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What Every Musician Should Know About Performing Under Pressure

What Every Musician Should Know About Performing Under Pressure

Last summer, my sister had a vision of joining a hip hop dance crew and competing around the world.

We visited hip hop dance studios around town, eventually coming to a street dance studio. A sign behind the glass proclaimed a 30-minute wait, beyond that, worn carpeted stairs.

To give a little context, street dance is ultra-free, making up moves on the spot (in Step Up, the hip hop dancers versus the ballerinas).

When we were let into the smoky studio, the owner backed us into a sofa.

“Most people who’ve danced for years,” he said, “can’t actually dance.”

I observed the grey-white upholstery weaving of his couch, pondering.

Street dance is like jazz music, where spontaneous imperfections create the magic. Here’s how to perform better, to shine at all times, even during the mistakes.

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What Matters Most: Technique, Improv, or Confidence?

What Really Matters for Success

Today, I landed in another hip hop circle, by accident.

The deafening music and dancing was doing a good job of distracting me from waves of food poisoning pain, so I watched the circle.

There are rows and rows of chairs, but sparsely occupied. Three groups of guys, most of them wearing dark backpacks, walk to the centre of the stage. They cue some too-loud music and toss off their backpacks.

But they don’t do anything else. They just stand around. Then after forever, one of them starts dancing around in the middle. When the first person ends his little improv, he beckons to the next, and the next does the same, over and over.

None of them are very good. Some are not fast enough or not smooth enough, some can’t catch the beat properly.

But they keep at it, showing their moves. There were some weird moves, like this one guy who started flopping around on the ground like a dying fish.

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