Since I moved to the DC area I’ve been searching for a new partner for competition and training. Both in that process, and in meeting my new students, I’ve met a lot of people who “used to dance” but gave up when they got frustrated. Frustration can come from hitting a plateau (see our October post), finances, inability to find a partner, competition results, lack of time, or any number of other areas. In the end, though, it often means the same thing: the dancer stops dancing.
This is a tragedy because frustration is inevitable. Dance is not easy. The early dancer makes fast progress because the difference between not dancing and dancing at all, even badly, is so great. On the other hand, as we talked about last month, it takes greater and greater effort to improve as we advance. Once the low-hanging fruit is taken, the improvements require greater investment to achieve. This is when you as a dancer must make a decision: what are you willing to put into your dancing?
When I took martial arts years ago my instructor liked to quote his teacher who would respond to all complaints the same way: “Of course it’s hard. If it was easy everyone would do it.” Dancing isn’t hard but dancing well can be. Learning to dance well, even with a great teacher, takes work on the student’s part. How much work you’re willing to put in and how much of your life you’re willing to dedicate to ongoing improvement will determine how far you go.
Many of my friends enjoy competition but have been stuck at a given level for some time, unable to advance past quarter-finals. They continue going to group lessons each week, plus drills and practice sessions. Those are wonderful, and vital, but they are only the tools that helped them reach their current stage. The dancers they admire watch dance videos, seek out private coaching, and have a lot more practice outside of the organized practices. Those advanced dancers have made the decision, “Dance is important to me,” and they treat their dancing as such.
No one is saying that dance must be your only life if you wish to improve, but you will only get out what you put into it.
This morning I was at my studio at 7:30 AM for practice with a woman I hope to have a partnership with. I was at my studio until 10:00 PM last night and will be here until 10:00 PM tonight. I say this not to brag but as a reminder to myself. My dancing is important enough to me to put my time into it; I must not be afraid to do the same with my personal energy, with my study habits, and yes with my money. I know this pays off because at the competition I was at last weekend my worst division, international Latin, was my best division… and that’s the style I’ve been working at the hardest lately as I study for my certification exams. I want Latin badly and so I’m throwing myself into it, seeing the work pay off.
What are you doing for your dancing? Comment below.