Inspired

Ask Jules: Just Dance

I associate the word “dance” with feelings of energy, passion and beauty. For many, sometimes myself included, “dance” can also stir up less positive emotions such as intimidation and vulnerability. Everyone
has felt vulnerable at some point — whether her or she is a skilled competitor or just an casual dancer at school events or weddings.

Below, Anna and Sydnee represent two sides of dance: the teacher and the student. Their emails are brave, honest and relatable to anyone hoping to succeed in something new. I hope you can relate to both of them as much as I can.

Hey Jules,

My name is Anna and I’m sixteen years old. First of all, I’d like to say how much I love your blog and your newsletter. But — I have a problem. For next year’s school dance my class and two others have decided to all take a dance class together. I’ve never really danced in my life except for a few ballet classes when I was in primary school (and to be honest I wasn’t really good at it). I’m scared that I will embarrass myself in front of everyone and that everyone will make fun of me if I can’t dance that well.

Do you have some tips? How I can overcome this fear and just have fun dancing? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even be that bad if I didn’t overthink it. Thanks in advance for your advice!

Love,
Anna

Anna,

A great thing to keep in mind about dance class is, it’s just that: a class! Everyone is there to learn and grow as a dancer, so each person’s focus will be on his or her own steps and improvement. It’s safe to say nobody is there to judge or worry about anyone else’s progression. So really, there’s no reason to be embarrassed or shy about your own practice.

Still, if you’re concerned you should consider making an appointment to chat with the teacher before class begins to express your feelings. That way, he or she will know not to put you on the spot until you’re comfortable with your dancing. The teacher also might have some other ideas to ease your mind.

At its core, dancing is supposed to be an exciting and authentic way to express yourself. If you’re focusing too much on your steps, you could be missing out on the essence of it all. I love the saying, “If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” Try to keep that inspiration in mind. If you aren’t as great as you hoped to be, that’s okay! It’s just a step on your journey to becoming the best dancer you can be.

xo
Jules

Hello Jules!! 

I’m 15 years old and I’ve been dancing for about 11 years. I’ve recently been asked to teach tap classes at a new dance studio, and though I’m beyond thrilled for the opportunity, I’m also quite nervous. I don’t know if my students will take me seriously, considering I’m rather young to be teaching on my own. I also want my students to succeed (obviously), but I don’t want classes to be too harsh either. I want them to have fun and love dance, just like I do!

Do you have any tips for making dance class positive and fun, while still staying focused? I would greatly appreciate any help. Thanks so much!!!

Sydnee

Sydnee,

You sound like you’re going to be an incredible teacher! Your students are lucky to have you. I agree with your desire to keep class somewhat serious in order to learn and succeed while also keeping things light, playful and fun. I’d start by developing a relationship with each dancer, allowing them to warm up and trust you. Achieve this by remembering their names and making a point to chat with them before and after class about things other than dance.

At first especially, I like to play music most are familiar with so they feel comfortable and connected. Most importantly, don’t forget to compliment their dancing along the way and let them know when they do a great job or show improvement. Giving praise is just as important as correcting form and it gives your students even more motivation to succeed!

Let us all know how your first class goes! I know you’ll be amazing.

xo
Jules

Julianne Hough
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Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough is just trying to be a nice person who dances as often as possible, usually in public. She recently wifed up to NHL star Brooks Laich and is the proud dog-mom of two pups, Lexi & Harley (they’re the real brains behind everything).
Julianne Hough
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  • Christina

    Great advice, Julianne! 🙂

  • Frank Wynerth Summers III

    Nice article, I wish I could have gotten more of your stuff to the young dancers I used to drive to practice and back…..

  • Courtney Larkin

    Awesome advice! I also teach dance and I couldn’t agree more with what Julianne said!

  • Ashley

    I’m a dance teacher too! One of my students’ favorite things to do is to add a question to “across the floor.” We all know what across the floor means, but I’ll throw in something they have to answer before they take their turn. When you’re first learning about your students, it can be something as simple as, “Tell me your favorite subject in school.” As the year progresses, you can change up the questions or tailor them to the time of year (for example, “Tell me your favorite thing to eat at Christmas!”) It’s a great way to learn about each other and add fun to a dance staple!

  • Gerri Garrick

    Love your inspirational site! Thanx much. I’ve got the quote you mentioned btw on my bedroom wall! Love e your work and hope to keep spreading positive messages through mine! Thanks much!
    Gerri
    Gigglingstoryteller.com