How to Dance Like No One is Watching | Live Q&A with Coach Kayla

Today’s Topic: How to Dance Like No One is Watching

Hi Everyone, I’m coach Kayla.  I am a coach here at Complete Performance Coaching.  I work specifically with dancers and cheerleaders.  I also work with swimmers and football players as well, but my niche is working with dancers and cheerleaders.  Today we’re going to be talking about this phrase – how to dance like no one is watching.  I feel like for a lot of coaches and parents, it’s this big phrase that to tell dancers.  We say, “Hey, just dance like no one is watching,” and what we mean is dance like you don’t care about anything.  Dance like you’re free and really achieve peak performance.

My Background

A little background on myself, I was a collegiate swimmer, dancer, and cheerleader.  I did all three sports and I absolutely loved it.  I’ve been cheering since I was nine years old.  I was on the San Francisco 49ers cheerleading team for six years.  I absolutely love dancing and cheering.

Goals For Class

I am currently a dance teacher.  I love teaching every week.  One of the reasons why I’m bringing up this topic is because with my students, before we dance, after the warmup, we always go around and share a goal that we have for the dance class.  I think it’s so important to always walk into a dance class with a goal.  Almost always there are at least two people who will say, “My goal today is to just dance like I don’t care, like no one is watching,” so we are really going to tap into this phrase today.

Being Present

When I think about the phrase “dance like no one is watching”, I think about how I achieved that for myself.  It’s always been my goal to really be in tune with my soul and my heart every time I’m dancing or choreographing.  One of the ways that I achieved that is I bought two rocks.  One rock says “let it be” on it and the other rock says “passion”.  Before I choreograph (I come up with a new routine every week for my dance class), I always hold those rocks in my hand.  I look at the words “passion” and “let it be” and those words remind me of being in the present moment.  That’s one way to dance like no one is watching – focus on the present moment and be in the here and now.

Find Your “Why”

I’ll hold those rocks and lay on the dance floor and close my eyes.  I use imagery, breathing techniques, and I kind of incorporate a bunch of sports psychology techniques that are really going to help make me feel grounded.  The rocks have a little bit of weight to them so they can really help with sinking into the dance floor, calming down your breathing and your mind.  I lay on the floor and I remind myself why I stepped into the dance studio that day.

You all can do this as well.  You can decorate your own rocks.  A lot of psychologists do that with their clients.  My rock says “let it be” because for me that means just let anything be, and just stay focused on the present moment.  Don’t focus on the past or the future.  Let it go.  Just focus on today.

Feeling Stuck

The passion rock reminds me of how I’m so passionate about dance.  I took a positive psychology course recently, and I learned one of the most valuable pieces of information.  The professor was talking about how a lot of our anxieties, fears, and worries come from being stuck too far in the past or in the future.  This got me thinking about how if I’m ever sad or clients are ever sad about something, it’s usually something that’s happened in the past or something they can’t control in the future.  Maybe they’re too far stuck in the future, thinking about something that hasn’t even happened yet and they’re really anxious and worried about it.  We ultimately want to achieve being in the present moment in order to focus on the here and now.

What’s In Your Control?

Focus on what you can control because you can’t control necessarily the past or the future 100 percent.  You can create goals in the present moment to hopefully affect the future, but it’s really important to try and ground yourself with breathing exercises, everything to stay in the present moment.

Bringing Music To Life Through Dance

Another reason why it’s important to focus on the present moment, how it will allow you to achieve “dance like no one is watching” is because choreography pulls emotion out of you.  I always tell my students that it’s our job as dancers to bring the music to life, to bring the choreography to life through that emotion.  You can’t do that unless you’re in the present moment.  So you have to be present and let whatever feelings and emotions flow through you.

A lot of the time people can see the emotion and the feeling on your face while you’re dancing.  You can tell when someone is just lost in the moment and it’s because they’re letting certain emotions flow through them and they’re just letting it be.

