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  • Learning to Dance: An Interview with Ben Weston

    Ben Weston

    Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to Ben Weston, a professional dance and confidence coach for men. Ben has an interesting story, going from someone terrified of dancing to an authority on the artform. We discussed his history, how dance has helped give him more confidence, and the impact dance can have on anyone’s life.

    Tell me what you consider to be your personal brand.

    I teach men how to dance so well at clubs and weddings that women approach them. This isn’t about sleazy pick-up artist tactics through the lens of dance. I teach men how to confidently let out the most powerful and charismatic versions of themselves with dance. What ends up happening is that women then end up approaching them because the men are just radiating confidence.

    What made you originally get involved in dance?

    The fact that I was terrified of dancing! I couldn’t dance for most of my life despite desperately wanting to be able to. I had to get Latina friends in high school to help me prep for dancing at prom. In college, I took classes in three separate dance styles and was still clumsy and awkward. I finally got comfortable with it a few years ago after I got fed up with being awkward and nervous and accepted a dare to perform a solo dance piece for a professional show in two months.

    What lessons does dance teach that can apply to other areas of life?

    The first one is getting used to failure. In the beginning stages of learning to dance, you’re going to fail almost every step of the way. And you’re going to have thoughts telling you that you’re just not naturally talented, that your body isn’t made for it, that you suck, that you’re embarrassing yourself, etc. Your job at that point is not to identify with those nagging thoughts and to just keep showing up. If that’s all you do, you’ll inevitably get better.

    The second is that most people are terrified of exposing who they really are, that side of them that only comes out when they’re cooking their chicken stir-fry dinner in their Sponge Bob pajama bottoms while blasting Kesha tunes. They’re scared that if they really show their quirks, they’ll look like a fool. The funny thing is, in dance and most other realms of life, when you begin to let your unique spark show, the right people are drawn to you. Because it’s so rare to see someone in their element, we all want to be around that one person that is radiating.

    What kind of people can benefit from learning to dance?

    Almost everyone! But the people would benefit from it the most are the ones that just don’t feel comfortable in their bodies; they see their bodies as just a holding unit for their brains. The guys that often come to me are engineers, programmers, and lawyers. They spend most of their days in their heads and feel most comfortable there. Spending some time dancing would help them feel more confident in their body and in the process fuel creativity for their work.

    Who are your influences?

    The first is Tim Ferriss. Reading The Four-Hour Work Week gave me a lens to test my assumptions, namely that I couldn’t dance. It was his principles that helped me deconstruct dance and learn to dance for a professional show in two months.

    The second is Olivia Fox Cabane. I constantly give her book, The Charisma Myth, as a gift. It broke down the process of how to allow the most charismatic versions of myself to come out in a way that literally changed my dancing and life. I remember using one of her techniques when talking to a cute girl and literally seeing the girl start to lean forward, giggle, and blush! I now use her principles anytime I’m in a social situation, with or without dancing.

    What’s one tip you would give to people looking to build a better career for themselves?

    Do scary stuff, fail often and, this is the most important part, don’t believe the self-deprecating thoughts that will inevitably come up when you do fail. You are not those thoughts.

    And dance! Why not have fun along the way? There’s no need to take everything seriously!

    Check out Ben’s website and be sure to reach out if you think he might be able to help you find your rhythm!

    Bill Connolly is a marketing/branding expert, career adviser, and professional improv comedian. Bill is also the author of the book, “Funny Business: Build Your Soft Skills Through Comedy” (July 2013), and host of a radio show by the same name on the UR Business Network. He is an actor at Boston's Improv Asylum, and performs regularly with the group What Up D'oh. Bill resides in New York City. For more insight, visit his website, TheBillConnolly.com, or follow him on Twitter: @billconnolly.

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