How filming yourself can transform your dance journey: 7 tips

Filming your dance practise

Sometimes the world seems divided into two types of Swing dancers: the ones who just want to know some steps and have a nice social night out now and then, and the ones who want to constantly improve and become better dancers. 

If you belong to the second group of dancers, this blog is written for you. One incredibly effective, yet often underutilized tool is the simple act of filming ourselves. While the idea may seem daunting at first, the insights gained from watching your own dance videos are invaluable. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top five tips for using video as a means to not only observe but significantly improve your dancing skills. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced dancer, these strategies will help you see your dance through a new lens and foster self-improvement in ways you might not have imagined. Let’s dive into the world of self-reflection and growth, all through the eye of the camera!

I have 7 tips for you. Two are more general tips, five are about specific aspects of your dancing.  

Deirdre Slow Bal Filming Yourself Blog

"Remember, every dancer, at every level, has room for improvement, and that's a good thing!"

Embrace your dance, avoid self-criticism

When you watch yourself dance, it’s easy to fall into the trap of harsh self-criticism. I even know some dancers that refuse to watch themselves dancing because they hate the way they dance. 

Remember, every dancer, at every level, has room for improvement, and that’s a good thing! If you are serious about improving yourself as a dancer, it’s important to bridge the gap between how movements feel and how they look. So, let go of those negative thoughts about looking ‘horrible’ while dancing. Instead, relish the process of growth that video feedback provides.

Focus on one aspect at a time

When we watch our own dance videos, we often notice numerous aspects we dislike, leading us either to want to overhaul everything simultaneously or to feel overwhelmed about where to begin, resulting in abandoning the effort.Instead, choose one specific element to work on. For instance, concentrate on your arm movements. Are they too rigid, or do they flow with grace? Do you keep your posture when you are in open positions with stretch? Do your arms enhance your moves? Film yourself, make adjustments, and then film again to track progress. This focused approach leads to more effective and noticeable improvements.

 

So the above tips were my general tips. Now let’s discuss some things that you can check when you filmed yourself dancing:

REcap filming Swing dance
When it's not just one camera pointed at you....Photo by Yuliya

So the above tips were my general tips. Now let’s discuss some things that you can check when you filmed yourself dancing:

Analyze your footwork and alignment

Footwork is the foundation of all dance forms. Pay close attention to your foot placement, weight distribution, and alignment with each step. Are your steps in sync with the rhythm? How does your footwork complement the rest of your body? Are your steps maybe bigger than necessary? Reviewing your footwork in videos can reveal a lot about your overall technique and balance

Check your posture

With posture I refer to how we align our head, shoulders, rib cage and hips, and horizontally, our arms. In Slow Bal we want to stand up straight, have our shoulders relaxed, arms always a little bit bent when we move to open positions. Sometimes we disconnect our arms from our shoulders when we go into open moves, or we fully outstretch our arms. This is something we want to prevent. Check if maybe your head is coming a bit more forward than needed, or if your upper back is crouching a little bit (this happens regularly with leads). Followers, check if you are dancing on your toes, because you really want to use your full foot, also for balance. Also, check for a hollow back. We want to tuck in our tummies. Posture always requires a lot of attention, so use the camera to help you!

Study the fluidity and transitions of your movements

Smooth transitions and fluidity can elevate your dancing significantly. Focus on how you move from one step to another. Are your transitions seamless, or do they feel abrupt? Do your movements flow naturally, or are they stiff? Sometimes we clearly see where one move stops and another continues. But how would it look if we glue everything together and make it one fluent movement? By analyzing these aspects, you can work on creating a more cohesive and graceful dance.

Blog Film Yourself as a dancer
When it's not just one camera pointed at you....Photo by Yuliya

What about those arms

In the posture part we already talked a little bit about arms. We want to prevent outstretched arms, locked arms and floppy arms (like boiled spaghetti). What to do with arms is partly personal preference. Know that you can use them as an addition to our movements and an extension of our bodies. We can use our arms to accentuate a move, to continue momentum, to make the move look bigger or to add some drama. So many options! Film yourself and see how you use your arms now. Is there anything you like to change?

Some inspiration:

Evaluate your facial expressions and stage presence

Whether facial expressions and stage presence is something you want to work on, depends of course on your dance life. If you only have social dances, don’t do any competitions or shows, you might not want to go into this topic. It could, however, be interesting to explore. When watching your videos, observe how you express the dance’s mood and character. Are your expressions in harmony with the style of the song and rhythm? Are you expressing your own mood through the dance? What does your face and presence say about you?

 

If you want to know more about self expression in dancing, please check out this blog:

Go ahead and film yourself dancing

Filming yourself as a dancer isn’t just about pinpointing flaws; it’s a powerful tool for self-reflection and growth. By focusing on these key aspects, you’ll not only enhance your skills but also deepen your understanding and love for dance. Remember, every video is a step forward in your dance journey! 🕺💃📹

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