So a few days ago I posted a very old video of me practicing the limited moves I’d learned by that point on camera, and I thought I would comment on why it’s a good idea to record your practices from time to time. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m no pack rat. I get rid of stuff I don’t like. Photos, photo albums, videos, old toys, it doesn’t matter. If I’ve moved on, it’s gone.
Consequently, there aren’t a lot of photos of me in existence anymore. Or video. With digital media, getting rid of stuff I don’t like is even easier than throwing it away so I’ve ditched a lot of videos like this one. Performances I didn’t like, practicing that other people caught on camera, etc.
But one of my friends (who also belly dances) suggested years ago that I keep the file that I shared the other day for two reasons:
Number one, it’s good to see progress and comparing your ‘then’ self to your ‘now’ self can be extremely rewarding since it’s easy to forget just how hard learning something new really was. It’s easy to feel like we’re never good ‘enough’. We could be better, there are other people out there that are certainly doing a better job, etc. Being able to see your progress can change a feeling of inadequacy to a realization that you’ve actually come very far and conquered a great many things. It’s like when you’re rock climbing and you look up and see how much farther there is left and begin to feel like you’ll never get there. Then you look down and realize you’re more than halfway to the top. It can renew your faith in your own ability, and that can motivate you to continue.
Number two, and this was a tough thing for me personally to get past, it can show you your weaknesses. On the surface, the Awkward Practice Video (which is what I’m going to call it from now on) just looks… bad. If I’d have posted it to YouTube, no doubt there would be a lot of ‘FAIL’ in the comments. But after studying it a bit I began to notice specific details I needed to work on in my technique. In this particular case, my arms are awful. It’s clear from a run through that I had no idea where to put my arms or what to do with my hands other than ‘hold them up’. Barring everything else, I knew when I first watched this recording a long time ago that if I could just work on figuring out what to do with my arms, the awkward factor would go waaaaaaaaaaay down.
So try and record yourself practicing. Watch it. Look for specific things that you can improve on. If you know someone else who also belly dances, consider asking them to review it with you, pointing out the problems. For some people, this entire idea, the concept of documenting their practice for the purpose of pointing out flaws and then allowing others to ‘help them’ point out more flaws, is simply insane. But it can help you overcome problem areas quickly because it points you in the right direction of what to work on. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. Most people I know, and I have this problem too, make the mistake of focusing only on their strengths and attempt to avoid their weaknesses altogether. But that doesn’t make us better dancers. We only overcome our weaknesses by confronting them – not ignoring them. So my suggestion is practice, practice, practice and then record yourself and practice on the things you didn’t like.