Dancing is just as much of a mental sport as it is a physical one. It takes courage and confidence for anyone to attempt a step for the first time, and self-doubt is a common enemy for many. For myself, this doubt is usually coming from my feeling that my dancing might not fit in with professional expectations. One practice I use to combat this perpetual self-doubt is reflexivity.
In social science, reflexivity refers to a process of reexamination of norms. While there may be cultural norms in the dance world, we are all individual dancers. The benefit to incorporating regular reflection into your dance practice is that you can start to take control over the thoughts that may be holding you back from dancing confidently. When I am consistent with my reflecting practice, I find that I feel much more accepting of myself as a unique dancer, and also more respectful of the history and practice we are all a part of, even in our uniqueness.
Planning and journaling are two of the simplest ways to practice reflexivity. You’ll just need a place to put your thoughts. This can be a blank notebook, digital notepad, post-its, whatever media you desire for your own personal archive. There are even dancers who design custom journals and tools for tracking and reflecting on your dance practice. You may need to try a few different styles of journaling before you find what works for you (which is just another chance to reflect)! I use a combination of written logs and journaling, but also bring a lot of reflexivity into my blogging.
Every dancer has their own unique body and soul, and a reflexive approach to dancing allows you to be fluid in developing your dance skills to your own personal needs. As an anthropologist, I think it is essential for the people experiencing cultural moments to reflect on them. Your journals and dance logs will become part of the collective memory of dance. There are only so many ways we can preserve dance for the future and leaving an archive of reflections is one of them.
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