Dancing - how to make a non-dancer move
Read this article from our Creative Director, Terezka. It explores the development of movement for artists and how to prepare them for performing on either a small or large stage.
Have you ever been to a fire jam, watched a performer's flow and wondered - how is it possible that it’s so captivating even though the actual tricks aren't that spectacular? Yet everyone cheers when he repeats the same simple trick for the tenth time.
There may be a lot of more technically advanced performers next to him, but they're still not as expressive. They don't have the stage presence he does. They're not as nice to look at.
Juggling and spinning can easily be done without getting into any movement that could be called dancing. But I think that's a big weakness of a lot of otherwise great performers. There’s everything in dance.
Note: My definition: A non-dancer - A person who thinks of themselves as incapable of aesthetic and coordinated movement to the rhythm of the music.
Non-dancer: "Am I supposed to learn a triple pirouette to get better at juggling or spinning?"
It's important to realize that the audience sees your whole body during the performance. Not just your hands doing cool tricks. That's why it's important to think about what the rest of your body is doing while you’re spinning.
Non-dancer: "I've never danced, I don't have the talent and I'm embarrassed to dance."
How do you know you can't do it if you've never danced? Plus. If you haven't tried properly, it's clear that dancing is not an activity you're gonna feel comfortable with.
It makes perfect sense that you're embarrassed, but trust me, it'll pass. Let's stop worrying about what anyone thinks. I used to be a really shy person, and it got better to the point when I was able to dance with pro dancers in a musical. If you're really embarrassed to move even when you're alone, turn the lights off (be careful about the furniture corners). No one will see you and the mirror won’t tell anyone what you look like when dancing.
Non-dancer: "Okay, but I don't know where to start with the "dance". Should I imitate the girls on Tiktok? Or find ballet lessons on YouTube?"
You're already taking the first step. You’re reading an article on how to get started, and I can recommend what has worked for me. It starts with changing your attitude and thinking about dance. =)
Think about what you want to express with the movement.
Dance is a movement I can use to express anything - nonverbal communication. You don't have to learn specific dance variations, spins, jumps or steps to improve your performance skill. Think about the impression from the specific movements you make when you spin/juggle. Because dancing can be different for everyone. It's about becoming aware of your body.
- Do you use the whole stage area in your performances?
- Do you tend to stay away from people or are you not afraid to get close to the audience?
- When you spin in front of people do you stand up straight or do you tend to slouch?
- When you do moves or poses, do you finish them?
How to make a non-dancer move?
Basically, dancing is as natural for us as, say, walking. Most of the time, we just didn’t find our way. The goal of this article is to move and upgrade your movement style. In the next exercises, I'm going to use whatever movement is natural for you as a base.
Dance lessons are great, online lessons on YT are great too. But personally, I improved the most by trying to find moves that I can use during spinning.
You will find what works for you only by trying.
Try these few exercises, it only takes a few minutes:
1. Stand in front of a mirror and observe yourself. Try to use your space, your posture and your head to express different emotions. Maybe try to look amorous, determined, cheerful... How would a ninja stand? How would a fragile ballerina stand? How does a person who is completely unaware of their body stand?
2. Play songs with different tempos and different atmospheres. What different movements the music made you do? Can you recreate the same movement to fit a slow lyrical song and an action energetic song?
3. Take your favorite style of movement (for example waving your arms up and down like with fans), break it down to phases and make it either choppy or smooth. When you play some music and try dancing, try incorporating that into your improvisation.
4. Tempo - put on any song and try to work with the tempo you are moving at. You can slow down and only move every other beat, or double the speed of the movements. Slowing the movements down can build up a beautiful gradation before the trick you want to highlight.
5. You don’t know what to do with your hands when you don't hold the equipment? Try doing pantomime to the rhythm of the music! Really. Maybe you could try doing the movement of putting on a sweatshirt in a “dance” way. One sleeve, then the other, find the zipper, zip it up, put on the hood…
6. Elegant legs? Toe points are the key. But if you don't know what to do with them besides standing in a pose, try this exercise: Stand on one foot and try writing letters on the floor with the other. A, B, C, D, E.... And so on. If you don't know what to put in choreography besides turning and tapping, write letters with your feet. =)
7. Try to improvise to any music and use your style of movement to gradually get lower and lower to the ground and back up again. Try to discover different strange movements and poses. When performing, we often use the space around us, but only on one level.
I hope these few exercises will help you advance your skills, just as they helped me. Just keep in mind that it's not going to be perfect right away. But with repetition, you'll perfect exactly what fits you and soon you'll build your own distinctive dance style that will upgrade your spinning/juggling skills a few levels.
About the author
She has been on the artistic scene since 2010. She has taught juggling and performed with the group T.E.T.R.I.S. As a performer, she has been in several major productions and has performed in hundreds of shows around the world. Since childhood, she has been doing gymnastics and acrobatic synchronized swimming. As a dancer and actress she has performed in Czech musicals. She co-owns the Aliatrix agency and as creative director, she is also the main producer of all major projects.