How hard is dance

Is Dance Harder Than Other Sports? – Pentucket Profile

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Alyssa Coberly, Writer
March 19, 2021

Many people believe that dance is not considered a sport or they think it is easier than most sports. It has been a controversial topic for years, where some believe it is more like a form of art. Three people at Dance Technics in Merrimac, Massachusetts gave their opinions on dance and how it could potentially be harder than other sports. 

Laura Stevens, a dance teacher at Dance Technics who has been dancing for 25 years, was asked whether she thinks dance is more of an art or a sport. She says, “Both, but if I had to choose, I would say it is an art but very athletic. You train your whole life; it is very physical. It is a team sport, but at the same time it is also an individual sport, and you compete.” She also mentioned that unlike other sports, dance is an elegant art focused on rhythm and timing that takes hours to perfect. Laura was explaining how other sports play in the moment. With dance, there are multiple routines that have to be memorized and perfected.

With other sports like soccer, they train for that specific sport for one season a year while dance is year round. In dance, most people start at a very young age and it becomes their whole life. The training can be very difficult because there are different ways to train in dance. There is exercising, stretching, control, balancing and, most importantly, dancers need to learn how to perform and sell the show.

Photo Source: Patti Normandie

Nancy Foster, a dancer at Dance Technics says, “I do believe dance could be harder than other sports because the human body isn’t meant to bend in those ways and you have to train so much for something that seems so simple. With ballet, you either get it right or wrong; [there is] no in between, which makes it more difficult.” She also talks about how the style “pointe” can be dangerous. Injuries occur quite frequently because the shoes shift the dancers body weight to their toes, causing stress. Dance has been challenging for Foster because it is her senior year and she has dealt with multiple injuries that have caused her to sit out. 

Dancers aren’t only challenged physically; they are challenged mentally. They have to deal with the constant anxiety of looking and presenting themselves perfectly. Stevens said it best: there is an element of perfection to it. You have to look a certain way in a costume, wear a specific style of make-up, and make different faces based on the mood of the dance. It is all tough and takes a toll on you mentally. You’re constantly feeling judged and pressured to be perfect, whether the pressure comes from judges, teachers, or even other dancers.

From left to right: Coberly, Drake, and Foster

Ryann Drake, another dancer at Dance Technics, was talking about her experience with mental health in dance. She says, “After dancing in a studio with mirrors surrounding you for four hours with eight other dancers, you start to compare yourself to everyone else with stuff you can and can’t do. ” Being a dancer comes with a lot of insecurities, and they have to learn how to overcome them. It takes a lot of time to get in a healthy mindset and to stop comparing themselves to others. 

Dancing has a strange concept to it because it is a team sport but it also can be described as an individual sport. For the dancers that have solos or duets, they have to compete against their own teammates, which can create a sense of rivalry. It can get intense either way. The bonding experience, however, is incredibly important when it comes to dancing.

Drake says, “We have to have an emotional connection to actually do specific dances together, and there have been times at competitions [where] I had to comfort dancers on my own team and even our rivalry teams after they messed up on stage.” In the world of dance, it doesn’t get as viscous as other sports. Other studios help each other get ready for competitions and wish each other good luck. 

Dance is a very hard sport, but it can also help people keep in touch with their emotions and allow them to express themselves. Dance allows people to grow and is a great experience. Foster talked about how dance made her grow up faster and gave her new experiences with working with kids. Stevens agreed with Foster and shared her story with moving dance studios as a teenager and growing as a dancer and person. Stevens says, “I wanted to become a dance teacher because it changed my life: dance changed me as a person.”

It was a good experience interviewing these three dancers. They all had similar yet different opinions as to why dance could be harder than other sports. Dance is a difficult sport, but good things come with it. It is an escape from the real world, and dancers get to pour their emotions out on the dance floor. It takes a lot of talent to connect to the tone and lyrics of the music and move their body to match it. Dance has the strength to change one’s life.

