Archive for the ‘David Elsewhere: Looking Elsewhere’ Category

Looking Elsewhere – Practicing alone

October 23, 2010 1 comment

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.

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Looking Elsewhere- Trusting your own judgment

October 2, 2010 1 comment

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

Trusting my own judgment– This is very much related to “Being Myself”, because being your true self requires some degree of trust in your own judgment. By “trusting my own judgment” I mean having the faith and confidence in my own taste and creativity to determine how I want to dance. Listening to feedback is helpful to me; yet ultimately I try to always trust my own judgment.

The notion of trusting your own judgment runs throughout the entire Elsewhere series, through every principle in fact. Elsewhere’s method goes to extremes that most dancers wouldn’t follow. The need to practice alone. The need to experiment and follow through on your ideas. The need to bypass implicit rules posed by labels. The need to reduce the dance to the elements that appeal to you, even if they are too obscure for the mainstream. None of these are possible if you don’t build up confidence in your judgment.

Trusting yourself seems nearly impossible at the beginning. We make many mistakes, we get frustrated, we know too little, we imitate others, others are better than us, we aren’t even sure what we want or how we want to achieve it. To tell us to trust ourselves feels like a backhanded insult.

You will only believe in this principle once you’ve achieved results through your own efforts. Only once you actually experience that you can trust yourself to achieve results will you start believing this principle. You trust your friends after they’ve proven themselves trustworthy, not because they tell you that they can be trusted. Why should it be different any different in the way you look at yourself?

Two things inhibit most of us in trusting our own judgment. We fear failure, and we have never experienced succeeding through our own efforts. To overcome failure anxiety, you need to put yourself in situations that frighten you, even though you know you will fail (like a circle battle). After experiencing this several times, you will see that these failures won’t kill you and you can learn a lot from them. While a little fear always remains and actually helps you focus, you’ve rid yourself of the tendency to blow up these fears to exaggerated proportions. Then you have the freedom to achieve results on your own. Once you see the fruits of your labor, you will learn to trust your judgment. Many people emphasise the need for positive thinking, but only a few emphasise the necessity to enter such a process.

Trusting yourself is one of those truths that sound simple, but is incredibly difficult to actually apply in real life. It’s a simplified idiom for a long and complex process that requires time, effort, and the ability to change the way you view yourself and your life.

Quotes of truth

Robert Greene, The 33 strategies of war, p. 35
Being self-reliant is critical. To make yourself less dependent on others and so-called experts, you need to expand your reportoire of skills. And you need to feel more confident in your own judgement. Understand: we tend to overestimate other people’s abilities-after all, they’re trying hard to make it look as if they know what they are doing- and we tend to underestimate our own. You must compensate for this by trusting yourself more and others less.

Robert Greene, The 50th law, p. 222-4
Often we have a general feeling of insecurity because we have never really mastered anything in life. Unconciously we feel weak and never quite up to task. Before we begin something, we sense we will fail. The best way to overcome this once and for all is to attack this weakness head-on and build for ourselves a pattern of confidence. And this must be done by first tackling something simple and basic, giving us a taste for the power we can have. […] When you take the time to master a simple process and overcome a basic insecurity, you develop certain skills that can be applied to anything. You see instantly the reward that comes from patience, practice, and discipline. You have the sense that you can tackle almost any problem in the same way. You create for yourself a pattern of confidence that will continue to rise.

Looking Elsewhere: Being yourself

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

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, 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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Looking Elsewhere: The Road Less Travelled

July 24, 2010 2 comments

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

Exploring where others haven’t – In dancing I have found that particular areas are easier to be original in than others. I think that certain styles are less explored than others and this leaves more room for innovation. From the artistic perspective, the less traveled path is usually always the more rewarding one and the one I have tried to stay on.

David Elsewhere. source

Without leaving their own art, the ingenious leave the common path and take, even in professions grey with age, new steps towards eminence.

Baltasar Gracian. A Pocket Mirror for Heroes. Trans. by Christopher Maurer. In Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, p. 349.

