Smells like progress

This evening was my third day in a row in the studio… troupe training on Monday, regular class on Tuesday, and a makeup class today. (And I’ll have class tomorrow too, but that’s another story, and the reason I’m chugging magnesium right now.) In every one of the last three days, there have been multiple — not one, not two, but more than I could count — moments when I was doing something that looked awkward, terrible, ungainly. Where I just basically could not do what was asked of me. Normally, I would get frustrated and mad with myself for not being further along, would think about all the time I wasted over these past years when I could have been learning to zill or do a stupid chaine. And yet… I was in some kind of weird Zen state where I just. did. not. feel. bad. about. it. I saw how awful it all looked, and thought, “Wow, that looks awful. I guess I’ll try again.” I was weirdly fine with the realisation that it wouldn’t stop looking awful during those 90 or 120 minutes. I was happier to be learning so much than I could feel sad about what I didn’t know, if that makes any sense.

I did feel a bit bad for my teachers who had to put up with the noise and see some spins they probably could have lived without seeing.

I don’t know if it’s reading and re-reading Steven Pressfield. I don’t know if it’s all the motivational things people post on Facebook, or the talks with dancers in real life, or all the articles about how we always look terrible when we start to learn things… but for once, sucking felt fine, because it also felt like the beginning of learning.


  1. Nadira says:

    “but for once, sucking felt fine, because it also felt like the beginning of learning”

    YES YES YES. The most productive practice looks a lot like sucking.

  2. i says:

    Heather, yes it is a relief!

    Thank you, Nadira. When I was thinking of the kind of input I've been getting that's been helpful, your name popped into my head. But I was too tired to go back and do details. I can only consider this a momentary success. Next week I might suck and feel crappy about it again, and have to fight the fight from the start. But I was so grateful to have three days in a row of stumbles and still feel good about it.

    Part of it was that I could focus on the very small improvements in even one practice session, which maybe didn't get me to good, but got me doing things I had never done before. And part of it was that there was so much new technique in all these three classes that I was extremely excited to be learning.

    (PS. Please feel free to share the post! I'd love to hear from others who have had these moments, or who haven't but are working towards it.)

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