(repost from 2014)
Many of us have been there before… when you’ve been dancing a while, it’s not uncommon to suddenly feel uninspired, unmotivated, almost empty inside. It sucks. Maybe you feel like you’ve plateaued, or you just don't enjoy it the way you used to . It feels like someone threw a bucket of water over the fire that has kept you dancing your heart out all these years. You feel lost because you can’t remember life without dance 😥… What happened? And what do I do now?
At this point there are a few common reactions:
In some ways these lapses can help us appreciate how much dance can make us feel happy. Frustrating at times, yes… but for the most part DANCE has fulfilled in ways that only it can. The music is awesome, meeting people is awesome, talking about dancing with other dancers is fun… and the social aspect of Latin dances takes it a step further and provides a whole other salsa life with new “non-salsa” friends at “non-English” clubs in the middle of the work/school week. Your non-dancer friends, family and co-workers just don’t understand how you can dance late on a work night… if they only knew how it was worth the fatigue!
If you’re feeling blue about this emptiness and think you want to get back into it, don’t despair. Here are some ways to help re-ignite your passion to dance. In reverse order…
#7) TAKE A BREAK
Sometimes, what we need is simply to step away… not forever, but maybe for a couple weeks, a month or so. Maybe your mind is telling you that you’re neglecting something else in your life that needs attention. Maybe the drama in your scene is distracting and brings you down (this is a whole other topic that I'll tackle in another blog). Maybe you're tired and your body need some rest. If dance is in your soul, you’ll crave it again. Unless within that time, you find a new passion (love, new hobby etc.). Not to worry though, dance is always there, and welcomes you back with open arms when you’re ready.
#6) WATCH VIDEOS
This is probably the easiest, fastest, cheapest way to find inspiration. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram (among others) are endless resources for finding inspiration. Top dancers around the world have footage of their performances, competitions, social dancing, rehearsals, and workshops. Having said that, there’s nothing like learning live, from a real live person who is qualified to give you feedback and explain the intention of movement that an untrained eye wouldn’t see in a video. WARNING – Do this in moderation as surfing YouTube/Facebook is highly addictive and extremely time consuming. You know this already, right? #justsaying
#5) REFRESH YOUR MUSIC PLAYLISTS 🎼
Music that "moves you" is what dancers need. When you hear a tune that touches your soul, it's tough to resist getting into it. How old is your playlist? If your music playlist has gone stale, so has one source of inspiration. The cool thing about dancers is that we like to share our favourite songs on social media. It can't get easier than that to find new music. So mix it up, find playlists through online music sources like Spotify or online radio stations. Keep you tried and true favourites, but give your playlist a facelift with new music. Not only do we need variety to keep things interesting, it's also great education to learn about the artists who feed our soul.
#4) TAKE CLASSES
If you feel like you've plateaued, please be advised that this is nearly impossible to accomplish in Latin dances. If you look at the sheer variety of styles in any one genre (salsa, for example), it would take several lifetimes to be a master at all of them. And when I say master, that means knowing everything there is to know. There’s simply an infinite amount you can learn to improve your technique, musicality, and artistry, especially because it’s continues to evolve. Liken Latin dances to the galaxy. There IS NO END. Are you getting the visual? Perhaps you’ve only been exposed to a small sample of what’s out there. Search for some variety, get educated about what else exists within the dance galaxy. Be curious. Investigate the dance world outside your immediate circle. There’s ALWAYS something new and exciting to learn.
#3) TAKE CLASSES IN OTHER DANCE FORMS
This can open up a whole other world of movement. In street dances like salsa, cha cha, bachata, or kizomba, there are many other genres that have been infused over the years – like hip hop, tango, ballet, modern, jazz etc. Venture out and learn new ways to move your body that you could infuse into your style. The process of re-inventing yourself is fun, exciting and keeps the wheels turning. Getting out of a rut means thinking differently. So open your mind, expose yourself to things that are out of your comfort zone.
#2) PERFORM OR COMPETE
If you haven’t tried performing or competing, let’s just say this is a whole other level of challenge beyond social dancing. What you’ll learn through preparing for a competition or performance is a combination of extreme growth, pain, elation, frustration, excitement, anxiety, self-satisfaction, fire.. oh… wait.. did I just say “fire”? Mission accomplished.
#1) TRAVEL TO A CONGRESS/FESTIVAL IN ANOTHER CITY… OR EVEN BETTER, ANOTHER COUNTRY ✈️
Sometimes a routine of the same ‘ol same ‘ol can get a bit tired… boring. I saved this one for last because this “cure” works almost every time, at least for me, and hopefully for you too! Travelling to a new city to experience their "scene", meeting new people, watching and dancing with local and regional superstars, has almost always opened my eyes to something new and fresh, and achieves the goal of re-igniting the passion in a big way. There's SOO much going on in the world right now, and it’s there for you to experience. There are zillions of congresses to choose from, so go to ones are recommended by your well-travelled instructor or fellow dancers. Make sure to get involved – take workshops, social dance with the locals and the headliners, watch the shows, do some sight-seeing if you can. You’ll come back a brand new dancer, full of life, and excited to get dancing again 😄 🙌🏼. Maybe you won't be so full of life the day you get back, but give it a few days to recover.
Friends, I hope at least one of these ideas could help the ball rolling. And as mentioned before, this happens to almost everyone at some time or another, and when you’ve been dancing for years, it’s likely to happen more than once. The nature of music & dance, and what it does to the soul is magnetic and has a way of attracting people back. Enjoy the journey back to dance heaven :)
Did I miss any tips? Comment below!
Caryl Cuizon, iFreeStyle.ca Co-founder
Various authors including Caryl Cuizon, co-founder of iFreeStyle.ca Latin Dance Company.