How to train smarter, not harder as a freestyle dancer?
Most people will tell you that if you want to grow as a freestyle dancer, the best thing to do is go out of your comfort zone, which is good advice. You need to push your boundaries and go out of your comfort zone to progress as a freestyle dancer.
One of the things most people don't talk about is before you go out of your comfort zone, what if you could expand your comfort zone to the fullest?
You might be thinking, what do you mean by that, Nickel? I'm going to tell you now.
Let's see the difference between going out of your comfort zone and expanding your comfort zone.
What I mean by going out of your comfort zone is that you will do something in your dance that is entirely new for you.
Example: You are very good at arm movement, you spend a lot of time working on your arms, and you feel very comfortable. When it comes to going into floorwork, you are very uncomfortable because it is entirely new. That's what I mean by going out of your comfort zone.
You can be a really good freestyle dancer with arms, but it's completely new territory for you when you have to touch the floor.
When you decide to work on this weakness, you are going out of your comfort zone to get better with your movement.
Now, let's see what I mean by expanding your comfort zone before going out of it.
If you know that one of your strengths is your arms, and you are very creative with them, chances are you will not even ask yourself how you can expand your creativity even more in this area.
There is no limit to dancing. There is no limit to what you can achieve with your body and your creativity.
Even if you are powerful with your arms, it doesn't mean you have reached your max potential. You can expand your creativity much more.
But what we tend to do is when we feel comfortable with something, we will start looking for something else instead of using this strength to our advantage and thinking of how we can bring it to the next level.
By asking this question, you will realise that you didn't reach your limits and that you can push further.
Going out of your comfort zone is what people talk about the most, and there is nothing wrong with that, but there is a place to do that.
And I will explain when it will feel natural for you to go out of your comfort zone.
But before that, did you really spend enough time expanding and mastering your comfort zone?
By doing this, you start using a different approach because of what you already have and are good at it, you decide to become a master at it and master the technique you are already good at.
Now that you know the difference between going out of your comfort zone and expanding your comfort zone, the question is :
How can you expand your comfort zone?
We are going to cover three things
- The technical aspect of dancing
- The Music
- The Movement
In each aspect, you can spend time identifying the things you are already good at.
Example: Let's talk about the technical aspect of your style if you're a hip-hop dancer and you know that you are good at isolation, foundations, or footwork. You are aware that these are some of the technical aspects of your style but also your strengths.
Now you will ask yourself how to expand this area to make it even better than what you have right now.
Focus on what you already have. If you focus on that, you will start getting answers that will help you expand your comfort zone and master your craft.
Do not automatically think that you need to implement new information and new things in your dance to get better.
Focus on what you have and start analysing yourself.
Are you great at what you do? Do you master it to its full potential? Chances are you haven't done it.
The next question is
How to push further in this particular technique? How to master it?
Dancing is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to take time, discover, create, and explore. And when you feel you have explored enough, what you do is explore even more.
Analyse the technical aspect of your style.
How is your musicality? How do you explore the music? This is an area where you can spend much more time identifying how you can play with the music.
Are you already satisfied with the way you are playing with the music? If yes, that's great, but there is still room for improvement.
If you are comfortable with it, that's great. I'm not even talking about your weaknesses, I'm only talking about your strengths.
If you feel good, that's perfect.
Now is just about exploring more and expanding this comfort zone in your area.
Give yourself some challenges by listening to different music types, dancing more to the beat than on the beat.
Because when I dance to the beat, I know the music so well, I pretty much know how to hit everything, and I'm good at it. What if I was not hitting the beat that much but just choosing parts of the music that I wanted to shoot and, most of the time, dancing to the beat?
These things could help you identify your way of playing with the music and see how you can push it to the next level.
Look inside what you already have and find ways to expand your comfort zone.
Movement is another area where you can see your natural way of moving and understand why you move this way. This is very powerful.
Every person has a way of moving. Every dancer, over time, develops different patterns when dancing. Things that you do on a regular basis unconsciously. It's time to bring awareness, and it's about understanding your natural way of moving by asking yourself some questions and find out how you can improve in this area.
Why do I move this way? Is it because of the technique I have been using?
I'm talking about your natural way of moving, something that you already have inside you that you do regularly without even thinking about it.
Take some time filming yourself dancing and then studying what you do and how you do it. I guarantee that you will find some new ways to improve what you are already doing well by doing this exercise alone.
So before thinking about going out of your comfort zone, ask yourself if you have explored enough of what you already have.
Most dancers sometimes tend to neglect it because it is natural to them, so they look for new pieces of information to push them to the next level.
But most of the time, you already have the answers; you just need to explore it. By doing this alone, you will develop a much stronger identity as a freestyle dancer.
The great thing about this approach is that when you start focusing on expanding your comfort zone, you will realise at some point that you will start going out of your comfort zone naturally. At some point, your body is going to ask for more. You will go naturally towards the next step, you are not going to force anything, but focusing on what you already have and spend time to become a master at it; the more you get better at it, the more you are getting to the next step, the next challenge.
You are going out of your comfort zone but more naturally. That's why going out of your comfort zone is a good thing, but it has to be done at the right timing. Otherwise, you can easily get overwhelmed and confused.
It is part of the process but do not rush it.
You can use this approach in everything you do, focus on what you do, and naturally move to the next step.
If you'd like more help and support on your dance journey – consider joining Beyond The Moves, our membership community and get access to in-depth freestyle dance programs, coaching and support. So you always feel confident that you're on the right path. And have absolute clarity on how and what to work on to progress faster than ever.