I grew up in Hawaii where we don’t have extreme seasons – not like in New York. We have whale season when humpback whales come to the islands, but that’s different.
Winter used to be really hard for me with its short dark days. I couldn’t take the cold – anytime it fell below 20 degrees I would get sick. I’ve slowly learned about boots and warm clothes over the last thirteen years, and now I find spring the most difficult season.
Spring is tricky. The weather is changing faster than we can change our coats. It’s hot, cold, warm, wet, windy, and weird! The light looks like it will be warm out but it fools us. We’re impatient for summer to come and isn’t that similar to growth? We’re impatient to be better dancers – for the summer of our dancing to be in full swing. The growth period of learning is painful. It comes in fits and starts, just like spring. One moment is a feeling of getting the steps, feeling the music just right, and then there’s the awkward uncomfortable gangliness when you can’t find the beat or recognize a step you once knew and you’re totally discombobulated. It’s tempting to be cruel…”Well I was never going to be any good anyway.” It’s tempting to lie to oneself -“I never liked that kind of dance to begin with,” (when you know you love it!) …It’s tempting to quit.
It’s easy to get caught up in our minds about the perceived judgement of others or the very real judgement we inflict on ourselves. Try to ease your mind of these kinds of thoughts, the worst of all suffering, and imagine instead we are all flowers in a garden, different, and unique, but no less beautiful than any other. Does the elegant tulip look down on the trumpet-nosed daffodils, those happy-yellow beacons of spring?
It’s tempting to buy into one’s ego – “I’ve been dancing this long, I should know this by now”. How long has spring been around, how many millions and billions of years? Growth is not a smooth process, it’s up and down in fits and starts, three steps forward, two steps back. Instead of focusing on the goal, focus on the joy that dancing brings you. Your summer will come. For now, celebrate the imperfect moment of uncertainty when you aren’t sure exactly what the step is and you choose to dance anyway. As you move, you may start to figure out the movement. Bravo! Bask in the goodness of learning, the luxury of being a beginner without the pressure of having to perform. Relish the elation of simply moving to music. Instead of anticipating the summer, enjoy the daffodils.
My favorite moment in ballet class Tuesday night was when everyone was skipping in big glorious circles around the room to the Happy song, – “because I’m happy…” Everyone was jumping really high, lifting their knees, and pointing their feet: a room full of adults, all of us emphatically and gleefully skipping! Is there anything more joyful than that?
In my open level ballet classes, sometimes beginners get left behind. I’m teaching a basic beginner workshop the first four Sundays of May–May 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd from 2:30-4pm at 380 Broadway. For more information, email me at email@example.com
Open level classes are 7-8pm on Tuesdays, suggested donation $10. For Ballet workshop 12-1:30pm on Saturdays, we request a minimum donation of $10.