Monday, January 23, 2012

DANCE NO-NO: Unsolicited Advice

As in other realms of life, on the dance floor, free advice is worth roughly what you pay for it (just like this, har har har). The only difference is on the floor, even if the advice is worth gold, the adviser usually ends up looking like a jerk. You might think you're doing a good thing, helping someone learn, showing them a fascinating new trick, bringing out their potential. You're not. You're making yourself look like an ass.

Giving people dance advice they didn't ask for is beyond rude for a variety of reasons. First of all, you're implying they don't know what they're doing. It may be true that they don't know what they're doing, but of course, that's what being a beginner means. Everyone has their own learning process and chances are, someone who doesn't know how to dance but wants to is probably paying good money to take classes from professionals. Tis best to let the professionals be in charge of the lesson plan. In fact, even if someone asks, it might be better to direct him/her in a professional's direction.

Second, you're implying that you do know what you're doing. Unless someone has asked your advice or has paid you for dance lessons because you're a professional dance teacher, then what you have to say is best kept to yourself. You're likely not perfect and it would be in both your best interests not to act as if you are. It's especially bothersome when someone willingly acknowledges, "I'm just a beginner," or, "I'm just learning this dance," and some wannabe-Maksim-Chemerkovskiy takes that as an opportunity to flatter himself by acting like he's some kind of mentor to this poor, unfortunate, inexperienced dancer. Could the picture of arrogance be any more precisely painted?

And let's face it, I can personally issue you a 100% money-back guarantee that you are not as talented, knowledgeable or good looking as Maksim Chmerkovskiy, because if you were, you'd be doing what he does....but you're not, you're hanging out in bars, clubs, and dance studios backhandedly criticizing people. Maybe you have a bright future with TMZ, but certainly not as a dance instructor. Keep it to yourself.

Third, as many learned folks have said, "It takes a wise man to admit he's a fool." Beginners are well aware that they don't know what they're doing. It takes a lot of guts to learn anything new, least of all dancing, that some people are just too afraid to even try. They end up parked on the couch, hand in the Cheetos bag, eyes glued to Dancing with the Stars, all the while wishing they had the huevos to get up and dance. If someone is brave enough to get off that couch and learn, you should be proud of them, even if they're not dancing like a star. Don't forget, bravery isn't about not being scared. Bravery is about being terrified, but continuing anyway. Most beginners already feel like scared, shy, awkward, uncomfortable virgins. Just like in the bedroom, they don't need you reminding them how severely lacking their skills are. They won't have fun, they won't gain confidence, and they won't want to be with you again.Worse, they'll go tell all their friends what an asshat you are.

Last, I'm not sure what your parents taught you, but generally, in life, if you don't have something nice to say to somebody, STFU! People take up dance for various reasons. Some of them do it to get more exercise, some want to come out of their shells, some want to gain a better body image, and still some just want to go out and have fun. Since you never know someone's past, its best not to try to dictate their future. You're probably doing more harm than good. Even if you think it's valuable, life-altering information, there is no need to take the chance that you might hurt or discourage someone.

On the reverse side of the coin, if you happen to be the unfortunate recipient of this unsolicited "advice," don't put up with it! For whatever reason, you started dancing with a purpose and it took a lot of courage to start, and even more to continue. Don't let people take that from you. If someone tries to <s>insult</s> advise you when you didn't ask, politely, but sternly remind them, "I know I'm just a beginner, and I don't know a lot, and I appreciate that you want to help me learn, but I didn't ask."

If they put up a fight over it, tell them you'll ask the instructor later. If they still insist on "instructing you," though it might seem like you're stepping on toes, walk away. At that point, you've clearly communicated how you feel and they've clearly communicated they have no interest in listening.

Never be afraid to stand up for yourself! No one worth dancing with will blame you....then again, no one worth dancing with will say rude things like that to you either, but we all make mistakes. It's important, not only for your confidence to stand up for yourself, but also for your technique, to only take dance advice from professionals. If you take advice from every wannabe Maksim out there, you might spare their egos, but you'll end up confused because, as mentioned, if any of them were as good as he is, they'd be doing what he does, but they're not; and there are a LOT of wannabe Maksims out there. Trust me, their egos aren't worth sparing, especially at the expense of inhibiting your education.

Don't be rude.
Don't accept rudeness.