Did I really say that? Oh, yes, I did.
In class, we discuss a lot about posture, body angle, hands, center of gravity, line of sight, etc. Technique is important, as is flexibility and strength...musicality, selflessness and presentation.
None of that matters without this one *other* thing, above all. The foundation of our movement...is what we feel in our hearts. We sometimes see performers with technical perfection, yet something seems empty and unfulfilled. And we also observe dancers who look frightened, bored, or distracted in performance. It always shows. That's SO not why we picked this hobby. Particularly refreshing are the moments where we see less experienced dancers performing to a favorite song, with friends, with enthusiasm, or all of the above.
(I'm not saying that one should toss aside all their practice to just say, "¡screw it, I'm gonna wing this shit with gusto!")
What I am discussing here, and revisiting in my classes is...
"Why did you pick this dance?" For its costumes, curiosity of the dance form, a fitness challenge, or as a recommendation?
"What did you want to accomplish from it?" Weight loss, dancing with friends, learning a new skill? Adjusting your self-image? A new form of expression?
"Who motivates you to dance?" Friends, family, dancers who inspire you, or yourself?
"Where and when do you dance?" When you're happy, sad, confused, at weddings...in the kitchen, or just in class?
How do you plan to sustain your practice Meaning, how do you want this to fit in with your lifestyle? As a supplement to other classes, as the main study, or as a short term adventure?
That last question is interesting because, regardless of the level of commitment, most people say, "I'm gonna keep doing this as long as it's fun!" Agreed! Yet, why is it so hard to see the happy faces in class, and even less when it's hafla or student showcase time? Such a shame to let nerves, distractions...and a tightly-gripped focus on technique...overshadow the experience. Of course I'm harping on it because it's the same dialogue I have *with myself*.
I get distracted with visions about quitting my job via PowerPoint presentation, the chores waiting at home, and what I want for dinner. And then I'm frustrated by my dance mediocrity. Shocker - I'm not really engaged, and it's showing!
Let us come back to this every time, too:
It's not about what is supposed to happen in what order or how something 'should' go, or what we have to prove. We chose an improv style, so that's a bonus lesson in surrendering what we *think* we can control. It's not about how decent I SHOULD look after X years of dance, or where I should be performing or how often...or if anyone even knows my name or my not-in-the-slightest-bit unique dance bio.
I dance all the days of the week to enjoy dancing, because I love music, and expressing myself through the dance - and being around other people who share these sentiments. I am that person who waltzes while using a Swiffer at home and in the the studios. It's also normal to wiggle in the car, prance while cooking in the kitchen - and it's not limited to any style.
Every time I start cringing at my technical practice, I set it aside and just move with music. It's my realignment to get my heart back into the dance, and to let go enough to make the technical progress naturally. Those posture/isolation/balance breakthroughs often occur in the moments where we weren't overthinking it, or wondering who was watching.
Make no mistake - I'll still be drilling technique and emphasizing the basics. But, it's going to be one catchy song after another...where there's no time to think before we move...leaving no time for our inner critic.