Monday, March 24, 2014


Remember these days??

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.. It feels like someone threw a bucket of water over the fire that has been burning inside of you to dance your heart out year after year.  You feel lost because you can’t remember life without dance… 
What happened?  And what do I do now? 

Is this you... sad, confused.. but hopeful that you'll get out of the slump?

 At this point there are a few common reactions..
  1. You second guess whether or not you should be dancing.  Maybe it’s not for you anymore. 
  2. You figure that it’s just a phase and you’ll eventually crawl out of this dance death hole.
  3. You throw yourself into dance and fight your way back to inspiration.

In some ways these lapses can help us appreciate how much dance can make us happy.  Frustrating at times, yes… but for the most part, DANCE IS FUN.  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 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…


Sometimes, what we need is 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 that needs attention.  Maybe you're tired and your body need some rest.  If dance is really important to you, 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.


This is probably the easiest, fastest, cheapest way to find inspiration. YouTube and Facebook (among others) are endless resources for finding inspiration.  Top dancers around the world have footage of their performances, competitions, social dancing, rehearsals, workshops (although there’s nothing like learning live, from a real person who can give you feedback).  WARNING – Do this in moderation as surfing YouTube is highly addictive and extremely time consuming.  You know this already, right? Just saying :)


Music that "moves you" is what dancers crave. 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.  Keep you tried and true favourites, and 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. 


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.  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, and you need some variety, or just need to be educated on 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.


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. 


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.


In Zurich, Switzerland with my team (iFreeStyle Bachata from Toronto & Jose Maldonado Pasofino Dance, Atlanta)
Take a second look, each of us are in this photo twice :)  
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", 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 is going on in the world right now, and it’s there for you to experience.  (Thank you to a good friend Wesley Small for the many Babaluu chats about how travel has kept his dance passion alive!)  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 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 :)


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