Well 2022, we’ve blinked and suddenly the leaves are falling, the shops are full of Halloween décor and the Strictly Come Dancing theme tune is commanding Saturday nights in almost every household.
This time of year always leads to dance instructors hearing the same thing repeatedly - “I wish I could do that”. I must hear that after every single launch show and after almost every episode.
My answer has historically always been the same – “Why can’t you?”. I truly believe that every single person in the world can dance, yes, the time it takes to learn is totally variable and depends on lots of things; commitment, dedication, age, natural ability and confidence to name but a few. But ultimately absolutely everyone can dance and experience the joy that dance brings to so many all over the world, not just the chosen few in front of a BBC camera on a Saturday night.
Lately though, after 20 years of teaching my response to “I wish I could do that” has changed to “what part of that do you wish you could do?” because dance has so many layers and truly I have the honour of seeing them all.
There are experienced dancers who want to take their dancing to the next level, there are dancers who just want to experience the glamour of the gorgeous outfits, hair and make-up. The budding choreographers who want to create a story that can move an audience to either jump on to their feet or cry with the beauty of the piece. The technicians who want to understand why the judging panel see the importance of a heel lead or a straight leg (it will surprise you all to know that I am very firmly in this camp), again the list of skills in dance is quite literally endless.
However, the most important group, and by far my favourites (you’re all my favourites) are the “first steppers” the people who watch dance in any form and think “I wish I could do that”. To those people my answer is, and will always be, “Take the first step”.
Let’s face it, life is tough and starting any new skill is both daunting and overwhelming. First you must find a class, then agonise about how you are going to get there. Will there be parking? Is there enough time in the day? Will you be too tired after work? Who will feed the dog? Then of course, there is always the worry of who else will be in the class, will they be your age group, your ability level? Will the teacher understand that you think you have two left feet? You suddenly realise you make a fabulous head judge from your sofa but in actual fact you don’t know your waltz from your cha cha and that means you should just give it up as a bad idea - right? Wrong. However, for many this is sadly the beginning and end of their dance journey before it's even begun. All because they never took the first step.
One of my greatest joys is seeing my beginner classes made up of the select few people who got through all the above self-made hurdles take to the floor step by step. All walks of life, all thinking they could never dance, suddenly waltzing around the floor in unison and loving every minute. You can feel the sense of accomplishment that the most basic of steps set to music can do, because they did it, they took the first step. Their journey has started and the rest is history. For me as a teacher that’s a way more beautiful sight than anything we could see on TV. “I wish I could do that” soon becomes “I will be able to do that soon” and that’s better than straight 10’s in my book.
Even as teachers, we revert back to “first steppers” as we constantly push ourselves to learn new styles, new skills, develop our businesses and create fabulous new routines for you. We are not exempt from the feeling of stepping outside of our comfort zone. As many of you know Example Dance Academy just this week turned into a full time business. Am I terrified? Yes. Have I tried to talk myself out of it – of course I have. But fortunately I know the importance of trying, I will probably encounter things along the way that take me more time, just as my beginners struggle with the occasional step but I know I won’t get there if I don’t try.
So, whether you want to be able to simply dance around your living room, take your favourite person out dancing, start a new fitness goal or dance in full Swarovski crystal on national TV. Take the first step because once you do there are a million dance teachers waiting to help you climb the staircase to your goals.
New beginners classes start Friday 21st October 7pm. No partner needed.
Contact us for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org