Wonders never amaze the second time around. How many looked in awe when the first bboys started doing windmills? Remember when the audience gasped when Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk at the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown? Now both of these moves are often seen as nostalgic throwbacks to the 80s.

Quickly losing amazement of the familiar represents one of the great tragedies of the human mind. Audiences quickly feel jaded by any spectacle. If you want to survive as a dancer in a certain field, you need to perform the moves better then the dancer before you. I’m new to the bboy world (just as an observer), and I’m in shock how well the foundations of today’s bboys are. You face a lot of competition as a bboy. There are thousands of others who practice the same moves you want to practice. They may be stronger, more talented, have more experience.

Creativity plays a very large part in streetdancing. We have the ability to throw off competition by dancing on our own terms, not the terms others put on us.

I haven’t seen any evidence that Elsewhere can boogaloo. I’ve not seen him perform most of the basic popping routines most poppers judge each other by. In all likelihood, he’d have to spend years learning these type of dance. And then he’d be an average boogaloo popper.

Elsewhere took a smarter route. Instead of competing in the same fields as the other poppers, he focused all his energy on developing his own moves and taking them further then other people would take them. Look at the first two dancers in the Kollaboration clip.

Although it’s hard to tell with only a few seconds of their performance, they have a solid foundation in their popping routine. But they look very bad in comparison with Elsewhere. He performed moves that nobody in the room had seen before. Perhaps some had seen strobing, but not the way Elsewhere strobed his hands crawling across his chest, his head twitching from side to side in rhythm. Liquid dancing and abstract waving was known to some degree (though it was a very underground movement). How many had seen a person melt into a puddle, though?

It was no contest. Elsewhere was fighting on his own terms, not the traditional popping battle field. I’ve watched the clip more often then I should have, but not once have any of the commenters said that the first two deserved to win.

Breaking away from the traditional path may frighten most dancers. You may feel left behind if you don’t train the same way other people do. How can you call yourself a bboy if you don’t train the same moves all the other bboys train? At some level, most of us want to be told what to do. If we follow these guidelines, we will develop the skills that we need, then we can call ourselves dancers, or bboys, or poppers. God knows that I have these thoughts many times, often severely.

The problem is, everybody else is doing the same routines you would if you followed this type of logic. You’ve spent a lot of time training for something that others do much better then you. It is easier to innovate in fields that other people neglect.

In a way this represents a god send for most streetdancers. Streetdancers often feel attracted to the bizarre, to the amazing, to the weird. Perhaps poppers in particular feel this way, because most movements are calculated to be “unreal” in some way. It seems natural that these dancers would start looking into the most obscure fields for inspiration. The more obscure the inspiration, the more bizarre the styles and moves, as logic dictates.

There are other benefits. Tutorials and workshops teach the most basic, well-known moves. The Youtube age has provided us with a lot more diversity and access, and you’d be amazed how easily you can find obscure footage. Sometimes you can only find one video clip, with only a few minutes (or a few seconds) of relevant footage, but that’s enough to get you on your way.

I spent a lot of time searching for strobing tutorials (forget about finding workshops teaching this stuff). The only helpful one I found was from Tyson Eberly. This represented perhaps five minutes of tutorial footage (Strobing tutorial begins at 11:45 of the clip below).

I took that and tried the best I could, but it represented an enormous amount of trial-and-error on my part to figure out what to do. I had to stay attentive to what I was doing and provide myself with constant feedback. My hands and fingers were not doing what they were supposed to do, and I had to figure out why by myself.

I felt frustration many times over, but at the same time, I felt great satisfaction. I was achieving results by relying on my own wits and ingenuity instead of practising the same drills without thought. It felt more like a creative process, and this translated into further passion, into more practice, and better dancing. I try to take this attitude now whenever I try something new. I will attempt to emulate the anti-gravity moonwalk (not the Michael Jackson moonwalk) that I once saw a dancer from Street Scape perform. It’s less than three seconds of footage from the 80s, but that’s enough to get me going on my way.

(I advise you to watch the entire clip. You’ll thank me for it.)