Dance is actually the most difficult sport there is

Whenever I get asked whether I play sport, my first response is “yes, I dance”. This has had its fair share of strange looks, as everyone says “that doesn’t count, you’re not competing for anything and it’s not even as physically difficult as any other sport”.

Okay, if you say so, dance isn’t a sport then, it’s a whole lifestyle choice that uses all your mental and physical strength. But we love it anyway!

The mental expectations are exhausting

Haven’t you ever seen Black Swan? Not only do we have to pour our emotions out on stage to make the audience believe in what we are dancing, but the emotional strain of the whole industry is incredible.

The need to be a particular size and shape while staying fit and healthy, all while you’re working in one of the most competitive environments – that’s both mentally and physically draining!

You always have to focus on keeping time

Very few other sports require you to exert a load of energy, while also looking pretty and keeping exactly in time to music and to the other dancers around you. This requires practice and a whole lot of focus which is both mentally and physically exhausting.

Our flexibility is slightly insane

I guess you probably already know this one, but this is another thing dancers have to focus on during our daily (or more frequent) workout.

Our injuries are probably worse than yours

Did you bruise your foot and now you’re not going to play for six weeks? You poor thing. Try training at a top class dance school and you might change your mind!

“You may have 10 broken toes and a dislocated knee but if you don’t dance in that show, you don’t get paid! So get your tutu on and go.”

Dance isn’t a sport, it’s a lifestyle 

There is a constant expectation to look and behave in a certain way and this includes what you eat, drink and do with your spare time. We have to create a healthy diet to stay on top of our game, but one which also gives us enough energy to keep dancing. Even the time of day for eating has to be controlled!

We can plank for longer than you

When you see those ballerinas pirouetting round and round and round, it doesn’t just happen like that! For a start, they probably have a load of bandaged toes underneath their beautiful pointe shoes. Secondly, their core strength will be incredible.

A workout for dancers is a lot more intense than the pretty, graceful dancer on stage makes it look, and good core is key to this. Without it, we have no hope of maintaining balance and position. So I challenge you to a plank-off; may the best athlete win!

Exams are harder than you think

Not only do we have the pressure of shows and competitions, but now I’m going to throw another one at you: exams. From experience, these are even more stressful than your driving test or any music exam you can do. Not only are you expected to remember a whole scheme of work, but you also have to dance it beautifully. Did I mention we also get marked on performance?

Then you have to dance a whole new piece that the examiner will shout at you (most likely in French) and you might even be expected to improvise at one point. All this is in front of a scary Russian examiner staring you down constantly! Not fun.

You have to have incredible stamina

In a show lasting two and a half hours, one dancer may be on the stage for up to two hours, exerting huge amounts of energy while still looking graceful and pretty. In fact, for a dancer to effectively dance a three to four minute piece, they need the same level of stamina as an Olympic runner! That’s pretty insane.

You have to dance as part of a team and alone

Most sports are either individual, like some types of athletics or team sports like football. In dance, you have to have the skills to do both. This is important for both competing and performing, where you may be doing a solo and so you will be completely reliant on your own performance.

Or you may be in a duet, trio or group dance! In that case, everybody needs to know exactly what they’re doing and when,  otherwise it could throw the whole group off. That’s a lot of pressure to deal with, especially on a stage in front of a room full of people.

And even through all that, we still love it more than anything!

7 tips for those who want to learn how to dance

September 9, 2020 Reno5 Life

Dancing is a great way to make friends with your body and gain self-confidence. And yes, they can be mastered at any age.

1. Choose your style

The idea here is the same as for sports: if you secretly hate yoga or iron exercises, you are unlikely to go to workouts week after week. To achieve noticeable progress in dancing, a beginner will have to practice a lot and regularly, so it’s better not to torture yourself and choose a direction that really ignites.

You can focus on the music that you like - you need to catch the drive from movements to it. It is music that forms the style of dance and its energy, so decide what is closer to you: for example, funk lovers should try popping or locking, folk fans may like Irish dancing, and if you respect jazz, swing and everything like that, take a closer look at lindy hop.

