How Dancing Can Be Used to Improve Soccer Skills

 

cartoon soccer player

Whee! Soccer!

I’ve noticed in my years as a swing dancer that soccer tops the list in sports that occupy Lindy Hoppers when they’re not dancing.  If you’re curious as to why that is, this may offer some insight into the connection between soccer and dance.

Good coordination is a vital part to succeeding in all sports. For example, Health Fitness Revolution writes that in soccer, coordination is essential due to the dramatic shifts in pace and judging how to play the ball. Coordination is something that young players learn at an early age and one of the new innovate ways to increase coordination and other soccer skills is through dancing.

One such program is Soccer Jam which is a new type of soccer training that combines “soccer footwork exercises choreographed with energetic, clean music to help players develop foot coordination and muscle memory.” The founder of Soccer Jam is Kelly Knauss who not only played soccer at a semi-pro level but also earned a four-year master’s degree in leadership and teaching methods. His program states that his training sessions will improve young players individual technical footwork and boost game performance.

In order to see the benefits of using dance to improving soccer performances on the pitch, beyond amazing goal celebrations, it is vital to see how closely linked the sports are. Five-A-Side Football Coach states that soccer “encompasses footwork, power, endurance, agility, balance and other abilities that are held in high regard on the dance floor too.” For instance the soccer site compares the art of dribbling to the “virtuosity of dance” as both require the body to be manipulated in order to move quickly.

An example of a professional soccer player with dancing experience was former Manchester United captain and England national soccer team player Rio Ferdinand, according to Men’s Health. The soccer star told Men’s Health that he credits ballet with improving his balance on the soccer pitch. Dancing has become identified with professional soccer due to the elaborate celebrations of players after scoring. Rush Canada, the largest youth soccer group in the world, even state that “if you watch Cristiano well enough you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him perfecting his dance moves either at training or when he scores. Likewise, Lionel Messi and Neymar are avid dancers.” Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the top two players in the world, according to soccer preview site Betfair with Ronaldo winning the award for best player of year in 2016. And if young soccer players should focus on developing their skills, they should look no further than the likes of Ronaldo and Messi to become the best they can moving forward.

Live Healthy in their article The Body of a Soccer Player vs. a Dancer state that competitors from both sports have overlapping body types. The health site cited the success of US goalkeeper Hope Sole on Dancing With the Stars as an example of how easily the two sports can be interchanged due to the same type of fitness requirements.

As young players embrace the rhythm and coordination of dancing and incorporate them into their soccer training we could be seeing more exciting and dynamic players in the future of the game. Dancing and soccer may seem like worlds apart, but combined together they can create a formidable player who will also be in line for the best goal celebration of the season.

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My Dance Vision in Action: Another Great Example!

 

If you’ve been to my website, you know know my vision statement has to do with people dancing spontaneously in inappropriate places.  Last week I wrote about hip hop crews on subways.  This week I want to bring your attention to a different kind of subway dancing.

 

Starting Dance Parties on Trains

In Australia, a country famous for oddball behavior, there’s a guy who goes around instigating random dance parties on trains.  He first makes a bold announcement that he’s going to start dancing and that anyone is welcome to join him.  He turns on some music and dances up and down the aisle.

 

The Party Gets Going

Pretty soon someone else who loves to dance jumps up and takes the opportunity to join him.  If I’d been there, that would have been me!  Some of you might have seen a TED talk about starting a movement.  It starts with a lone nut, who is eventually joined by a first follower.  Other people then feel they have permission to join in, and finally the rest of the crowd feels left out if they DON”T join in.   Although there are definitely people who who are happy to continue to sit and watch, you can see that dynamic in action here.  The guy comes across as a lone nut at first.  It’s kind of embarrassing to watch him, but his courage gets everyone into the spirit and a train car full of travelers spend their time joyfully dancing and interacting with one another instead of sitting in lone separation.  Watch this little miracle here!

 

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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Another Dance Controversy: Hip Hop Crews on Trains

 

dancers hang from the rafters

Hip Hop crew Tylive makes creative use of the subway  props

The other day on BART, three young hip hop dancers looking like street thugs started dancing and passing a hat.  They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad either.  And they were doing something joyful that took skill and not a little hard work and practice, for the pleasure of onlookers.  For money, yes, but they exerted no pressure, and they obviously took pride in their achievement.  I put a buck in the hat, thanked them, and told them they made my day.  They beamed in appreciation of the compliment.  Other passengers enjoyed the performance as well.  How often do you get live entertainment on public transportation?

