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.
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.
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.
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!)