Getting out of a dancing rut

Getting out of a dancing rut

Our bodies like habit and repetition and that’s what gives us flow, but it can also lead to getting stuck in a dancing rut and boredom with your own movements.

It’s like learning to drive a manual car. When you start, there’s so much to think about that you go bunny-hopping down the street on more than one occasion.  But, once your body can move the clutch and the gear stick together and also navigate steering, braking and accelerating, then your thinking capacity can be used to navigate the traffic instead of actually just doing the driving. That’s why we learn to drive on a quiet road until our bodies have done these movements enough to be able to do them without thinking. Then once we’re confident with that, we tackle the freeway. And it’s the same with dancing, we practice our moves over and over until our bodies know what to do without thinking. Once you can do this, it’s great because you don’t need to ‘think’ about the steps any more and responsiveness and creativity to the music can take over. You then step out on that dance floor full of confidence and ready to take on any music.  If we needed to think about every single move we made all the time, we couldn’t get much flow in our dancing and it wouldn’t be enjoyable. So that’s why getting to the stage of dancing where we don’t need to think about our movements is great, but

Here’s the but. Once our bodies have learned to do a move and we’ve repeated the same thing over and over, often for years and years, our movements fall from our conscious awareness and we can find ourselves with unhelpful habits that we are unaware of. Unhelpful because: perhaps the way you are moving is causing some pain in your body; or you are unable to advance in learning more subtle movements; or you are becoming bored with your own dancing or repertoire. So, it can really help to spend some time on revisiting some basic movements with the attitude of being a beginner again. Take a really conscious approach to these movements. Forget what you know and just see what you actually are doing. Once you can see the way you habitually move, mix things up a bit and move in a way that you wouldn’t normally. Here’s a few movement explorations you can try to get started:

Always doing things on the right? Do your movements on the left.

You don’t even have to be dancing to do this. Any routine or repetitive action you do around the house can be great for waking up parts of your body and brain that have fallen into unconscious disuse. Use your opposite hand to wash the dishes or brush your teeth or scoop some ice-cream. It will feel weird at first, of course, but over time the dexterity in your other hand will get better and better and you’ll be balancing out your body.  Of course take a look at the movements you do when you’re dancing too, you will probably find that you will favour one side over the other, we all do.

Is there one part of your body you favour more than another? Get that neglected part moving.

Go through all parts of your body, moving and exploring how each part moves. Take a note of what movements you like and which ones feel unusual or strange. Once you find something that doesn’t feel like a usual movement for you, explore and practice it some more. In this way you’re waking up your body to more dancing and movement possibilities and awakening more of your ability to be creative.