Scoffing at Dancers

I’m in a room filled with enthusiastic dancers and one self-righteous critic. She leans in close and mutters, “No one here can dance”. I smile politely but cringe inside.

When people scoff at how others dance, I want to remind them that not everyone can afford to drop thousands of dollars for private lessons. Many dancers are struggling to get by as students or single parents. I started dancing when I was in grad school completing two Masters degrees. Private lessons wasn’t an option for me for many, many years. Most people would love to invest in their dancing, but it isn’t always feasible. It isn’t fair to mock people who have the passion but don’t have the financial means to do the kind of training others do.

Let’s also not forget that most of us get into dancing just to have fun. Not everyone seeks to compete or perform. Some dance to be more expressive or playful. Some are experimenting with new concepts and ideas. Not everyone wants to dance the same way or the same style. Others seek to innovate, not recreate… and let’s be honest: innovating and experimenting is a wonky looking process, and everyone deserves a safe space to explore and create their magic.

I realize that the path I’ve chosen for myself isn’t necessarily the right path for everyone else. I love private lessons and practicas and seeking feedback. And yes, I know a lot of people get exasperated by the skill level in their scene and wish their peers would train more. However, if I want to raise the level in my scene, I need to be someone who inspires and helps others, not shames them or shuts them out. Serious dancers have the power to create glass ceilings in their community and they have the power to break them.

It’s easy to get self-righteous as we progress. I know several beginners who grew very critical of others once they got serious with their training.

When I find myself falling into judgement, I know it’s ego (which is driven by insecurity) sparking that. I turn my attention inward to focus on how I can better my dancing – or how I can help support others along their journey.

Dance communities are small. So much is gained by being kind, supportive and helpful of one another. I’m less interested in judging what my peers are doing and I’m more interested in finding ways I can inspire or invite people to explore new concepts and ideas along with me.

And I love sharing what (or most importantly, who) has been helpful for me. Serious dancers and scene leaders can gently offer guidance to those who are struggling, lost or going down the wrong paths for the result they seek.

True scene leaders help each other UP the ladder, not kick them down to the ground, block the ladder or scoff at how no one knows how to climb a ladder. You never know why people are where they are and why. It’s worth staying humble and kind. ❤

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We may never know what issues people are facing which make them think, act and react in certain ways. Be helpful rather than judgmental. – Mufti Ismail Menk

Related: The 9th Way to Get Asked to Dance & Snubbed. 

About Epiphany

epiphanies on life and spiritual living as I chase wisdom - one insight at a time.

Posted on April 13, 2017, in Dance and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. every once in awhile, someone takes some video of me dancing. I watch. it *looks* horrible. sort of like hearing your own voice. but I know it feels perfect, and I know that mostly my partners enjoy dancing with me. so to that “scoffer” I say that you cannot judge a dancer by watching them. if you think you can, you just don’t get it.

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  2. Thank you so much for putting this post out there. The same thing aggravates me, and I find it really disheartening when I overhear people making fun of other dancers. A festival experience was ruined for me once when the DJ and her friend were very loudly making fun of everyone on the floor, including myself.

    We need more people like you!

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  3. A lot of good points but, if i meet you every month at a different festival, and you keep boasting you’ve reached this level (sic) without ever taking a class, i guess neither money nor time are the issue.
    And that’s not my ego hurting: that’s my knees, back and toes, so please stop being arrogant and/or selfish, just pay your 10 euros and take a dance class!

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    • I hear you on that… I sometimes wonder if people just truly don’t realize how much they don’t know and consequently make the assumption that they are at a much higher level than they truly are. I learned there’s a difference between being able to follow a move and being able to follow it properly (i.e., with correct technique, posture, timing, connection, aesthetic, etc) so it actually feels good to the partner and looks beautifully executed. That was a brutally humbling lesson for me to learn!

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  4. It is so hard not to judge when watching others, although I have to admit I wouldn’t share my opinions, and it would be thinking about improvements and how I might relate what I’ve seen to my dancing.

    I do modern jive (and WCS), but in MJ it’s very much all about the social. Privates are pretty much unheard of and even workshops are fairly hard to come by. It’s a shame, but not everyone wants to improve. For them that’s fine, but I think most people need to continue to be open to learning from somewhere – even if it’s just watching and learning (eg styling inspiration)

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