In a slump and looking for something to inspire you as a dancer?

Look no further! TED offers a host of interesting and powerful talks.

This list of 11 TED Talks cover every topic from creativity and confidence to music and resilience.

These speakers will encourage you, make you laugh, and definitely inspire you as a dancer.

1. A visual history of social dance in 25 moves, Camille A. Brown


Why do we dance? African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence. In this electric demonstration, packed with live performances, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together.

How it relates to you:

The dances you do, whether they’re grooves from Hip Hop party dances or something you saw on Vine, all have a backstory.

And we always talk about the importance of “knowing your history,” but it’s not always easy to access that information.

In the perfect bite-sized video, Camille explains the significance these social dances held in the past, and relates them to the role they play now.

Watch and listen – it will inspire you as a dancer to dig deeper in all your movements.

Favorite quote:

The present always contains the past. And the past shapes who we are, and who we will be.

See Related Articles:

What Is Hip Hop Dance?

What Is Urban Dance?


2. A choreographer’s creative process in real time, Wayne McGregor


We all use our body on a daily basis, and yet few of us think about our physicality the way Wayne McGregor does. He demonstrates how a choreographer communicates ideas to an audience, working with two dancers to build phrases of dance, live and unscripted, on the TEDGlobal stage.

How it relates to you:

We all want to be good at freestyling and choreographing.

But choreographing, or what Wayne McGregor calls “Physical Thinking,” can be scary and vulnerable, so we usually do it in privacy.

Yet, these two dancers are challenged do it in front of a live audience.

The way they take their ideas and express themselves so honestly – on the spot – will inspire you as a dancer to be bolder with your movement.

Favorite quote:

(By choreographing), You can find out things about your own signature… to misbehave beautifully.

See Related Articles:

How To Choreograph Your First Piece In 6 Simple Steps

4 Ways To Never Get Choreo Block


3. In the internet age, dance evolves…, The LXD


The LXD (the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) electrify the TED2010 stage with an emerging global street-dance culture, revved up by the Internet. In a preview of Jon Chu’s upcoming Web series, this astonishing troupe show off their superpowers.

How it relates to you:

First of all, LXD will never not be dope af. They’re all impressive performers with amazing talent, undeniably.

But this talk is more enlightening for its social commentary on dance culture that is so relevant – a fact made more interesting by the fact that this was published 7 years ago.

Favorite quote:

It is insane what dance is right now. Dance has never had a better friend than technology. Dancers have created a whole global laboratory online.

See Related Articles:

How YouTube Can Help You Get Professional Dance Jobs

How To Learn Dance With No Dance Classes In Your Area


4. Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating, Elizabeth Gilbert


Elizabeth Gilbert was once an “unpublished diner waitress,” devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ she found herself identifying strongly with her former self. With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple — though hard — way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.

How it relates to you:

All creatives face the struggle to be creative, stay creative, and renew their creative energy.

If you feel like your skills and products aren’t in your own power: to choreograph, direct, freestyle, anything…

Then listen to this talk to see how this writer kept herself inspired through thick and thin.

It will inspire you as a dancer to keep creating, even if you feel like you don’t have it in you.

Favorite quote:

I would find my resolve always in the same way, by saying, I’m not gonna quit. I’m going home. You have to understand that going home didn’t mean returning to my family’s farm.

For me, going home meant returning to the work of writing because writing was my home.

Because I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, which is to say that i loved writing more than I loved my own ego, which is ultimately to say, that I loved writing more than I loved myself. Which is how I pushed through…

Your home is whatever in this world you love more than yourself… Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.

See Related Articles:

Quotes To Help You Overcome Your Dance Fears And Live A Creative Life

4 Simple Things Choreographers Can Do To Stay Inspired


5. How to build your creative confidence, David Kelley


Our workplace divided into “creatives” versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create…

How it relates to you:

Have you, for one reason or another, labeled yourself as being not-creative?

A lot of dancers that started dancing by learning choreography from someone else have a hard time thinking of themselves as good freestylers or choreographers.

But the truth is, no one is born NOT creative.

If you find yourself daunted by a process..  saying “I don’t choreograph,” or “I can’t freestyle,” then you’re rejecting the possibility before trying.

Watch David’s talk to see how it’s possible for anyone to adopt a new attitude or creative skills.

Favorite quote:

We need to have people realize that they are naturally creative… and to let their ideas fly.

See Related Articles:

How To Dance With More Confidence

How To Choreograph A Dance In 6 Simple Steps


6. How sampling transformed music, Mark Ronson


Sampling isn’t about “hijacking nostalgia wholesale,” says Mark Ronson. It’s about inserting yourself into the narrative of a song while also pushing that story forward. In this mind-blowingly original talk, watch the DJ scramble 15 TED Talks into an audio-visual omelette, and trace the evolution of “La Di Da Di,” Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s 1984 hit that has been reimagined for every generation since.

How it relates to you:

DJ Mark Ronson explains how sampling is a form of collaboration between artists across generations.

