Once upon a time there was a shy, timid, and petite little girl. Her loving home and surroundings were filled with music and song. The music would overwhelm her heart into movement. Her movement became her sign language. Dance became her bold and expressive voice. Confidence grew as the little girl grew. When the child matured into a young women her dance took her to near and far places. She danced on stages, at schools, and in churches. Most importantly the young woman danced when she was happy, confused, sad, or even content. The young woman discovered she did not need an audience to dance. She danced for herself and from the heart.
No matter where life takes you always dance and be young at heart.
One place I love watching people improv or “dance” is at weddings. The reason I love watching people dance at weddings is because it’s care-free. It’s genuine. When people go out on the dance floor at weddings, they don’t care if they look like a fool or if they’re the best out on the dance floor. What they do care about is having fun, and just moving to the music.
So why is it when we step into a dance class and the teacher says to improv, 99% of us (myself included) get nervous? And I’ve noticed it’s after we’ve reached a certain age. When I teach my nuggets, and I tell them to freestyle or dance, they do whatever comes to mind when the music plays. Why can’t that be us when we’re older? Why are we scared or nervous all of a sudden? Or where does this fear come from?
I believe that when we improv or freestyle, we actually become dancers. Once we let the music take over, our bodies just naturally move. Have you ever listened to a song and just started jamming out with your friends? That’s IMPROV! It’s the same concept for when you’re in the studio.
Here’s a few tips to help you feel more comfortable with improvisation or freestyling:
- Listen to your music. When we listen to music, we already have a natural reaction to the beat. Whether it be a head bop, a snap of your fingers, tapping your foot, etc. Let your body naturally adjust to the music. How’s the song make you feel? Sad? Happy? Emotional? Excited?
- GROOVE! Let your body move around. It could be as simple as a step-touch. When you let your body move around, you’re letting the music take over.
- Experiment. It’s okay to try new things when you improv. This is how we start to grow. If you always catch yourself waving your right arm, or doing the same turn; try a different variation of the move. By experimenting you’re just adding to that bank of moves your body knows.
- Have fun! The biggest takeaway is to have fun. At the end of the day, you got to ask yourself…”why do you dance?”. I dance because it’s my outlet. It’s a way for me to escape from everything else for that little minute of time. I don’t have anything to worry about in that moment.
Think of it like this. You have a blank wall in front of you - the dancers floor; with a buckets of paint - the music. Dancers are the paintbrush. We have a gift as dancers. We get to bring the music to life.