How to become a better ballet dancer
How to Be the Best Ballet Dancer in Your Class
If only there were a magical potion that you could take and be the best ballet dancer in your class. Right? Truth is — there’s no secret sauce to becoming the best. It’s all hard work. But to be the best requires that you have the “Best” mindset.
Wanting to be the best is easy. But actually becoming the best is much harder.
To be the best ballet dancer in your class it’s important that you work hard, learn, and practice.
Every dancer has areas that she/he may be weaker in, and being able to learn and practice until those areas are perfect is key to not just become the best in your class, but the best dancer you can be.
Here are three areas that you can work on immediately to become the best dancer you can be.
1. Focus on strength, endurance and flexibility. The sooner you start cross-training, the sooner you’ll build much-needed stamina and strength that helps to prevent injury. Focusing on your core and stabilizer muscles will make it easier for you to perform the various movements required by ballet.
2. Practice your positions and steps. A big part of becoming the best is having impeccable form. The only way you’ll get there is if you practice, practice, practice.
3. Listen to your teachers. Your teachers have trained hundreds of dancers and most gone through professional training. They know what you need to work on in order to constantly improve. Never be afraid to ask your teachers what areas they think you can improve on and tips that can help you improve.
Stella Abrera, American Ballet Theatre principal
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“It can feel overwhelming to try to balance everything in your life right now—academics, ballet training and competitions, the first glimmer of romance and your unsuccessful efforts to always appear cool. Decompress by taking time for your other interests, such as cooking, reading and just hanging out with your buddies.
Start cross-training now; it’ll build stamina and help prevent injury. Focus especially on strengthening your core, as well as all those little stabilizing muscles. And stop lugging that enormous backpack full of textbooks on just one shoulder! Use a rolling bag, just like Dad advises (and don’t get mad at him for being right about most things). Get massages and stretch consistently. Be aware of which foods make you feel healthy, energized and strong.”
Linda Celeste Sims, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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“To be a dancer, you must be courageous! I’m going to be honest with you: Dance is one of the most difficult, challenging—and rewarding—professions out there. You’ll struggle with not being the best, and you’ll face impatience, doubt, insecurity, frustration and jealousy, as well as a constant need for perfection and attention. But you can overcome all this.
Use your emotions for good. Try to become stronger each day. Think positively and make the studio a retreat where you can escape and focus on yourself. Negativity is not a place of happiness. Positive competition is good, but don’t ever look in the mirror and think, Why don’t I look like her? God made us all different, so each of us has something special and unique to say with our gifts.”
Sascha Radetsky, former American Ballet Theatre soloist
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“Savor your moments on stage; relax and soak it all in. Take pleasure in moving through well-crafted choreography. Don’t sweat the small mistakes—they’re part of your development as an artist. Let the unique camaraderie of kindred spirits give strength to your performances. Remember that to dance at your best, you need to purge your mind of petty doubts and distractions. While this is no simple feat, it can be achieved through an awareness of the transient nature of this career.
The path you’re setting foot upon won’t always be smooth. Try to keep things in perspective. There’s an entire world out there beyond the little bubble that is ballet. Break free of that bubble from time to time, and you’ll evolve both as an artist and human being. Have faith that despite the ups and downs and inherent hairdo limitations, this course you’ve chosen can be beautifully rewarding.”
Chloé Arnold, tapper and co-founder of Syncopated Ladies
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“Dream huge, set your goals high and don’t let anything throw you off your path. Train with passion, focus and determination. A strong foundation will earn you respect in your field.
Be yourself: Wear your hair big and wild, rock the clothes that inspire you and tap your heart out! Your passion will take you around the world, and bring joy and happiness to your life and others’. Stay humble, be thankful and don’t let anybody steal your sunshine!”
PeiJu Chien-Pott, Martha Graham Dance Company principal
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“Great dancers challenge themselves and always push for more. Challenge is what makes you grow and become stronger. Competition, stress and injury are the three most difficult struggles you’ll face. Keep your spirits up! You’ll gradually learn how to adjust. You’re unique—just be yourself.
I know that preparing for performances is stressful for you. Try to find simple ways to help yourself feel better. Little treats may do the trick. Keep some dark chocolate in your dance bag, and when you’re stressed, have a bite—you’ll instantly feel like you’re in heaven.”