Dancers, too, are obviously inspired by other dancers. But we are confronted with the fine line between being inspired and imitating.

While it’s never encouraged to “take moves” or “bite off” anyone, we should allow ourselves the time to revere in our pioneers’ work.

Then, challenge ourselves to develop our own perspective of movement using our individual, original ingredients.

Favorite Quote:

We take the things that we love, and then we build on them.

And when we add something significant and original, we have a chance to be a part of the evolution of that music.

See Related Articles:

What Is Dance Musicality?

How To Train Your Musicality As A Dancer


7. Dance to change the world, Mallika Sarabhai


At TEDIndia, Mallika Sarabhai, a dancer/actor/politician, tells a transformative story in dance — and argues that the arts may be the most powerful way to effect change, whether political, social or personal.

How it relates to you:

Do we, as dancers, as artists, as creators, realize the immense power we have to affect change in the world?

Mallika tells insightful, humorous, and relatable stories of the transformative power art has in modern society.

It’ll inspire you as a dancer by reminding you that there is a bigger purpose to your art.

Whether it’s to send a message, evoke a feeling, call forth a societal change, to entertain… There is a reason we do what we do!

Favorite Quote:

In a world that’s so difficult to change, we need a language that pushes through.

See Related Articles:

How Cookies Inspired A Movement In The Dance Community At Vibe


8. My journey to yo-yo mastery, BLACK


Remember the days you struggled just to make a yo-yo spin, and if you were really fancy, to “walk the dog”? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Japanese yo-yo world champion BLACK tells the inspiring story of finding his life’s passion, and gives an awesome performance that will make you want to pull your yo-yo back out of the closet.

How it relates to you:

Upon falling in love with yo-yoing, BLACK spent hours and hours daily, for years, developing his craft.

He started winning competitions and gaining acclaim for his talent, but this wasn’t fulfilling.

What really he wanted to do was to send a message; to revolutionize how the yo-yo is seen.

It’ll inspire you as a dancer to train more actively and purposefully. Furthermore, to use your talents for a bigger purpose.

Favorite Quote:

I wanted to change the public’s image of the yo-yo.

So I quit my company and studied a career as a professional performer.

I studied ballet, classic jazz dance, acrobatics, and other things, to make myself better.


9. Smash fear, learn anything, Tim Ferriss


From the EG conference: Productivity guru Tim Ferriss’ fun, encouraging anecdotes show how one simple question — “What’s the worst that could happen?” — is all you need to learn to do anything.

How it relates to you:

Is there something that’s keeping you from going for what you want?

Tim Ferriss learned how to swim, lived abroad, and delved into ballroom dancing by having a fearless attitude.

This TED Talk will inspire you as a dancer to stop second-guessing yourself and take on your next project fearlessly.

Favorite Quote:

Fear is your friend.

Fear is an indicator.

Sometimes, it shows you what you shouldn’t do.

More often than not, it shows you what you should do.

***From the dance community!***

10. Not another cancer story, Brianna Mercado


At only 22-years-old, Mercado lives by the personal credo “Go big.” A professional dancer with two college degrees, she has survived bone cancer and works tirelessly as a role model for children with cancer and as an advocate for cancer study, treatment and prevention. Mercado is a native Californian, living and dancing in New York City. She is admired by family, friends and fellow dancers as a warm and glowing soul who has lived more intensely, intentionally, gratefully and lovingly in the past eight years than most people live in a lifetime.

How it relates to you:

Brianna’s powerful interpretive performance transcribes her feelings into movement.

Words and feelings about her illness – something that couldn’t broken her spirit.

However, she chose to face her biggest fear with grace and optimism.

Only 22 years old at the time of the talk, but with experiences and wisdom beyond her years, Brianna’s strength and expression is enough to bring any dancer to tears.

Favorite Quote:

In the face of something you fear, you must stand up to be brave. Life is too short to live cautiously.

You may not be able to control the world but you can control who you choose to be, and what actions to take.


11. Battle mentality in street dance, Ben Lee

How it relates to you:

You’ll relate to EVERYTHING our friend Ben says in this talk!

Not only does he give shoutouts to the “choreo” community (from UCI!), he traces the art of dance and battling to its very core.

He talks about knowing the roots of where you come from, the psychology of concepts in a battle, the importance of acknowledging your mentors, having patience to do the work smartly, and the tenants of hip hop and battle culture.

An amazing orator and even more talented dancer, what Ben shares in this video will inspire you as a dancer to think a bit deeper, and move a bit more consciously.

Favorite Quote:

Essentially, dance is an expression of my soul…

All of my ugliness, all of my truth, everything that I’ve ever thought of, everything that I’ve ever felt, is inherent in my dance.

See Related Articles:

What You Should Know Before Going To A Freestyle Jam

The Fundamental Difference In Attitudes Between The Freestyle And Choreography Communities


We hoped these opened up your mind and made you feel more motivated to take on your next dance endeavor!

Share a Talk with a dancer friend that needs a dose of dance-inspiration ✨

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