For some, the idea of freestyle movement could easily be one of the most difficult things to master. Especially if you’re not from a dance background.
Just the idea of moving without instruction can make your stomach shrivel up and twist into awkward shapes. Instant feelings of embarrassment set in before you’ve had a chance to catch your breath at the thought of moving on your own. The negative self talk sets in, “you dance like a robot having circuitry problems…. freestyle is totally not your forte… you’re a follower, not a leader…”, and then there’s the whole fear of being judged by everyone else.
We get it. We’ve been there. And you know what? You’re not alone.
We sought some advice from one of our favourite freestylers, Carlie Hunter. In addition to being the queen of elbow grips and alter egos (have you met Carlos?), she also runs freestyle workshops. She has some GREAT tips for the rhythmically challenged which we are pleased to share with you.
1) Find a Song That Lets You Feel Any Kind Of Emotion
That could have anything to do with your mood on the day. Whether you’re feeling spiritual, sad, happy, moody. You’ll feel when it’s the right song for you.
2) Find or Create a Comfortable Space to Move In
Dim the lights, resist the urge to look into the mirror too much.
3) BREATHE and LET GO
This is quite important. Chances are, if you’re in a class to learn about how to better your freestyle, no one there is going to be judging you, but you. They’re probably having the exact same internal freak out. So in the words of Elsa, “Let it go”.
It’s not just about letting go of the muscles in your body. Let go of everything. Expectations of yourself, how you think it should look, how you think it shouldn’t look. Judgements on yourself for how you want to move and how you choose to move. Be in the moment. Take some deep breaths and try to centre yourself and find your zen.
Freestyling is a very personal form of art and story telling. No matter how experienced you are. It can be whatever you want it to be. It’s entirely your interpretation of the music and how you’re expressing yourself to it.
“For me the most important thing is to learn to let go and trust your own movement. Freestyle is not something that will come easily for everyone but it will improve, like anything, with practice. It can also be an amazing emotional healer, I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to release emotion, improve their quality of movement and improve performance.” Carlie Hunter
Now that you’re relaxed and free of judgement, you can move. Try not to force yourself into movements, and instead just do what feels good.
Carlie suggests giving yourself small challenges such as moving without letting your hands touch the pole or trying to move with a certain type of emotion such as love or sadness. There are so many different challenges you can give yourself, be creative, think of challenges and then apply them during your freestyle.
If you want to include tricks, try writing down the tricks you want to include first. Practice dancing them and try to find different exits and entries as the music plays without stopping.
When you are comfortable, watch yourself in the mirror or record yourself. Remember not to be too harsh on yourself, its not a performance. If you’re wanting to compete, look at what you like and what you think you can improve on.
5) DON’T STOP!
Keep moving for the entire song no matter how awkward or lost you feel. This is how you will learn to move yourself out of sticky situations.
It kind of goes without saying, but the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll get and they better your freestyle will be.
This is also an important part. Breathe, dance and have fun. Be able to laugh at yourself, let yourself cry and be true to your movement. There is no right and wrong. Embrace and trust YOU.