How to Motivate Yourself as a Dancer

Everyone has days (or weeks…or months…) where they feel unmotivated or burnt out.  You can lose motivation whenever you feel like your goals are unattainable or if you feel like you are not moving forward with a certain path.  You can feel burnt out whenever you work too hard and get overwhelmed.  Even dancers have these feelings arise from time to time.  Dancers already have to put in a lot of hard, physical work in order to excel in their craft, so when their motivation runs out, it can be even more difficult for them.  The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to pull yourself out any slump that you find yourself in.  Here are some ways that dancers can reenergize and motivate themselves:               

Watch Dance Videos

One of my favorite things to do to get excited about dance is to watch videos of other dancers performing routines.  YouTube is full of awesome dance videos!  There are even people who make a living from choreographing, producing, and filming videos for others to enjoy on social media.  Not only are these videos entertaining, but they can be motivating as well.  Sometimes just seeing how advanced the dancers are and how well they’re performing can inspire others to improve their own skills.  Watching dance videos can also give you new ideas.  For instance, if you see a cool move in the video, you can try doing it, or make a point to practice so that you’ll be able to execute the move. 

YouTube isn’t your only source for dance videos; you can also watch television shows like So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with the Stars.  Those shows feature amazing choreographers and highly talented dancers.  Many of the competitors and dancers even have encouraging stories to tell.  Check out these shows to see if they inspire you!

Just Keep Dancing

Sitting and watching other people dance is fun for a while, but you can’t just sit around and watch others forever!  If you want to be a better dancer, you have to keep moving – even if you are not feeling motivated.  It can be hard to keep dancing when you don’t feel like it.  Still, if you know that you are serious about your training, then it’s important to not give up.  In my experience, just getting up and going to class or a lesson is enough to make me feel better.  I find that I always regret when I skip class.  Once you actually get moving, I’m sure you will start feeling better about dance again.  You instructor may even have something planned for that lesson that may end up motivating you!  If you are feeling burnt out or highly frustrated from dance, then it is okay to take it easy on your lesson or even take a break.  Even if you do take a breather from dance, it’s good to keep thinking about your long-term goals so that you can continue moving forward.

Challenge Yourself

Giving yourself a challenge may seem like the last thing you’d want to do if you are feeling unmotivated, but it could actually be a good way to reenergize yourself.  A reason many dancers may suddenly feel unenthusiastic about dance is because they are stagnant or feel like they aren’t making progress.  They might just be sticking to the styles and moves that they are comfortable with.  This is fine if you are working on perfecting something, but you have to recognize when it’s time to move on.  Try challenging yourself to begin learning new moves or tricks so that you have something fresh to work on.  In order to grow, you have to be willing to challenge yourself to do new things. 

If there happens to be a move that has you frustrated and you feel like you’re getting nowhere, try tackling it from a different perspective, or changing how you would normally execute it.  You can ask your instructor or another professional for advice on how to modify or adjust a move so that it works for you.

Dabble in Other Styles

In addition to challenging yourself with other moves, you can also try completely immersing yourself into other dance styles for a while.  For example, if you only ever do Tango, try Cha-Cha.  If you are a Samba dancer, try Waltz.  If you’re a Ballet dancer...try Hip-Hop!  It’s always good to switch up your style every once in a while.  This can be especially helpful if you are feeling burnt out from your go-to style.  In order to get away from your regular routine, try something new that will rejuvenate you.  Even just covering the basics of a new style can be extremely refreshing.  You never know what you’ll really like until you try it!  You may end up wanting to specialize in that new style!

Get Artsy! - Create a Vision Board

A vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to have in your life.  You can create a vision board for dance by listing all of the things you want to accomplish in your dance journey and displaying those things on a poster board.  People usually write down their goals in a journal, but vision boards are nice because they give you a visual representation of what you want.  They can help make your goals seem less abstract.  They can be a fun art project!  Once you have your board set up, you can hang up in place where you will see it every day.  If you don’t think you have the time to create a vision board (or if you just don’t like crafts), Pinterest is an awesome website you can use to quickly collect ideas for multiple fields, including dance!

Relax

Earlier I mentioned that you should push yourself to keep practicing, even if you are feeling unmotivated, but if you are experiencing extreme burn-out, then a period of rest is definitely what you need.  “Burn-out” comes from being overworked and mentally exhausted.  Many professionals can get burnt out or frustrated from dance every once in a while.  No matter how much you love to dance, you could still end up doing too much and find yourself overwhelmed.  Everyone needs a break sometimes!  I know there are some dancers who never have an “off-season” like other athletes do, but it’s important to take some time to rest, even if it’s just for a day.  It’s good to be tremendously passionate about dance, but remember that you still need to recuperate at some point.  A short vacation may be exactly what you need to recharge your mind and body.

Use Positive Affirmations and Reframe Thoughts

Using affirmations is common in many fields, including dance.  It may seem weird, at first, to constantly tell yourself encouraging statements…even if you don’t fully believe them.  However, this tactic has been known to positively affect the way people think about themselves and the work they do.  Affirmations are a great way to motivate yourself, especially when you are not feeling too good about your dance progress.  Telling yourself that “you are doing a fantastic job”, or “you will succeed” can lead you to feel and perform better.  As the saying goes – “Fake it ‘till you make it! 

If positive affirmations still aren’t your thing, you can try reframing your negative thoughts.  This is a technique that many psychologists suggest for individuals who constantly let their negative thoughts affect their daily lives and actions.  For example – if you find yourself thinking, “I’m not motivated because I’m a bad dancer,” try reframing that to, “I am having the thought that I’m not motivated because I’m a bad dancer.”  This way, you’ll be less likely to internalize the thought and consider it as true.  Instead you’ll be recognizing that you just had an automatic thought, which isn’t necessarily a true statement about yourself.  All humans experience automatic thoughts – positive and negative – but that doesn’t mean all of your thoughts are facts.  It can take some time to get used to reframing your thoughts, but it can be totally life changing once you get used to it.

Retail Therapy

Okay…so this is particular piece advice is kind of terrible, but sometimes it helps me!  If I am feeling unmotivated or inadequate in dance, I occasionally buy myself a new dance outfit or shoes and think to myself, “I will look so good dancing in this!”  Or, if I am feeling like I need to improve my skills, I might sign up for a new class or workshop from which I can get some inspiration.  Honestly though… spending money may not be the best way to cope with negative feelings, but…it’s just an idea!  If you do choose to buy new shoes or enroll in a new class, don’t go too crazy with your spending spree!

Talk it Out

Sometimes we just need to talk through our problems or frustrations.  Talking about and processing our issues can make us feel so much better.  It may not be that we need a solution to a problem; we may just need to vent.  Lots of frustrations and concerns arise in the world of dance, so it’s common for people to need to talk about them.  If you find yourself feeling upset about your training, unmotivated, or burnt out, you can try talking to a friend or fellow dancer.  You can even talk to your instructor or another professional for inspiration or help.  Lots of people have experienced lows periods in their dance journeys, so they can give you good advice for how to deal with any negativity you might feel.

Happy Dancing! ^_^