Val Chmerkovskiy, “Dancing with the Stars” ballroom pro
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“Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but more importantly, be grateful: for your parents’ sacrifice, for your teachers’ influence, for your supportive friendships and for all of the opportunities that life has presented…and is yet to present.
Don’t dwell on your successes. Take a moment to appreciate them, but don’t let your ego prevent you from seeking continuous improvement and personal growth. Keep expanding your knowledge and always surround yourself with people who share the same ambition for personal development. As long as you learn, you live!”
Martha Nichols, commercial dancer and choreographer
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“You’re a work in progress. Have patience. Patience isn’t a synonym for waiting. It requires work, faith and endurance. Work toward what you want. If you don’t have it yet, there’s more work to be done. Study your craft. Don’t rush or give yourself unrealistic time frames. Take the time to do it right. Don’t focus on what you don’t have; this is a distraction. Focus on what you do have, and how to make it better.
Every so often, ask yourself why you want you want. Check in. Be open to your evolution. Be open to experience. Stay present and let your light shine. Remember loyalty, longevity, depth and respect over fame.”
Jessica Lee Goldyn, Broadway dancer
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“Live one day at a time and enjoy every moment. Take care of your body. Always warm up. Eat healthy, and stop obsessing over what you see in the mirror. You’re beautiful.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect—you’re perfect just the way you are. You’ll never please everyone, so focus on what makes you happy. I know you’ve sacrificed so much to do what you love, and you’ve missed out on a lot socially. But don’t worry about being ‘normal.’ You’re not normal, and you never will be. It’s your dorky, silly, zero-inhibition self that makes you wonderful.
Remember there’s more to life than singing, dancing and acting. After all, the more life experiences you have to draw from, the richer your performances will be. So live!”
Stacey Tookey, contemporary dancer, and choreographer
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“Don’t let fear hold you back. Being scared is an essential part of life. If you believe in your talent, you’ll discover that you’re the only person standing in your way.
Work hard at achieving perfection, but don’t beat yourself up. Being overly self-critical works to your disadvantage. (When you roll your eyes at yourself because you messed up a combination, it can be perceived as having a bad attitude.) Lighten up! It’s OK to make mistakes.
You’ll have ups and downs, but trust in the fact that you’re on the right track. Try not to be in a hurry to achieve everything all at once, because if you rush you’ll miss the fun of it all. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
Jennifer Stahl, a principal dancer at the San Francisco Ballet
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“There are definitely times when it’s hard and you can lose track of the big picture and what’s really important,” Stahl said. “I think the key is being patient with yourself. It’s easy to want to just be back full force, but it’s important to know that every little step adds up, even if it’s tiny.”
How to get better, faster! — London Ballet Classes
London Ballet Classes
London Ballet Classes
Do you feel like you spend a lot of time dancing but make relatively little progress? Does it feel like irrespective of the effort you aren’t getting any better? As with everything in life, improving in ballet is about working smart, not just working hard. Practice for the sake of practice is ineffective, we must employ a great deal of consciousness in order to progress. Read on for our top tips on how to get better faster!
I swear by getting to every class 15 minutes early. Why? Because a warm up before class is excellent preparation – physically and mentally. Firstly, warming your muscles and body up with a few simple joint rotations, sit ups and kicks helps you to get far more out of the barre. A warmer body will give you a slightly greater range of motion and you will be more ready to push yourself. Secondly, a warm up before the barre is a quiet way to centre yourself, after a while you may find it becomes a little ritualistic and you feel weird without it. It is a few minutes to reconnect with your breath and get in tune with your body. This active effort of centring usually leads to better focus and a better class
Go back to the basics
Progress is quick in the beginning as there is so much we can learn. After a while of improving, we can feel we have plateaued, we feel stuck and simply can’t get to the next level. It could be that no matter how long you’ve danced, you still can’t pirouette, or your turn out is still stuck at 30 degrees! When we repeatedly hit a road block, it can indicate that our fundamentals aren’t quite right. Going back to the basics means checking the foundations of your training. Is your pelvis neutral? Are you engaging the right muscles? Do you start and land your moves in the right positions? Correcting our basic alignment can often dramatically improve our balance, coordination and the consistency of our movement
It is very tempting to ‘cheat’ in class – trust me, I get it. When I see my turnout in the mirror, I am certainly tempted to push my feet outwards and draw a perfect 180 line. All this does is strain my ankles and knees and limit my ability to work out the correct muscles. In general, forcing our bodies into positions we don’t yet have the strength or flexibility for is physically damaging and delays improvement. Whilst we may get away with it at the barre, it certainly won’t work in the centre. There is a definite trade-off between making a move look momentarily nicer and doing the move correctly. We may feel less good about the latter, but it provides an opportunity for genuine improvement. When we cheat, we remove that opportunity. Cheating means we train ourselves into creating the illusion of something, rather than actually doing it. It is hard to turn in and to lower the extensions, but sometimes it is necessary. We have to do things right before we can do them well
When people give you corrections – write them down!
