Whether it’s your first dance class or you’ve been dancing for years, struggling with self-confidence is something that most dancers can relate to, if not all of them. But building confidence as a dancer is essential. A dancer is constantly putting themselves on the spot. Whether you’re on stage in a competition or you’re taking your regular technique classes, there are always eyes on you. When the pressure is on, it’s easy to start questioning yourself. Why is your teacher looking at you like that? Did you make a mistake? Did they see you fall out of that turn? Why are your classmates looking at you like that? Did they see you fall out of that turn? What comes after this eight-count? Can everyone tell that you don’t know what comes after this eight-count?
A dancer’s training is not just physical—it’s also mental. Not only do we push our bodies to be strong, but we also have to develop the same strength in our minds. Because even though you have all those questions and doubts buzzing around in your head, you still have to keep dancing, and you have to do it with a smile or without breaking character. A dancer’s complete package is not just their technique, but the essence of their performance. Their presence is just as important as the steps and timing—sometimes more important. We all know the types of dancers that perform and sell the performance, and just go for it. And we all know how we feel when we watch them. But what we might not know is what it took for that dancer to become so confident. It probably wasn’t easy for them. But just like the technique itself, it takes practice. Here are 5 helpful tips for building confidence as a dancer.
1. Comparison is Normal, So Use It to Your Advantage
When the pressure is high, as it often is in the dance world, competition is inevitable—in auditions, competitions, and in class. There is always someone else to think about and always someone else to compare yourself to. Comparison can be a good thing. It can inspire you to jump higher, turn faster, be better. But comparing yourself to other dancers can do more harm than good if it leaves you feeling more uncomfortable, nervous, or self-doubting than where you started. You might notice that your classmate at the barre in front of you has a higher grand battement or can do more fouettes in the center without losing their spot. You might challenge yourself to stretch more for higher grand battements, or practice breathing and holding your spot at the barre before you come to the center for fouettes. That’s normal. Healthy competition, we would argue. You should want to challenge yourself to work harder and do better. But as you do it, the key to avoiding self-doubt and building your own confidence is to focus on improving your own technique, rather than envying someone else’s.
2. Become Familiar with How You Move
Since you’re focusing on your own technique, watch yourself in the mirror while you dance. It’s what they’re for, after all. But we know from experience that it can be intimidating to be faced with all those mirrors, especially for dancers who aren’t as confident or whose personalities are more on the shy side. All your flaws and insecurities are right there, on display for everyone to see. Even worse, they’re on display for you to see. But your body is the only one in the room that matters because it’s the only one that’s yours. Building true, genuine confidence in yourself as a dancer starts with really knowing yourself and becoming familiar with your technique and style, rather than shying away from it. The best way to do that is to start with your own reflection in the mirror. Learn to pay attention to your own body and become familiar with the way it moves when you dance. Could your body movements be bigger or smoother? Could your basic be stronger or more grounded? Could you hold your head a little bit higher? Take note of what you see when you dance—what looks right, what might need work—and get familiar with your own technique.
3. Ask All the Questions!
Not only do we take pride in our students, but we also take pride in the instructors who guide them. Whether they specialize in ballet, salsa, or contemporary dance, our instructors are passionate about their art. They are engaged and dedicated to providing their students with the best training possible because they understand their students’ goals. But they can also understand their frustrations and setbacks because they’ve been through it before. One way to improve your abilities and then boost your confidence in those abilities is to use the resources available to you—your teachers. Ask questions and get as much clarification as possible. We understand that speaking up in front of other people can be intimidating. If we’re already feeling unsure of ourselves, the last thing we want is to announce it to the entire class. But when a student asks questions, it lets the instructor know that the student is willing to put in the work to improve and succeed. That is what all Jordance instructors want for their students and they love to see confidence on their students’ faces and in their movements.
4. Learn to Encourage Yourself
Sometimes we tend to focus more on our weaknesses and mistakes, but every dancer has their own set of strengths. Maybe the dancer in front of you can do more turns than you can, but maybe you have beautiful lines, and that’s something to take pride in. Maybe it’s your first time in Level 2 Salsa and you feel intimidated by other students with more experience, but you deserve credit for completing Level 1 and then staying dedicated to your training. Acknowledge and accept your weaknesses as points for improvement, but don’t get so caught up in them that you forget to celebrate your strengths, too.
5. Fake It, Just a Little
With all that being said, no one is confident all the time. Most likely, you’ve had moments when you were unsure of yourself, your knowledge, or your technique. We’ve all been there. And we’ll all be there again. So during those moments when you’re still not 100% confident, you can always pretend. Roll your shoulders down and back and hold your head high. Chances are, nobody will be able to tell the difference.
At Jordance Studios, we take pride in training skilled dancers whose confidence comes from a strong technical foundation. To book a free trial class in ballet or Latin dance, click here or contact us at (702) 240-5040 and get Jordance on!