How To Turn Dance Criticism Into Empowering Experiences

Dance Criticism Turned Into Empowering Experiences

Dance criticism can show up in many ways:

  • a negative comment made by a dance partner when you walk off the floor
  • competing and NOT seeing your name on the final’s list
  • your partner never smiling at you for the entire dance
  • a mentor/teacher saying something like “let's just move onto something else”
  • insert your own least favorite dance criticism here

How do those experiences make you feel?

  • Not good enough?
  • Worthless?
  • Disliked?
  • Stupid?
  • Awesome? (ok, probably not this one...but keep an open mind and keep reading)

Are you someone who experiences dance criticism frequently?

Or maybe you just constantly feel down after a dance weekend or a dance class, but can’t really put a finger on what exactly is causing that feeling?

First, this is normal.

We’ve all been there...some of us many, many times!

(Yes, that might be a bit of a self-admission.)

That said...

If you are letting dance criticism affect you negatively, this could cause a downward spiral or a constant state of sadness or frustration in your dancing.

But, believe it or not, it is possible to turn many of these negative dance criticisms into empowering experiences (from feeling “stupid” to feeling “awesome”).

So let’s jump into one of my favorite methods of lessening the impact of criticism and maybe even making it empowering. 

Let's Make Dance Criticisms Empowering

Step 1: Write down at least 5 ways you experience dance criticism “that stings”


  • Not seeing your name on the final’s list
  • No one asking you to dance and always getting turned down when you ask others
  • An eyeball roll from your partner when you try something while dancing

Step 2. Write down what you wish you experienced instead of each of those dance criticisms


  • Seeing your name on the final's list
  • Everyone asking you to dance and never getting turned down when you ask others
  • A smile from your partner when you try something while dancing

Step 3. Write down how you feel (or think you would feel) from each of your responses to Step 2


  • Accomplished
  • Desired
  • Successful

Ok, we are almost there!

Before we give you the final 2 steps to turn negative criticisms into empowering experiences, let’s consider another layer to why experiencing dance criticism can be so hard.

Could it be the dance criticism (in step 1) “stings” because you might be looking for some sort of validation (like from step 3)?

Check out the table below to see how the dance criticisms and preferred experiences relate to the validations:

Dance criticism that "stings”

(step 1)

Preferred experience

(step 2)

Validation you might be seeking

(step 3)

Not seeing your name on the final’s list

Seeing your name on the final's list

Feeling accomplished

A negative comment made by a dance partner as you walk off the floor

A positive comment made by a dance partner as you walk off the floor

Being “good enough”

Do you see how someone wishing to see their name on the final’s list might be seeking the validation of "feeling accomplished”?

And do you see how someone wishing to get a positive comment from their dance partner might be seeking the validation of being “good enough”?

The sting of criticism is often felt (sometimes deeply) when you are “needing” to be validated, and that validation comes from an outside source.

When this is your constant, your life is a continuous roller coaster of emotions, a constant up and down, always looking for the next “fix” of validation from others to feel good. And then when we don’t find the outside validation, we can become depressed, angry, scared, or have a feeling of being lost in the world, just as a few examples.

When the outside validation is just a “nice to have” experience, a person tends to be much more at peace, at ease, happy with who they are and their skillsets (even though there’s always room to improve), regardless of the outside circumstances. 

It’s always nice to see your name on the finals list, sure...but you don’t need it to feel happy and “good enough”.

To avoid the downward spiral, I recommend aiming to find validation from within yourself as much of the time as possible, so if and when criticism is present, it doesn’t “knock the wind out of you”.

So let’s do that with this next step!

Step 4: Write down at least 4 simple/easy ways you can start finding validation from within yourself that would create the feelings from Step 3


  • Accomplished = Look at videos from when I first started dancing and some recent videos. Notice and celebrate how much I’ve improved.

  • Desired = Write down a list of how many times someone did say YES to you for a social dance during a night or over the course of a weekend (beware of note below).

  • Successful = Watch any video of mine that I’m proud of!

Great job!

Now you’ve taken a dance criticism that normally creates a negative feeling (like “stupid”)...

...and turned it into something that can make you feel empowered (or “awesome”)!

Now let’s take one more step to really make this hit home for you (and maybe help others too)...

Step 5. In the comments below, share one or more ways you have experienced dance criticism that stings, how you were looking to be validated, and one way you will turn it into an empowering experience next time.


  • I experience criticism that stings when no one asks me to dance. When people ask me then I feel “wanted’. Moving forward I will keep a notebook of all the times I DO get asked to dance.

The Benefits To Commenting Below

  • Sharing your solution will more strongly embed this idea in your brain, so the next time you feel this need for validation you are more likely to remember to implement your solution, which will turn that potentially negative experience into an empowering one for you.
  • Sharing your solution might help someone else who is struggling to come up with a solution to a similar need for validation.

For Help...Add A Comment

If this method doesn’t work for you in certain circumstances, don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to help. Add a comment below to share an example criticism where this method doesn't work for you, and we'll try to help.

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5 thoughts on “How To Turn Dance Criticism Into Empowering Experiences”

  1. Much of what we do as hobbies is solitary, water and winter sports such as skating and all the types of skiing we do is not a shared experience. There is no subjective when you fall, you can try to blame a patch of ice on the mountain and the mountain doesn’t care, you then have to figure out how not to fall – falling is the best teacher.

    Dancing is wholly subjective. I don’t think you’ll ever win by turning it into a comparison and validation, turning it into competition. I think our competitions would be better viewed as akin to keeping score playing golf – not as a means to beat some imagined foe but as a yard stick to guide our training.