Yes, this approach requires you to trust your passion and judgement, practice on your own, and endure people resenting you for taking a new path. I believe it is worth the effort many times over.

We forget how free we can define our streetdance. We have work shops, judged battles, and dancers who consider themselves authorities on what popping, bboying, locking, or liquid “is”. But essentially, we can take the dance in any direction that we want, and how far we want. Nobody has the power to tell you where your passion should take you.

It is an uncommon skill to find a new path of excellence, a modern route to celebrity. There are many roads to singularity, not all of them well-travelled. The newest ones can be ardous, but they are often short-cuts to greatness.

Balthasar Gracian. In Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, p. 356

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Looking Elsewhere: Youtube is our friend and enemy

June 28, 2010 2 comments

This is the third entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophies. The quotes are derived from his myspace post.

Relying on my memory and not videos for reference – Like most people I have the natural tendency to subconsciously imitate movements I am frequently exposed to. I feel videos have the potential of doing more harm than good because multiple viewings make me more disposed to mimicry. Seeing Skywalker and Animation bust only on a few occasions prevented me from directly imitating them because all I had to go by was the memories in my head. Using memory alone as reference allows my creativity to manipulate external influence into something that is more of my own innovation.

This principle surprised me the most. If it weren’t for internet video clips, I never would have started dancing in the first place. For the first time in history, I have the ability to watch the greatest dancers in the world perform, no matter how remote i am from the hub of the dance community. I can receive expert tutorials without relying on dance teachers near my region. This is the first time that everyone in the world has access to this treasure trove of inspiring videos, and every dance style has the chance to spread like wild fire on a global scale. How could anyone denounce this?

But one issue nagged at me. Looking at the small selection of popping and bboy clips that survived from the late 70s and 80s, I am often in awe of the originality of the dancers. Granted, some elements of those dances may seem dated, even corny. But in other respects, the skill and creativity of the old school dancers overwhelmed me. The art of animation, vibration and floats/slides were more advanced in the 1980s then today.

And here’s the central question: How did the urban youth of the time, with almost no guidance from video clips or formal teachers, learn these incredible creative moves?

This question rose up again in my interview with Otis Funkmeyer. He wrote that having less access to footage proved to be an advantage for him and his fellow poppers. They were always “hungry”. Youtube offered too much eye-candy and didn’t produce the army of skilled dancers that he expected would come out of this trove of videos.

A few interviews with the OG poppers (from showed similar sentiments.

What do you think is the major differences between todays scene and before?

[…] We looked within our imagination. Many stylese came out in a short period of time, and those styles got flipped by the next person, you took the ball and ran with it your way. Today, many cats emulate thier dance from the sorce they are studing to learn it from. That, in my opinion, takes away some of the creative process that takes place when figuring out styles, moves, transitions, etc, yourself.

-Midnight, source

I think it’s all coo for videos and clips, but people have to remember to look at these clips for inspiration not for biting and copying verbatim. Peeps need to take from what they watch and twist it to there own sh^t. or if they are beginners, bite a lil until you are able to understand the dance better, and then change what you have bittin to your own sh&t.
Mr Wiggles, source.

We keep hearing that back in the day, no one danced like each other. Please explain.

First of all back then we didn’t have any video cameras to record different people we were lucky to ketch soul train so see the soul train line and watch the different dancers. […] everybody got there reps of there originality and being different.
-Shallow, source)

After long periods of reflection, I began to see some truth in these statements. I came up with a number of ways that people can abuse the dance clips that are meant to inspire us. I will come back to these and discuss them individually in later posts, but I will now focus on Elsewhere’s objection to mimicry. Elsewhere distrusts the ability to replay the clips over and over again, because it induces the viewer to mimic what he sees instead of inspiring them to take their style in a new direction. He elaborated on this in an interview with Oye Mag.

With all the people and dance styles that have come before you, how do you stay original?
That’s hard. I think that in the very beginning when most people start, it’s kind of necessary to copy people. But once your dancing matures I think videos can be a little unhelpful. You can watch them over and over again so you’re kind of brainwashing yourself into wanting to dance like that. I’m not saying that videos are a bad thing. I’m saying that they are good to some degree, but I just think that they are easily abused.

