Hip Hop and Ballroom Part 2: Attitude

I owe someone an Ask the Girl episode and I will get to it this week! But first I had to share a little story of personal triumph.

I’ve been itching to take a hip hop class. Teacher using it to improve my ballroom movement only made the itch stronger. Then my birthday came and went, and I had a little extra coin in my purse! So I started searching online for nearby hip hop classes. Nearly all of the dance studios I found locally only offered classes for kids. Finally I found one that had adult beginner hip hop.

I thought about it all last week. I really wanted to go. But at the same time, a new studio with new people and a different kind of dance class gave me some anxiety. It was all of the usual demons: “what if I look stupid? what if I can’t do it? what if they laugh at me?” One gift ballroom has given me though is the strength to push past mild anxiety so I can try new, scary things!

So after a phone call to confirm I wouldn’t be stepping into the middle of a progressive class and a bit of hand wringing, I went! I ended up inviting a friend so I didn’t go alone, but I still went! And it was a blast!

The class started with a warm-up, just some isolation moves and stretches to get the blood flowing and the body loose. Then the teacher started in on the hip hop routine. Even though the class was billed as beginner, the choreography was challenging! In the beginning, I started thinking I was going to be lost the whole time. But the teacher broke it down to manageable pieces and even came over to the back corner where my friend and I put ourselves to help with some of the parts that made us go “huh?!?” It probably wasn’t very pretty, but I felt like I was getting a decent handle on the routine by the time the hour was up! Another hour and I would have been golden. Maybe silver.

I realized that even though it was a studio setting, I wasn’t having anxiety over freestyling or expressing some attitude in my moves. They probably weren’t great moves, but the point is I was just moving to the music. And I was having fun as I tried different things each time we ran through the routine. Imagine that!

Maybe it was the music, or the lack of very specific technique to think about. Maybe it was because it was my first time, so I didn’t have a strong sense of what was right or wrong yet. Whatever the reason, I felt freer. The demons weren’t active; I didn’t have to fight for control to dance how I wanted to dance.

It felt good to shake up the usual dance training a bit with something non-ballroom. It might sound strange, but I am hopeful that adding a hip hop class to my schedule will bring out more of that sense of freedom in me and allow me to feel more confident about my styling and expression in ballroom. Taking a hip hop class as opposed to just going out to a club gives me that desired combination of structure and freedom. The challenge of perfecting the moves is motivating and fun for me, but the worry of being “right” has undoubtedly hindered my ballroom dancing. Granted, I’ve only taken one class so far, but I think hip hop will give me the foundation I want, i.e., the “right” choreography, to learn and work from, but also some flexibility in how I build on that foundation. More positive experiences of taking what’s “right” and making it my own will help offset the fears and anxiety of being “wrong.”

Let’s just hope I can scrounge enough coins together to keep going!

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