Confidence is Key

Recently a friend got me thinking about confidence in ballroom dancing.  Confidence is critical to doing well on the competition floor and giving your best performance in a showcase.

So where does confidence come from? How can you build more if you are doubting yourself?

  • Know the steps – This is the baseline, you know what foot you step with and on what count. Once you know this, you can start focusing on other things like arms and musicality. If you don’t know your steps reliably, ask your instructor if you can video him/her doing the routine with counts. Then set aside time to practice it on your own. You can also challenge yourself to write down your routine, bonus points if you can remember the official name of each move!
  • Trust your partner – You trust that your partner has your back. You’re in this together and if one of you make a mistake on the floor you’ll recover and figure it out together.
  • Adaptability and recovery – You can build your confidence in this area by starting your routine from different areas on the floor, dancing to a variety of music, and running the routine while there are other couples on the floor. You can even talk through a few what-if scenarios with your coach or partner: what if someone blocks us on this move, what if my dress gets caught on my heel?
  • Positive feedback – I’m sure all of you have realized this but having someone compliment your dancing is a HUGE confidence builder, especially if the compliment came from someone who actually knows dance. In lessons and practice its easy to get hung up on what needs fixing (where you aren’t snappy enough, where your hip motion wasn’t big enough, your arm was awkward, etc.), but you do need to occasionally acknowledge your growth and progress.  I’ll also say that I’ve found it easier to go into a competition confident if my coach shifts the tone of our lessons for the 2 weeks leading up to the competition.  We only dance rounds (#Stamina) and he tries to only give me feedback that he knows will be easy to adjust. The week before competition is NOT the time to tell me that my rumba walks are fundamentally wrong. My confidence will downward spiral and I’ll fill with self-doubt, not just about my rumba, but all of my dances.
  • “Sexy Confidence” – To me sexy confidence boils down to:
    • I know I look good – for me this means paying for professional hair and make-up at competition. I can do my makeup decently on my own, but it hits another level when I have a glam squad. It also means, having costumes that you feel good in! It fits you well, you can move freely without worrying about a costume malfunction, and you are excited to put it on.
    • I don’t feel awkward or embarrassed when I do certain moves in my routine, instead you feel like “yes, that’s right, watch me.”
    • I feel like I belong on the dancefloor and I walk with a poise and posture that reflects that. First impressions are everything and you need to command a presence on that dancefloor.  Even if you are shy and super polite in real life, when you are in the on-deck area you need to embrace your inner diva.

Confidence in your dance abilities may change frequently and you probably feel better about certain dance styles than others. I would love to hear from you in the comments below, what dance style do you feel most confident about at the moment? Is there a certain aspect on confidence that you want to work to improve?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nicholas Onaca says:

    I will try to add the guy’s version: we have to lead. We have to show intent. If you are back led in pro AM it shows on the floor. Even if we know the choreography we still have to lead. And when you go off script for any reason, you have to be ready to improvise, and your pro partner, who has considerably more experience, has to follow (at least for me, because I am extremely hard to back lead). And we have to show a different kind of sexy, which is display of power.


    1. Laura Spitler says:

      Well said, thanks for adding the guy’s perspective Nick


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