For the next 10 weeks, I’ll be talking about each of the “10 Steps to Competition Greatness” in greater detail.
Here is the first one:
Take a few moments in the ballroom and expand your attention to the entire space.
The 3 most important things to consider in this first step are:
- Notice the size of the space. Are you performing in half the ballroom, the whole ballroom? Does the actual dance floor take up more space than the tables surrounding it?
- Can you picture the audience as a collection of your favorite people?
- Can you share your attention with your partner and your audience (of favorite people)?
You want to remember the steps and perform them so that both you and the audience can enjoy the experience. You want the style of dance to show through and the rhythm to be in time.
What if expanding your attention helped you to accomplish all of the above?
When I began learning the American Rhythm style, boy was I consumed with knowing what came next! For more on this click here.
Inner focus was taking over and it showed. Feedback from judges was that my eyes were downcast and I needed to find my audience. I was singularly consumed with executing that rumba or cha cha and being “right”.
Certainly, it helps to feel prepared sufficiently so that the whole of the environment can be included in our experience. But when I realized that I was prepared enough and still felt internally focused, I wondered.
Is this a habit?
I came to the conclusion that it most definitely was. In grappling with this realization, I remember from FM Alexander’s work that it was essential to explore our habitual urge to set up two fields of attention; one for the self and another for the environment. It became clear that I was doing just that, as opposed to establishing a single integrated field in which both the environment and the self could be viewed simultaneously.
Most children, before spending years being told “you have to concentrate” appear open and alert to their environment not needing to shut down one for the other. Children are great models for coordinating these two – they haven’t yet learned to split them apart.
So I began a self refresher course in FM’s “field of attention”, consciously allowing for my self/partner/steps/music to coexist with the external environment. I continue to pay attention to this and strive to maintain it without trying for it, which inevitably is self defeating.
Whether you are a pro am dancer or a pro, consider playing around with combining your immediate space with your extended space and notice how you feel! Happy Dancing!