The old saying is pretty safe to follow. Promise. Students often mention how they’d love to come early to lessons or stay afterwards to practice their dancing, but they don’t because they’re self-conscious of practicing in front of other people.
Well, I’m here to tell you, no one really is watching you. Sure sure, there’s those fellow students and pesky judges and audience members and maybe your mom, but none of those people are as invested and aware of your dancing as YOU. And that’s a good thing! Shy and introverted, self-conscious and self-deprecating dancers rejoice!
To put your mind at ease, I made up some statistics (with real situations) about how no one is paying attention to you:
The 97% of “Watchers”
So many times, like 97% of the times, when it looks like someone is watching you, they are in their own head preparing for a lesson or getting ready to practice or thinking about what’s for dinner. I think of this as the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” example: yeah, something is on in front of them, but they’re not really watching; it’s just visual noise.
For example, I’ve had a student make disparaging remarks to me about his own dancing as he was on a lesson with another teacher, thinking I was watching them. When really I was staring out at the floor (where they were in my sightline) trying to remember some new choreography. I’ve also been watching my partner dance with his students at competitions and later be told that the student fell down (apparently during the 3 seconds I was getting water) ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION.
The 2% of “Watchers”
Another 2% of the time, the people who are watching you are watching dancing. Notice I didn’t say “your dancing”, I said “dancing”. This is where judges and audiences and some studio goers come in. They aren’t evaluating you specifically: “Oh, that Mary and her reverse turns.” They are evaluating this set of reverse turns versus that set of reverse turns and it doesn’t matter who the people are that are performing them. Maybe they’re using it as a good comparison, maybe as a bad comparison, but it is truly nothing personal.
The 1% of “Watchers”
Now there’s that last measly 1% of the time: the time when someone is specifically and especially watching YOU, dancing. Like, your mom is watching you and she will probably swoon. Or your coach is judging you and you just worked on a thing and he sees you not do the thing and he will probably want to bonk you on the head with his clipboard.
But that’s only 1% of the time!
So get thee to a studio, go. Practice. Even if you look like a fool, practice, because wise dancers know that no one is watching.