This might sound obvious and basic, but it is true. Apparently, we retain approximately 20% of what we hear, hence, writing things down is an important exercise. Though we may absorb information in the moment, if you find yourself hearing the same corrections again and again, take the initiative to remind yourself and self-correct during class. The more progress we make on our own, the more our teachers can push us to the next level.
Do your work outside of the studio
Nobody ever got better by practising in the studio alone. This is a fact. Advancing in ballet depends a lot on conditioning. Strengthening your feet, improving your flexibility, core exercises and stamina are hard to develop in class alone. It is this conditioning that keeps you in peak physical condition and helps you to get the most out of your class. Enhancing your stamina helps you to push yourself in class, better core strength enables better extensions, and Pilates and yoga can improve general balance and coordination. In particular, if there is one move you just don’t get, you have to repeat it, again and again and again - in your own time! To improve, we need to rely on our muscle memory, there is simply not enough time in class to develop it. The majority of classes work your memory and your ability to learn and perform steps relatively quickly. A different set of skills is required to deeply understand the movement, even mentally visualising and recalling steps helps.
Choose a focal point!
There is so much going on in ballet – your feet, legs, core, arm alignment, head alignment and so on and so on! It can be so overwhelming, particularly when we try to master everything at once. To really improve, we need to be strategic. This can happen organically at the beginning of taking up ballet, e.g. you focus on your feet alone, because you don’t have the capacity to do anything else. However, once we get more coordinated and can follow classes better, we stop specialising, we try to do everything. I have a long list of things I am working on – all the time. And I know I can’t do it all at once. I often don’t hold my arms correctly and don’t engage my back, I also often sickle my feet. It is hard to improve everything at once. At the barre, I consciously focus on my feet, ensuring I use the floor and move through demi-pointe. Then in the centre, I shift my conscious awareness to my arms, and ensure they are fully extended.
It might sound like a lot of effort, but the conscious decision to focus on one thing can also make dance more enjoyable, it feels more manageable and we are better able to recognise when we have improved. Choose one thing to focus on at a time, and shift this focus throughout the class.
Learn the terminology
Becoming more familiar with the terminology can enhance your ability to pick up moves in class and put more complex sequences together. When the names of moves becomes more familiar, our mind is better able to comprehend a sequence of exercises. We can then shift our attention from memorising to executing, and this helps us to improve faster.
Lastly and most importantly, give up your sense of embarrassment
The biggest thing that deters us from improving is a fear of embarrassment, of getting things wrong and looking awkward. To improve, you need to challenge yourself. Once we get more comfortable, we can stop seeking this challenge out. We can get complacent and do what we know we can, afraid of looking silly if we try something new. Consciously push yourself in class. Try more turns, dance more expressively, stand at the front of class. For more ideas on how to do this – check out our blog post London Ballet’s Class Challenge’ - containing 10 ideas on how to push yourself further in class! Let us know how you get on.
Do you have any other tips on how to improve faster? Share them in the comments below!
Tagged: Beginner Ballet, Ballet in London, Ballet, Adult Ballet, royal ballet, ballet tips, warm ups, floor barre, holistic ballet, yoga, pilates, conditioning, dancer, dance
How to become a dancer who does not interfere with anything?
