More often than not, people that I run to in the community who know me, expressed to me that they enjoy my blog. You can imagine how that might surprise me because, up until now, it’s been a small challenge to get readers to comment on this blog despite my constant pleading! Jokes aside, I really do appreciate the people who take the time to engage in conversations with me relative to what I write about on this blog. When I initially started, writing was a way for me to express my thoughts and feelings on the Latin dance scene. I intended these thoughts to act as a tool for others. I’ve told many to allow my hindsight to be their foresight. My hope is that a new reader will absorb key takeaways from things that I’ve learned in the past. This way, I potentially help someone who’s coming up and can possibly avoid the same mistakes that I’ve encountered in the past.
I’ve mentioned in the past about how I have failed forward in regards to becoming a better performer. I have discussed the extent to which I was self conscious and suffice to say it was a pretty dramatic change from who I am now. Due to my own personal development in dealing with performance, I’m especially sensitive to others who are on the same journey.
I was recently talking to one of my students and they expressed concern because they have an upcoming performance and they didn’t feel confident in their ability to perform. When my student was marking the piece of choreography they were given, I politely allowed them to finish and then ask them a simple question. “I can’t see what you’re doing, can you show me the choreography?” In truth I’m parroting something a coach once mentioned to me. They said: “I can see the basic movements as if I was watching you dance through a shower door.”
A lot of times I’ve helped up-and-coming performers work on the technical aspects of their dancing and in turn have allowed them to feel better about their performance. Many times when I encounter dancers working on choreography, I run into a particular challenge. The challenge being that while I see them doing something, I don’t quite understand what the vision of the director is. I’ll often ask to see the original choreography as performed or at least taught by the creator in order to get some understanding of what the intention is. After that, I look back and see the difference in the way the choreographers are executing the movements versus what the dancer in front of me is doing. While it could be a completely separate conversation to talk about how to do things better, I think there is another matter at hand which can be brought up.
I’ve learned the people start dancing for variety of different reasons. Some come to meet people, others come to build their self-confidence like myself, and others are just looking for something to sink their teeth into and bring some passion into their lives. I flat out asked my student a question:
”Why can’t you go all out and show me what the steps are? I know you know the steps, but I don’t see you performing the steps.”
My student politely replied that while they did know the choreography they didn’t feel confident and sure of themselves to go all out. They mentioned that they were probably bringing some insecurities from their lives into their dancing. Usually, this is the number one cause of a dancer not feeling comfortable expressing themselves to their fullest. My student mentioned how other members of the team or performance squad were the ones who it typically get the attention whereas my particular student felt like someone in the background taking up space.
At this moment I recalled how I felt when I first started dancing and the insecurities that I experienced when I first started performing. I know how hard it can be to put yourself out there especially in a community which can sometimes be extremely supportive, but can also somewhat judgmental. In order to give my student a different perspective on things, I asked a simple question:
“Why can’t you be the one in front, why can’t you be the star?”
I found my student become emotional and I soon realized that this was exactly the case. They did have insecurities they were bringing into the dancing and they were allowing that to get in the way of their movement. A lot of times, dance can be very therapeutic. Dance can allow us to overcome certain things in our lives that would normally hold us back. A great person once said that the word fear is simply an acronym ‘false evidence appearing real.’ The first time I heard that expression, I realized how true those words rang to me personally and how it relates to so many other as well. After a strong pep-talk and words of encouragement, my student left feeling great and the vibration completely changed not only on their face but also in the way they started demonstrating the dance moves in our lesson. I feel fantastic knowing that some simple words of inspiration can have such a profound effect a the student who is coming up. A lot of times, when I reassure a student who is having a dance issue, it’s helpful for them but it’s also extremely helpful for me. One of the best things to do with knowledge is to share it. If you hold it to yourself then nothing ever really grows, but if you plant those seeds in other people, they can also share with others and the good ideas spread far and wide. You never know how one simple thing and sprout into this confident explosive dancer who feels great and shines on stage.
If you find yourself with a performance or a competition coming up and you feel unsure of yourself, don’t think for a second that us seasoned dancers don’t experience similar thoughts. The truth of the matter is if you’re successful in any particular thing, it’s because you’re exposing your talents to the world. Perhaps you’re putting yourself out there at work and you’re just standing up for what you believe in. Perhaps you’re disclosing your thoughts on a blog and you’re letting your feelings out without consideration of what other people may think. Perhaps you’re on the stage and you’re putting yourself out there and shaking and grooving and gyrating to the best of your ability and leaving it out of floor.
At the end of the day, YOU can be the shining star. You can be the one who people talk about and smile when they speak your name. I encourage each and everyone of you listening to this blog post to have faith that you can overcome any obstacle that’s in your way.
Have you ever felt like you’re destined to be a background dancer? How did you overcome it?
I’d love to hear about it!
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Until next time,
To your dancing…