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How to Mess Up Like a Pro: Tips (& Life Advice) for Beginner Dancers

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Tip #1: Expect Mistakes

Why do we think that mistakes are failure in dance? Mistakes are part of life. When we make mistakes in dance, it just helps us recognize that we are taking risks and learning from our movement. Mistakes are NOT failure. Expect them. Welcome them. Thank them. Some of my favorite dance moments have been "mistakes" and I wouldn't have had them if I was hiding from failure.

Tip #2: Allow Yourself to Learn Through Practice, Not Perfection

Many dance spaces are toxic environments for perfectionism. Perfectionism is a symptom of white supremacy, which strips us of our value and humanity if we are "less than" perfect. Reminder: perfect is not real. But we can derive meaning and value from our practice, to grow our confidence and self-worth.

Tip #3: Step with Conviction, Even When You are F*@KN It Up

I learned this one from Galen Hooks. When asked what the difference was between beginner and seasoned dancers, she answered that it was the confidence in their footwork. I will expand this a bit and recognize the ableism in my caption here. If you can project confidence while taking up space, even when the movement is "incorrect", it will look like you meant what you did. And as dancers, isn't that the point? To inhabit space with confidence? I invite you to give it a try!

Tip #4: Clear is Better than Clever

What is the snapshot that conveys the message? We all have different bodies and body language. We might get lost in the sauce, trying to replicate something that someone else is doing in the choreo. But if we can be clear in our movement, we can convey the message of the movement in our own body language.

Tip#5: Stick the Landing, Wherever You Land

When we dance, we get to become the music. Trust me, the music does not care if you are sitting or standing, swaying or still. Follow the music and "stick the landing" with your musicality. Technique and form come with time and practice. Your innate ability to connect with movement, dance, and emotion is what makes you a dancer.

Don't let perfectionism keep you from dancing!

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