Whether you are a professional dancer or break out the Macarena in your kitchen, dancing is not only fun but a way to express yourself (and burn a few calories in the process).
Even if you don’t compete, you can always benefit taking your dance practice up to the next level. But how do you do that? Read on to learn what you can do to improve your dancing and become the next Misty Copeland or Yuanyuan Tan.
1. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
Remember, dancing is part art, part sport. It takes strength and stamina to master certain moves, let alone be able to dance for the full song. To make sure you don’t pull a hamstring and get seriously injured, you need to stretch.
According to Prevention, stretching increases blood flow, balance, reduces pain, increases your sweat, and, yes, prevents injury. While we normally think of stretching as positive, overdoing it or stretching when your muscles aren’t wormed up could (ironically) lead to injury.
As Prevention goes on to state, a couple lunges and arm circles will do the trick to get you warmed up and ready for stretching.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Eating healthy applies to pretty much any part of your life. Which goes to show how important and influential it is—talk about increasing your lifespan and boosting your immune system and mood, to name a few benefits.
Dance is one area where you’ll see these benefits. Not only will you feel more awake and energized for your routine by eating a well-rounded plate of greens, protein, and grains but your body will be able to physically last longer and not be as prone to injury.
3. Be mindful
Whether this means getting your yoga mat out and striking a few poses or meditating for 5-10 minutes, do what you need to do to be present.
Because, let’s face it, if you are thinking about that project or this month’s bills, you aren’t focused on the moves—and your technique will suffer.
A little time taken out of your day to get in the now will not only improve your dance routine but reduce stress and, as a bonus, increase empathy and compassion.
4. Visualization is the way to go
As we mentioned earlier, dance is a mix of art and athleticism. Who hasn’t heard of star athletes using visualization to achieve their goals?
In fact, according to Huffington Post, Jerry West, NBA player, was asked how he consistently makes those buzzer beater shots, in which he is famous for making. West attributes his shooting success to imagining the shot over and over again in his mind. In other words, visualization.
Visualization is so key because, as Huffington Post states, it strengthens the neural pathways that allow that movement/task to be performed. You see, your brain can’t distinguish imagination from reality.
So, if you think about something, it will perceive it to be real. Putting this together, this means when you visualize doing an activity, your brain believes you really are doing it.
The same goes for dance. Taking a few minutes to visualize acing that arabesque or pirouette will get you that much closer to perfecting your technique and doing these moves flawlessly.
Retail shopping is visualization, so do some…(But not everyday)
Yes, we said it; a little retail shopping doesn’t hurt. In fact, if it is in moderation, according to Time, it can boost mood, decrease anxiety, and make people feel more in control.
While you don’t have to buy Misty Copeland’s wardrobe, simply investing in a new pair of recital shoes will give you a surge of confidence and help you improve your routine.
Not only this but retail shopping is actually a form of visualization. Time goes on to say, much like an athlete visualizing his or her next feat, shoppers through the power of retail shopping will visualize themselves in that dress or those shoes—a new and improved life.
So, splurge on some dance shoes, and visualize yourself getting first wearing them.
5. Practice saying positive affirmations
You may have heard sayings like “you are your thoughts” or “you become what you think.” Well, there’s some truth to them. Self-affirmations—the positive things we say about ourselves, lives, and situations—affects the outcomes. A study revealed that people in low-power positions who use self-affirmations to reduce their stress do better.
You can apply this to dance, taking a few minutes out of your day to tell yourself how great a dancer you are, that you will improve your leaps, and you are going to shine at next week’s dance competition.
Doing so will calm your nerves and boost your confidence. (Speaking of which, it doesn’t hurt to increase your confidence even more by getting new custom cheer uniforms.)
Bonus: Don’t dress like a slob
The beauty of dance is that it is about the way your body moves and not so much on its appearance. However, that doesn’t mean you get to skip out on a shower and dress like a slob.
In fact, doing this does harm than good. As the saying goes “you are what you eat”—or, in this case, dress.
According to The Cut, what we wear affects what we perceive about ourselves. If you dress in dance clothes—or, at least clean well-kept clothing—you are bound to feel like a more capable dancer.
Whether you use one, some, or all of these tips, you are bound to be on the right dance path. What daily practices do you have? And how have they affected the way you dance? Comment below.