Who is a dancer? A person who moves his arms and legs to the beat of music or his own internal rhythm is the simplest definition. From the point of view of art, the body is the same instrument as the cello or violin. This instrument expresses emotions, feelings and moods. Dancing is no less an art than wielding a brush. The harmonious unity of the mind, soul and body is important here.
Someone thinks that the ability to dance is an innate talent sent from above. This is not always the case, everyone can become a dancer. Anyone who loves music, who enjoys moving to it, is in fact already a dancer, in the broadest sense of the word. However, to become a truly professional dancer, you need aspiration, desire and perseverance.
As a rule, the title of a professional is given to someone who has studied several years in a dance class. Behind him are more than a dozen performances on stage, knowledge of the names of all dance movements and a pack of costumes on hangers.
When it comes to street dancing style, the academic school will not help here. A professional on the street is the one who dances the best in the area. Many people ask: how to become a street dancer? Only one way: watch and repeat. Watch how they do, what they do, what kind of music. Repeat at home in front of the mirror, over and over, until the result is satisfactory. The style of street dancing has long been on the stage, and you can learn it in studios with teachers. Of course, even when working in the studio, you cannot do without repetitions at home. You need to constantly hone your movements.
Success in the art of dancing directly depends on the goals set. Some want to dance professionally in the styles of Hip-Hop or Go-Go, others strive for a professional career in ballroom dancing, and others have long dreamed of participating in dance theater productions. People who from the very beginning wonder how to become a professional dancer often become the leading choreographers and art directors of their own dance studios.
Where to get knowledge to achieve your goals? We have already talked about the method of observation and self-study, as well as classes in dance circles. Another way to learn is to participate in master classes by visiting specialists and dance competitions. Any professional activity, including dancing, requires the intervention of experienced teachers. Dance competitions will help you get the necessary criticisms and tips to improve your technique. Naturally, one must be prepared for disappointments. But not a single remark should stop a true dancer on the way to his goal.
When a person thinks about how to become a good dancer, he thinks about how to acquire technique and finesse of movement, while forgetting about personal qualities. But they are no less important than the baggage of knowledge and experience gained. A lot is decided by the energy and charisma of the author of the issue. Does he have a talent, or does he mechanically repeat the learned movements? Is he lethargic or does his temperament make him get up from his chair and give a standing ovation? It is personal qualities that sound the very final chord that affects success.
Along the way, in the world of dance, physical abilities are improved, as well as spiritual traits of a person's character. Success in this field can boost self-confidence.
When deciding what events to go to and how to become a dancer, the main thing to remember is that you should like the dance style. The body should literally "tear to dance" with the sounds of salsa or flamenco. Dance revives energy and mood. After all, it is not without reason that there is an opinion that dance is life.
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I want to dance.10 misconceptions about dancing
The desire to learn to dance is natural and natural in the modern world. You can list the reasons, starting with obvious and popular pragmatic desires, for example, to start moving or losing weight, ending with unconscious and even existential ones.
This is due to the fact that dancing is at the subtle intersection of the inner and outer worlds, physical and spiritual. Above this, music becomes a driver that cannot leave anyone indifferent.
In dancing there is magic inside a person, which is not always noticeable when observed from the side. At the initial stage, it is the external picture that attracts to dances, and sometimes repels, as it seems too frivolous and superficial.
But there are even stronger obstacles that stop many people from starting dance lessons. These illusions and delusions roam the minds of the majority, and are often afraid to ask about them directly, or they ask the question about it so often that they are no longer ready to hear an honest direct answer. I will try to do it in this article.
There are many examples of contemporary dance instructors sharing their thoughts about not expecting to be in the dance industry. Once upon a time there was a man and was engaged in adult, serious business. Sometimes even very serious. A person could have children and even grandchildren. I saw dances only on stage or on TV. For reasons unknown to himself, he ended up in dances. At first, everything seemed like entertainment and a useful pastime. But time has passed, and a person catches himself thinking that he thinks about dancing not just every day, but really all the time. A couple of years pass, and he already becomes a teacher or organizer of some event.