I like going to events and seeing someone dance, then going home and not being able to watch them again. When you don’t have the ability to watch something over and over again, your mind kind of manipulates the memory into something different. Then when you go home and have that vision in your head, it becomes your own interpretation.

Not being able to rewatch video clips therefore has advantages. It means that you may remember a cool move, but you can’t remember every aspect of the illusion. These gaps in your memory means that you have to stay inventive and come up with your own ways to achieve the illusion. In the process, you stay hungry and attentive. Your mind isn’t allowed to remain lazy because it can’t rely on mimicry. This process is more valuable then actually learning the move itself. It will feed into your originality, and give you the impetus to create your own moves and style.

Let’s look at an example that illustrates this. Mr Wiggles accidentally created his famous knee slide because of a misunderstanding. He heard that Popin Pete performed a moved called the knee slide. Mr Wiggles hadn’t seen Pete do it, but he assumed it was a back-slide (now called the moonwalk) performed on the knees. He practiced so long until he figured a way to pull it off. He did the move in the movie Beat Street and in a performance for the president.

It was only much later that he found out that Popin Pete’s knee slide was nothing like a knee moonwalk (it was more like the ET walk). Not being able to see the move even once, he used his imagination and created a completely new move.

I’m not saying to stop watching video clips altogether. They expand your understanding and can lead you into something new and exciting. Watch as many different clips of different styles for inspiration (I’ll come back to this point in Looking Elsewhere: Mixing Styles). But the clips can make you dependent and decouple you from your own imagination. Refrain from rewatching the same clips over and over again, because it will do you little good.

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Looking Elsewhere: Beyond the impossible

May 31, 2010 1 comment

This represents the introductory entry in the Looking Elsewhere series. In each post, I will discuss David Elsewhere’s dancing, but more importantly, discuss how he trained and practiced to become such an unique dancer. To do this, I will analyse and comment on Elsewhere’s own writings about this subject. These insights are meant to help anyone who desires to truly express themselves in ways people haven’t even imagined possible.

I first saw David Elsewhere the same way millions of others saw him. His appearance on The Asian-American dance contest Kollaboration in the year 2001.

I saw it late, around 2006, after it had been posted on Youtube. My first reaction to this clip is interesting in hindsight. I was amazed at this form of dancing because I had never seen anything like it in my life. It was one of the first videos where I realized that the internet could present amazing talents who would have otherwise received very little mainstream attention.

But it was only a freak curiosity, something that vanished just as quickly as it appeared. The thought of me imitating this dance never entered my head. How could it? Traditional breakdance (I hadn’t even heard of popping by that point) was too outlandish and advanced. Elsewhere was a step beyond this, beyond the impossible. Rumours spread that that the dancer must have been born double-jointed or with some kind of rare physical abnormality that gave him superpowers. I never thought I could be a contortionist, so why would I try to imitate Elsewhere? You needed to be born with this flexibility, and practice every waking hour since you reached age five. With expert tutors.

It was only years later, after I had just started dancing as a hobby, that I found out the truth. It came from Elsewhere himself. “I’m not double-jointed at all. The only place where I am double-jointed is my thumbs, which doesn’t even matter. I would say I’m probably a little more flexible than most people in certain areas, mainly my shoulders and my ankles, but I wasn’t born that way. Those areas became flexible because of years of practicing.” And he didn’t start dancing seriously at the age of five like Michael Jackson. No, only seriously around age 17 (but then every day). Constant lessons and hours of professional tutorship? Nope. He mostly practiced alone, in his parents’ garage. There were a couple of dancers who influenced him (like Squid, Salty and Skywalker), but they were never his tutors and he only met them on a few occasions.

I reasoned that if my preconceptions about practicing and training were so wrong, then I must find out more about his methods and see if they could apply to me. I found a small blog post on Myspace written by David himself where he summarised his philosophies and practices on dancing.

