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Looking Elsewhere: Being yourself

This is an entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophy. The quotes are derived from his myspace post. In this entry, I discuss the following quote.

Being myself – as corny as this might sound I think that being myself has been one of the most important attitudes that I have maintained. By “being myself” I mean dancing the way I sincerely want to dance, regardless of what others think or what the latest trend is. Being myself, has kept me motivated because I am doing what I truly want to do.

We often neglect what we want because of what we think we think should be. We want to be poppers, we want to be successful, we want to be cool, we want to follow trends, we want to fit in with the other dancers. These aren’t shameful wishes (we all want to be these things), but they distract from what’s most important: satisfying our wish to be creative, exploring what we are capable of, dancing the way that most satisfies us, creating a style from our own preferences.

Dancing the way you want is the only real way to stay motivated during the months and years it takes to learn the dance. There are quicker and easier ways to be cool, achieve some kind of success, to fit into a group, or satisfy your ego. You’ll drop out if that’s all you want, because it takes up too much time and effort. I learned this through my own experiences. That’s one of the reasons I gave up my other creative interests like guitar and writing. I was interested in producing something that would impress other people and show them I have talent, but I didn’t actually enjoy the process of learning the craft.

Dancing is different. I still want to impress everybody else (one of the main drives to improve my technique), but I actually enjoy the hours I spend by myself, experimenting and refining my moves. I practice waving and strobing every day because I love these illusions and want to recreate them. I am more than willing to sacrifice the time and effort. On some stressful days it’s the only real source of satisfaction, and I look forward to the hour or two I have to myself, practicing my latest idea for a move.

No one can tell you what you want to achieve with your dance. People can offer advice and criticism, can give you support, can help you connect with other dancers. But they can’t find out your wants and wishes, your ambitions and goals. You need to rely on yourself for that. We often look to others to help us figure out how we want to dance, but no external source can do that. Trends that come and go can’t do that. In fact, to truly dance like you want, you need to transgress many of the boundaries that others put up in dancing. Some may resent or dismiss you because of this. Accept this, because following other people’s idea of the dance will only reduce your creativity and drive.

I’ve read that we are often frightened by the freedoms that we have. In the face of more options, we often don’t make any choice at all. Our freedom frightens us instead of inspiring us to action. We look to others for guidance, for others to give us a path to follow. Slowly, slowly, we need to break free from this and look to ourselves as a guide.

There’s always someone better than you. Others are more experienced, talented, energetic, and creative than you. But you are unique. You have your own tastes, your own ideas, your own way of thinking, you make associations that other people don’t. The only way to have an edge is to do what few other people do, really looking into oneself for inspiration and direction, truly appreciating what makes you different from other people.

I’m not writing this to sound inspirational. Being true to yourself won’t unlock any hidden “jedi” powers, nor is it a way to avoid practicing. This is practical strategy for you to stand out and make your mark, advancing in the direction you want to take your art. There are so many talented and dedicated dancers. You need to convince others that only you can provide that brand of dancing, and imitating others can’t help you with this.

Spacecapital, Westcoastpopping.com interview.

I believe the one thing the current generation is missing is self. I believe they just have to look into self and try to be more of themselves. They are doing very good when it comes to dancing, they just don’t focus on self. Stop looking outside so much and look inside. That is what is missing today, back in the ‘80s we did all the same movements, we added ourselves to it and I think that is the biggest different. Why is it that so many dancers look so much alike? They look so much alike because people don’t want to take their time and truly learn this dance, so everybody is taking the shortcut routine. This is why the unique dancers today standout more, it’s because they are being themselves.

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