01 July 2014

Struggling to dance

The tap classes have ended, and I'll admit they've been a struggle for me ... getting the feet to do the right thing, and then remembering the sequence of steps. Practising between times has been a big help, as have various videos on the internet (search for "beginners tap steps"). Gradually the feet get quicker at picking up what needs to be done, the weight shifts from foot to foot at the right time, even the arms get into the act sometimes. 

A struggle is a sometimes good thing, though. Like many people I've talked to recently (even some in the class!), I'm not a natural dancer - which makes it really interesting to see people who are, and to make some progress on learning how to fake it. There have been moments when I actually knew what I was doing, and that felt really good. These were rather outnumbered by the "ohmigawd, what's going on" times, hey ho...

In our comfort zone activities, the struggle is at a higher level - we've mastered the basics and the nuances become more important - we want our work to be not just good but better. Struggling with the basics in an area where we have to learn new skills is a different story - intense frustration, feelings of worthlessness and stupidity, a strong desire to walk away from it, these have to be overcome. 

Undergoing this sort of self-imposed torture gives you an insight into what some people struggle with on an everyday basis - dealing with maths, speaking a new language ... there's a long list of things we take for granted that cause others real problems. In this "optional" activity, I was lucky to have a patient teacher and could also work independently, but kids who can't recognise numbers, migrants in a new country, etc might not be able to access the right resources, and what they need to be able to do is essential rather than optional.

A new session of tap classes runs over the summer, but I'll give it a rest till the autumn. It's fun and good exercise - and I've learned a lot. Shirley Temple step, anyone?


patty a. said...

I had no idea you were taking tap lessons and I think that is so cool! I can feel what you are saying about struggling to learn something that you are not naturally built for. Keep tapping away!

KAM said...

As a dancer for as long as I can remember it was pure delight to read your story of finding the patterns and movements with your body as your tap lessons went forward...I had never thought about how it would be to work so hard at finding the connections. And I appreciated having today a lesson from your post about the process of learning something you desire to do when the historical/natural affinity to executing a step, a skill with movement to music. Learning to draw was very much a challenge for me so I went to that story for me to know something about the learning curve you are traveling with tap dancing.
Much, much appreciation, Margaret, for this story today - much awakening for me as I read your words. Kristin