How To Have The Heart To Win – David Hamilton

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

To learn how to keep moving forward in the face of adversity, keep reading.

David Hamilton had many roadblocks to overcome to reach the success he has today. Firstly, at the peak of his career, his partner Olga Foraponova decided to stop competing in Dancesport competitions to start a family. Having recently grown his status as a professional dancer, he knew if he stopped it would be the death of his career. So for the next few competitions, he competed without a consistent dance partner, which can be risky. On top of this, his entire career David struggled physically. He was born with 6 lower lumbar instead of 5 in his back, causing nerve pain; which was worsened by a car accident. A necessary back surgery reduced his flexibility by 33% in his back. He knew even then, to give up at that moment would have been the end of everything he had worked toward. Even with discomfort and charlie-horse like pains in his legs that he felt during a final Viennese Waltz competition that would define his championship title, he won 2nd place! What does he credit it all to?

Persistence.

Don’t fall into the trap of learning to accept something as it is if it isn’t what you want.

To reach your goals, you must:

  1. Design your life with intent, and reject what does not fit.
  2. Be quick-witted. Navigate intelligently and consider the consequences of your next step to the best of your ability.
  3. Be self aware. Appreciate your strengths, accept your weaknesses, and define yourself with both of these in mind.
  4. Advocate for yourself as a professional. Stand up for what you want and who you are so believably that no one can deny you.
  5. Lastly, be grateful. Faith in the future comes from knowing what good can come of doing what you’re afraid of, or what is difficult. You will never feel like good things are in your future until you appreciate what you have already experienced, and decide that you want more.

Now, through his Persistence, David Hamilton is an American Style Smooth Champion with the national time with his first partner, Teresa Shiry. That title is followed by two more with Olga Foraponova. He also has three  World Showdance finalist titles and 68 National Dance Council Championship event titles. He does lectures on smooth at competitions and now owns Dance World of Nashville where he coaches.

To be successful, persist!

When To Say Enough Is Enough – An Interview with Maria Hansen

The only thing standing between you and winning is yourself.

Many of us can relate to Maria’s experience as a new dancer. When you are a new dancer, you are completely open to learning and often see the teachers or dance partners around you as superior in every way. You want to learn everything correctly from the very beginning. You take everything to heart. If you are not careful, however, you may be manipulated by a short tempered, demanding, and degrading dance partner. It can be especially confusing if they are not always so unpredictable. You will feel like you are starting to get the hang of it until they snap at you again. This adds to your self doubt in which you listen even harder the next time.

Passion is always authentic.

Humility and open mindedness is certainly important in a new student, but tolerating disrespect is not. A person’s skill level and experience should never be an indication of the respect and patience that person deserves. Decide that being berated is beneath you. You deserve patience, to be able to make mistakes freely, and praise. With an encouraging partner, you are more likely to enjoy dancing, and in turn pursue it passionately! Passion is always authentic and can’t be forced or faked.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Then, with this newfound determination and passion, you can focus on the important part of competing: improvement.  Of course, winning always feels good. It makes others envious and validates the long hours you invested into something tangible that others can see and respect. However, you can only win by persistently and ruthlessly improving. The only thing standing between you and winning is yourself. It’s your need to improve, to know and stand up for yourself, and the need to work well with your partner. Not one other person on the dance floor can take that away or give that to you.

Once you build up a sense of confidence from improving yourself and knowing yourself well, you will know when to accept a harsh critique… and when not to!

How To Build Self Confidence: An Interview With Toni Redpath


“What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.”  – David Bayles

In addition to this wonderful interview of Toni Redpath by Dance Teachers Academy Podcasts, we thought we would throw in a few extra notes for our dancers – whether a beginner who is learning how to present themselves, or an experienced dancer struggling with their confidence.

When you see your role model doing what you wish you could, you have three options on how to view that person in relation to yourself:

  1. The most popular reaction is, “I’ll never be able to do that!” This view provides low sense of capability for yourself and an untouchable and unattainable talent toward your role model. This viewpoint provides nothing but paralysis and harmful self-criticism.
  2. Looking at the role model and saying “I’m better than him/her, he/she just doesn’t know it yet.” This fist-shaking view provides a superiority complex bred of insecurity for you, and dismissal of true value and skill of your role model. While this viewpoint does not lack confidence that is needed to be successful, you will likely feel above learning the building blocks of skills that will allow you to be technically correct in dance. This can cause you to have the reputation of a know-it-all with, realistically, very little knowledge.
  3. The healthiest view, which is “How can I do that?” Not only does it give you an honest view of yourself, of all your successes and your shortcomings, it gives you a realistic goal to meet.

Only with the “How can I do that?” view can you improve. We know, it sounds cheesy. Are you surrounded with knowledgeable, kind people who are honest with you? Do they build you up when you do something correct and offer you solutions when you’re wrong? Do you recognize your mistakes and congratulate yourself on your success?  If you find yourself unable to view yourself as successful, consider what kind of criticism you’re accepting. Be kind to yourself and choose your company carefully. Dancing is supposed to be technically correct, but also FUN!