    Yup, I register every smile and every frown/failure too, the later I keep for my dance coaches for us to figure out. And yes, I’ll try the same move with a beginner as I do with a pro, those darn pros can make every bad lead of mine make look amazing, I pay pros a lot of money to tell me I’m not.

    The smiles tell me, yup, I can use that in competition and for fun.

  2. (John)
    Tashina is totally brilliant in her approach to overcoming the negative consequences to criticism we experience in dance. I will offer a brief minimony as support.

    When I first started dancing. I did so because I needed to feel valued and worthwhile to counterbalance the deep seated self loathing that acted as a filter through which I unconsciously viewed my life and the behavior of others. I thought that if I became a great dancer. Others would see me, appreciate me and girls would want to be around me. I worked very hard and grew in the discipline of ballroom and country. I had no idea at the time that I was using dance was a coping mechanism. I danced at the expense of every partner and follow I social danced with. I emotionally crushed every follow because it was about the John show. What I wanted. What I needed. What you could give me. I judged and criticized every follow as though they were the mother that rejected me and caused me to feel like a failure and valueless. I feel horrible today about the way I treated the women who really just wanted an opportunity to dance with someone for the joy of self expression, love of dance and have the opportunity to stretch and grow. I had to step away from dance for over ten years to figure out my life and find value and worth in myself. This is really important in dance as a whole but especially in WCS. Creativity and interpretation of music come from within myself. If I don’t like who I am or how I feel about myself. How in heavens name am I going to risk criticism and judgement from the dance world. I love Robert Roystons’ mantra that he quotes in his classes. He said , “You have to navigate through stupid to get to cool”. This is a journey we are all on. And honestly the only thing that determines how much time I’m going to spend in the I feel and look stupid phase is how hard I’m willing to work in front of a mirror and with a supportive coach.

    This is what I know to be true.

    WCS is a relationship where two people bring who they are and how they feel into a shared experience. That’s what makes this dance so great. Fear and selfishness take away from the relationship and cripple my ability to listen, feel and relate openly and with vulnerability to my partner. As much as there is a science/discipline to WCS. There is an equal creative shared expression.

    It takes a long time for people who struggle as I have to forgive the people who have emotionally crippled them. I had to give up looking for validation from the people who hurt me terribly and forgive them. I also had to stop looking to others to validate my feelings. Not forgiving people trapped me in my own hate and resentment towards them that spilled indiscriminately over everyone else that got close to me on and off the dance floor.
    I had to learn how to like myself for the first time ever. This was a process that could only happen when I was by myself. I could not discover who I am while in relationship with other people. I was a chameleon around other people. My journey started small with answering questions as simple as do I like vanilla or chocolate? Which grew over time into an ability to look in the mirror and not want to throw up. Which eventually grew towards I like what I see.

    In my journey as a dancer even with a 10 year sabbatical. A couple things had become very apparent to me. The dance world is full of human beings. Humans will hurt humans. Some of us are very wounded. Some of us are cold, callous, and self serving. Some of us are confused about who we are and are trying to define who we are as individuals. Some competitors, others relational. Some of these humans live and move under the enormous weight of performance driven parents and have performance driven personalities. Some are born with a G-D breathed passion and understanding for movement and interpretive dance and those individuals excel and grow at a rate that makes me really jelly. But for me. I’m just a guy who figured out when the time was right for me that I love dance. All kinds of dance. I’m a competitor. I live for the rush of being on a comp floor and being in front of people. I win some and I don’t make the cut in others. Actually……a lot of others. Many dancers are gifted with a creativity that gives birth to a unique brand. But they are young or not well known by the judges who are all opinionated and have their individual tastes. There are dancers who spend an eternity at the lower levels until they figure out how to dance their partner up. There are a lot of dancers out there who can invest more time than I can in practice. There are dancers in better shape than I am. Younger than I am. There are gifted dancers I compete along side with. They will grow through the ranks quickly. There are amazing dancers who can move and are so fun to dance with but they struggle with weight. I want to celebrate them and encourage them all regardless of their background, ability or how I feel in the moment. I think the biggest lesson I learned was in a recovery program It was designed to nurture humility. I must remember where I came from what that was like. I must treat others with the compassion, love and encouragement I think I deserve. I must also remember that failure has many fathers while success is an orphan.

    Tashina and PJ had this awesome tool in their BOOM program they worked together. I’m pretty sure it was a Taz tool. The tool was a goals sheet. You filled out this sheet with a goal you wanted to realize in your dance. I believe it asked for metrics as well. PJ and Tashina would design a plan for you and you would agree and sign the sheet committing yourself to actually reach each metric on your path to the goal. I know I have been derailed by the unwanted input of others in my journey but I always came back to what I had promised myself and the people who really did care about me. Other people and their opinions matter less when your committed to your personal path. You can measure your growth. And look to the left and then to the right and see the coaches who champion you.

    Save me a dance please.

    1. Thanks so much John for being so open with your journey and sharing what you’ve navigated through. You have done such an amazing job continuously growing as a person and it comes through in your dance. SUPER INSPIRING!!!

  3. I have had a dancer roll their eyes at me when they determined what level dancer I was. I have also been called out in the middle of a dance for not providing a connection that they thought they should be getting. These both stung because I was going through a period of needing validation as a good enough dancer to be there at that moment. This will be empowering for me in the future because I know I am good enough and I can see that these situations come from those who are most likely in a period of struggle in their own dance journey. Being on my own dance journey is all the more reason to be understanding and compassionate towards others.

    1. Tashina Beckmann-King

      You are definitely good enough. How great that you know have that piece of insight into a dancers journey, creating an experience of compassion rather than judgement about the other.

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