Another criterion is the nature of the movements. Some are closer to dynamic, as in hip-hop, others are smooth and sensual - for this in tango. There are also health restrictions to consider. So, twerk is not suitable if there are problems with the lumbar spine, with sore knees it is better not to get involved in shuffle, and it will be difficult for an aged person to master house.

2. Set a goal

Photo: Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock

You can start dancing at any age, but it's important to keep in mind why you started it in the first place. It is perhaps too bold to expect that in half a year of classes it will be possible to reach the level of international dance championships from scratch. But if you want to try dancing in order to develop plasticity and learn to feel the body better, great, go ahead.

Don't expect everything to work out the first time. When you learn from scratch, difficulties are absolutely normal, the main thing is not to score in classes. Over time, both the correct posture and a beautiful gait will be developed, and as a bonus you will also get self-confidence - with freedom of movement, freedom from complexes will come.

3. Don't give up on sports

Some dances in themselves make for a good workout. A vigorous shuffle will replace cardio, and a break can give a load to almost all muscle groups. And yet, without preparation, it will not be easy. A more or less good stretch is needed in any type of dance, and, for example, strong arms and strong abdominal and back muscles are also useful for pole dancing. You can combine dancing with strength exercises, but you need to give the body time to recover and not plan classes in a row, but allocate at least a day of rest between them.

And don't forget to warm up before dancing. So that the training does not end with an injury, the muscles and joints need to be prepared for the load. You can allocate 10–15 minutes for a warm-up, it should include simple articular gymnastics (at least elementary rotational movements of the shoulders and knees), tilts and dynamic stretching.

4. Take some lessons from a trainer

Especially if you have never danced before. Those with experience can learn new styles at home with video tutorials, but that's because they already know how to control their bodies. Beginners are unlikely to succeed, but disappointment in themselves and demotivation are guaranteed - if you can’t repeat elementary movements, then there’s no point in doing it.

Nothing really strange here. Without preparation, it is difficult to just take it and start moving freely. At least the basic elements are better to master under the guidance of a pro, and when you feel that you are coping, supplement these lessons with home workouts.

5. Learn something new in every class

When you repeat the same set of exercises and movements over and over again, classes turn into a good way to pass your free time, only you can forget about progress. Acquaintance with new elements is the same mandatory part of any workout as a warm-up. It doesn't matter if you work with a mentor or on your own.

Do not immediately try to copy cool dancers. First, study the basic movements, then try to combine them into bundles until you hone them to automatism, and then experiment and improvise, creating something new based on familiar elements.

6. Record yourself on video

It is not necessary to record the entire workout from the warm-up, it is enough to record only those moments with which you have problems. These can be separate movements or bundles that are not given in any way. Review the video and, if possible, objectively assess what is wrong: perhaps there are technical problems that are difficult to notice in the process. When you understand what's wrong, try to repeat the movement and record it on video again - and so on until you achieve a good result.

This approach will help you find errors and track progress. You can not even limit yourself to memorized ligaments, but improvise - then see how it looks from the outside.

7. Find like-minded people

Photo: Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock

If you need an extra reason not to miss classes, then meeting new people can be a good motivation. It is easier here for those who train in a group. Often the dance school becomes the center of a close-knit community, where people come not only for the sake of classes, but also just to spend time together at dance parties.

Finally, the more partners around, the more experience. Do not limit yourself to dancers of your level of training and practice with those who are stronger or weaker than you. In the first case, you will be able to improve your skills, and in the second, you will try yourself as a coach - this, by the way, is a good way to learn to take more initiative and understand the very principle of movement in dance, and not just memorize the alternation of chords.

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12 Life hacks to quickly learn how to dance from Mamita Dance


Author: Pavel Collect
Psychologist, Teacher of Salsa and Tango


Author: Pavel Pavel Pavel Pavel Pavel, Psychologist, Teacher of Salsa and Tango

At the start, you always want to get a quick result. When it doesn't happen, the hypothesis arises that everything takes time. After a conditionally acceptable time, humility comes to mastering pair dances, which, perhaps, is not given, and I will just do what I learned somehow.

