Forum: Irish / Irish - Adult Dancers

Sluggish dancing
By dancinginflorida
On Wed May 28, 2014 10:42 AM

I've been at it now for about a month and I'm practicing every day. I feel like my dancing for soft shoe dances is sluggish/slow. How can I work on this?

9 Replies to Sluggish dancing

re: Sluggish dancing
By lorna_doonemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed May 28, 2014 11:35 AM
Edited by lorna_doone (166683) on 2014-05-28 11:35:38
When you say you've been at it for a month now, do you been Irish dancing as a whole? Or you've been working on not being sluggish/slow for a month?

If it's the latter, drills drills drills drills. Over and over, every day. The secret to effortless dancing is to have great stamina, sharp footwork, and high lifts. There are some great resources on here for working on your stamina and for general softshoe drills.
Are you falling apart after your 1st step? Then practice 4 steps at a time every day to build your stamina. After a few months, doing 2 steps will feel like a breeze.
Are your points sloppy? Drill those. Over and over. Work on being SHARP and precise with every single movement.
Are your overs sleepy looking? Turn on some pumping music (non-Irish dance), and practice overs. Over and over.
Watch videos of champs for inspiration. There's a great slow-mo video of *I think* Ciara Sexton doing a hanging leap/over. Really helped me wrap my head around what they really are supposed to look like - and the movements behind it all.

If you're just starting out, however, cut yourself a little slack. If you've only started dancing a month ago, chances are, you won't look fantastic yet ;) Keep your head up, keep practicing, and remember that practicing is really the only way to improve.
re: Sluggish dancing
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed May 28, 2014 02:06 PM
I think you have only been taking classes for a little while? As Lorna done said, cut yourself a little slack. Irish dance is harder than it first appears!

What makes you feel like you are sluggish or slow?
re: Sluggish dancing
By dancinginflorida
On Thu May 29, 2014 11:18 AM
Thanks ladies. I only started lessons last month so I totally understand it will take time. I just want to practice wisely. I will drill. I feel like I'm sloppy just based on looking at myself. Of course, I'm comparing myself to the girls I see in my daughters class who are much better than I am. :)
re: Sluggish dancing
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu May 29, 2014 02:17 PM
haha, at this point, everyone would expect you to look sloppy!

but if you want to practice wisely, pick the thing that is most obvious to you and work on that. Is it timing and being on the music? pointing your foot in front? kicking your bum in back? being up on your toes? keeping your arms still? There is so much to focus on!! But pick one, then walk thru your dances, or sections of them, and focus on that one thing. Then dance thru sections, focusing on that one thing, then dance thru the whole step focusing on that one thing. It will help you improve, I promise!
re: Sluggish dancing
By monochrome
On Thu May 29, 2014 06:07 PM
I echo the advice to focus on one thing at a time while you're learning. My previous teacher was genius at introducing new things one at a time. You'd go along thinking you were doing quite well, and then suddenly it was time to work on turnout. Then after you felt like you'd finally satisfied him, a few classes later, you'd learn that you also needed to kick your bum more consistently. And so on. It could be frustrating, but it probably worked a lot better than being shown a model of perfection and trying to imitate it all at once.
re: Sluggish dancing
By celticwhim
On Sat May 31, 2014 12:21 PM
When I first started I felt that way as well! I had been watching my daughter, who was 8 at the time and dances like a young deer and the rest of the school of "young ins", so when I started, I thought I looked horrible. It took me a whole year to really start to see anything like what I expected to see. Even after that, it took a bang on the head epiphany to realize that I would most likely never dance like they do because 1. I started as a middle aged adult so my body and muscle memory was not as developed for the dance as them and 2. not all adults can move the way younger people do. So I have been trying to stop analyzing and comparing my dancing and style to the under 18 crowd and have been focusing more on adult dancing. Granted there are a lot of very talented adult dancers out there that do look just like the younger set, but many of them danced when they were younger. Another thing that can hold dancers back is weight. I know for myself, when I started dancing I was very heavy and it was hard to even get off the ground. After a year of battling horrible shin splints and losing about 30 pounds the dancing is becoming easier and I have noticed that I am less sluggish. Also, another thing that has helped me a ton, is Pilates! I know it is a pain and a lot of dancers hate it, but it really does strengthen your core muscles which helps tremendously with controlling steps and helping your speed and snappiness. Just remember the most important thing though, if you love Irish Dance and are passionate about it, don't give up! No matter how you dance or how you think you dance you can always find the joy in it! :)
re: Sluggish dancing
By bigTreblemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Jun 01, 2014 08:48 PM
If you really want to see a noticeable difference in your dancing, strength training is going to be your best bet. I haven't seen you dance, but most dancers who look "sluggish" look that way because they are lacking sharpness, extension, and aren't getting off the ground quick enough. To an extent, drilling will help, but if you haven't got the muscle to do something, then you won't be able to do it until you get that muscle.

The previous posters have given some really good advice about picking specific things you think need the most improvement and then working on them. (I'm a big fan of deliberate practice!) Also, the pilates recommendation is great!

Don't be afraid of doing additional strength training outside of dance. It really will make a huge difference!
re: Sluggish dancing
By dancinginflorida
On Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:38 AM
bigTreble, I've been thinking I should do that. But as someone who up til a month ago has led a largely sedentary life, I'm clueless. Any suggestions as to where to start?
re: Sluggish dancing
By SamCartermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:47 AM
If you've had a largely sedentary life up until starting to dance a month ago, I wouldn't jump into any intense workout. IMHO, that's just asking for an injury. Too much too soon can be bad.

I am sure your dancing is just fine for your level and age. Just keep dancing and enjoying yourself! It's supposed to be fun! If you want to branch out, you can look for a local beginner pilates or yoga class. Or you can just start walking.

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