I look so goofy in this photo - full teeth, all out, no holding back kind of smile. The kind of euphoria dancers feel when they know something life changing just happened. My body couldn’t handle both workshops - cramps creeped in on my arches, then my ankles, calves...yeah you get the picture. I was in a room full of teenagers and this was one of those nights where my bones really felt their age.
In this picture is one of our dancers at the studio, Tini, myself and the one and only Mecnun Giasar. Ah Mecnun! Thank you for what you did for me in that workshop. You may never know how much it changed the relationship I have with my dancing, to believe in myself again. I started dancing at 20 years old, been to more workshops that I can count in both hands and toes and this was the first time I ever felt ‘enough’, not because you told me, but because I understood it for myself.
A few weeks ago I began to question that love for dancing, like I did back in 2012 before I started the studio. You see, when you become a teacher and share that love, you need to make sure that you continue to fill your own cup. At that time my dance education grew stale - I felt like a fish who had outgrown their pond. I was so far into my comfort zone that I began to forget my ‘why’ in my dancing. That my ‘why’ didn’t matter. That dancing didn’t matter.
You see, I have always seen myself as a pretty average dancer. But in that one moment in the workshops, I stopped seeking validation. I felt FREE of my own criticism. Even when I totally forgot all his choreo that I had been learning for the past hour and a half, those couple of minutes of imperfection...I gave myself to the music.
It took me fourteen years to give myself to the music. We think we do when we go all out, when we ‘nail’ that choreo, and maybe you do, but for me it was about letting go. Mecnun talked about how often dancers focus on the choreographer when they take class - that forward tunnel vision, when you can learn so much more by watching other students around you.
Maybe because I started dancing as an adult, each class I took, every workshop I went to was a mindful learning experience. Every dollar was an investment. What is the value of their knowledge? How did they connect with the music and challenge my musicality? Is what they are teaching adding value to your knowledge bank, not just feeding your ego?
Not all great dancers become great teachers - so for those who connect with you, that challenge you to grow - acknowledge that. Thank them. You pay for their time and knowledge, but the passion that they share with you, that’s priceless.