This is the most common story of those who believe that the mere act of attending a pair dance class is enough to learn how to dance.
Absolutely not. If you want to really dance well, you have to make an effort outside of the dance class. A good teacher will definitely be needed, but the initiative should be on your side.

1. Listen to music

The most common and accessible advice that is given already in the first lessons. And it definitely works. Music creates a certain atmosphere of the dance and intuitively you want to move to it. It doesn't matter where you listen to music - in the car, on headphones while walking or doing household chores.

An addition that will help you dance better is your active participation in the music. Sing along, dance or simply beat musical accents with any free parts of the body. In the subway, for example, it is enough to tap out bright moments with your fingers, in the car to sing along with sounds, and at home you can jump for pleasure.

2. Watch videos of good dancers

It's complicated, but also obvious. It’s more difficult, because without recommendations from more experienced dancers, unfortunately, it’s not so easy to find a good quality video on the net (I mean not the resolution quality, but the content itself).

Meaningful video viewing is about building an understanding of HOW dancers make a particular impression on a partner or viewer. Technology is at the heart of everything. Understanding how the pros do it is a big step forward.

It is important to distinguish a show from a disco dance, a staged performance from an improvisation, a stylized dance from an authentic one, etc. Ask for recommendations and dance teachers will always throw off a couple of videos of worthy landmarks.

Tango Z. Showreel.

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3. Dance in salsatecas/milongas/discotheques

A very delicate moment when it is worth coming to the first party. From a technical point of view, most students in 1-3 months have a sufficient set of figures and techniques to come and dance calmly. Psychologically, the same moment can be stretched out for an indefinite time. After all, it is imperative to “not lose face”, “learn more figures” and be sure what to do in case “there is an unfamiliar movement”.

In fact, the partygoers don't really care (except for a small layer of non-professional teachers who want to help inexperienced dancers by treating them as customers in the future). It is important to come and try dancing after a month of classes. You can only with friends or guys from your group. This will be enough to feel the adrenaline and inspiration from the dance.

4. Dance with partners or partners not of your level

The conventional wisdom that you need to practice in groups of your level does not withstand the test of experience. Perhaps now your eyes widened in surprise, and you want to meaningfully read the phrase again. Yes, you saw everything correctly: when you dance with a partner of your level, you don’t grow anywhere.

It's important to understand that not only does it work one way and you have to dance with cooler dancers, but it works even more effectively the other way. It is no coincidence that teaching pair dances dramatically raises the level of the teacher himself. You have an endless stream of very beginner dancers.

How it works. A more experienced partner needs to be "stretched". It's easy and obvious. With beginners, you need to take more initiative on yourself, see the general pattern of the dance more widely, turn on and insure more, try to be an example and be more careful. The quality of interaction begins to grow significantly. And wonderful partners too.

Dancing with partners of your level doesn't make you grow. Dance with beginners and more advanced dancers

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5. Learn to dance for a partner and for a partner

Turks and Argentines are one of the best partners in the world. In Russia, partners are highly valued. Why? The answer is simple. In Argentina and Turkey, it is not questionable for men to ask another man to lead in one piece or another and give feedback on the quality of the lead. For them, it will be a great shame to hear moralizing from a partner, or even more so to be known in the community as an insecure partner.

In Russia, due to the constant, often far-fetched, opinion that there are more women in pair dances, partners calmly get up and study their partner's part. Such partners then grow into very cool dancers and teachers. In no case do this at parties, only in class. Here we are talking only about the learning strategy. At parties, be yourself.

6. Do not memorize the links

Always try to look deeper and understand the through principle and idea of ​​movement. Understanding what and how is done will make it possible to independently generate any sequences and chips.

Human memory is limited and there will always be a moment when something will escape and your repertoire will be limited by the size of RAM.

