Monday, June 6, 2011

On being challenged

So a remarkable thing happened to me this past week-end. I became a 1st rate dancer. Now let's not argue the semantics of what that means because that is not important to this post. What is important is that we talk about how that happened and why it is important.

I arrived at the workshop and saw that MY NAME was listed as the last performer before the headliner. Now whether or not the organizer considered it such, I consider that an amazing and incredible honor. Not to mention I was proceeded in the show by some dancers who already intimidated me with their poise. A show has to flow and you need the preceding dance to really be incredible and set the stage. - again, my opinion. The organizer of the show may have drawn names out of a hat but that doesn't matter. What does matter is when I saw my name there, I freaked out. And then you know what I did? I brought the heat.

I can say without a doubt that I danced this week-end like I have never danced before. To make matters better and worse, my music cut out. It cut out several times in the first half of the song. I didn't let it phase me. I just kept dancing like that music was loud and clear. I think the audience heard it in my head. Only once did I get off track and the music cut back in and I was not with it. I just winged it and let the music catch up with me.

Typically, when I am done dancing I hate everything that just happened. I want to see the video and nitpick every little thing even though friends and family swear that it was awesome. When I left the stage out Saturday, I felt unstoppable. I danced my heart out. I took it and I handed it to that audience, even with the music skipping.

Why? Why was this time different. Why did I dance with everything I had and leave nothing left? Because I had to. I was the last act before the headliner. I was first rate.

I wrote this post earlier and published it but I have decided to come back and add another anecdote about being challenged.

When I was a beginner, I worked really hard at becoming a better dancer. My self-esteem issues that come from physical appearance made me push even harder because I thought I needed to be that much better than the "pretty" girls. The thing that was holding me back was my own self-doubt. Self-doubt that was perpetuated by my lack of an encouraging mentor or teacher. Maybe that isn't the right word. I was encouraged to get the moves within my level. I was also challenged with more difficult things. I was not however, encouraged to take on tough challenges, or pushed to try something on the next level. I needed the kind of encouragement that resonates with your whole being. When I decided that I was not getting what I needed and started looking elsewhere, I was still a beginner. I had been a beginner for almost 4 years because no one had ever told me I was anything more.
I found what I needed in teachers and mentors that when I was faced with a difficult challenge said to me, you can do this, you are a really good dancer. For them I became a really good dancer.

I take this lesson with me when I work with my own students now. You have to find that line between challenging them at the next level and making it so difficult that they get discouraged and give up. I think it is important for instructors to try to not only understand their students learning styles but to understand what sort of challenge they need to be presented with.


Naima said...

Good for you! =)

Foxy said...

Excellent- I love this post and the second last paragraph really resonates with me. Well done!!!