Yes, my title says "dance instructor" but studying the arts is so much more than than. For me the dance classroom is a place students can discover life.
I've been on a bit of a tear recently: seeing the varied injustices in the dance world, the bad habits, the unhealthy behaviors and negative self images. But, rather than get angry, I have decided to combat it one class at a time. I can't let it get me down, because these struggles are at the heart life learning. The arts really are our forum for self discovery.
How we are (exist, behave, think, work, play) in the dance classroom is reflective of how we are in the rest of our lives. If you are hard on yourself in dance class, you are likely hard on yourself in all other aspects of your "life performance." If you use dance as an "escape," what are you trying to escape? If you stop yourself from trying for fear of failure, how does that exist in your home life, school life, relationships?
I had a student if my office who was suffering from lack of confidence and had started berating himself continually in class. He identified frustration with executing a tricky turn (appropriately called a lame duck-- oh the irony).
And I asked him the following series of questions:
What if you gave yourself permission to struggle with that turn?
What would that feel like?
What would that look like?
What is the worst that would happen?
How can you give yourself permission to go at your own pace, to honor your personal growth and your personal needs?
Big questions, and of course much deeper than actually performing this stinky little turn! Dance is not about the turn, dance is about your approach to life. Can we choose to cultivate healthy behaviors and thoughts in the dance class. Can we give ourselves compassion rather than self inflicted pain? Can we let go of the outcome and enjoy the process?
Of course, it will take practice. And, it should. We need to practice healthier thoughts, healthier views on learning. Can we confront challenges with self compassion? A generous spirit and love?
So, that is my motto for the weekend. As I prepare to enter the world that is the Rogue Festival in Fresno, I ask myself how can I let others know that they have permission? Permission to make healthy choices that will foster their growth and allows them to blossom.
Of course, the answer is simple I have to start with giving myself permission. So I declare today, that I give myself permission to let go of control. I grant myself freedom from expectations. I give myself permission to simply go along with the ride, to speak and dance only from the heart and to see what happens.