Updated: Dec 18, 2020
I've always wanted to live life with no regrets but unfortunately here I am and yeah I would say there's some when it comes to dancing. But you learn from your mistakes, right?! Here are my words of wisdom from my 30+ years of dancing.
Not starting sooner.
Okay, so if you read my 30+ years of dancing, you're probably thinking "Wait a minute. She was just a kid when she started." What I mean is ballroom dancing! I had the privilege of starting ballet, jazz and tap when I was 4 but I actually didn't start ballroom dancing until I was 20...AND I STILL REGRET NOT DOING IT SOONER!
That's how much I love it! It built up my confidence. (Yes, I was shy and introverted once upon a time!). It helped me to overcome my fear of messing up. (News Flash: I mess up all the time. I've learned how to get over it is what I really meant to say.) And I feel like I have a deeper understanding of body mechanics from this style of dancing. I may be clumsy in real life but dancing wise I've gotten much better.
Not warming up before lessons.
I was so good at this in college! Our professors encouraged us to take a half hour before class to prepare our bodies for a warm up. Why? Because when the body was ready to take class, those warm ups became learning opportunities to refine your skills and technique more and my body was ready to go into deeper stretches.
Because ballroom dancing is a lot more low impact than other styles such as ballet and jazz where your'e leaping through the air, I didn't feel like I needed to warm up. WRONG. I kick myself every time that I don't. Accumulatively, I've developed tightness and overusing muscles simply because I didn't warm up. Because this style is more asymmetrical compared to other styles, it's super important to make sure your body is warm up and ready to go so you can avoid injuries. And on the plus side, your body AND mind will feel even more ready to dive into what your teacher has to say.
Now you don't need to take a half hour but 5-10 minutes before your lesson or practice session is a good amount.
Dancing when I was sick or injured.
I'm prone to bronchitis every single year and I had a minor ankle sprain my sophomore year of college. What do these two things have in common? Yep. You guessed it. I danced during these things and you want to know what happened? I prolonged my recovery time. Pushing through an illness only made me more sick and pushing through an injury only made it worse. One of my last bouts of bronchitis, it took me two months to recovery from it. When I sprained my ankle in college, I was out a whole semester and it was only a minor sprain.
Lesson learned. Take the time you need to recover. Way better to wait it out than risk not dancing even longer.
There's so many times when I've made excuses to not practice. I'm too busy. I'm too tired. I'll have time later. I feel off today. I don't know what to practice or how to practice. I don't have a partner. Sound familiar?
If you find yourself saying one of these things, I get it. Life and outside factors get in the way. That's why having a plan and a schedule is going to be key here. Committing to a practice schedule (same time, same days out of the week just like a class or lesson) is your best bet for setting yourself up for success. Don't have a partner? Great! I didn't have a partner for the first 20 some years of my dancing career either! It can still be done! Just because it's ballroom dancing doesn't mean that you need a partner to work on your own footwork, posture, frame, etc. Your partner can't do those things for you so while you're waiting to dance with someone, there's plenty to work on!
Whatever excuse I had, not practicing only made me feel like I was falling behind and gave me more anxiety when it was time for class, social dancing, performance or competition.
Letting fear get in the way.
I think we can all relate to this one in dancing and in life. I always encourage my students to do performances or competitions because the benefits of it are enormous! But let's be honest. The anxiety and fear of falling on our butts (yep, done that already...and I survived) and people laughing at us (only happened when I dressed up as a dude and had a full on mustache!) can literally have us running the opposite direction. Most of our fears are worst case scenarios of what could happen and throughout all my years of dancing, it rarely every happens.
Here's my moment of honesty. I sometimes regret never moving to Florida to become a dancer at Disney World. It was my dream and love for Disney and dancing coming together. I feared moving to a new city and starting over. I feared that I'd disconnect from my family and friends after just coming back home from college and sometimes I do regret not taking that chance. Even though I believe everything happens for a reason, I can't help but wonder what my life would be like if I took that chance.
Now your fear might not be making such a life altering decision as what I just described but take baby steps to get there. Are you curious about wanting to dance? Take a group class with like minded people. Too shy to do a group class? Start with a personal lesson where you have an instructor that will take care of you the whole time. Dream of having the limelight on you? Try a small in studio performance before getting out amongst a ton of people.
My advice: Change your mindset. Start thinking: What's the best that could happen?
So what are your dance regrets? Are they the same or similar to mine? Let's hear it in the comments below!