Being a full time kizomba instructor has been a rewarding experience for me. It has allowed me to meet beautiful people from all over the world who also share a passion for dance. It has given me the opportunity to inspire and impact people through dance, which is extremely gratifying.
Being a full time dance instructor has also led me to appreciate certain talents of my fellow dance colleagues, as well as some of my own. I have found that there are 5 key talents that set elite dancers apart: social dancing, performing, teaching, marketing prowess, and the ability to stay humble. It should be known that, depending on the goals of the particular artist, they may not be seeking to shine in each and every one of the 5 talents; of course, a person can be exceptional in just one or a few of these talents and still be very influential.
However, there are a few elite dancers that shine in all of the talents I’ll be listing below: I’ve dubbed a dancer that shines exceptionally in all 5 of these talents as a World Class Uber Dancer.
1) Social Dance Skill
I’m sure we have all experienced this at one time or another, you see a great performance with awesome skill, technique, energy, and charisma. You automatically begin to dream of how their social dance skills must be, because surely they must have superb social dance skills to become that great of a performer on stage. But unfortunately you are disillusioned by this dancer on the social dance floor due to lack of ability to connect with you, to groove smoothly accordingly to the song that’s playing, adaptability in energy transfer, lack of frame, and/or a severe case of hyper non-musical stylization. A world class social dancer should be willing to dance with everyone, able to adapt to the skill level of the person they are dancing with, adapt to the style of music that they are dancing to, and connect with the person they are dancing with versus trying to dance for everyone that’s watching them and performing on the social dance floor.
2) Performance Skill
A great dance performance that inspires a standing ovation is no easy feat to achieve. I’ve had the chance to witness some intense dance practices of world class performers and competitors. You would be surprised how much time and effort goes into a 2 or 3 minute performance to get every move, step, and/or trick just right and as close to perfection as possible. An awesome show is an amazing thing to watch and be inspired by and allows many artists to showcase their abilities and talents on the stage. A world class performer finds a way to connect with the audience and emanate emotions of happiness, sadness, ferocity, and/or silliness. Their personality shines just as strong as their dance ability. If you have been around any dance scene long enough, I’m sure we can all agree that a strong dancing/performing ability does not always translate into a strong teaching ability.
3) Teaching Skill
The ability to break down core concepts and techniques to dance students of different learning styles is not common as you would think. I find myself at times needing to be able to explain one move or step 50 different ways, it’s a challenging puzzle to find just the right words, analogy, exercise, and/or drill to get a lightbulb moment from whomever I’m teaching. A world class instructor should be able to teach more than just patterns and tricks. They should be able to breakdown and teach the fundamental core concepts needed to execute more intermediate and advanced partnerwork. A world class instructor should always dedicate time to lesson planning in advance (versus 15 mins before class) and think ahead of possible mistakes, confusion, and/or questions that are likely to present themselves. I feel they should also be able to breakdown technique equally for the follower and as well as for the leader. Aside from execution of good technique on the dance floor, a world class instructor should also be to cover not so common topics that enhance our dance experience, such as respect for the roles of leading/following, etiquette, importance of practice, culture behind the dance, and the beauty that dance can bring to your life. I have also noticed that world class instructors always bring a perfect mix of fun and entertainment into their classes and workshops to enhance the learning experience.
4) Marketing/Networking Skill
We have all heard the term, starving artists, and heard of stories of super talented dancers and other kinds of artists outside of dance going broke, or having trouble just barely getting by. Many artists I have come across struggle with embracing and/or implementing the sales and marketing tactics needed to create an even steady flow of income needed to pay normal bills, healthcare, additional training, and even have a healthy emergency fund. The harsh truth is that as hard as we work to train and get better and better at our craft of dancing, talent is not enough, and success is not an accident. You may find a world class dance marketer might also host socials, workshops, and/or even a festival to diversify their income. Having a strong social media presence, the ability to create multiple revenue streams, beneficial networking opportunities, and systems to make doing business with them easy all play a vital role to being able to thrive as a dancer.
Embracing the role of an everlong student in dance and in life is definitely one of those things that's easier said than done. Finding a balance between having a healthy amount confidence in your capabilities but not to the point of becoming a know-it-all or arrogant and having enough humility to continue learn and invest in yourself but not to the point where you habitually play yourself small and downplay your talents. It is sad, some would say repulsive, to see a super talented dancer with a snooty attitude who acts as if they were born great dancers, performers, and/or competitors. On the flip side, it is so inspiring, some would say alluring, to see super multi-talented dancers also be super humble, approachable, and down to earth which allows you admire them even more for who they are as a person in addition to their amazing talents. At the end of the day, regardless of how talented you are, you must treat others with mutual respect exactly as you would like to be treated.
No matter if a dancer possesses one or many of the talents that I listed, they all require a lot of hard work and dedication. For those of us striving to reach our best, it is a lifelong journey that never ends. The life of a dancer, whether it be as a career or for your personal enjoyment, is always filled with struggles and accomplishments. It is my hope that my fellow dance artists and the students of dance are now able to appreciate each of these talents individually, and as a whole. I believe having different combinations of these talents in different dancers allows our dance scene to thrive with mutual respect for one another.
If you enjoyed reading this blog please leave a comment below with your thoughts and share the blog to your friends! Is there anything else you would add to the list?