These insights were so illuminating that I printed them out and posted them on my wall so that I can read them during a lull in my practice session. They deserve deeper discussion and analysis, so I will post regular features on this subject, focusing on a specific point at a time. For the next post, I will probably take on his principles of being yourself and trusting your own judgement.

Looking Elsewhere – Mirrors and shadows

May 4, 2010 1 comment

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

Using a Mirror – I have found that using a mirror is extremely helpful when practicing because it gives instantaneous feedback. I know exactly how my moves look and can immediately critique myself. The only thing I would advise against would be getting so used to the mirror that you can’t perform well without one. To prevent this I try to practice just as much without a mirror.

Videotaping myself – I try videotaping myself once and in a while. It is just as helpful as using a mirror to me. The only drawback is that it’s not instantaneous feedback; you don’t see what you’re doing when you’re doing it. Videotaping has several advantages over a mirror. You don’t have to pay attention to your reflection thus allowing your mind to concentrate on just dancing. By recording yourself you, are able to observe things that are difficult to see in the mirror, like spins and ground moves. Videotaping yourself also gives you the opportunity to see what your moves look like from a variety of angles.

David Elsewhere, source

Many of the illusionary tricks of popping require a lot of practice and trial-and error. Most of the movements required to perform such tricks are unusual and essentially unnatural. Your body requires a lot of time and repetition to memorize these movements.

Take waving, for example. It requires you to isolate certain parts of your hands, wrist, shoulders, and chest, but to do so in a rapid and smooth fashion. Or take strobing, where you need to perform a rapid series of stop-and-go movements that have to be performed at a constant rhythm, every movement equal in distance from the previous one.

While there are many dance teachers and friends who can provide you with invaluable tips, you need to rely on yourself to criticize your performance and judge what you need to do so as to get where you want. That’s why it is necessary to perform in front of mirror. You can gain immediate feedback by watching yourself perform an arm wave and being unsatisfied with the result. This is particularly important when you first start practicing. Most likely you misunderstand how to perform an isolation or a dime stop, and only seeing yourself in the mirror will point that out. This allows you to try something different, find out what you misunderstood, what you need to work on.

Be aware of the drawbacks, though. Looking at the mirror means you are not fully concentrating on executing a move. It’s difficult to perform a move and concentrate on how it feels if you are looking at a mirror. Another possible drawback is that you may get used to performing in front of a mirror but are unsure how to dance without the aid of one.

Then we have the most simple negative effect: It can be disheartening for anyone to try to execute a move and failing hundreds of times, particularly in the beginning where you will almost certainly fail at everything you attempt.

Therefore, it’s necessary to divide your individual sessions into separate blocks. In the first half, you will practice your moves without a mirror, simply focusing on the sensations in your body as you perform them. Then you can practice in front of the mirror to see where you have improved and what you still need to work on. Spend more time performing without a mirror, but check your progress  with a mirror in every session.

At some stage your own shadow can replace the mirror as your toughest critic. First pointed out to me by Otis Funkmeyer (who learned it from Tyson Eberly), you can detect the effectiveness of your isolations and dime-stops more clearly with your shadow then your mirror reflection. I suppose it’s easier to focus on the movements of a simple silhouette than a distracting mirror reflection, and I guess that the blown-up size of your shadow helps you detect every unwanted movement, no matter how small. In fact, it’s infuriating to see how clearly your silhouette reflects the imperfections in your dime-stop or in your wave. That’s why I’m advising you to switch to your shadow only after achieving some success in your training (let’s be easy on ourselves at the beginning, after all). But I was surprised at how quickly it helps me to improve technique. After you convince your shadow, you’ll convince everybody else.

What about taping yourself? There are drawbacks here also. It isn’t instantaneous feedback, and you can feel even more self conscious with a camera than a mirror. Nonetheless, it helps you see focus on more than just one move, allowing you to judge your dancing as a whole. It also allows you to see the effect of your dancing from different angles. Better to tape yourself dancing once in a while so as to judge your dancing from a fresh perspective.

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