Dancing does your body good! Moving to the beat of the music is not only a great workout, but a fun and exciting way to lift your spirits. The best part is: anyone can start dancing! In this interview with dancer and instructor Cigdem (Instagram: @tzschiedem), she shares her best tips for beginners and how dancing has given her a full, positive outlook on life.
Cigdem loves to dance. She dreamed of becoming a dancer ever since she was small. But between self-doubt and the pressure to conform, the road to reaching those dreams was anything but easy, and she came pretty close to giving up. Until she realized that only she can determine her own limits and that it’s up to her to define her success. Today, dancing is not only her profession, but also a means to lead others on a path towards greater self-love. Here’s her inspiring story.
How would you describe your personal dance style in three words?
What inspired you to become a dancer?
It was always a big dream of mine when I was a kid. I don’t remember one particular moment that inspired it, because there were so many. But if I had to pick something, it would be the countless moments I had with my mother. Dancing through our worst days and making them our best ones.
Dancing is so much more than exercise. Dance can set you free, instill positivity, allow you to express your own identity and personality, or even tell a story. What role does dance play in your life? How does it make you feel?
Dancing makes me feel free and secure, like I can finally breathe again after a long day. It helps me cope with depression, it forces me to confront my fears, and it strengthens me, calms me, and heals me. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have dancing.
You teach Waacking and also perform this dance style yourself. What is it exactly and how did you get into it?
I dance a few different styles of dance, including Waacking. But what makes Waacking special is that it allows you to express your feelings and showcase your own character. There’s almost nothing you can do wrong in this style of dance. It is a freestyle dance. And in freestyle, you’re never given limits, which is something that’s super important to me and dear to my heart.
Why did you decide not only to dance yourself, but also to teach group classes? For you, what makes a strong team?
I’m inspired by seeing others thrive. But the most rewarding part is being able to observe what this style of dance does to people over time. Self-confidence, self-love and self-esteem, these are things that you find intuitively, that are awakened and strengthened. The advantage of doing it in a group is that you can share your experience with your friends, they can witness your development, and you can support and motivate each other.
When you dance, you’re at your most vulnerable. But once you learn to share that vulnerability with others, it creates a different kind of relationship, one that’s intimate and meaningful. And that’s when I think you can call a team strong and unbeatable.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since you started dancing? Who or what has been your biggest motivation?
My biggest challenge was my depression and my, at the time, non-existent self-esteem. I often struggled with the idea of just quitting because I didn’t fit neatly into the typical image of a dancer. My depression prevented me from dancing regularly and working on myself. It took me three years to realize that there’s no other profession for me, and that I am ready to fight for my dream. Giving up has been out of the question now for a long time.
My biggest motivation would be 8-year-old Cigdem, who couldn’t even dream of achieving all that she’s achieved so far. I’d want to show her that she is capable of so much more. I want to break all the barriers for her because I know that no one deserves it as much as she does. I want her to know that she’s worth it.
When you dance, do you also work with other dancers? How do you support and inspire each other?
Lately, I’ve been practicing more often with others than not, because I found it extremely hard to motivate myself during Corona. I mostly practice with people who have stronger skills in other styles of dance, which allows somewhat of an exchange. We can correct each other’s mistakes and encourage each other if a move isn’t working. It also helps to build small choreos and film them. Then, most of the time, you have a tangible target that you can reach for.
Show us your favorite move! And why is it your favorite? Is there a song that you can’t get out of your head that makes you want to start dancing immediately?
My favorite move is something called “All Around The World’,’ because it’s one of those moves that ”frames” the face and it looks so infinite, almost like an optical illusion.
I have a big weakness for older songs, a lot of funk songs from the 80s and 90s. I have several favorite songs, but I can safely say that when “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls comes on, no one can stop me. I will jump up and start dancing that very second. No matter where, no matter when.
What does your normal day look like? What about what you eat, how you exercise?
First thing in the morning, I’ll usually eat oatmeal with oat milk and some fruits. I’ll listen to music, any genre. Then, from 1pm I’ll go to teach my classes, which usually last 2 to 3 hours. After that, I’ll treat myself to dinner and then go to dance class, which also lasts at least 3 hours. This includes strength training, stretching, and of course dancing. After the workout, I’ll drink a foodspring Shape Shake, the one with the chocolate peanut flavor. It’s satisfying and gives me the nutrition I need after a hard workout.
Do you have a favorite snack or drink that keeps you feeling good and helps you rock your dance routine?
Before a performance, I tend to eat less and drink a lot of water. But if I’m feeling seriously hungry, I mix my Shape Shake with oatmeal. That usually gives me enough energy and strength to get through a performance. My favorite energy drink is Sparkling Energy with ginger. I was anti energy drinks for a long time because of the high chemical content, but foodspring products have always pleasantly surprised me. I don’t feel like my heart is about to jump out of my chest, the ingredients are natural, and I feel great while dancing and working out.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start dancing? How and where to start? How do you find your own personal dance style?
If you want to start dancing, the best thing to do is just go, sign up for a dance class, and try it out. You have nothing to lose, but you’ll always regret it if you don’t. Don’t let your fear defeat you, we all started from somewhere. No one was born a dancer, and if we can do it, you can do it!
Like me, you can start dancing right in your own room, or at the nearest dance school in your area. You become a dancer in your heart, so it doesn’t matter where you continue. But it pays off to get professional feedback from dance teachers eventually.
Don’t lose hope if you don’t instantly figure out your own style, this can take years. I personally can’t say that I have found MY dance style, but you don’t have to, because the path to finding it is the most rewarding time in your dance career. Be open to new things at any time, and don’t set limits to what your body and your mind can do.
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