Ballroom Dance > Intimidated by people watching me practice

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Lai Lai, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. Lai Lai

    Lai Lai Member

    I cannot freely practice by myself in front of other people, and especially (so wrong and awkward, I know) in a presence of my teacher. I would appreciate any tips of how to get over this feeling and how to "dance like nobody's watching".
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  2. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    I don't think there's any real answer beyond repetition. Do it often enough and the other people will eventually fade into the background.

    Ok, one tip - if you don't already have a pair of wireless headphones, consider buying one. They may help you shut out the rest of the world.
    opendoor, scullystwin42 and atk like this.
  3. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    I also have this problem. I find it especially intimidating to practice when I know one particular instructor is observing out of the corner of his eye, fortunately that studio has a separate private space that I use to practice.

    Agreed that headphones help. One thing that is annoying is how often people try to talk to you while you are practicing. I once had an instructor (different one, not mine) calling advice across the room once when I was practicing before a lesson. I finally said "leave me alone" loudly (fwiw, I was practicing a choreo for an instructor in an entirely different genre, so whatever she was yelling at me was completely uninformed). And for some reason fellow students suddenly find the urge to chat. Headphones, so important.
    scullystwin42 and Lai Lai like this.
  4. Mengu

    Mengu Well-Known Member

    It took me a few months to get over my initial discomfort, my PW after 15+ years of dancing, still feels that discomfort when we practice, and she will never practice by herself. I suppose it's partly a matter of personality. I still get that tinge of discomfort when practicing in unfamiliar places, but I get used to a location pretty quickly now.

    A few things that might help...

    Concentration. When I practice, there are so many things I'm trying to focus on and concentrate on in my head, there is zero room for worrying about who all might be watching. I'm spatially aware of my surroundings, but everything and everyone is just a blob.

    Also, I can channel onlookers as a positive addition to my dancing. Especially when there are other great dancers on the floor, I feel a different energy in my own dancing and practice. It's something to embrace and feed off of.

    Another thing that can help is to say hi to people in your practice space. Most places I've practiced in have been typically populated by people I know, and a warm friendly environment, so there is no "stranger danger".
  5. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    If your goal is to engage in competition dancing, wouldn’t it make sense that you would want to learn to enjoy having people watch you? Do you find this to be a skill worth developing?
  6. Lai Lai

    Lai Lai Member

    Not really. I'd rather develop my technical skills. So, getting over discomfort of having people watch me practicing alone would be plenty. At least for now.

    I feel opposite way - unfamiliar places and strangers don't bother me much, but if there are people who know me - it's different.
  7. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    When I see dancers more skilled than myself practice it inspires me to improve. When I see dancers less skilled, I admire their dedication and discipline to practice, and that motivates me too. I cannot know if those seeing me feel the same, but I like to think so.

    And I say "see", not "watch" because it would be rather boring to actually watch me practice. Most of the time most people really are not watching, they just happen to glance around the room.

    I disagree with @DanceMentor . I enjoy competition, but I do not enjoy being watched like in a showcase. Comps are different. At least standard at comps. Maybe smooth, latin and rhythm dancers like being watched. But standard is body language for "Pardon my taking up this airspace... I'll just glide over there if you please..."
    Lai Lai and Dean like this.
  8. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Sure, but not at practice. Practice is where I do all of the things that I am terrible at, over and over and over, and all by myself. Competition is where I do all the things that I am good at. People are welcome to watch the latter. They are not welcome to watch me fail at something 7000 times until I figure out how to do it right.

    @Lai Lai - I use music (or sometimes just headphones, with nothing playing). From the time I leave the changeroom. And I don't say hi to everyone/anyone once I take the floor - that happens when I'm done. I start creating my bubble as soon as I arrive, because starting partway through practice doesn't work for me. People have learned that if my headphones are in, it's like I'm not there. They leave me alone, unless I engage - which I try to do on occasion, because I'm actually a nice person who likes people.

    I also had a word with my pro at one point, and asked him to stop watching me practice (he was kind of obvious, especially with the staring at me feet) - because it was making me want to only do what I do well, and I really needed to be doing the exact opposite. Practice is where I need to make a bunch of mistakes, to learn what's too much or too little... and him watching when he doesn't know what I'm working on means he could end up drawing erroneous conclusions. So he tries, and we start lessons with me telling him what I worked on and how it went, and asking questions that I came up with.

    But despite all that, I still prefer to practice when very few people are around - and there are certain people that I actively avoid practicing in front of, because they're a little judgy.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  9. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    It takes time to get used to it! i still get anxious. agreed with the headphones trick!!
    MaggieMoves likes this.
  10. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    All of this. I'm not even sure I can add anything, this encapsulates my thoughts and viewpoint exactly.
    FancyFeet likes this.
  11. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    I am actually somewhat shy and reserved off the floor... and a lot of times it spills over. When I compete or do a showcase though, I try to find a persona to be or emulate that allows me to get past it. Practice is different though because I'm too busy focusing on other things.

    Headphones help a lot.
  12. Squall

    Squall Member

    If you make an attempt to accept that your teacher will watch you, and also try to accept that you'll feel wrong and awkward about it (instead of trying to fight the feelings), you may start to feel better about it.

    It could also help to imagine practicing in your teacher's presence and doing the worst possible things, accepting whatever feelings you have, without judging. That is to say, imagine something much worse and get your mind used to it, so that the real thing becomes less bad by comparison.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  13. entheos

    entheos Member

    If someone wants to spend their time watching me practice, that's their business. If someone more advanced than me, wants to judge and give advice I welcome it (and clarify if they don't understand what it is that I'm trying to accomplish). If they are getting in the way, then I would kindly tell them I want to figure things out on my own.

    Easier said than done, but spectators adds some necessary pressure. Life can be messy, awkward, and unideal. Have to be able to do what you need to do under various circumstances. I try to learn to coexist and share with fellow studio people. Learn to increase focus and not be distracted so easily. To thrive in peaceful or chaotic environments.

    Life will always cycle between good and bad. Make the most and enjoy the good. Persist and learn from the bad. To become more consistent rather than reacting to external circumstances so much. Not everything that happens to you is your fault, but you can take full responsibility of how you perceive and react to it.
    Mengu likes this.

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