A few weeks ago I attended a workshop lead by the award-winning dancer, Ruby Beh, on how to practice. Whether it be belly dance or any other talent or skill, we all know we need to practice to improve. It’s a pretty simple equation, right? However, there can be many roadblocks between knowing that fact and actually executing it. For myself, lately my practice as been pretty slim to none. If I have a stage show coming up, then I’ll put in some practice time to prep for my performance. And of course, I do teach weekly. But as far as a regular, weekly, really-challenge-myself practice, that I haven’t done in some time. Thus to the workshop I went.
We probably all have different reasons why we aren’t practicing or otherwise following through on achieving our goals. It could be lack of time. Not knowing what to practice. Feeling stuck or frustrated. Not having a defined goal, milestone, or end target in sight. Not possessing the right space or tools. Insert your reason here. The list is indefinite.
So if you are experiencing any of these roadblocks, I want to share with you my top five takeaways from the workshop to help you overcome your inertia:
- Set your six month, one year, and ultimate goal. Know what it is that your’re working for.
- Determine how much you want to practice each week, and at the beginning of the week, schedule it into your calendar, planner pad, or iPhone. Make and set the comittment.
- If you’re someone who still won’t show up even with the time blocked out, make yourself accountable. Sign up for a class (and prepay), rent studio time, or schedule to met a buddy. When you know that you’ve already put your hard earned cash down on the table, or that you’ll be letting others down and not just yourself, you will show up.
- If you’re not sure what to practice, try writing down all the isolations, traveling steps/moves, and zill patterns you know on index cards. Select one card from each pile and create a combination of the three.
- If you’re still completely at a loss of what to do when you practice, you can also pop in an instructional DVD. Three of my favorites are Alimah’s Finding Meaning in Movement, Aziza’s Ultimate Belly Dance Practice Companion, and Michelle Joyce’s Killer Ziller. You can find them all on my Amazon aStore.
And I also had one other insight that came up for me during the workshop. Practice should really involve two forms; thinking and non-thinking. Your practice should include working on moves, combinations, and skills that really challenge you and require you to concentrate and focus. Equally, practice should also include putting on a piece of music, turning off your thoughts, sinking into your body, and just seeing what develops. Set aside judgment and expectation, and let the music move through your body into whatever visual form it chooses to manifest as.
If you have an opportunity to take a workshop with Ruby, I highly recommend. By the time I left this workshop, I felt motivated, inspired, and had outlined what it is I really want to achieve in my dance. Two weeks later, I’m still feeling that inspiration. I have my practice time blocked out in my calendar for this week. I have my goals, including a set timeline, written down. I’m generally ready to shimmy and shake it into the next level.
Feel free to leave comments on your own goals, practice, and success stories.
This guest blog post originally appeared in Alessandra’s blog “Sequins and Shimmies” and is posted with her permission.