Freestyle dance or improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating movement. Read more about it here.
It is an exploration of thoughts subconscious and feelings. A moment of oneness: with the self, with music, and with the audience.
Freestyle dance is your own original voice.
If you’re anything like me, your first freestyle attempt was probably awkward, repetitive, and a little embarrassing.
Don’t fret! Freestyling is a skill that can be cultivated through diligence and practice.
Here’s a list of 5 tips you can utilize today to improve your freestyle dance ability.
1. Just move!
You might be thinking “I clicked on this blog to learn how to freestyle and you’re telling me to just move!?”
Yes. JUST MOVE.
As mentioned, freestyling is exercising your own voice. Learn how to develop it here.
Our natural way of movement is what makes us unique in comparison to other dancers.
But the only way to discover and develop our voice, is to explore it first.
Start by putting on one of your favorite songs and just vibe to it.
Play close attention to the nuances of the music and how it makes you feel, and just move.
Let your body react to the music. Learn how to train your musicality here.
When doing this, it helps to NOT utilize a mirror. That’ll just make you feel self-conscious.
Experiment with different levels and textures and try your best to emulate the sounds in the music.
Think of your body as an instrument, a vehicle with which to provide a mental image of the sounds your hear in the music.
DON’T worry about how you look or if you’re being repetitive.
Getting comfortable with your body and increasing your movement vocabulary takes time.
Your ear for music will develop and your vocabulary will expand. You’ll be able to quickly identify the rhythm of a song and know how to move accordingly.
But none of this will happen unless you move.
So start moving now.
2. Watch YouTube videos to explore new types of movement
Once you’ve gotten comfortable exploring your own natural movement, it’s time to search for some inspiration and expand your movement vocabulary.
YouTube is an excellent resource for this – it is easily accessible, and contains thousands of instructional videos on a variety of different styles.
Search for a particular style you are interested in or a freestyler/mover whose style resonates with you.
Study the movement, imitate it, and master it.
Dancing is a kinesthetic exercise and your movement quality will improve only after hours and hours of training your body to move in a specific manner.
Start off with these basics, then add them to your dance repertoire and build upon them.
Improvise, experiment, and make them your own.
Remember – your purpose here is to find your own unique voice.
Simply imitating an already well-established freestyle monster will do you no good; there is nothing exciting about becoming a carbon copy of someone else.
Instead, use these videos/dancers as resources for expanding your movement vocabulary and developing your own unique style.
Freestyle Tip #3: Stimulate your Creativity
“Creativity is not created, it is there for us to find—it is an act of discovery!”
We talk more about the magic of creativity in this article.
We live in a world in which our creativity is often stifled.
We’re forced to think a certain way, learn a certain, act a certain way, etc. Through that, our originality is lost.
In order to break free of this mold, we must actively stimulate our creativity.
Visit an art show, go to a museum, watch cartoons, study body language. Immerse yourself in all things creative as much as possible and observe the world around you.
It’ll provide you with the inspiration needed to fuel your creative spirit.
Then, take that with you into the lab. Undo some of the structure you’ve been taught.
Move like water; imitate the movements of a wild animal, etc.
Channel the personas of some of your favorite movers (my personal favorites are Aang the Airbender and Bruce Lee!). Experiment and go crazy!
4. Take a lot of dance classes
Taking class in fundamental styles will expand your movement vocabulary while also challenging you to retain choreography and adapt to a different mover’s style.
Furthermore, you’ll have access to mirrors and an audience.
Brush up on how you can make the most out of your dance class.
Use this as an opportunity to get accustomed to dancing in front of a mirror and with others around you. Pay attention to the choreographer and other movers in the class.
How do they execute their movement? Ask questions, engage in conversation. Take mental notes, and take it back to the lab.
*Be sure to take traditional choreography classes in other styles as well.
Doing so will (you guessed it) expand your movement vocabulary and give you much more material to work with.
It’ll also give a structure with which to organize your own choreography in case that’s something you want to get into.
Keep building that vocabulary!
5. Session and go to jams
Now the real fun begins!
After you’ve gone through steps 1-4, it’s time to put your skills to the test.
Set up a session with some friends or go to a jam.
Not quite sure what to expect? Read this article first!
Sessioning with friends is a great way of practicing your material and exchanging concepts.
It’s also a goldmine for learning something new or refining something you’ve been working on.
While it can feel scary to be put on the spot, discomfort comes with growth.
Sticking to the same routine will guarantee a plateau. Challenge yourself to grow, grind it out. Your future self will thank you.
Then, visit a jam and sign up for a battle! Don’t worry about losing.
The objective here is to expose yourself to as many experiences as possible and maintain exponential growth.
There is always something new for you to learn.
Go out there and find it.
Want more tips on overcoming your freestyle fears? Clay’s got you:
There you have it!
Your 5-step guide to paving the path to becoming a freestyle monster.
After completing these steps, you’ll be well on your way to confidently holding your own in a circle or at a session.
There should be no embarrassment, no drama, just fun.
So go ahead, explore and express your own unique style with the world!
Take classes on STEEZY Studio to build your movement vocab and get comfortable in your body.
Beginner classes that focus on grooves and our beginner Popping program is perfect for those just starting out!
This post was originally posted 5/19/2014.
How did you get started in freestyling? Tell us your story in the comments below!