A similar path can start at 15 or 55 years old. The only difference will be in the self-perception of the starting stage, that it’s too late to dance. In fact, for each age there is its own dance direction, which can reveal it to the greatest extent at this stage. Hip-hop or breaking is closer to children and teenagers, and Argentine tango is closer to adults. It's never too late to start dancing. You need to make the right choice of dance style based on several parameters: age, gender, music, goal. There is a dance direction for any arrangement.
Misconception 2: Men don't dance
Our culture has a number of restrictions related to dancing. Most of these causes are psychological and lie outside the realm of rational reasoning.
First, in our culture, in principle, dancing for pleasure or self-expression appeared relatively recently. 20-30 years ago dance clubs were only for children. To start dancing even in adolescence was considered exotic.
Secondly, the aesthetics of the body in our country for men is not in the focus of attention. In general, this can be attributed to the fact that Russian men try hard not to draw attention to their appearance and clothing. Men in our country use other tools for this.
Third, dancing is associated with entertainment and alcohol. If a man feels serious and respectable, then he either does not have time or desire for this.
Nowadays the general cultural background has changed and the result is that men are learning to dance. It becomes as much a sign of masculinity as clothing, hair or beard.
Unfortunately, many misconceptions remain even among those who have already started dancing. Dance teachers do not always pay attention to this, as it seems to them that this is a matter of course.
Fallacy 3: special training is needed
For the outside observer, there is always a cognitive dissonance about what dance is. What he sees on the big stage in the form of a show with sweeping movements and splits is obviously dancing. Breakers doing unimaginable elements in the air and on their hands, competing with each other, also seem to be dancing. Pensioners in the park waltz. Dancing again, but for some reason everyone is so different. How to understand that this is a dance, and what physical criteria should be in the body.
In fact, any self-expression through the body to music can be attributed to dance. There are a number of reservations, but they are not essential. For self-expression, a person uses the set of plastics that he has. Subtlety and technique do not depend on extreme ways of self-expression, and it often happens that splits and somersaults interfere with a meaningful dance. The development of plasticity and the expansion of the body's capabilities are part of the preparation of the dancer, but not an end in itself.
Misconception 4: You must learn to dance in pairs
In couple dancing, the final learning outcome is that the couple dances at a party. It would seem that you should always train together to get the desired result. This is not true. Let's take an example from boxing. An indicator of a boxer's skill is a fight with an opponent, but this does not mean that he constantly has to fight. Also, the ability to dance is built on the possession of one's own body and the ability to interact.
The skill of the teacher is the correct selection of methods so that the student masters the skill. Based on the skill, you can engage in creativity and self-expression in dance. Not everyone knows, but it is no coincidence that almost all social dance dancers have a serious dance background, which is based on the development of individual techniques.
The same can be attributed to the interaction in a pair. The ability to separate in oneself the one who leads and the one who follows the lead is impossible within the framework of studying the sequence of movements in pairs. For this, there are special exercises that make the skill more versatile. For this, the presence of a permanent couple is not necessary, as well as the regular presence of a partner in general.
IMPORTANT! You can’t experiment at a party, and everything should be in its place there: men dance with women.
Getting rid of illusions is a complex internal process. If you leave them to yourself, you can even get the opposite result.
Misconception 5: plastique and stretching are mandatory attributes of dance
Much depends on the genre of dance that you want to master. In previous articles, I have already mentioned that different dance styles are suitable for different ages. It is appropriate to dance hip-hop in adolescence or youth, Argentine tango is a more adult dance, it is important to enter classical choreography at a young age.
The degree of necessary plasticity and sensitivity to the dance direction also correlates. For example, breaking requires great physical effort and dexterity. Elements are built on acrobatics and high speed of execution. Who are they more suitable for? Obviously young people.
There is a lot of interaction in salsa. It is necessary to feel the partner subtly, to be able to show a variety of figures and elements. Twine or acrobatics are completely inappropriate here. However, a variety of ways to show oneself are required. Accordingly, the dance is youthful, but not at all childish.
The older the dance, the less stretching or acrobatics is required. The main emphasis is on the quality of technology, the variety of ideas and the ability to show plasticity.
Misconception 6: Mirrors are necessary for learning
There is a set of instruments that dancers use to learn how to dance. The fact is that the dancer needs to receive feedback on how his movements look from the side. It is impossible to dance and see yourself from the side at the same time. The most common tool is a mirror. But not the only one.
