Dancing is one of those things whereby you can happily learn at your own pace, attend classes, have private lessons, dance at socials or step it up and take exams and enter competitions. The environment in which you choose to dance really is an individual decision primarily based on what it is that you want out of this ‘hobby’ which as I have spoken about before in my post A Letter to My Younger Dancing Self it easily turns into so much more than that!
I have chosen to do all of the above at some point and continue to do so. I attend classes weekly, private lessons every Saturday, workshops, social dances, exams, competitions….I certainly ‘never miss a chance to dance!’
In the last couple of years at a few of the social events, I have also taken part in a showcase where you essentially demonstrate a dance, dancing with the Teacher in front of friends and family in the audience. Taking part in these shows has always been quite exciting, nerve wracking and is generally adrenaline fuelled leading to a bit of an ‘out of body’ experience! Having danced a funky Cha cha cha, a slow Rumba and a couple of strict Paso Dobles, this year’s Christmas Cracker Showcase was set to be a little different. Different in the way that it was choreographed to add in a bit of fun, a bit of Christmas spirit and a bit of a step away from the usual syllabus work and odd bit of variation.
Unfortunately I had been unwell in the couple of weeks leading upto the social, anxiety attacks (not over dancing, just general anxiety) and also just being generally under the weather meant that the usual practice time was hindered leaving the lesson on the day of the event being the main one I could really attempt to work at it properly!
The Quickstep itself had been put together in quite a short space of time by my Teacher who also had a stack of other routines flying around his head!! The steps, the movement and the pace exceeded that which I am used to making my usual ‘Silver’ grade work seem quite sedate in comparison! As much as there was still a bit of basic work in there, it also had some running, hops, skips, jumps and even a bit of Charleston action thrown in for good measure!
The one thing I was not prepared to do was to panic over getting the steps ‘right’. I knew I kept getting a certain part of it wrong, but really, worrying about getting it wrong isn’t going to help me do it right…on the night I’m either going to do it or I’m not…and after spending years worrying about ‘getting it right‘, I am almost coming around to the idea that having a bit of blind faith is the better way to go!
Saturday night came around and having been part of the showcases before, I knew the drill so I actually wasn’t too worried about the dance itself for a change! I felt calm enough to at least attempt what we had practiced but of course some nerves are totally normal. It is so hard to suffer with general anxiety and to convince myself at the same time to not worry about having a panic attack so as I sat waiting for my turn, watching my friends dance amazingly through their routines, I could feel the anxiety building. Strangely not necessarily about the fact I was about to dance in front of over 100 people, but the anxiety symptoms that come from nowhere, with no logical explanation were building as I was waiting. If I try to fight the anxiety it only makes it worse, so I had to just keep telling myself, ‘it’s ok, there’s only a few more then it’s my turn’ as I wanted to make sure I actually got out there to dance!
My turn came, the music began….’Sleigh ride’ which I had chosen because it’s such a fun and upbeat track that I love at Christmas! Did it go without a hitch? No, of course it didn’t! Does that bother me? No, it actually doesn’t because I know if I had been well enough in the previous weeks I may have been able to practice more but in reality, things go wrong on the dance floor all of the time! It wasn’t my grade, it was well above it and I still gave it a go! I look at my video and of course criticise aspects of my posture and top line and so on but I do that on every video of my dancing!
Watching my dance friends doing exactly the same, dancing out of their comfort zones, over-coming fears and anxieties, I was so chuffed for them all and amazed by their dances. Emotions of dancing can be quite off-putting at times until you talk to others and it’s then you realise we’re all feeling exactly the same….we’re all nervous, we’re all overcoming challenges and we’re all still dancing!
If you’re still reading this essay of a blog post then I thank you!! 😛 Check out my video clip on Instagram if you want to see how it turned out!
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