It’s a quiet midnight after a long rehearsal.
You head home, physically exhausted from the events of the day…
Yet brimming with the feeling of inspiration and fulfillment that you know only dance can give.
You start to reminisce.
You think back to the very first instances you immersed yourself in dancing:
Feeling the grating awkwardness of doing the arm wave for the first time
Dirtying your palms practicing the 6-step on parking lot concrete
Even spending an untold amount of hours dissecting the movements of your favorite ABDC groups
You smile, realizing how far you’ve come.
You might have not realized it back then, but dancing was about to open a new world for you – one that would gift you with enduring memories of people, places, feelings, and experiences.
And you wish to talk to your younger dancer self and give that shy and unassuming beginner dancer both guidance and hope for the future.
You get home, sit down, and start to write.
Hey, younger dancer me…
1. Keep dancing.
It might seem obvious, but the only way to get better at what you do is to put in work –
a lot of work.
They say mastery comes with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
So keep dancing.
INVEST in your craft – teams holding auditions, classes from local and international choreographers, cyphers and jams around the area, there are opportunities to improve EVERYWHERE.
All you need to do is to go out and grab them.
Take these opportunities, invest your time in training, and stay consistent in your efforts!
You’ll start seeing the results of your work eventually.
It might take a while, but trust in the process and it’ll be worth it.
Remember too, that this process of working will never end, because…
2. There is always room for improvement.
To be honest, you’ll never become “good enough.”
That’s because as you mature as a dancer, your definition of “good enough” will mature as well.
From being able to do a proper glide, to executing a complicated 8-count combination of floor work in urban dance choreography, you’ll always want to achieve more in your dancing.
Keep reaching for your constantly-evolving standard of “good”, and push yourself to think of ways to become a better dancer.
Challenge yourself with styles and classes unfamiliar to you (you will SUCK in that dancehall class, but it WILL open a new vocabulary of grooves for you to play with), ask for honest assessments of your progress from trusted mentors, and stay hungry for learning and growth.
Getting out of your comfort zone might be difficult, but…
3. Don’t be afraid to look stupid.
I’m telling you now, looking stupid is going to be INEVITABLE from time to time, especially if it’s your first time learning something.
But that’s alright, because as a wise man once told me:
Don’t let the fear of looking stupid hold you back from giving your all, or from taking opportunities you know will be good for you.
As hard as it might seem, just go for it!
Get in that circle and dance.
Don’t be afraid to run up when the choreographer asks for 5 brave souls to perform after groups.
You MIGHT look stupid in the eyes of others, but you will ALWAYS come out a stronger dancer, whatever happens.
So go AWFFFFFFFF.
Take EVERY opportunity to dance when you can.
You’ll get to dance, and you’ll grow from it! (That’s a win-win for you.)
Aside from taking every opportunity to dance, make sure you also take every opportunity to…
4. Cherish the people you meet during your journey.
Remember: dance is, and always will be, a social thing.
Throughout your journey, you’ll meet and deal with many different people that will be instrumental in your growth as a dancer.
Coaches, teammates, choreographers, team alumni, freestylers you meet in cyphers, co class takers, competing teams, supportive friends, tech / prod / backstage people during shows, even studio personnel you encounter before class, all these people will have a hand in making you the dancer you are today.
Dance continues to thrive because of the communities that give life to it, and these communities exist on the collective effort of the people that compose it.
Remember to give your thanks to them, because you definitely wouldn’t be here without them.
Appreciate the people who positively influenced your life as a dancer, and more importantly, be that kind of person to others, especially to those who are just starting on their journey.
The community needs all the love and positivity we can give.
Pay it forward!
Keep the community and the future of the dance scene looking bright.
Giving some words of encouragement to a shy newbie on the team, or acknowledging another dancer for the dope rounds you just exchanged – you’ll be surprised to realize how far these simple interactions go.
Apart from cherishing the people, remember to…
5. Enjoy the little moments.
Years into your journey, it won’t just be the big moments that will be important to you.
It won’t just be the breathtaking moment on stage or the feeling of dancing in front of thousands of people you’ll remember.
Often, it’ll be the small, almost insignificant moments that lead up to these events that you’ll remember and treasure the most.
There are few things better than enjoying a late night dinner with your teammates after rehearsals, or waking up to intense (but fulfilling) body pain after a night of conditioning.
You’ll be collectively #SHOOKT with your team because of a last-minute change in a routine before performance time, but you’ll somehow pull it off.
You’ll mess up during some BIG performances in your dance life…
…but after a few weeks, you’ll all just be laughing at the video footage.
On some days, you’ll even be able to put together a costume just a few hours before gig time…
…and on other days, you’ll end up ripping your jeans during the middle of a performance.
Point is, these are the memories that you will carry forever, the moments you’ll look back on even when you’re not dancing anymore.
These experiences are unique to you, and every dancer has story to tell with the small details that make up their dance lives.
So treasure these moments – they make up YOUR story.
Life is always about the journey.
And equally important is to…
6. Never lose your sense of wonder.
As you mature as a dancer, you WILL start to give priority to other things in dance:
Making sure your musicality is always on point,
constructing the most technical combinations in your choreography,
killing it in a cypher,
getting picked for select group,
and placing in competitions.
While all of these are indeed good things to strive for, they aren’t the end-all in dance.
Don’t get too caught up in them.
Never forget the real reason why you and all these other people dance – simply because dancing is fun.
Have you ever witnessed a baby dance to music in public? Or how elderly people sway to the beat upon hearing a song that reminds them of their youth?
These people are so fun to watch. They KILL IT in their dancing without any effort at all, because they enjoy what they are doing, and we in turn feel that enjoyment as well.
ALWAYS keep in mind: the most important thing is to enjoy.
Dance doesn’t have to be complicated all the time.
Slow down, and enjoy the feeling that only a simple 1-2 step, toprock, or fresno can give.
It’ll be refreshing.
And when you’re feeling lost, frustrated, or stuck, always look back to how you first felt when you were inspired to dance.
Go back to the things that awakened your curiosity and sense of wonder.
To Quest Crew’s Week 7 performance in ABDC Season 3.
MJ’s The Way You Make Me Feel.
Re-watch Step Up 3 (and replay the water dance scene as many times as you need to).
I guarantee it, you’ll always come out feeling more inspired – so never lose your sense of wonder, and NEVER EVER forget to enjoy…
…cause that’s what dancing is for.
And above all…
7. Appreciate how far you’ve come.
As frustrating as it may feel being a beginner, the struggle will mold you into a better dancer, a better person.
You’ll overcome obstacles, push yourself in ways you’ve never done before, and accomplish things you’ve only dreamed of doing.
You’ll grow into a full-fledged dancer, and sometimes your days as a beginner will feel like a far-off memory.
But never forget those days.
Remember to look back, and appreciate how far you’ve come – the journey, the struggle, the realizations and the learnings that you had.
Carry all these lessons throughout your life, and remember to share these things with other people, too.
And most of all, younger dancer self,
Remain hopeful for the future.
Because as long as dance is by your side, there will always be something to look forward to.
– ME, THE DANCER WHO’S THANKFUL FOR THIS JOURNEY.
You finish writing.
You smile, and thank your younger self for taking the leap into this world that you now call home.
What are some things you’d tell your younger dancer self? Comment below and share!
Keep pushing yourself – these classes on STEEZY Studio will keep you forever hungry, forever growing.