Dance is an art that comes in many forms that almost anyone can enjoy. There are so many different styles, so many different reasons to dance, from casual socializing to the full art of performance. If you really want to pursue dance as an art form or even a career, there are several traits that you’ll need that unite all styles of dance. Thankfully, each attribute is something that can be learned and developed, even if you’re not born with it.
Learning any dance takes a lot of time and effort. There are no quick fixes, even for people who have a natural talent for movement. There will be plenty of mistakes, falls, frustration, and times when it feels like you aren’t making progress. As with any art, you have to keep working through this, have to understand that real mastery takes years, and just getting the fundamentals can take months.
In what’s become a culture of instant gratification and so many things happening now, now, now, it’s important to understand that a skill will take time to develop and remember that patience will pay off in the long run.
Along with the patience for the time it will take to learn the art of dance, a dancer needs to be dedicated to doing the work. You can’t just wait for it to become fluid and for the moves to stick in your mind and body.
A dancer must put forth the effort to work every day in some way at improving their craft, be it through practice, other exercise, meditation on the moves and their body, or even critical viewing of other dancers performing live or on video. That focused hard work is what eventually makes someone into a truly skilled dancer.
Knowing that it will take time and hard work, a dancer will also need the will to get back up from every fall. Even when working your hardest and being patient with time, sometimes it will feel like you’re not making progress at all or that a move is just too difficult for your body.
To keep going a dancer has to find it in themselves to always try again, to believe that the time and work will pay off, and sometimes to even get more help and find out what they’re missing in a move.
Because dancing requires the ability to get help when you need it, a dancer must have a certain amount of humility. Any artist must understand that there is always someone better, someone more skilled, someone more experienced. Rather than denying this or viewing it with jealousy, a dancer should seek out those above them and ask for guidance when appropriate.
This trait should also apply when giving guidance to those less skilled or less experienced, as a dancer should always remember that they were once there themselves.
This is not opposing the humility listed before, but rather coexists with it in a balance within the dancer. As dance is a performance art, it requires belief in one’s self and one’s abilities.
Confidence in what you do know and the progress you have made feeds the perseverance when learning something new and allows a dancer to actually take the stage when appropriate. It reminds a dancer what they’ve done well before to help them believe they can accomplish the next challenge.
Some of this will come naturally with dancing practice, but endurance is an important thing to develop through other exercises as well. Dance is an activity that often works your whole body for long periods of time.
To stick with it, to finish full routines and have them properly memorized in your mind and your muscles, you’ll need to be able to keep moving and practicing over the course of hours. Breathing and muscle tone have to be conditioned for this to fulfill the art completely.
This is another brain-body attribute that will develop just from learning the art of dance, but it can always use some extra help. A dancer has to get used to knowing where everything is in the surrounding area, including structures, differences in the floor, and other people. This is what allows for seemingly seamless, graceful movement through a space without accidentally brushing or slamming against an obstacle.
This is not just in body position, but in mind as well. A dancer must be equally aware of where all their limbs are positioned, how their muscles are working, and how their mental state is impacting their performance. Dance is often an expression of sense and emotion, and as such it can’t help but be affected by the dancer’s mentality in the moment.
Awareness of this in addition to the body allows a dancer to sharpen their focus and outwardly show what the dance is meant to express without their own personal distractions.
It’s just been said that dance can be an expression of a raw emotion or even a particular story. A dancer must have their own sense of creativity in displaying these aspects through their art. Even when following a choreographer’s direction to the letter, the dancer’s personal creativity will show through in how they display the expected emotion or drama.
It may be through subtle personal interpretations of motion or even facial expressions, but a dancer must be able to think and create to add their emphasis to the performance.
Lastly, to bring all of these attributes together, a dancer needs a genuine, core love of dancing. They can be frustrated with certain things, they can easily not enjoy certain moves or styles, but in the end a dancer has to be passionate about the craft.
Without that core of passion to drive it, many of the other attributes can fall in on themselves. With passion, the effort to build those attributes is almost as enjoyable as the satisfaction of perfect execution of the craft.