 

In this clip you can see real pros at the top of their game busking for a tough crowd: New York subway riders.  I’d have been thrilled to have gotten to see these guys, but even so, the first youtube comment calls them criminals and urges subway patrons to report them.  “These so called dancers are nothing more than criminal beggars!” he rants.

 

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Granted, not everyone likes Hip Hop, but to call these guys “so called dancers” bespeaks a serious shoulder chip.  Whatever your opinion of people busking on the subway, these dudes can DANCE.  It does make me wonder, though, why so much anger?  Yes, it’s illegal.  And if amateurs had a go at this level of gymnastics it would be downright dangerous, but these dancers were highly skilled and very much in control.  Would he have had the same reaction if a team of white Olympic gymnasts had taken to the racks of his subway car?

 

So what’s really going on here?  Hip Hop is an African American street dance.   It reflects a very specific culture.  Not just black, but ghetto black.  My last post about a dance controversy was about people’s reaction to fat dancers on stage.  When someone has a visceral, angry reaction to art, there is usually deep seated prejudice of some kind behind it.  Fat prejudice for Australia’s Nothing to Lose, racism in New York’s subway for the Tylive Crew.

 

It’s my vision statement to do my best to contribute to a world in which people break out into spontaneous dance in inappropriate places, so you know where I stand on this controversy.  But I also like to see people, including myself, take a look at the reactions we have to art and question the validity of what’s behind them.  After all, that’s part of the job of art, isn’t is?

 

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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And ANOTHER Use of Dance for the Public Safety

 

figure dancing in a traffic light

The Dancing Traffic Light in Action!

I think this might be my favorite example yet of using dance to save people from themselves.  In the spirit of using fun to get people to change negative behavior, (and what can be more fun than dancing?) the dancing traffic light was an idea to see if people would resist the temptation to jaywalk at a dangerous corner if it was more fun to wait for the light.

 

Not only was it a fun and clever idea, but it actually worked!  Some people chose to dance with the dancing traffic light and some just enjoyed watching it (and maybe the people dancing with it) but nearly everybody actually waited for the light to change before crossing the street.  What a great combination of creativity, joy, dance, fun, and public service!

 

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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Do You Have to be a Dancer to Make a Marionette Dance?

Tiny marionette dancing

Dancing Marionette at the feet of puppet master Ricky Syers

Last week I posted on Appalachian  dancing dolls and promised a follow up post on Dancing puppets.  Making a marionette look real is a real and fascinating art.  The dolls themselves are amazing works of art and the puppet masters are true masters of illusion.

 

When a puppet dances, does that mean a dancer is pulling the strings?  Well I haven’t met many people behind the puppets so I can’t answer for sure, but my guess is that it takes a dancer to make the doll respond to the music in a realistic way.

 

In this clip, the street puppeteer is standing in plain sight as he works his puppets to the music.  You can see him dancing along with them:

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The incredibly gifted Ricky Syers delights ever amazed crowds with his tiny marionettes in the streets of Manhattan.  His beautiful creations are constantly dancing to the music.  Sometimes the camera picks up on Ricky and you can see him swaying to the music as he maneuvers his little charges.

 

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As you can see, it’s possible to perform a mesmerizing dance where the audience can’t even see you.  And it’s possible to be in full sight where the audience doesn’t even notice you.  If you can make a doll dance with grace, charm, rhythm, and engaging personality, that, in my book, qualifies you as a dancer.

 

If you’d like to support the career of this gifted street performer, consider joining his kickstarter campaign on kickstarter.com.

 

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Dancing Ambassadors

 

conference photo booth

Posing with another host at the Airbnb conference

I didn’t get Fridays dance blog written because I spent all weekend at a very inspiring conference for Airbnb hosts, of which I am one.  For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomenon, Airbnb is a company that matches travelers with people who rent out places to stay.

