Recently I had a student pull out of her private lessons because “dance was much harder” than she thought it was going to be. She had the idea that waltz especially was going to be an easy dance. I asked what had made her think that and she did not seem to have much of a response apart from simply repeating that she thought it was going to be easy. She went on to say that she was good at most things she did, and she no longer looked forward to continuing with dance - dance was just not like the other things she did (easy).
On the one hand I wondered if maybe she always avoided difficult things in life, or at least the things that were difficult for her, and dance was just one of many things she had given up on. On the other hand, I was wondering if the syllabus was too hard or if I was too demanding. She told me she was happy with the teaching, but simply did not like feeling like she was not good at something. I also have other students who know full well that there are things they need to work on, and they do indeed work on them, so I am inclined to think that the student in question did indeed simply wish to avoid things that are challenging.
I should point out here that the student pulled out after only 2 lessons! This makes me all the more confident that the issue was primarily about her ability and desire to take on something challenging.
However, this minor drama at the studio did prompt me to think more about dance and if it is indeed hard and if it is meant to be hard.
What would make dance hard?
Dance requires some of the following attributes:
There is actually a missing attribute from the list above: an enjoyment of learning. Some people simply enjoy learning something no matter what it is – knowledge is its own reward. Others enjoy learning dance especially – for dance is fun. And some know that the efforts of learning will be paid back in the future – they love the sense of satisfaction that comes from mastering something. Chances are that it is a mix of these for you.
If you have this enjoyment of learning, no matter the underlying motivator, then efforts to develop your attributes will not make dance seem hard. It might be that the process, as you work toward becoming the dancer you want to be, is, at times, hard. But dance itself will not be hard. If dance does ever become hard, then remind yourself of the following:
The last item on the list has gotten me, and several other dances I know, through some of the more trying times of learning dance.
And that brings me to a final point I want to make: you will always have your ups and downs. I know from personal experience that we will all encounter a number of downs. So does your dance teacher – ask them about it if you want to know about how everyone has downs from time to time. Just don’t let it be the downs that dictate how you feel about yourself or about dance – that’s probably what happened to the student who motivated this blog post. And she is never going to experience the ups that come from dance.