Stop looking down!
How many times did you hear that when you were first learning to dance? Maybe you still get caught checking out that sexy wooden floor. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone, especially when we’re trying a new or difficult step. Our eyes drop. It’s apparently very difficult to think and look straight ahead at the same time. It’s like we think the floor we’re dancing on is as rocky as our brains feel trying to remember the timing. One wrong move, and we could stumble and fall. Then a dance partner is put in front of us, and we can’t move our feet unless our eyes are glued to them.
Well, I don’t know what’s going on in your head when you’re looking down, but I can share what’s going on in my head. Here are just a few of the very reasonable excuses, uh, I mean, explanations, for why my eyes drop when I dance.
It really is easier to think. Nothing else is going on down there at the floor, so there is nothing to distract me while I’m trying to remember if this next step went straight back or curved.
I’m a klutz. I really could stumble and fall! I’ve been known to trip on air, so I wouldn’t put it past me to trip on that nice, smooth dancefloor. There might be a stray rhinestone!
I’m just looking for the hair tie I lost the other day. I guess I can’t use this one anymore now that I’m sporting a pixie cut. Damn.
I don’t want to step on my partner’s feet. I know I’ve been getting silly, but I think this one is a legitimate concern of many beginner dancers. They honestly don’t want to hurt their partner by stomping down on their big toe! An honorable goal, but it’s actually easier to tell where your partner is if you focus on your connection with them instead of where your feet are (attached to the bottoms of your legs, guys, they’re not going anywhere).
What if I’m looking up and make eye contact with someone watching me dance?? I’ve reached a point in my dance journey where I love making eye contact with someone watching me dance. In that moment, they’re dancing with me and we have a beautiful connection. My heart sings when they smile! When I’m performing or competing, that is. At the studio, while I’m practicing or taking a lesson, I still get self-conscious about people watching me. It’s like letting someone see a rough sketch of your masterpiece. Don’t look, it’s not finished yet!
While all of these are completely legitimate (#not) reasons to look down, it’s important to break the habit as quickly as possible. Looking down affects our posture, our balance, and our alignment when we dance, and when we’re affected, our partner is also affected. Plus ladies, when you’ve got a pound of makeup on your face at a competition and you look down, it looks like you’re dancing with your eyes closed. Do you really want pictures of yourself sleep dancing?
So lift that chin up, open those eyes and take in the world around you! Don’t worry, your feet will follow you and the floor will stay beneath you. I promise.