What seems to be stopping people from practicing is “boredom”. They’ve tried practicing but gave up very quickly because they got “bored”.
This is true and I would also give up if I had no idea whether it will improve my dancing or not and would prefer doing something more productive with my time.
The reason for “boredom” is because you’ve been doing it all WRONG!
When we know something is fun and it gives us a self-satisfaction feeling, we all make time for it even if we are ‘too busy’ or don’t have time.
This blog follows on from my previous short blog What To Practice in Zouk Solo and now I will share with you a method that is very effective for practicing Zouk solo and making it super fun!
When you get this right, you’ll be practicing everywhere & anywhere after this and can’t wait for your next practice or class session!
Start By Changing Your Attitude
- Practice isn’t a chore, don’t treat it as that because the moment you do, it will become a chore.
- When practicing with others, it isn’t their job to entertain you or make it fun for you. It is your responsibility, so YOU make it fun for YOU!
- Do not be afraid to experiment and play around with what you’ve been taught or trying to learn.
- It’s okay to fail 1000+ times because failing is how your body and mind work, by learning the changes in each failed attempt in getting closer until it feels right.
- My perspective of practice is a means of self-discovery and I perceive dance, not as a skillset or hobby but a burning passion, a philosophy, and a way of life.
Make It FUN
The below illustration ‘Make it FUN’ gives you an overview of how I inject variants into the ‘Solo Dance Practice Pyramid’ to make it interesting and FUN. I could practice this all day long if time permits!
- What I tend to do is break Zouk down into its simplest components or forms (you would end up with some of the basic Zouk movements). Now using just these to dance Zouk solo while mixing them up to make it interesting, and I do this at every practice session for months without ever getting bored.
- Pay very close attention to your weight shift (transfer) between feet because you will notice that most movements will feel and look great if you had shifted weight correctly. If you listen to your body carefully enough, you will start understanding the correlation this weight shift has on your balance and vertical axis position.
- My practices are always done with music on while experimenting with the speeds & musicality, shapes, directions, heights, rotations, and inducing different types of emotional energies into very simple techniques, concepts, and basic movements. (Need some Zoukable music? Click here!)
- Here is a list of emotional energies you could try and explore in your practice to connect with yourself, the ground and the music:
- Suffering and weeping.
- Low spirits, anxiety, grief, dejection, despair.
- Joy, high spirits, love, tender feelings, devotion.
- Reflection, meditation, ill-temper, sulkiness, determination.
- Hatred and anger.
- Disdain, contempt, disgust, guilt, pride, helplessness, patience, affirmation and negation.
- Surprise, astonishment, fear, horror.
- Self-attention, shame, shyness, modesty, blushing.
- The emotions list above is taken from the chapter-headings in Darwin’s book ‘The expressions of the emotions in man and animals’. — There are many emotions you may want to practice (alone), but not actually use on the dance floor so you don’t freak someone out or make yourself a weirdo! lol 😀
- Count the beats as you listen and move to the music ( the strongest beat is 1 – looonnng movement). 1…5…1…5…1…5…1…etc.
- Do all the above points with and without mirrors; learn to actively feel where your axis is, posture, body part positions and any tensions (shoulders down, relax!).
- Here are some video examples for inspirations how fun it is:-
- Fun with Lateral and Basic Steps! Special thanks to Sydney Schiff for being a bundle of joy! Like her FB group for more fun posts at Zouk Dance Club at U of M & Ann Arbor!
- Footwork Combinations by Shawn Phan. Special thanks to Alisson Sandi for sharing this with me! Like his FB page for some very interesting dance discussions and tips at Alisson Sandi.
- All of this can be applied to practicing with a partner for improving leading and following skills. However, I would highly recommend spending a good portion of your practice time on Zouk solo.
- Remember – dancing isn’t mechanical, and if you’ve been practicing like this, it’s the likely reason why you do get bored. At the same time, you have drilled into your body to dance very mechanically, emotionally dead and actually become one of those boring dancers. No no, that’s the opposite of what we’re trying to make you, not boring! 🙂
So now you know the key to eliminating “boredom” and making practices fun are to add emotional energies (important) into your dance. It really is worth practicing this skill that will allow you to draw it out from within and then infuse it into your dance (regardless if it’s solo or partner dancing).
Give this a try and soon you’ll find new life in your dances, that practicing is super fun and your progression rate increases. Win-win-win!
This method does require great self-discipline, patience, and frustration over long extended periods of time, but you will find it offers much better results in both the mid and long run. If you can do this, then you have another key ingredient that makes a great dancer!
Solo Dance Alternatives
Alternatively, learning other solo dances are highly beneficial and would follow in the line with some of what was explained in this and the last few blogs. Here are some good ones you should try:
- Afro House
- Street Dance
- Dance Hall
For this Zouk family, we are giving a lot of our time and effort to help promote a safer and well-informed dance community.
If you believe in a safer & well-informed dance community, it is within all our power to help those new in the Zouk to grow healthily. You can show your support and love for our entire Zouk family by sharing our blogs to provide the additional guidance and right mindset that starters need for a lifetime journey in dance.
Together, we can build a better and stronger Zouk family than ever before! Share this love now! 🙂
Hoi from DZ