Not many beginners come along to modern jive classes and announce themselves a dancer after a few lessons. But why not? Maybe as soon as we start learning we should call ourselves dancers in hope and with optimism that it will come true and we will all become proficient, if not great, dancers.
Say the word ‘dancer’ and it conjures up images of professional dancers. Certainly not someone bumbling on the dance floor and forgetting steps. If you compare it to other professions or hobbies, they’re similar. Say you’re a photographer or writer, and most people presume you do it as a job or are paid to do it. Maybe there should be a word added – amateur dancer, or trainee dancer. Hobby dancer. Or social dancer because that’s what the majority of us are unless we teach or enter competitions.
But to say ‘I am a dancer’. What does it mean?
I dance – either currently, or are trained and having a break.
I’ve not danced for over a year now, but I still say I’m a dancer if people ask. I still have those skills, I’m intending to go back to it. I practice moves in the kitchen at home. It’s never going to be my job. But I’d like to differentiate myself from people who can’t or won’t dance, or just shuffle around in a nightclub.
At a class or freestyle night, I’m there to dance. Therefore I’m a dancer. So why don’t more people describe themselves as dancers even if they’re there as a hobby?
‘I’m not a dancer because’
- I’m not a professional
- I’m still learning
- I’m a beginner/improver
- I don’t know what I’m doing
- I enjoy dancing but I’m a bit rubbish.
Maybe if more people allowed themselves to believe they’re a dancer, their mindset would change to be more positive about their dancing. They might want to improve and invest more time in becoming a better dancer. They would be more confident and show themselves off as a dancer instead of being apologetic about moves going wrong.
If you see yourself as a dancer, you want others to see you as one too. You want to prove you’re worthy of the label dancer.
Improving your dancing has so many benefits for yourself and the people you dance with. Even professional dancers still train regularly and often take classes with other teachers.
While beginners aren’t going to find themselves believing they’re a dancer early on in their dance journey, if you’ve been attending lessons for years, then why not. Tell yourself you are a dancer. Start believing it and maybe you’ll find that positive thought will spur you on with your dancing.
I don’t remember when I made that mind change as I have been dancing for so many years. Often it takes other people showing you how much they like your dancing, whether in compliments, or just wanting to dance with you. Or recommending you to other dancers. It’s that boost to make you believe in your dancing more yourself. It’s not ‘very British’ to big yourself up in your skills, but if doing it makes you believe in yourself more, then let’s all change.
Let’s start saying ‘I am a dancer’ and then go and prove it. By going to class or to social dancing and dancing our hearts out like we believe it.
Other discussions on this topic
If you want some criteria to follow, here’s some tips (and some of them can definitely be applicable to modern jive) on relating to being a dancer;
a debate on being a (swing) dancer; and the mindset change of one person from person who dances to dancer.
Do you see yourself as a dancer? How long did it take you to think that and believe it?