I seem to be placing myself far out of my dance comfort zone lately and trying dance forms I’ve never tried before. Most recently, I’ve embarked on a super exciting dance project that’s turning out to be a bigger challenge than I had first imagined.
As with many things in my life, my involvement in this project is down to a chance encounter/ happy coincidence. A few months ago, I decided to skip ballet for a contemporary dance class at my studio and met an old friend there. To cut a long story short, she told me she had recently founded a dance company, was looking for dancers for an “experimental” piece that would be performed next November and asked if I wanted to take part in it.
As an amateur dancer, one part of me was delighted at the thought of performing on stage with professionals so I said yes straight away. The other part of me, however, couldn’t get past the word “experimental”. For someone used to the rules and conventions of ballet, the word “experimental” conjures up scary images of chaos and people doing random, awkward movements. But I was determined to give it a go and knew that, no matter what, I would learn and grow from the experience.
So, I went to the first rehearsal.
It was tough.
I’ll just say one word – IMPROVISATION.
The choreographer wants parts of the piece to be improvised so we started the rehearsal with a improvisation exercise. We were asked to introduce ourselves to the other dancers in a three-minute improvised dance. Three whole minutes of my heart racing, awkward motions, embarrassed staring at the floor and feeling like I was dancing naked – three minutes that seemed like three hours.
When I was done, I bashfully mumbled something about “not being good at improvisation” to the girl next to me. I felt I had to make an excuse for my pathetic performance. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so embarrassed in my life.
She, in turn, said something that I will never forget and have tried to keep in mind in the rehearsals that followed.
“That doesn’t matter. It’s just important to stay calm and be confident in any movement you make.
When improvising, if you think you look stupid, that’s how you’ll look.”
Her last sentence has really helped me and I can feel myself becoming calmer and more confident with every improvisation session we have. I’ve taken it as my lesson on letting go, being in the moment and letting others see me for who I am.
It’s amazing the insights dance can lead you to, isn’t it?