A.sk Ross About The 6 Steps To Becoming A Great Dancer Without Any Real Training Marissa A. Ross

A.sk Ross is where I, Marissa A. Ross, answer questions you ask me. Keep in mind I am simply a girl who’s been through a lot & has acquired some wisdom along the way. I own no certificates proclaiming my word is law, so please don’t take it as so. If anything, take my advice with a grain of salt and a pinch of optimism. Have a question? Email me at A.skRossNow@gmail.com.

Hi Marissa,

I’m the shy girl. I always have been but I like to think I’m slowly becoming more comfortable in my own skin. At parties I spend my time attempting to make conversation rather than sitting in dark corners. This is a huge improvement for a girl like me. And conversation isn’t as scary as it used to be. However, I am currently struggling with a completely different mission; the dance floor. I recently discovered my love for dance. Unfortunately I’m not the greatest. I constantly worry about who’s watching and what they’re thinking of my “moves”. It’s extremely exhausting! Do you have any tips on letting loose? How do I dance like no ones watching?

Thanks again,
C.

You have come to the right person. Little does the internet know, but I am actually an excellent dancer. I don’t like to brag, but I have made rooms part, people clap and have also won a dance-off by sliding across a circle of pretentious hipsters on my knees into triumph. Also, aside from the traditional ballet and tap classes of four year olds, I have never had any training. In fact, I am the least graceful person in the world and am famous for being a huge dork. I can help you, my grasshopper.

Here’s the thing: you already love dancing. This is truly the first thing you need and should always be your go-to when you are feeling doubtful about what other people are thinking or whatever. Always just be like, “Hey, I love dancing and I am going to dance.”

Now put on your new theme song, Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up Part 1″, and take in my crucial steps to becoming a dancing queen.

Dance by yourself all the time

Take some time every day and dance alone in your mirror. This is key, because the more comfortable you get with yourself dancing, the more comfortable you will become dancing around other people. Make a mix that includes your favorite dance jams that span across a lot of genres– pop, R&B, rap, jazz, indie rock. You need to be comfortable and ready for any situation in which you want to get your legs a-movin’!

I used to do this a lot before living with my boyfriend, and still do if I know I have the time before he comes home. I always like dancing when I’m getting ready, right after my hair is blow dried but before I’m fully dressed. This is a time I feel really good about myself. You should find a time like that for yourself. I just don’t recommend dancing in the mirror when you’re PMSing and feel like a disgusting person. That will have the opposite effect. This exercise is to gain confidence in dancing and in yourself, so make sure when you do it you’re in a good mood and feel good about yourself.

Get one signature move

My signature move was always this hip shimmy, with these like, index-finger guns at my sides. I think there might be some sort of example of it in Grease, but the point is, it’s always something I can start with that’s not too serious and can be used in nearly any dancing situation. Your signature move should be something fun and easy, something you can do while talking or holding a drink if you need to. You will find your signature move over time, so don’t rush to pick one out. It should be a natural move, something you enjoy doing. Even if it isn’t necessarily “natural” and may come off a bit “goofy”, that’s okay, and I will explain why next.

Take pride in dorkiness

Even if you think you’re being a dork, take pride in it. Love your dorkiness. If you are dancing like a dork and smiling and having a great time, that looks like confidence to everyone around you. I know, crazy, right? But it’s true! People see that and think you’re a fun loving girl who doesn’t give a darn about what others think (which will be true in no time).

Here’s an example from my life: My friend wanted to dance at this show, but no one else was dancing. I went with her to the front of the stage and we just started dancing. When no one joined us, she wanted to go sit back down out of embarrassment. I said, “No, we are not sitting down. That looks like we failed and will look way more embarrassing than us just continuing dancing.” I made her keep dancing and I just smiled, throwing my finger guns around, as the whole crowd kinda stared at us. After the set, a couple came up to us and started telling us how much they loved our moves and how they wished they had the courage to dance like that. People love people having a good time and doing their thing, so even if you feel like a dork, someone out there thinks you’re rad for just being yourself.

If you start feeling insecure, know that you are only the center of your own universe. Whatever you think people are thinking about you, is probably not true. They are too busy thinking about themselves and whatever they’re insecure about, not how you’re dancing. And if there is some wretched girl in the crowd giving you a dirty look, know that she is jealous. You can’t help you’re so carefree and fun!

Always smile

Even if you’re totally freaking out on the inside, just keep smiling. Smiling helps you have fun, and it throws everyone off your scared-scent because it makes you look confident.

Branch out

Learn new single steps you can do alone. There is a YouTube tutorial on nearly every dance, so you can just incorporate practicing your new dance into your dancing in the mirror time. In summer 2007, there was a bet I couldn’t learn how to C-Walk. Thanks to YouTube, I am the surprise white girl that can nearly spell out “Crips” with her feet at the party. I highly recommend learning something like this that incorporates a lot of feet movement. If you can get fancy feet, your arms are easy to throw in the mix with just about anything.

Practice

The more you dance alone and the more you dance in front of people, the more dancing will just become a part of your life. You will gain confidence through just doing it more, and you’ll gain more skill. Believe me, I do some silly things when I’m dancing, but the more you do it, the more you can just play it off like you meant to do it. I even fall sometimes. Yes, I fall and pretend it was a part of my dance because I’ve danced so much I’ve grown accustomed to thinking on my feet and adapting. This will be you one day. You will be a master of your dance. You will have your moves and you will have your confidence, and nothing will be able to stop you.

Just have fun. Really. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks as long as you’re having fun. More than likely, people will rally behind you and you’ll find yourself spearheading serious dance parties in no time.

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  1. I have fully embraced the nerd within. I dance like Elaine, but I pretend it’s on purpose!

  2. Love this! I always dance like a big dork. Mainly to keep creepers who wanna grind all up on this at bay!
    It helps to have a friend who shares your sentiment.

  3. I love this so much! I recently overcame my fear of dancing my ass off at concerts (it makes me SOO happy!). Imagine my surprise when my dorky moves drew guys right to me. I think they appreciate that I’m enthused without being “that drunk chick.” I just dance to make myself happy! I’ll keep these tips in mind next time I start to feel bashful.

  4. Take pride in Dorkiness. I love it! I revel in mine. I was even given a title: SuperDork. Made myself a t-shirt and everything.

  5. preach. this is great advice, in fact the BEST advice on how to fake it till you make it look like you aren’t faking it anymore. I just want to go and dance now…. :)

  6. I like these tips, Marissa A Ross! I personally blame the ‘DANCE OR DIE’ film genre. I recommend Dance confidence-inspiring movies like Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and Night at the Roxbury to everyone (for no real reason, until reading this).

  7. Amen to everything you said, sista!