Tag Archives: confidence

5 Ways Dancers Can Build Their Confidence

Like a scary shadow, self-doubt has haunted dancers of all ages and abilities. Ballet dancers, in particular, tend to grapple with feelings of inadequacy. But take heart. Whether you’re a seasoned professional, or absolute novice, there are things you can do to increase your self-esteem and enjoy dancing again. Consider five ways dancers can combat self-doubt and build their confidence.

  1. Give yourself more credit.

Think about it—you could be sitting on the couch, or engaging in some other activity that adds nothing to your life. At least you’re doing something healthy and productive for yourself! Every dancer has ups and downs, but when you’re at a low point, remember that you could be somewhere else. And if you can’t seem to bring yourself to do this, allow me to do it for you: kudos to you!

Sensual beautiful girl near the window morning

  1. Set realistic goals.

Having trouble nailing those fouéttés? Maybe it’s because you can barely do a pirouette without falling off balance. Professional dancers are notorious workhorses, but even beginners can set the bar too high for themselves. Setting small, realistic goals for yourself will help you feel less overwhelmed. For instance, if you have trouble executing a double pirouette, why not learn to master a clean, single pirouette first? Even taking the time to do a proper warm-up can help you feel prepared for the demands of class.

  1. Focus on something positive about yourself.

We all have gifts. Maybe you have naturally stellar turnout, or picture-perfect arches. Instead of nit-picking all your perceived negative traits, focus on your positive attributes. Perhaps your strong points have nothing to do with your physical appearance. Can you get through allegro combinations without gasping for breath? Do you remember combinations with ease while your classmates struggle to retain instructions? The next time you’re feeling down, think about the one (or multiple) things about yourself that you love, or set you apart.

The hands of two classic ballet dancers at ballet barre on a white room background

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others.

The reality is, there will always be someone who can jump higher or turn faster. Depending on how far you go in your career, you will meet these individuals somewhere along the way. Instead of competing with others and fostering jealousy, focus solely on your own progress and develop good sportsmanship. Doing your part to promote healthy dynamics with your classmates will contribute to a positive learning environment that benefits everyone.

  1. Remember your reasons for dancing.

Do you dance for recreation? Fitness? Some dance because it’s their life’s calling. Remembering why you dance can increase your motivation and reignite your joy. Everyone feels a little insecure sometimes, but keeping in mind the factors that drew you to dance in the first place will help to mitigate the effects of self-doubt.

Don’t let self-doubt cast its dark shadow over your life. It can be easy to fall into a rut, focus on the negative, even question your right to be in the studio at all. Through consistent effort, and a good sense of humor, you can successfully shake that self-conscious monkey off your back.

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About the Author

Bethany Leger taught ballet for 7 years in Dallas, TX. She is the founder of Ballet For Adults, a site dedicated to educating adults about ballet at http://balletforadults.com/

Got Confidence?

 

sa-toad-faction

 

photo by: Lorenzo González

 

I’m in the middle of writing a YA novel about a young ballerina’s struggles in the dance world. Needless to say it’s given me the opportunity to think about what helped me to achieve success as a dancer. I’ve concluded that the ingredients for success are the same for anything: dedication, discipline, persistence and confidence. The last one, confidence, has always been a bit of an achilles heel for me and it’s only in recent years that I’ve learned some techniques to help with that.

 

So how do you “get” confidence? I mean, it’s an intangible thing, right? It’s not like you can hop in the car and pick up a little extra whenever you’re running low. So many of us spend time looking for approval or validation from others, thinking that this will give us the confidence we need, but in reality this is a losing proposition. Other people don’t give us confidence; we give it to ourselves. How? By changing our minds.

 

Oh sure, you say, if it were that easy I would have already done it. But what if it was that easy? Think about it: we all wander around with an internal dialogue playing in our minds about our lives; it’s a never-ending commentary. Every waking minute of every day we are telling ourselves a story. Have you ever stopped long enough to tune in and see what kind of story you are telling yourself? Does it match with the story of what you want for your life? For most of us, the answer is probably no… and the inner story sounds something like, “I’m not good enough” or “I could never do that” or “it will never happen because my life never works out”. But it would follow that if you are telling yourself a story all the time anyway, it may as well be a good one, right? Even better, make it the best possible story you can think of.

