In light of articles written surrounding Social Media over the last year, I thought I would weigh in on the instagram hype.
Maybe it is now satisfying to post on social media, yet as many have suggested it is a double edged sword. Personally, at Science in Dance we use Instagram and Facebook to share informative visual content of Dancers taking positive steps within in Cross-Training and Dance Specific Training. Yet to be perfectly honest, we spend a good proportion of our time giving perspective to young Dancers and encouraging positive social media usage. However, there is more that needs to be done when it comes to how young Dancers learn and reflect on their performance in virtual world of constant comparison.
So the purpose of this article is to give insight in to some old discussions on reflective practise and how to positively reinforce the process that Dancers endure whilst improving as Artists.
Over the last year, Dancers that have worked 1 to 1 with us will have experienced a training session that follows practise or rehearsal at the end of the day. Often, the approach to that training session can be determined by how the day has gone. So what started as a simple exercise to help Dancers reflect positively on a day of dancing turned into a continuous tool that can help Dancers sift their way through the trials and tribulations of social media exposure.
I am sure some Dancers have heard the line... "If you spent as much time practising as you do on social media..." finish the sentence however you like...
I think the remark is harsh... I believe some Dancers maybe stuck in a wheel of comparison... but not one where they compare their own solo from last week to this week... rather the following...
The wheel of comparison whereby rehearsal is done for the day and we go home and spend an hour scrolling through instagram looking at other people Dancing (showing their best not their worst). Only to then contemplate whether or not we can perform what we have just seen. The more we watch... the more mountains we feel their are to climb as every Social Media Dancer is doing a different variation in a different way and all of a sudden we lose complete sight over how we are meant to perform something ourselves.
Upon, investigation "chatting to a few Dancers" I was shown that this habit is hard to break and asking youngsters to down the social media accounts in the evening was a BIG ASK...
Nevertheless... I decided I would touch a small task that I was set in the world of International Sport as a Rower with Oxford Brookes University. With Dancers that I coach I often reflect on my time as an Athlete, not to tell them about my sporting successes but more often about the harder times and the emotions one can feel that, although are not Dance related, are applicable to Dancers and relatable. As an Athlete I would spend hours watching rowing and often hours watching myself row. I was always short in stature for a Rower at 6ft 2 which immediately put a chip on my shoulder as it meant I had to make up for a lack of height in other ways... Usually out-muscling the opponent.
I would go home in the evening and figure out why I wasn't going faster. I would watch countless hours of guys in the States and Australia and Germany... ALLOVER... Guys who were 6ft 5+, Monsters... and the next day I would go out on the water or the rowing machine and try to emulate what I had just seen. Do that 365 days of the year and you end up with a pretty messy picture of technique, constantly drawing on different ways of doing the same thing. It was only when I had finished my time at Brookes and was recovering from a Back injury in 2014 that my Physio said to me... "Your Rowing is your Rowing... the only way you truly improve is by reflecting and acting upon your own performances..."
I thought "STOP THE WORLD!" Seems simple right...
In 2016 I went back to rowing with Royal Chester. Not the dizzy heights of elite performance with Oxford Brookes but my approach this time was different. I chose ONE Rower on YouTube. Only One. And I had a great Coach and Friend in Jamie Leighton at Chester. I decided I was going to listen to my Coach, Reflect on my own performance and chose one inspiring elite Athlete that I would draw tips and technical prowess from. Needless to say I went faster than ever before.
To the point... Each day and each video I watched of MYSELF on the rowing machine or on the water... I would choose 3 things I felt I did WELL and 3 thing I wanted to improve on the next day. At the end of a week I had 21 bits of positive reinforcement to help me consolidate a good week of practise and 21 things I had consciously acted upon each day. I believe this was the key to a successful season.
I felt more confident and most importantly the burden of comparison had dwindled. I was no longer obsessed with watching and overwhelming myself with countless hours of other people Rowing. Instead, I had a vision of how I wanted to row and each day I was moving closer to that.
My message is not of a cliché, but rather one of refocussing the sights in which you are looking at your goal.
Check out the inspiration for this article HERE
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and please share.