Teacher man would run the choreo and I’d analyze his movements, doing them along with him. But then he stopped running the moves with us completely. And I stopped dancing.
Our befuddlement was so palpable that it inspired him to say, “What are you guys going to do when I stop dancing with you? Y’all gotta stop relying on me for the moves.”
Hmmm. Y’all gotta stop relying on me for the moves.
My silent rebuttal: “But I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. So how can I not look at you?”
Contrary to his playful threat, Mr. Teach did continue running the moves with us (and adding more) for the rest of the class; however, I tried a different approach. I stopped looking at him so hard. I only looked at him for reference and spent most of the time focusing on my movements; thereby forcing my brain to actually recall what we had been working on. Then I was able to take ownership of the movements and make them mine. And I had fun.
In flipping how I approached this insanely challenging class, I found that the opposite of my original thinking was true: I was lost because I was relying more on the teacher than I was relying on myself. To my surprise, I retained the choreography better and walked out of class feeling like I actually danced. I felt good and I was proud of myself.
Was it a fluke? I tried it out in another challenging class – West African. Mr. Teacher taught a rather involved sequence of moves. My initial thought, “Ugh, how am I going to remember this?” But I used him as reference instead of go-to from the get-go. I also softened my gaze and took in the big picture, seeing myself in relation to the other dancers in the room. This expanded my references and released my reliance on any one person. Class was a success. I had a great time; I creatively expressed myself and I retained the choreography.
Teachers guide, but they’re not there to play the game nor dance the dance for us. There comes a point when we have to take our eyes off the instructor and make the dance our own.
Do you tend to rely more on a guru than on yourself? Do you use teachers, mentors, and guides as crutches rather than stepping stones? I challenge you to shift your focus from them onto yourself.
Mindset: I can’t do it on my own. It’s too hard.
Mindshift: Hard does not mean impossible. Challenges are opportunities for growth. I’m willing to take the leap and trust myself, thereby putting the teachers in my life in their appropriate place.
And these are the classes I'm talking about...
I'm in the white shirt and sweat pants on the right.
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