Like any auxiliary tool, mirrors have positive and negative effects. The positive is that they can receive feedback in real time and technically it is not very difficult. The downside can be dependence on mirrors. A situation where a dancer cannot capture the feeling of dancing, such as on stage or at a party. For these purposes, you can use, among other things, video filming or proper preparation.
In many countries in Latin America, dance classrooms are not equipped with mirrors. Classes are held in bars or large halls. The dancers initially form the skill of focusing on the inner sensation, and not the habit of looking for their reflection in the mirror with their eyes.
Misconception 7: there is a lot of obsceneness in dancing
A common question from novice dancers who are taking their first steps in more contact couple dances is “in order to dance cool, there must be passion inside the couple?”. I immediately answer that no, not necessarily. Kizomba, bachata and Argentine tango attract many with their close contact. Like any other contact in our everyday life, in dances, contact can be different. We hug friends, parents, children. These hugs can wear many different shades. Sexual overtones are one of many.
The culture of dance also includes the boundaries of what is acceptable. A compliment from a well-mannered person is different from a statement about female sexuality by a gopnik. Usually, those who study at a dance school already have an idea of what boundaries should not be crossed. A good dance from a technical point of view will never look vulgar or vulgar.
Dancers always have a choice about the boundaries of contact. Most prefer to leave a good impression of themselves, as word spreads just as fast in the dance world.
Misconception 8: the best dancers are the bearers of culture
Even the very question of the origin of this or that dance can be paradoxical and ambiguous, especially when it comes to its development and performance.
For example, the Viennese waltz did not originate in Vienna, but in Germany. Salsa has its main roots in the USA, not in Cuba. The famous Greek folk dance sirtaki was invented for the film "Zorba the Greek" and appeared only in 1964.
The same can be attributed to the development of modern dance styles. Korea is known for its world-leading break dancers. People go to Turkey for Argentine tango, Spain is strong with excellent salsa and bachata dancers, in Egypt, Russians are considered the best belly-dance performers.
A good dance is based on quality training and diligence. Skin color, place of birth and age are secondary. Exotic appearance, unfortunately, is often a reason to be more superficial about one's own professional development. This becomes the reason for the low level of teaching among the bearers of culture. I am sure that few readers of this post will be ready to conduct a master class in Russian folk dance outside of Russia.
The mastery of mastering and teaching a particular style does not depend on the dancer's homeland. And "they absorbed the dance with their mother's milk" is nothing more than a common misconception.
Misconception 9: You have to know a lot of moves to learn how to dance
Focusing on learning a lot of moves often detracts from the essence of dance. Of course, the sequence of figures is important. Especially at the start. Over time, the dancer should have an understanding of how movements can be generated independently. Accordingly, instead of memorizing millions of figures, you can understand how to create them.
From every system of improvisation that a dancer can use as an instrument, dozens, hundreds or thousands of variations are derived. This frees the head from trying to reproduce the exact sequence and definitely adds freedom in the performance of the dance.
The huge theme of musicality can be attributed to the same question. Not every pre-conceived or learned sequence will fit specific music. The dance should give freedom, and not drive the dancer into the shell of the ropes.
Misconception 10: dancing is homosexual
The unusually high attention to the body and the flair from stories about professional ballet led to the spread of this myth, among other things. Unfortunately, such an idea still exists in the minds of our fellow citizens.
The dance industry is now very broad and is represented by many dance styles. Some of them can even be called homophobic. Dances reflect the general attitude to the world and it is different depending on the life position and worldview of a person.
In many dances there is contact between the dancers. In Russia, dance contact between men has always been perceived very intensely. In most other countries it is different. An example of the fact that this tension is associated only with the dance theme and does not apply to other areas is, for example, wrestling. When practicing techniques, men are in much closer contact with each other. Sometimes lying on the floor and holding each other tightly. The historical roots of Greco-Roman wrestling are also ambiguous from a sexual point of view. But in our country, unlike dance, they are perceived as acceptable and brutal.
Dance, like the culture of speech, makes a modern person more successful and self-confident.