Or prepare to fail....
There's a saying you probably know - "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" and I've always found that to be true. Anything that's worth doing well needs to be prepared for.
Way before I set foot in the dance studio I've prepared my class. It's not some type of coincidence that the class spends 15 minutes learning a footwork exercise which then turns out to blend seamlessly into an existing part of the dance they learned the week before! Preparing the class allows me to spend time thinking about what my students needs most from their classes and how I can help them to be the best dancers they can be. Yes, I like it to be enjoyable - people learn more when they're enjoying themselves, but there must also be a steady climb from one level of ability to the next.
Some people make that climb more slowly than others, but that doesn't matter so long as everyone is gradually learning, improving and getting there.
Recently I've been watching a lot of videos of other dance schools (that kind of late night viewing kind of goes with the territory of dance teacher), picking up on things I like and getting ideas for technique exercises. One thing has struck me over and over again as I watch these - and that's the amount of sheer raw energy these dance students put into their class.
If you had to describe Flamenco dance I'm sure that at some point you'd be using the word "energy" as that mesmerising, pumping power of Flamenco dance is just full of it. It lifts you up, it carries you off. Get it right and it takes you to another place far away from the mundane world of the dance studio.
I watch these videos of classes where the students are learning new dances, going over the step sequences over and over again, but every time they do them they dance as if their lives depend on it! Every part of their body is dancing, every muscle in their body is straining and working and in that moment they want to be the very best dancer they can be.
Is that you? When you're in class are you working at your full level all of the time? Do you give everything to every single step you dance? If you do - great and please just keep on doing it! A dancer who dances with energy and purpose will always be a better dancer. You can even go wrong, but if you are going wrong while dancing with a total energy, commitment and purpose, you'll get away with it because no-one will notice! They'll be much too busy being swept up in the feeling that you're creating by your dancing.
Why would you not dance with energy? Why would you hold back and make yourself be less than you want to be? Are you scared of going wrong? Are you unsure of the steps?
Think about why you're holding back in class. Think about why you've made the decision to dance with as less energy .......... then think about what your dancing could be like if you were still you - but then you added in all that energy, commitment and feeling. You could be amazing!
When I was a dance student we were expected to be on time for class, wearing a black leotard and black skirt. Our hair would be neatly tied up (so it didn't come down during class) and we'd be there to work and to dance and nothing more. There were a few water breaks where you might snatch a few words with friends, but mostly you practised steps in the breaks and saved your chatting till after the class. You were there to impress, you were there to learn, you were there to show what you had learned and to absolutely be the very best dancer you could be. Your teacher held you to a high standard, so you held yourself to that same standard. At the start of every class the guitarist began to play and dance energy exploded in the room.
What about you? Do you arrive for your class on time, correctly dressed and with your hair tied up? Have you been practised your steps in the days before your class? What do you feel when you arrive at class? Do you come in to your class prepared?
Or do you come prepared to fail?