In Argentine tango, for example, there are seven levels of movement construction that, when mastered, will allow you to make millions of combinations. And how many dance sequences can you really remember? In rueda, more than 150 figures dance in a rare circle. It's hard to keep more in mind.

7. Develop your body

Many years of experience in teaching couple dance shows that as soon as everyone pairs up in a class, any progress in individual style ends. But it is the individual style that distinguishes everyone at the disco: partners change, and style is always with you.

The body as the main instrument of dance must be very plastic, responsive and emotional. Surprisingly, not all pair dance schools have a general physical warm-up. It is vital to tune the body and understand how it works.

You can always train extra and concentrate more on the basic steps, as their true value is as body work. The sequence of steps is, in fact, the simplest thing that can be in pair dancing. The quality of individual performance determines the craftsmanship.

8. Try on the images of inspiring dancers

A psychological life hack for those who have already mastered the steps, but still feel that there is not enough brightness and drive. Most are terribly afraid of being someone else's "clone". Here the action is the same as under the influence of hypnosis - the more you resist, the more you plunge into an altered state of consciousness.

With a high degree of probability, you are already dancing like someone else's "clone". A meaningful fitting of someone else's image is that you mentally take the image of the one who inspires you (inspiration is critical in this case) and "put on" yourself. Then you start dancing and trying to feel in general how it is to be able, for example, to be the best partner or the sexiest partner in a disco. This is much more difficult than it seems. But it works extremely efficiently.

9. Dance to offbeat music

Habitual rhythms keep you tight. Tango salon or speedy timba leave little room for experimentation and fantasy. Pattern dancing is always noticeable and is reserved for beginners.

The truly new is born outside of the usual. Look for places to experiment. If there is no place, organize self-training. The main thing is not to get carried away, because music determines the style. We bring something new to pair dances, rather than trying to change them.

Search, improvise, don’t be afraid to go beyond, develop in different directions, be inspired by music atypical for the style

10. Try your hand at basic dance directions

dances exist according to their own non-choreographic laws.

This is the deepest delusion, which has turned into a ceiling for the qualitative development of partner dances. After all, all professional dancers, for example, in salsa or bachata, build their ideas on the basic choreographic principles.

Do not think that choreography is only applicable on stage. Any meaningful movement of the body can be choreographic. In general, try classical or modern choreography. Basically, hip-hop can work too.

11. Look for battle sensations

Pair dances return us to an active position of manifestation of our body. As in the days of our ancient ancestors, we impress the members of the opposite sex by how dexterous, hardy, sexy, etc. we are. Modern laws of the jungle in the entourage of large cities.

If you look around the dance floor, it becomes clear that the majority are clearly herbivores (not in the sense of vegetarians, but in relation to those around them). I am sure that predators are always more interesting in terms of the attractiveness of the image - try to find a counterbalance among herbivores, for example, a cat woman or a lion man.

The conversation is about an internal position, not about aggressiveness. Lability and lack of control are inherent in adolescents, and not in adult self-sufficient people.

Accordingly, even a training or friendly battle gives, on the one hand, practical skills - to make a bright sequence of movements, bring an idea to a climax, show a spectacular feature, on the other hand, develops the psychological basis of the dance - self-confidence, resistance to extraneous attention, self-control and self-control in complex elements.

12. Communicate with professionals

The environment shapes the internal position. Basically, real passionaries of the dance community are ready to openly talk, discuss and support the development of dance in every possible way. Universal principles and the ideas they articulate have a much longer and more practical perspective than meets the eye.

Accept that, for example, behind the words "listen to your partner" is not only a beautiful metaphor, but also a practical skill to literally listen to your partner. At the same time, always treat every thought, even the most respected teacher, as a private opinion.

Your skill will lie in finding the scope of the idea even in conflicting opinions. Most often, the contradiction is speculative and the truth lies in the angle of perception or situationality.

Your dancing growth will stop sooner or later. This can happen at the level of three basic steps or years of experience in teaching and show performances.

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