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Navigating Frustration and Negative Thoughts in Class

We’ve all been through it. Your heart beats a thousand times a second, you start to sweat and it seems like at any moment you’re going to explode in a rage that would rival a de-wigged queen. Everyone experiences frustration in class, though sometimes it’s hard to figure out whether it’s good frustration or bad frustration.


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There are so many reasons why we may feel frustrated, and it’s not good to dwell on it.

  • “I can’t do what that dancer is doing”
  • “I’m just not getting it”
  • “This is too hard for me”
  • “Why am I being picked on today?”

These are very common thoughts, and even seasoned dancers go through this type of frustration from time to time.  This type of negativity will really change the way you approach your class, and you may actually find that simple steps become hard and laborious.

What to Do

The best advice I can give is to come into each class with a plan. 

If you walk into a gym without a workout planned, you’re going to waste your time and half-heartedly jump between exercises, ultimately not making any progress and negatively impacting your mood; and possibly even injuring yourself. The same can happen if you don’t mentally prepare yourself for class, so here are some thoughts to help keep frustration at bay and make the most of your time.

Before Class

  • Do I have any injuries that I need to look after, and what can/can’t I do?
  • What did I struggle with in the last class that I can focus on today?

During Class

The ONLY person you need to be comparing yourself to is…YOU

I sometimes find it helpful to keep a notebook with me, and I write down any corrections I receive, as well as anything I noticed myself. Over time, this will really help you to know what you should be focusing on each class, as well as it will show you your progress whenever you’re doubting yourself.

TAKE TIME TO BREATH. If you find yourself getting frustrated over a step, take a moment to breathe and break down the step. If you’re getting frustrated with a pirouette exercise, take a moment and take it back a notch. This may mean going for a controlled single instead of a double, or just holding a strong passe position.

ASK QUESTIONS. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. Please do not suffer in silence, the teacher is always more than happy to go over a step or give you things to work on. I guarantee, if you give up on one step, you’ll give up on the rest of the class without even realising it.

After Class

  • REFLECT! What did you do today that you couldn’t do yesterday? Self-evaluation is very powerful.
  • ASK QUESTIONS! Teachers may not have a lot of time to hang around after class, but don’t be afraid to quickly ask a question about a particular step that you found challenging. A lot of my lightbulb moments have happened while talking after class, rather than during.
  • THANK YOUR TEACHER! No matter what happens, it’s important to realise that our teachers are human. When we’re frustrated, they feel it too because they want the best for you.  Thanking your teacher at the end of class lets them know that you enjoyed the class and that you are leaving without negative thoughts about yourself.
  • CONGRATULATE YOURSELF! Dance isn’t easy (if it was, it’d be called Football). Just turning up to class is a big achievement, so never doubt yourself.

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