In July 2015, I wrote a post titled At What Point Can You Call Yourself a “Dancer”? A little over a year later, I can confidently say I am a dancer!
I was inspired this week to expand on last year’s post and consider what makes a serious dancer.
Normally, I write a post like this one when I am struggling with the topic in question. Writing helps me work through the issue while also sharing my thoughts with you, in case you can relate. This time, I’m feeling pretty clear. So I’m just going to share my thoughts for whomever needs to read them.
I consider myself a serious dancer. But I’ve become more aware recently that I don’t fit everyone’s definition of a serious ballroom dancer. So what are the qualifications? What do I need to do to be taken seriously as a dancer?
First of all, I think there is only one thing that makes you a serious dancer: effort. That goes for anything you’re serious about in this life. If you’re serious about your career, you put in the effort. If you’re serious about a romantic relationship, you put in the effort. If you’re serious about advancing as a dancer, you put in the effort. I’m confident that I put in enough effort into my ballroom to be considered serious.
Some may disagree. Some may think I don’t take enough lessons, spend enough hours in the studio practicing or enter enough competitions to qualify as a serious ballroom dancer. The fact that I’m not committing as many hours as others means I’m not as serious as them. They might be right. I only take private lessons with Teacher once or twice a week. I meet Ballroom Viking and Teacher’s friend only once a week to practice (when they’re available). At most, that’s about 3 hours of dancing with a partner per week. Some would say that’s how much I should be doing per day! I’ve also only been in one local competition this year, and it looks like it will be my only comp for 2016. Seems like I’m slacking.
But the thing is, I am committing as much as I am able. If I had the money, I would have entered more competitions this year and I would be taking as many lessons as Teacher could fit me in for. But I don’t, so I do as much as I can afford. I commit as much time as I am able to, considering I also work a full-time job and I have two dogs at home who need their mama.
Unfortunately, for a ballroom student, it’s often not so much about the time as it is about money. I’ve witnessed, experienced and read about studios paying more attention to those students who do more (i.e., spend more). Competitions reward those who spend more by declaring them “top students.” So what about the rest of us who put in the same or more effort but just can’t pay?
I’ve written before about being on a personal journey in a partner-based world. It is difficult because sometimes the solo path gets lonely. But I’m realizing that I chose a different way of becoming a ballroom dancer than others. That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way though.
I’ve just chosen a different path than most dancers. One big difference is I decided to develop myself as a writer at the same time. So today, for example, I am writing this post and a guest post for the book tour instead of practicing ballroom. Does that make me less of a serious dancer?
I don’t think so. My writing has helped me work through the emotional and mental challenges of dance, and in turn, my dancing has inspired my writing. So the two passions have only enhanced each other and made me stronger in both fields. In a similar fashion, taking time to explore other dance styles like hip hop is helping me figure out some of the technique and expression parts of ballroom that give me trouble. So even if I’m not committing every free moment to ballroom specifically, I’m still putting effort toward my dancing. I also work to make the most of every moment I am able to commit to ballroom. I could be taking twice as many lessons per week, but if I half-ass my way through them, I won’t advance any faster than I am now.
I want you to know if you’re putting in as much effort as you possibly can into your dancing, then you’re doing enough. You might feel pressure to do more or do things differently. You might feel like others get more recognition than you do for their efforts. But you have to do what is best for you. Maybe the usual path of becoming a serious ballroom dancer (or writer or photographer or [insert passion here!]) isn’t the right one for you. That’s ok! You can still be serious and even successful in your passion.
That’s my motivational speech for the day! The book tour continues on Monday, so I hope you will join me!
And if you don’t mind, may I take a moment for some shameless self-promotion? Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance is ranked number 2 in the Ballroom Dance category on Amazon! How cool would it be if it got up to number 1?! If you or anyone you know were thinking about downloading the book, the time to act is now! Please spread the word.
Thank you, and happy dancing!