Every dancer I interact with teaches me something. It could be on the social floor, in the studio, or at an audition. The dancer could be beginner, intermediate, or established. It doesn’t matter. Everyone has something to teach me if I am open to hearing it with my body and mind.
On the social floor, I learn about connecting. Even if the lead is not to my liking, I can learn to better connect into their hand, body, and energy. A great dance with a stranger is exhilarating and can create a moment that stays with me for days. A great dance doesn’t teach me anything. It’s like a beautiful dancing day versus and ugly dancing day – it boosts my ego, but doesn’t help my career. A bad dance teaches me patience, understanding, and imperfection. It takes two to dance in the partner world. Our energies and skills may not be a match, but I will work to adapt myself to them to try again and make a better connection. I play with this whenever I get a chance to social dance and I come away inspired to be a better receiver on the social floor.
At the studio, I learn about confidence and humility. If I am studying under a teacher or choreographer, I have to be confident enough to absorb the information and know I am capable. I also learn to learn with an audience. In the past, I wanted to be perfect before anyone saw me. Now, I want to learn and have people see me make mistakes. It teaches me to pick myself up and carry on. It also teaches me to be present. Mistakes can create brain chatter if you let it. Every teacher brings an angle that I can learn from as well. I want my dancing dismantled by the teacher because I am not pure in any specific dance form. When I get a coach who is pure, I want them to infuse me with information that makes me better. I want to hear what they hate about what I do. This I can grow from.
At an audition, I learn about choreographing, trust, and opening my soul for shaping by the choreographer. I have to let my light shine even though I may be uncomfortable if I don’t pick up a sequence or rhythm as fast as I expect. I have to show the choreographer I have an attitude of willingness to learn whatever they will share with me. I have to trust that the choreographer is pushing my limits for my own good. I wouldn’t have found myself in this audition if I was not meant to be there. There are no accidents, so I need to glean as much as I can from this experience and use it to improve myself even if I am not a fan of the information. The most uncomfortable auditions are the most useful.
Not everyone is going to be a fan of my work. Criticism – whether it falls on my ears or other’s – is going to follow me around. That scrutiny allows so much opportunity for betterment. At the end of the day, I am never going to be a finished product whether on the social floor, in the studio, or at an audition. That’s the life of a dancer. With experience, comes wisdom. The more experience and wisdom I have, the more I realize how little experience and wisdom I have and hence more room to expand my horizons. Amazing!