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Practicing Courage

Here it is! A new year, and even bigger, a new decade.

As many of you may know, for dance teachers, the end of the year is when we begin to think about the Spring Recital. We flip through costume books, conjure up stories to choreograph, and dig through endless options of music choices. In this process we often turn to each other for help, turn to each other for sanity, turn to each other and roll our eyes at some of the over-the-top costume designs, and then ooo and ahh at others. We reminisce of past performance successes and failures, some we participated in as choreographers, others as dancers. All of this community sharing is happening while we rush between teaching our multiple classes, with a deadline of the new year looming over our heads.

In other words, at the end of each year we are given this opportunity to create something big, something to be debuted in the spring. It sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And it is… for the most part. Except for the absolute fear that comes over me about the many decisions to be made and the unknown of how each of these choices will play out over the months, and then . . . eventually . . . on the stage . . . for all to see! Oh, my word! My heart sinks as I write that!

Fear. That’s what it is, fear. Good old fashion fear.

When I recognize this, I realize how often this booger of an emotion has tinkered with my mind, leaving me somewhat handicapped in my decision-making process, not just regarding recitals, but life! It has stalled dreams, it has rattled my voice, it has altered my confidence, and it has even caused me to stand still when I wanted to leap.

BUT WAIT! Remember those colleagues that are in the recital process with me? The ones filled with ideas, stories, visions? They are a support team like no other; they know this landscape of rhinestones, rhythms, and relentless rehearsals all giving birth to a spring production. They know it! They are veterans, and they are fearless (so it seems). I will lean on them, lean into them, and learn from them, and I will be ok. In fact, I will do this every time fear shows up when I want to create – I will seek my squad until I can find my own courage and I will not allow that dastardly illusion of an emotion to taunt me!

This year, this decade, fear will not hold me in its grip. It will not jerk at my dreams, it will not soften my voice, it will nor curtail my desires, and it will not enter my world of dance! EVER. In its place I will practice COURAGE, and I will inspire those around me to do the same.

The connection between mastering a tendu and mastering courage is practice. To improve a tendu: show up at the barre, work on it, feel the floor grounding you, find your alignment, grow stronger, move with intention, and breathe. To improve courage: do the same.

And when your own practice of courage seems too hard, or too heavy, turn to your community. Dancers are a tribe. Old, young, seasoned, green, if you enter a studio space, take your place at the barre, stare yourself down in the mirror, show all of your vulnerability and hope, we will bolster you! Courage is there in numbers.

And alas, if nothing else, we should just let go, laugh, and enjoy the process of creating. After all, whether recital or life, to create is magnificent, an incredible privilege, one that takes courage, a true sport… and it is even better if you can do so with rhinestones!

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