Dance Lessons for Internationals Tourists

Hobnobbing with other hosts, I met a young woman who has a large place in SF that houses about 14 guests at a time.  We talked about organizing a group dance class for her guests and taking them to Lindy in the Park.

Friendly dancers welcome visitors

I often take my guests, most of whom are visiting from other countries, to LITP.  They get to try out a very fun dance, meet a group of very friendly dancers, and go out to eat afterwards.  We engage them in conversation and they get to know the dancers and the dancers get to know them.

 

Dance is truly an international language.  My guests, as well as other international visitors to LITP, often say it was the highlight of their visit.

 

Someone said they wouldn’t be surprised if Airbnb won the Nobel Peace prize some day.  I can see that, and I also think dance communities have a hand in the movement for world peace.  After you’ve shared a dance and a meal with someone from another culture, somehow the idea of shooting at them just doesn’t make sense.

 

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Dancing In Inappropriate Places

Dancing makes people smile.  My vision statement has to do with a world in which people break into spontaneous dance in unexpected places and occasionally I like to blog about occasions where that happens already.

Great examples of inappropriate dance

Nothing makes me happier than seeing evidence of people dancing with abandon in “inappropriate” places.  Some people are blessed with the not caring what others think of them gene.  Check out these garbage men dancing on the back of their truck.  What a way to make a workday fun!  Do you think they brought a lot of smiles to a lot of faces along their route?

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Dancing Cops

One of my all time favorite examples of this fabulous genre are police who dance in public.  Introducing this element of fun and spontaneity to this job could go a long way in healing the rift between police and citizens they are supposed to be protecting.

 

Not surprisingly, most of the examples I have took place in countries where there is considerably less of a rift than there is here.  This one’s from Canada where a Toronto cop doing security at a jazz festival joins the revelers in a line dance:

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The next two very short clips are from Sweden.  I wish I knew the story behind this first one  because I’ve been to Sweden many times and I’ve never seen a dancing cop.  He just seems to, like my vision statement, be breaking into spontaneous dance with a “who cares what anyone thinks?” attitude.

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This guy joyfully joins a Pride march and dances in the parade, creating a ton of goodwill and having a great time.

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And here in the good old US of A, this SWAT traffic cop at a political convention outdoes our neighbor countries in this delightful show of dance skills that don’t interfere with his job:

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Last but not by far the least, I leave you with this example which I’ve used in a previous post. (More Thoughts On How Dance Makes a Better World.)

It bears repeating because it’s the absolute best example of the healing possibilities of dance:

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Why Do Dancers Like Flash Mobs So Much?

In this charming video a group of swing dancers gather around a street orchestra to perform a charleston routine.  It’s a simple routine that repeats, they do it well, and they are enjoying themselves immensely.  It’s a great choice for a flash mob because for swing dancers it wouldn’t take long to learn.  They know the steps already and just have to learn what order to do them in, but they have to be pretty skilled for it to look this good.

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Dancers looking good

And it does look good, doesn’t it? It looks good because they are experienced dancers and because they are having fun.  It’s fun to watch people have fun and this would have been almost as fun to watch if they were less skilled but still having a blast.

Dancers showing off

So why is it so much fun to do?  Because dancers love to show off.  There are exceptions to this of course.  I’ve known good dancers who are shy and don’t like to be in the spotlight, but for the most part it’s energizing to feel the appreciation of onlookers.  Doubly so when it’s a surprise.  A show that people pay to see has a much higher risk level.  It’s still fun and energizing, but everybody is there already with an expectation that this will hopefully be good enough to be worth the ticket price.  A flash mob comes out of nowhere and feels like a gift out of the blue to people lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to witness it.

Musicians like to show off too, so when dancers and musicians combine their talents this way it’s a guaranteed success.

Flash Mob or Lindy Bomb?

A close cousin to a flash mob is a bomb.  I’ve never heard other kinds of dancers use this term but it’s common in the Lindy Hop community.  When a group of swing dancers put up a boombox and break out dancing in a public place, it’s called a Lindy Bomb.

A flash mob is choreographed.  Whatever the material, it’s planned out in advance and everyone learns a part or does the same routine.  A Lindy bomb could be spontaneous, starting with a small number and growing as people join in, or it could be planned out by a particular group, but there is no choreography.  People just dance as they would in a club.  They’re just doing it in a public place where it’s not expected to happen.

