Misconceptions about Dance

There are a lot of people out there who are considering taking dance lessons but are letting a few preconceived notions hold them back.  It’s true that there are many physical obstacles that can keep a person from dancing, but sometimes people hold some beliefs about dance and dancers that aren’t always 100% true.  From the outside, there are elements of dance that may make it seem inaccessible to the average observer.  However, once you get involved and start taking dance lessons you may start to realize that some of the thoughts you once had about the dance world are pretty far off.  Some people may assume that certain skills or traits are needed to be a dancer.  I am going to list some of these common judgements about dance and explain why you may be mistaken if you believe some of them.


“You Need Previous Dance Experience”

You have to start from somewhere don’t you?  Many times, I have heard people say that they could never start taking dance lessons because they have never danced before.  This doesn’t make much sense.  Why would you need previous dance experience in order to learn how to dance?  How would you feel if you went to a beginner surfing course and the instructor told you, “Sorry, you must have previous surfing experience before taking this class.”  That would be ridiculous!  Of course most people who walk into a dance studio for the first time have never danced before.  The purpose of dance lessons is to teach you how to dance.  The instructors are there to teach you what to do and get your body accustomed to particular movements.  At first, the motions may seem foreign to your body, but you will eventually adjust if you stick with it.  Previous dance knowledge or experience is never a requirement for a first lesson.  The only thing you need is a willingness to try!


“You Need Natural Rhythm”

Another common concern I’ve heard from potential dancers is that they think they are incapable of learning how to dance because they have “no rhythm.”  When people use this phrase, they usually mean that they are not good at dancing along with the music or they have a hard time finding the beat.  Being a dancer does not mean that you automatically have to know how music works.  Part of the process of dancing is repeating steps over and over again.  Your instructor will have you practice your steps to music, so as you repeat them, you will get used to the timing and rhythm sooner or later.  The longer you dance, the more you will be able to recognize how you should move in time with various types of music.


“You Have To Be Graceful”

When people say they have “two left feet”, they mean that they are clumsy or trip over themselves a lot.  People also use this as an excuse to avoid dancing.  The truth is that there are a lot of dancers (even professionals) that aren’t very graceful outside of the dance studio.  Though they might fall all over the place at home or on the street, they make up for their clumsiness by practicing their dance skills consistently enough so that they don’t stumble while they dance.  As I mentioned before, dancers will use a lot of repetition to make sure they get their timing down.  The same technique is used to combat any clumsiness.  Practicing moves again and again will help your feet and body recognize the movements enough so that you’ll reduce your chance of slipping up.  When you first start dancing, don’t be discouraged if you make some mistakes or step on your partner’s foot – we’ve all been there before.  All you need is to do is keep practicing and you should feel less awkward in no time!


“You Need a Good Memory”

If you are thinking about dancing, but are concerned that your memory might not be good enough to retain steps and choreography, there’s no need to worry.  Even the best dancers can have some trouble remembering steps.  You really don’t need an amazing memory to be able to take dance lessons.  To be honest, it can be very difficult to remember certain dance patterns and routines, especially the ones that have a lot of steps in them, but they become easier to retain once you practice them a bunch.  This is another case in which repetition is a fantastic tool!  Once your instructor shows you a step, they should have you repeat it multiple times.  Repetition is something that will definitely help your memory.  Not only will this help your brain, but your body will automatically start to remember certain movements as well.  This is called “muscle memory” and it happens when you repeat a move so many times to the point where your body automatically “remembers” what to do without your brain thinking about it.  It’s kind of like how you eventually learn to ride a bike or drive a car without having to think about every single step that’s involved.


“You Have To Be Young”

This may sound cliché, but you can never really be too old to start anything.  If you watch some television shows or movies that feature dancers, you may see a lot of young people in their teens and 20s doing complex and flexible movements.  It can seem really intimidating at first, but the truth is that there are dancers of all different ages out there.  Not all of them started dancing when they were young, either!  I know many dancers who started taking lessons after retiring or after their children grew up because they found they had extra time to start a new hobby.  It’s also important to remember that when you first start taking lessons, your instructors won’t have you jumping around and doing backflips like you might see some dancers on TV do.  You will have to start off slow and learn some simple steps first (and then maybe you’ll learn to do backflips in a few years!).  Just because you see professionals doing complex movements, you don’t have to distance yourself from the possibility of dancing.  Everyone has to work themselves up to a certain level of intricacy and the same goes for you.  You never know how far you could go in dance if you keep working at it!


“You Have To Look Flawless”

The purpose of dance shouldn’t be about whether or not other people think you look good, but if you feel good about yourself.  Many people will see dancers on television and on stage and think they look perfect.  For some people, this thought discourages them from dancing if they start thinking about how they could never reach the level that some professionals are on.  While it’s nice to have spectators praise you and tell you that you look incredible, it’s definitely not necessary.  You really don’t even have to perform for audiences in order to be a dancer.  Performing is a nice perk, but a lot of dancers just love dancing socially.  They don’t worry so much about looking perfect; they just like how dance makes them feel and that’s how they have fun!  If you are just starting out with dance, try not to worry too much about being judged and try not to judge yourself, as well.  You haven’t signed up for a Dancesport competition yet, so you can relax for now!  When you go to your dance lessons your primary goal is enjoy your time while learning a cool new skill.  It is okay if you catch your mind comparing yourself to other dancers every once and a while (we all do it sometimes), but try not to fixate on those thoughts.  Focus on your own progress and you will do just fine!


Happy Dancing! ^_^