Dancing to the top

This weekend I was going through my dance show DVDs from college, trying to find a certain number for a friend. (We were waxing nostalgic after seeing Heather Morris kick @$$ in the Britney Spears Glee episode last week — which, incidentally, my high school dance team captain was in too!) Then I decided to re-watch all my old numbers. Hoo boy, was that a laugh!

Y’all, I love to dance, but I am not that good at it. I mean, I can wiggle around in a club and not feel like a fool, but that’s about it. Yet somehow in college I “rose through the ranks” of our school’s largest dance club, and senior year I was one of only five Directors.

How? Why? Because I worked at it.

(Note: My timeline is a little fuzzy. I can barely remember 3-7 hours ago, much less 3-7 years ago. So please forgive any errors, although none of you will even recognize them.)

Freshman year, I auditioned, sucked, and only got put in one dance. But that was my foot in the door. I got to know the other dancers, I made friends with my choreographers, and I showed up for every practice on time, ready to learn. Sure, I was incredibly nervous and intimidated by all the older, better dancers. But I put myself out there, because I knew that was the only way I would ever become one of them.

Sophomore year, I auditioned for genres that were not my strong suit (hip hop) and for numbers that weren’t very popular (Chinese ribbon dancing). I placed into a total of four pieces that year, and I can see on the DVDs how much more confident I had become, how my body had loosened up. I wasn’t the best dancer on stage, but I was growing. More importantly, I was having fun.

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Junior year, one of the Directors asked if I wanted to choreograph with her. I had been in a few of her pieces before, and her usual co-choreographer had just graduated. I thought, “Holy crap, I don’t know how to choreograph!” But I said, “Sure!”

We ended up trying a lot of unusual (Andy called them “creepy”) things — glow-in-the-dark balls, red wigs, painted silhouette backdrops… A lot of complicated stuff. And what seemed like a great idea in our heads, sometimes came out a little less-than-great on stage. Still, it was all valuable learning experience, and with every number, we pushed our creativity to the max.

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Senior year, I was offered a position as Director, in recognition of my exceptional dedication and organization — not my exceptional talent. (Because I didn’t have it, hah!) But of course, leadership requires a balance of all three. I still wasn’t the best dancer on stage, but I was pretty good, and that combined with my passion and management skills put me on top.

That year I only auditioned for the pieces I really wanted to be in, and I kept my choreography simple without abandoning my creativity.

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Look, I won’t get all “moral of the story” on you, but let’s just say that watching these DVDs was a good reminder of how I need to proceed with my writing career.

(Also a good reminder of how I need to get my butt back to a dance class before all hope is lost!)

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16 Comments

  1. How fun! And such a good moral too. I don’t watch Glee, usually. But I did catch last week’s episode and now, I have to admit, I’m hooked. Loved it!

  2. You paint the best metaphors :-) And isn’t it amazing what hard work, dedication, and determination can do? I have no doubt that those qualities will take you as far in your writing career as they did in the dance club.

    And side note – my sister is a dancer (has been since she was seven), and she was so involved with her college’s dance club that she really just should have lived on campus, that’s how frequently she was there choreographing and dancing. It was easy to see what a labor of love it was, though, so kudos to all of you who can throw yourself into something like that so whole-heartedly!

  3. Mmm, you’re pretty close to a Sharon Stone moment in that last picture. Just saying. ;)

  4. Love this post. I wish I’d gotten involved in something like this in college. I left my dance years behind me in high school, not really sure why. What great memories.

    – Liz

  5. Kimberly-
    The first half of Season 1 is where it’s at! Since then I’ve only been watching for the music…

    Shari-
    Aw, thank you. :)

    Sonja-
    Oh pish posh! We have on TWO pairs of pants, and underwear! Sharon Stone is nowhere near sight. :P

    Liz-
    You know, dance is a really hard thing to keep up without institutional structure. I do dream about a wood-floored room with a mirror wall and a barre, though. Someday…

  6. Jen L-N

    Kristan, I’m going to add you to a protected list on my LJ, but don’t breathe a word to my parents about what I’m writing about there!

  7. Yes, ma’am!

  8. Jon

    Great post! Very inspiring–trust me, talent is relative, compared to how I dance, I’m sure you’re a Baryshnikov.

    It’s cool you are going to keep up with the dance. Most people may think it has no relation to writing, but they are both creative disciplines that require patience, hard work, and a little talent, too (which I know you already have).

  9. Trisha

    Important thing is you did it. You had fun. And, you have some great memories from it. Even if they are a little fuzzy.

  10. Jon-
    Yeah, “keep up” is relative though, hehehe… Running isn’t necessarily creative, but I think the patience and discipline part is what drives a lot of creatives to that practice as well.

    Trisha-
    Exactly. :)

  11. Those are great photos! It looks like so much fun, but I know how much hard work it is too.

  12. Riley

    I would like a birthday post please. Tank you.

  13. Great reminder!

  14. I have always wanted to dance, but am quite uncoordinated and self-conscious. If I were to learn, I’d have to do it Napolean Dynamite style! So great that you were involved in dance–I had no idea. Just knew you liked watching the dancing shows like I do. You’re just full of secret talents!

  15. Sarah-
    Lol, I don’t know about “full” of them, but I do have 1 or 2…

  16. How fun! Dancing in not my thing, but I’m always amazed by the many ways that creative people find outlets to express themselves. Passion for what you are doing always helps you do more than you think you can.

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