I know this particular step could be cringy for some of you as it will require you to face the fear of watching and critiquing yourself in your dance videos. For some reason, over my years of teaching dance, the act of recording yourself was a major obstacle for many students. From a logical perspective, one could say, how are you going to become a better dancer, dance being a visual art form, without having any idea of what you look like dancing? I feel the main goal with recording yourself to increase your 6th sense. No, I’m not talking about seeing ghosts, I’m referring to the awareness of yourself as you move through space.
One deceptive aspect of dance is sometimes your brain thinks that your body is in a particular position but when you take a private lesson with an instructor, they can point out your true position (e.g. weight transfer, foot placement, arm position, spine alignment, etc.) because they are watching you in realtime. I’m sure many of you, including myself, can not afford to take unlimited private lessons with our favorite instructors. So, the next best thing is for you to RECORD YOURSELF and review yourself dancing to see if you are in fact doing the move or step your mind and body thinks it is. You may not know what to look for exactly when you first start out, but this is why many of you invest your time, money, energy to take dance classes, workshops, festivals, and private lessons.
What good are the tons of dance videos of festival recaps, workshops, and private lessons you have recorded if you don't rewatch those videos to “highlight” what you learned? And then never record yourself practicing to see if you are implementing the lessons and techniques THAT YOU INVESTED DECENT AMOUNTS OF TIME & GOOD MONEY TO LEARN??
I believe that as we become more experienced dancers we become more aware of how we invest our time, energy, focus, and money into our dance journey. We are all on our own dance journeys so the amount of what we are willing to invest is different for everyone. Per our individual desires of what we are willing to invest in our dancing, what we seek to get out of our dance investments is also different from person to person. What fulfills your dance love tanks? What parts of your dancing make it “worth it” to you? For some insight to help you figure this out, I highly recommend watching a YouTube video I did on the concept of Dance Love Languages that was created by Laura Riva. You can even take a quiz to find out what your dance love languages are!
With this higher level of awareness of what you are willing to invest in exchange for what fulfills your dance love tanks; you can now start the steps needed to design your ideal dance life to ensure you are developing the dance habits and routines that are most meaningful to you.
Within the Training Journal entries in the DTJ there is a section that where I’ve included a template where you can input your takeaways around the dance video that you are reviewing. There’s a section to add what your focus was, what your takeaways and highlights were, as well as what music was played during the lesson or class. These are the sections that I created to give a general overall start to the review process. The cool thing with Notion is that it’s completely customizable for you to create the prompts you need to review your videos. Afterward, you can add them to the template so you don’t have to recreate the prompts from scratch over and over. One aspect I try to keep in mind is to minimize the amount of repetitive tasks around the data entry process. Just like I mentioned before, filling out these review prompts with each video will allow you to be able to glance at the takeaways of a particular video and know what was covered without having to watch the whole video over again. If you do need to watch the video again, the timestamp section will help you be more efficient with this process.
If you were studying something you really wanted to learn by reading a physical or digital document, you would highlight the parts of the document that are important to you and that you want to be able to find again more easily than before. These highlights would save you the hassle of re-reading the entire document all over again by extracting the most important information. How would this “highlighting” process look for dance videos?
Through this process of reviewing your dance videos, you can extract the lessons learned, the lightbulb moments, the areas needing improvement, etc. I feel this aspect of progress to become a better dancer can be elusive when we aren’t intentional about our learning process and habits. We are all on our own journeys and what fulfills us in our dancing is also very individual. Based on what you are willing to invest in exchange for the dance fulfillment you desire will determine what you want to extract from your dance videos. My hope is with the DTJ it will give you a process and place to track what you invest (time, money, energy, and/or focus) into your dancing, which will lead to more intentional investment of the things that fulfill your dance spirit, which then provides you with a better sense of clarity. Clarity towards what actions and habits lead to your dance happiness and which actions/habits leave you feeling more drained or discouraged.
If you’re ready to start taking the steps to create a system for you to become a better dancer, you can get the Dancer’s Training Journal right now to start your path to becoming a better dancer, by clicking here. If you don’t want to miss out on the next blog that will dive into step 3, plan & track, I highly recommend joining my Intellectual Dancer Newsletter or my Intellectual Dancer’s Guild Discord Server. I hope this blog inspires you to take action today, see you in the next blog!