A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog about watching yourself dancing on video. I called it “To Video or Not To Video”.
In the time of the Coronavirus, it seems more relevant than ever.
Every Zoom class we teach is automatically recorded and sent out to every student, so they can keep practicing and studying the material.
I knew it was only a matter of time before the comments started coming in:
”I really thought I was stretching my leg but in the video it doesn’t look like that at all!"
”I look down the whole time! I had no idea I was doing that!”
”I thought I danced better than that! Help!”
For many people, seeing themselves on film can be a wake-up call.
It can be the moment the image they have of themselves changes into something quite different.
Of course, not everyone’s reaction is negative.
Some people are pleasantly surprised and relieved to see themselves dancing. And decide they look better than they thought.
Having a bad reaction to a video can really shake your confidence, especially if you have spent many hours practicing. And self-confidence and self-belief play an important role when we dance.
So is it better to avoid watching videos of ourselves altogether?
I don’t think so. It may be a bit painful in the short term, but it can have a profoundly positive impact in the long term.
Firstly a few words of reassurance. How you view yourself on video is not necessarily how the rest of the world views you! We tend to be our own harshest critic.
In my experience, those who do not have a negative reaction do not necessarily dance "better" than those who do. It's often the case that they had lower expectations of what they would see or tend to put less pressure on themselves.
Yes, you may see concrete areas for improvement. But there is no such thing as perfection and even at the highest level, dancers are constantly striving to improve (and of course use videos to do so).
Perhaps watch the video again but this time push back your laptop and watch from a little distance. Imagine you’re watching a total stranger dance. What do you think? Often you'll find your opinion changes and you can view the video more objectively.
In order to improve we need to really understand what areas we need to work on and a video provides the perfect opportunity for this.
A teacher can tell us for months to lower our shoulders. But there is nothing quite like seeing it for ourselves to steel our resolve to change.
If you see a video of yourself and simply think “how nice” (and I do hope that you will from time to time!), that's great for your confidence but less useful from a learning perspective.
And here's another positive spin on it. If you can watch a video and diagnose where you need to change, this speaks highly of your powers of observation and understanding of tango.
So take a deep breath and press “play”. Be gentle on yourself and calmly identify the areas for improvement.
And remember you’re taking a fantastic step towards streamlining your progress. Well done!