Positive Self-Talk

Another way to dance like no one is watching it to have a dialogue with yourself while dancing.  This can be internal or external.  In sports psychology, we always talk about having that internal dialogue, that self-talk with yourself.  I’ll record myself dancing and playback the video.  I laugh because I don’t even realize I’m saying all these things to myself to pump myself up.  It really helps me really focus on being in the present moment.

Internal Dialogue

With internal dialogue, you can give yourself positive feedback, give yourself compliments.  You can use cue words. “I got this.  Keep going, keep pushing.”  If you keep forgetting to kick in a routine, I know sometimes a kick can come out of nowhere in a dance, so yelling “kick” or a saying internally can help remind you to execute that move in the routine.

External Dialogue

Giving yourself compliments is really important, too, because you’re honoring yourself and you’re honoring how you’re dancing at that moment.  That can really give you that boost to keep going.  It can also really energize you because if you’re dancing like no one is watching, then you should be pumping yourself up.

Using The Mirror

Another interesting way to dance free is to get in tune with yourself by looking at yourself in the mirror.  When I was on the 49ers Gold Rush team, I danced with 39 other girls.  It can be so easy to compare yourself to other people’s dance styles or abilities and it can be extremely distracting.  One way I was able to dance like no one was watching and really focus on the present moment was only being in tune with myself in the mirror and how I was dancing.  I feel like I was connecting with myself in my energy when I was looking at myself in the mirror.

Headphones

Try to tune out everything and just focus on yourself in the mirror.  Be very laser-focused on yourself because it’s all about you.  If you’re trying to dance like no one’s watching, a great way to practice is putting on headphones and going into the dance studio.  I have my rocks and I’m meditating on the floor.  Once I get up and I start dancing, I’ve been freestyling, by myself, with my headphones on, to a bunch of different music and I’m just letting my body move how it wants to.

Freestyling – Practicing Being Free

Sometimes there are a lot of people in the studio and I am trying to train my body and mind to tune all that out and to just focus on me freestyling.  Some people will get uncomfortable with freestyle dancing because you’re practicing being free.  You’re practicing dancing like no one is watching.  You’re working through being somewhat uncomfortable and then eventually just dancing.  Dancers, you can totally practice that.  I highly recommend it.  I’ve been doing it lately. Freestyle makes me uncomfortable sometimes, but it does help for when I am in these dance classes or I am performing and I’m required to freestyle.  I’ve already practiced it.

Where Are You?

So try and create a routine around the things I mentioned on how to dance like no one is watching, which is focused on the present moment in the here and now.  If you’re ever anxious, worried or sad, really have that self-awareness and check in with yourself.  Ask yourself, “Where am I?”  If you could think of it on a spectrum, where are you?  Are you too far stuck in the past? Are you too far in the future?

WIth my clients, sometimes we’ll draw it out.  I’ll ask, “Where are you right now?”  Sometimes they are way too far off and so far away from the present moment.  So just check in with yourself.  You don’t need to write it down every time, but you’ll know if you’re not in the present moment or not.

Wrapping Up

Remember, imagery and meditating before you dance will help ground yourself.  Give yourself positive compliments and allow any emotions to flow through you while you’re dancing.  There are certain songs and choreography that pull from that emotion.  It’s going to call for you to be in the present moment.

Another thing we talked about was having a dialogue with yourself, whether that’s internal or external.  Pump yourself up.  Give yourself compliments.  Tell Yourself, “Wow, I did a really good body roll or a really good kick,” and you’ll learn how to have that natural dialogue with yourself when people are around.  You can do it when you’re actually by yourself.  It’s also really important to be in tune with yourself, so really try practicing looking only at yourself in the mirror.  Be so laser-focused on you.  You can really practice this and implement it all together by freestyling alone with your headphones.

So that’s the challenge I would love for everyone to try.  Once you try it, let me know what you think.  You can book a session with me here.  You can do a twenty-minute free consulting session with me.

Thank you so much for tuning in.  I hope you enjoyed the live today and I will see you next month.

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