some thoughts on being in a “dance funk”

Over the course of AVS, I have been experiencing a moderate amount of “dance funk” – but instead of riding the waves and suffering through the lows, I’ve been trying to find the triggers which cause me to be frustrated, unhappy, or upset when dancing. While I don’t think I’ve found the solution, I have identified a few of the problems moments.

Some examples of situations which stress me out:

  • During competitions, especially in the spotlight.
  • Dancing with amazing dancers – especially to particularly fast music with people I do not know well or have not danced with before (if you’re not good at reading between the lines: this generally refers to dancing with instructors)
  • Performing a choreography.
  • Struggling with certain technical concepts as a follow (there are a few right now).
  • What I feel is unjust praise for my dancing (usually after comps).

However, I’ve also noticed that certain similar situations are no challenge, and are often extremely enjoyable:

  • Silly competitions, like the Jill and Jill in which I danced with the lovely Emma.
  • Jam circles. Especially the absurd ones, like the impromptu jam circle in which everyone danced on one foot, and I swiveled like a flamingo. Think about it.
  • Dancing with amazing dancers who are friends, no matter how fast the music.
  • Performing the Tranky Doo (even if everyone is watching me ‘cause they don’t know it).
  • Leading and solo movement.

I think the theme here is a certain amount of pressure I am putting on my own dancing to “be awesome.” I am aware that a large portion of this is in my own head. Now, if I only got upset after competitions, I would smack myself upside the head and tell my stupid ego to suck it up, because I am well aware I have a long way to go before I am ever the amazing dancer I want to be. Being unsuccessful in comps is a good reality check, and I love the feedback I’ve gotten from the comps at AVS.

No – far more concerning is the stress I have felt when receiving praise for my dancing. I am not sure what about this praise should make me so upset, as it should be a positive experience. Regardless, every time I receive a “Great job!” or “I love watching you dance!” after an experience in which I feel I could have done better, I feel an overwhelming and terrifying weight sitting on my chest. I often have to find a curtain behind which to hide, or corner in which to sit alone for a few minutes.

The good news is that I do not hate dancing; in fact, quite the opposite. I have immensely enjoyed taking classes as a lead this week, and the solo jazz class with Mikey absolutely blew my mind. And any situation in which the pressure is low is incredible – especially dancing with friends or doing absurd things.

As a result of these realizations, I am going to take a short break from dancing, starting after Hot Jam tomorrow (gotta tell Michelle I won’t be around for a bit to teach lessons & all). I am going to step back and remind myself that there is no pressure to be amazing – the goal is to have fun, and I can only do myself a disservice if I get stressed about “being awesome.” This is something I tell each and every beginner I teach, yet it is advice which I am struggling very hard to take myself.

When I come back, I’m going to focus on the aspects of dancing which I truly enjoy. I think that enjoying being a follow and enjoying the aspect of putting work into my following will follow naturally when I’m ready.

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3 thoughts on “some thoughts on being in a “dance funk”

  1. Hi there! My name is Christian, we’ve met once before at a blues house party in Philly. I stumbled across your post through facebook, and decided to read it since I am kind-of feeling a similar way at the moment.

    I have only been dancing for a couple of years now, but there have certainly been a couple times when instead of being super excited about dancing I almost feel like avoiding it as a chore. What is interesting though, I have tried to narrow down my triggers, they seem to be the opposite of yours :P. One very specific thing I’ve noticed that usually never fails to get me in the biggest funk is when I’ve settled into a nice groove with a series of lessons and the subsequent dancing that typically follows, only to show up the following week to a dramatically different style of lesson on a topic that is somewhat experimental and wacky. Maybe it is because I am somewhat shy. I do like to try and push myself to break out of inhibitions, but the will-power exerted toward that end during an odd lesson usually leaves me spent when others seem to want to continue practicing the new materiel after the lesson.

    Not sure if this helps at all :P. At the very least, I do agree it is not a non-issue! (especially because for me, Blues Muse is coming up this weekend, and i’d better get back on my feet!… though my current funk does not seem to be related to the example above)… I’ve been told you just have to “push through it” but that definitely doesn’t work for me either :\

    I will let you know of any future revelations in the affirmative!

    • Christian, I remember meeting you in Philly, and thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

      I have definitely been where you are in the past, meaning the funk of just not jiving with the current lessons or style of dancing. When I find a concept either overly difficult or overly foreign, I get extremely frustrated, and the temptation to give up or write off this style of dancing becomes difficult to resist.

      I also agree that the phrase “push through it” does not work. Pushing through a rough patch in life due to external circumstances is understandable; but I think to just “push through” a dancing funk has the potential to be counterproductive. Struggling with a technical concept, I think, is quite different from being in a dancing funk, and to treat them similarly is to do a disservice to our underlying discontent.

      While our mutual dance funks have different underlying sources, I totally understand your struggle, and I hope you’re able to push through for Blues Muse! Maybe it will be just what you need? We an always hope!

      If you find a good way to combat the dance funk blues (haha, get it? Blues?), then please share. So far the best advice I’ve received is from Mikey Pedroza, who suggested that if it doesn’t make me happy, I should take a break. And since that seems to be similar advice from many different people, including myself, it seems to be our best bet so far… Good luck!

  2. Pingback: dance posts: reference / archive | The Lindy Affair

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