Anyone can join a Lindy Bomb if they know the dance.  Any level dancer can participate.  The fun for the audience is seeing a bunch of people suddenly breaking out in a joyful dance.  If you are dancing Lindy, even if you just started, let others know you’d like to participate in the next Lindy bomb.  And if nobody has one planned, consider organizing it yourself.  It’s a guaranteed fun-for-all!

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Hoola Hoop Dancing: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore!

LED hoola hoops

Want to draw crowds when you dance with a hoop? You can get these LED hoops at Etsy shop

A creative dance idea

There are so many creative ways to make dance even more fun.  One of my favorites is the hoola hoop fad.  Like many kids, I played with one in my youth but I don’t remember doing it to music.  Hard to believe we didn’t because it’s such a natural fit.

A great dance workout too!

It’s fun.  It’s challenging.  It’s a great workout.  If you want to give it a go, don’t use your children’s hoops.  They’re too light for an adult and it will be way more frustrating than it has to be.  Adult hoopa are weighted differently and are much easier to use.

 

Here’s one of my favorite hoop dancers.  Great moves and great skill with the hoops!

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And here’s one where the hoop itself is spectacular.  I love the idea of creating a hoop that plays with the light this way so there’s always something fun to watch, even if the dancer is not as good as this one:

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Inspired?  Get yourself a hoop, put on your favorite music, (bikini optional), and dance!

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Down Syndrome Dancers Show Us How to Have Fun

poster for Down Syndrome dance

Down Syndrome Dancers
advertise their extravaganza

To Dance With Abandon!

On the heels of my Dance Walking posts, I couldn’t resist commenting on this wonderful video.
People with Down Syndrome can teach us a lot about dancing with abandon.

Dance: The Embodiment of Joy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: dance is the embodiment of joy. If I could give my students one gift it would be to remove the bone in their head that makes them care what other people think of the way they look on the dance floor. While I’m at it, I’d like to sign up for the same surgery myself.

In a previous post, http://www.stepsontoes.com/?s=dancing+for+joy, I wrote about Tim Harris, a kid with Down Syndrome who has his own restaurant in which he bestows hugs on his appreciative customers. In Tim’s video, he dances for joy on his way to work because he enjoys his life so much he is called to express it with a heart felt dance.

Dance in the Best of Worlds

In this video, a group of people with Down Syndrome bring awareness to World Down Syndrome Day by filming themselves doing their own version of dance walking. Most people have a hard time expressing spontaneous joy in public. It is the gift these lovely people bring to us to show us a glimpse of a world where love and joy are easily expressed.
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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Dance Walk Guru Found! The End of the Story:

Ben finds his guru

Ben Aaron finds Joe, the Dance Walk Guru!

Dancing in Your Wildest Imagination

I can’t stop thinking about the Dance Walk Guru’s story. Can you image how it would feel to be so at peace with yourself that you choose to dance down the street with abandon for the pure joy of it, without a worry about what people might think of the spectacle you are making of yourself?

Joe’s Dance Going Viral

And then, imagine how it would feel to find out that, unbeknownst to yourself, you had inadvertently started a movement. What if you learned that a video of yourself had gone viral and inspired hundreds of people all over the world to join you in spirit as they dance joyfully down the streets of their own towns?

How to be a Hero

Yep, sometimes you can be a hero just by being yourself!  Enjoy the final chapter:

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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The Dance Walking Phenomenon

 

the lone nut dancing

Dancing alone, Ben Aaron is still a lone nut, but that is soon to change!

A Dance Movement After All!

Well it seems I spoke too soon when I qualified in my last post that Dance Walking was not really a movement but I hoped it would catch on. Apparently it has indeed become a movement and is gathering momentum all over the world as we speak. What fabulous news!

How To Start a Movement, Dance or Otherwise

I once saw a TED talk about creating a movement. It all starts with a lone nut who is couragous (or oblivious) enough to be willing to be somewhat outragous in public. He is then joined by a “first follower” who chooses to participate, just like our intrepid reporter joining the dance guru. This is such a perfect example, I’ve included a link to the TED talk if you’re interested, after the Dance Walking video. Here we go!

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And for the curious among you, here’s the TED talk:

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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