Home > David Elsewhere: Looking Elsewhere > Looking Elsewhere – Practicing alone

Looking Elsewhere – Practicing alone

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.

Practicing Alone I have found that it is more productive to practice alone than with people. This is partly because I feel like I am performing more than practicing when I have eyes looking at me. Practicing with people doesn’t give me the full opportunity to experiment because I become too self-conscious.

This may be the most controversial one on the list. I could list a number of benefits there are to practicing with others. Other people can fire you on and keep you motivated during practice, or at least keep you company. But when you’re around friends, endless distractions keep you from focusing. The stories from yesterday, the drama and beef between friends, plans for tomorrow. Many have iphones and ipads. How much more fun is it to watch the newest battle clips then to practice the basics yourself?  Shooting the wind will take up most of your time.

More importantly,  to be able to practice every day and devote the time it takes to learn a complicated style, it is necessary to learn how to practice alone. You can’t always rely on others to practice with you, or that they’ll be interested in practicing what you want to practice.

But Elsewhere touches on insecurity. Elsewhere states that he feels self-conscious when practicing with others. I know that feeling inside and out. I’ve quit many dance classes in my teens because of this feeling of being judged, of not being on par with the other trainees. It can be very demotivating to see others progress faster than you in a move. I rarely believe that I progress fast enough, and training with others only reinforces this pressure on me. This throws me off my course. I began to forget what I’m training for and only saw failure everywhere.

When I started practicing some moves alone in my room, I started to feel comfortable and realised that I could actually follow through on my objectives. I was surprised by the time and frequency I spent practicing. Not once a week, not for a few minutes; but every day and for hours sometimes. I realised that I could rely on myself and practice what I wanted to practice, at my own pace.

We can’t stay in our cellars forever. I gradually confronted my self-consciousness by first showing my dance to friends, then doing it at clubs. The idea to go to workshops and perform in front of experienced dancers was an even greater obstacle, and it required some gentle nudging by Michi Kasuga (we exchanged thoughts on the subject over many emails).  Validation is important for any dancer, and that can only come through sharing your dance. Without that, we feel like we are kidding ourselves by hiding our dance from critical eyes. Dancing helps overcome our fears, shyness, and inhibitions. It should be your goal to share your dance with others and prove your worth.

But even after you have reached that level, you still benefit from taking time to practice on your own, on your own terms, allowing you to experiment with greater focus. The more you expose yourself with your dance, the more it is necessary to retreat and recollect your thoughts and energies. All you need is a room, some music, a mirror, and time.

For many impatient and insecure beginners, practicing alone may be the only option to build up a small level of confidence and patience. Without that confidence, your mind is constantly clouded by self-doubt and frustration. No one can be more critical of our dance then ourselves, and we always fall short of our initial expectations. These frustrations can really inhibit your progress, and this may force you to quit for no reason. Considering the time it takes to create and master a style, this can throw you off course even if you don’t quit completely.

If you’d like to read all Looking Elsewhere entries, click here. To receive regular updates automatically, click here for RSS feeds.

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  1. November 1, 2010 at 10:38 am

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