not that uncommon to feel awkward at first, maybe you just need to stick with it and give yourself time.
    chomsky likes this.
  3. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    Hi Boogie,

    You may not want advice from someone who has only been dancing for less than 5 months (you didn't say how long, if you have been dancing years, forgive me and ignore my post, it will not apply). I will just tell you what I am going through and my observations.

    I am not a dancer. I was pulled/dragged onto the dance floor at a FA practice party in October of last year (I just went to watch my wife) I actually had fun (the FA instructors are really good at this) and thought maybe I can learn to dance but I was so self conscious. I took a series of social foundation lessons at FA (15 total) and one of the best things that happened to me is I stopped caring about looking like a fool. I have now had about 30 lessons total and can "walk" through the entire bronze Rumba and a good deal of Cha Cha, Salsa and Tango, but I don't feel like I can dance at all. One thing I always do is watch the absolute beginners (first or second lesson), this reminds me that it wasn't long ago that I was doing the same thing and have progressed greatly from the first lesson.

    I think it is hard for the guys because we have to learn to lead; we watch the ladies we started out with a couple months ago and they are doing amazing things on the floor with the instructors. The female instructors can do a good job of covering for us, but we see the female students we started with and we don't compare. I was just at a contest (watching not dancing) and I found it interesting that the ladies (students) looked so much more proficient than the men of the same experience, yet there was a couple that would also dance AM/AM together and they looked very evenly matched. Were they evenly matched or was the lady dancing down for her husband - not for me to say but I did find this thought provoking.

    I don't know if this applies to you or not but what saves me is I stick to some of the most basic patterns I know when I am in a social dancing situation. Those basic patterns are getting better and better and I will occasionally try to incorporate a more difficult move into the dance but not often. What I realize is there is not a thing I can do on the dance floor that will impress anyone except my mother so I just try to have fun and do a little better than I did last time. As for not wanting to be seen, I heard early on and believe it is true, no one is watching us, they are watching the better dancers to see how they compare. If they have been dancing for awhile they have seen enough bad dancers that we have lost all voyeuristic thrill for them.

    Now, if it turns out you are struggling with a difficult silver pattern I will feel like an idiot for typing all this.
    londongal and Gorme like this.
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    about not feeling like you want to be seen; if you aren't going to compete, that's perfectly fine...if you eventually decide to compete, you just begin to look at learning how to create that impression as you would learning how to acquire any other skill, because it is absolutely imperative that you at least know how to fake it :)....
  5. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member


    I forgot to mention what I think is the most important point; that is, with the exception of judges in a contest, I have found dancers of all levels to be the most gracious and non-judgmental group I have ever met. Most seem genuinely interested in seeing others (especially new dancers) do well and progress. I am used to activities where the egos are larger than life and a misstep by a new person is nothing but an opportunity to inflate one's ego a little larger.
    SwayWithMe, jiwinco and pygmalion like this.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    er....there is some of that...but I agree with you on balance...particularly among advanced dancers, I think you find a large quantity of patient and empathetic people, because they are far enough removed from the beginning experience that they can be relaxed in the midst of it...and they truly understand what one has to go through to advance...I find that the intermediate folks are the ones most likely to be frustrated with newbs....
    pygmalion and Mr 4 styles like this.
  7. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    That was me, twelve years ago. Exact same story as you... worked in a tech job, no previous exposure to formalized dancing, and what little experience I had at club dancing had been, let's say, less than satisfactory.

    Fortunately for me, my DW and I fell into a great environment at the studio we picked. Very supportive, lots of people there to have a good time and encouraging each other to improve. Did a couple of small comps, had results good enough to be encouraging, and had a blast doing it. And as I like to tell people who ask me about it: "Dance with pretty women? I don't have a problem with that!" (And yes, all women who dance are pretty. So there.)
    ajiboyet and Mr 4 styles like this.
  8. Gorme

    Gorme Active Member

    Here's something I tell the ladies who have the same anxiety issues. People only watch those who are good compared to the others on the floor. Nobody is going to watch if you're not pleasant to look at. If you ask yourself the same question. When you're sitting at the side, who do you look at on the floor?

    If you have that mindset, then you won't think everyone in the studio is judging your every move.
  9. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Maybe you could tell us a little more. What is it you want out of dancing? Why do you do it? How long have you been at it? What is your studio environment like?

    And yeah...a lot of people feel the same way. You are SO not alone.
    chomsky likes this.
  10. middy

    middy Well-Known Member

    At some point (well into starting), things just start to click and feel more natural and automatic - like you can dance without having to think so hard about it. But, it takes a lot of time! Especially when you have to learn so many different dances and figures. So just be patient and continue to work at it. And don't forget to let loose and have fun :)
    Gorme and chomsky like this.
  11. chomsky

    chomsky Well-Known Member

    I sometimes get the same feeling...don't worry it'll go away.Sometime. Somehow...
  12. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Fake it 'till you make it. No, seriously! There's an excellent TED talk on this that might really help. DF doesn't let me add links, but search for "Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are".

    Personally, I think of the "dancer attitude" as all part of the performance. You don't need to actually feel like The Most Awesome Dancer Ever, just like you don't really need to be in love with your partner to emote during a waltz; you just have to act like you are.
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  13. regis

    regis Active Member

    I've been dancing for three years now, and have been through that myself. All I can say is, don't quit! There are always several different factors that can cause this and it usually works itself out in time. The longer you stay in dancing there will be different kinds of mind battles you will go through. You may not see yourself as very good or "up to speed" but those around you may have a differing oppinion!
    cornutt and chomsky like this.
  14. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    ya gottta love them a little:rolleyes:
  15. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    You've gotta like them at least, unless you're a fantastic actor. But I wouldn't say love, not unless you're talking about a sort of all-inclusive friends/family/SO type of love.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I remember the first time I ever felt like a dancer. I had been dancing about three years, and had to go take my son to karate class right after a lesson. So I did, not thinking about the fact that I was wearing a leotard and danskin dance pants.

    When I got to karate class, one of the other Moms said, "Wow. What kind of dance do you do?" That was a good day. :D

    Hang in there. The feeling comes.
  17. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    yes... not the burner phone, meetup in the hotel, kinda love:eek:
  18. MissSongbird

    MissSongbird Member

    Honestly, I felt the same way too. People would tell me I looked so graceful, but I didn't believe them, because I didn't feel it. But the more I've learned to use my body (in the right ways that is) it feels better. My mind and my body are becoming more connected. I think it just takes time and practice. Working on the movement and feeling of the body helps with the feelings of the mind.
    SwayWithMe likes this.
  19. leee

    leee Well-Known Member

    I don't see myself as a dancer, either, though the "see" is the operative word here, because when I'm dancing, I don't feel anything amiss. However, when I watched myself on video, I notice a hundred things that make me cringe, particularly my frame (and the way my butt sticks out), but most evidently in the way I don't attack choreography/patterns like the teachers or even the other students whom I admire. I know that some people are more acclimated to performing and can project themselves better -- what about for the rest of us who, when we perform, look like we're trying to hide? There's "Fake it till you make it" -- anything else?
  20. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Ditto this and to also ask, what do you want to do in dancing?

Share This Page