Hey! I've been dancing for over 5 years now. I've been in an all-girls dance company for almost 2 years, and one thing the artistic director says is that I need more confidence in myself and learn to look up. I constantly get told to do this, but I hate having to look at myself in the mirror or seeing others in the mirror which can be a distractions at times. What are some tips to stop this bad habit and accept myself more? Thanks, Shy Dancer
Hey Shy Dancer,
That's amazing you've been with an all-girls dance company for roughly 2 years! Being a part of a team or a dance company is quite the commitment, so I commend you for that. As for disliking the idea of looking at yourself in the mirror or being easily distracted when you see others in the mirror, I know how you feel. It definitely takes a lot of concentration and confidence to look up while dancing. However, the fact that your artistic director encourages you to have more confidence in yourself means he/she believes in you, and that is definitely something you should be proud of and remind yourself as you are working towards building your confidence. With regards to 'tactics', there are 4 things you can practice to either help develop the habit of looking up, or pave the way to learning to look up while dancing, I find has worked for me:
Making direct eye-contact while holding a conversation can be intimidating enough, let alone while performing in front of others. One 'tactic' that resonated with me though, is to focus on the space above people's heads as you are performing. I like to focus on the space above people's heads, because it encourages me to keep my head up while dancing, and doesn't require me to make direct eye-contact (which can be distracting). As the focus on that space increases, you will develop tunnel vision for that space, and you will eventually learn to look past the space above people's heads. Not only will you not be as intimidated to look up while dancing, but by tuning others out, you will be able to dance bigger and project your moves better.
Performance has a lot to do with imagination and visualization too; whether you have to visualize yourself performing a routine confidently in front of others or mentally place yourself in a setting you are most comfortable with that tailors to you, do what you need to do to exude that ease and confidence you have within you.
Sometimes, the discomfort with dancing in front of a mirror around others is predominantly due to feeling uncomfortable with dancing in front of a mirror, period. So start small - find a reflective surface or a mirrored room to practice in by yourself. Do what you need to do to get the routine into your muscle memory, then work on making eye-contact with yourself (or with the space above your head if you wish). The more comfortable you feel with sensing your own movement through the mirror, the more comfortable you will be, dancing in front of the mirror with others.
Of course, one big thing that helps increase your confidence is the recognition that you are improving as a dancer and proud of how you dance. To get here, you have to build upon your own craft. Take as many classes as you can, ask for critiques, practice with those critiques in mind, and acknowledge your own growth. The feeling of working hard at your craft and knowing you're improving day by day will make you feel accomplished, and feeing accomplished will inevitably help your confidence.
Hopefully with a steady diet of practicing all of the above, your confidence will be able to shine through your dancing! However, despite the aforementioned tactics, the most important foundation that needs to be put into place is your own self-validation. Give yourself credit for how far you've come as a dancer, and recognize what an asset you are to your dance company, to your teammates, and most importantly, to yourself. The stronger that inner foundation is, the more naturally and authentically your confidence will shine through in your dancing. Good luck, I believe in you!
Do you have any additional tips and tricks to look more confident while dancing? Share them with the community by commenting below!Need additional validation to feel spectacular like you should? Check out what superpowers we as dancers have!