Words of wisdom from Louise Hay about confidence:

 

It’s time to write a new story. A good story. An empowering story. And once we get that story straight, guess what will follow? Yep, you guessed it. Confidence.

 

So, take a moment to get a clear vision about what you want before you begin to write your new story (also called an affirmation). There are only two rules to follow: your story must be written in the present tense (as if it is already happening) and must be simple, short and easy to remember (because you will end up writing and repeating it many times). Let’s say you want to be a dancer. Your new story might go something like this: “every day I am taking steps to be the best dancer I can possibly be” or “my love of dance and my love for myself moves me ahead in my career.”

Dancers on confidence:

 

Once you’ve re-written your story it’s time to glue it in your brain. Repetition is key. Write your story on a piece of paper ten times every day. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day while you wait in line or ride the subway (although I don’t recommend repeating out loud or people will think you are a crazy person). Sing it in the shower. Wash, rinse, repeat. Over time it will become your new story.

 

Confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Not only is it empowering it’s also incredibly attractive. It may even be contagious.

Here’s Brazilian psychologist Chris Lenarres’ method:

 

More recommended reading/listening:

Dance helps raise test scores and more

brainBox

At the tail end of spring every year, my daughter’s school spends a week rehearsing, dancing and performing for their World Dance Festival. Frankly, I wish that dance was a part of their curriculum all year long, because aside from the obvious physical benefits, it has been shown that students who are dancers are not only better, more confident students, but hey, they get higher test scores. Coincidentally, that’s one of the primary motivating factors in today’s school system, so shouldn’t more schools be looking at implementing a dance program?

The potential benefits run the physical, emotional, social and academic gamut. Here are a few factual tidbits to chew on (compiled from the a study by the National Assembly of State Art Agencies titled: “Critical Evidence: How the ARTS Benefit Student Achievement”):

• In a well-documented national study using a federal database of over 25,000 middle and high school students, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with low arts involvement. Moreover, the high arts-involved students also watched fewer hours of TV, participated in more community service and reported less boredom in school.

• In an experimental research study of high school age students, those who studied dance scored higher than non-dancers on measures of creative thinking, especially in the categories of fluency, originality and abstract thought.

• Dance also can affect the way juvenile offenders and other disenfranchised youth feel about themselves. One study demonstrated that when a group of 60 such adolescents, ages 13 to 17, participated in jazz and hip hop dance classes twice weekly for 10 weeks, they reported significant gains in confidence, tolerance and persistence related to the dance experience

• Dance has been employed to develop reading readiness in very young children.

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 According to the Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts, higher academic test scores, higher self-esteem, stronger social skills, and greater content knowledge can be attributed to students participating in groups in dance classes.

Dance uses both the right and left hemispheres of the brain as dancers learn and memorize combinations of movement as they express concepts and emotions, focus and count every beat of music while inhabiting a different world- something other than the monotony of rote repetition that school can often be. Spatial awareness, motor coordination, strength and flexibility all come into play, too, with the end result being… stronger, more confident human beings who possess greater cognitive skills.

Isn’t that supposed to be what education is about?

Walk Around the Clock

WalkingFeet

The way we walk in the world says a lot about who we are. Whether your walk is springy, shuffling, or swaggering, it is a statement. Some walk gently on tiptoe, others pound the pavement with splayed feet… but when working with children, teaching them to walk correctly and with confidence will help them move forward.

To work with walking in a class setting, begin by having everyone walk normally, in any direction they choose. Have students begin to notice their own walking styles. Do they move slowly or quickly? Heel first or toe first? What happens with their arms as they walk?

Next, try playing with some exaggerated walks. Walk slowly and carefully, placing the heel first, then rolling through the foot to complete each step. Kids can walk like different animals, such as ducks, horses, or frogs. Try taking huge steps with the arms swinging, and then contrast that and take tiny tiptoe steps. Walk very quickly, then very slowly.

Finally, encourage students to come up with their own variations, each person taking a turn at leading. Walk like an Egyptian, walk backwards, or try a kicking walk. Who knows what other funny interpretations might arise.

Walking is one of the first skills we develop, and one of the best forms of exercise. It’s also a whole lot of fun to explore the many different ways it can be done.