In my coaching work with clients, we eventually get to the point of beginning a trajectory towards the type of change the client wants to see in their career. (And yes, “eventually” does indeed suggest that there’s usually a lot of stuff that needs to be cleared away before getting to that point!). We always begin in the same place—with One Small Step in the general direction of that trajectory. Tackling a big project, like attaining a major life objective or that so-called Big Hairy Audacious Goal is tough to do, and often, even tougher to think about. It’s common for people to become overwhelmed with their BHAG, their Vision Board, their Blue Ocean Strategy, or any of a number of TED Talk or personal-improvement-bestseller techniques-du-jour. It’s equally common for feelings of overwhelm to lead directly to procrastination and becoming derailed, sometimes for years. That’s why I ask my client to embark on One Small Step – maximum two, if they’re feeling really ambitious – that will set them on the way. This technique enabled, for instance, one of my earliest clients to achieve a life-long dream within a year that had eluded him for the prior fifteen.
So too is it with dance, and especially with the choreography I tend to teach in my Repertoire class. You probably know that the 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. timeslot on Thursday is intended for more advanced dancers who are interested in learning more technically advanced technique, applied in the context of a more involved choreography. As we go through the complicated pattern, I break down each element and focus on the particular technique and timing required to master it. Over the last couple of weeks, for example, one element was a swivel turn, a spot turn technique for followers to turn on the first half of the count, in other words, on the one-two-three. It involves an almost complete half-basic with a forward right-foot step on the three combined with a two-foot (on the balls of both feet) swivel to the left ending up with the left shin crossed over the right shin. (It’s immediately followed by the left foot stepping forward for a cross-body lead, so the weight is entirely kept on the right foot.) And that was only the first element in a rather long combination!
Each Repertoire choreography involves a bunch of such technical moves for both leaders to lead clearly and followers to execute with style and grace. Is it my intention for my students to replicate the entire choreography verbatim on the social dance floor? If they could get the move sufficiently into muscle memory to do so would indeed be awesome and a worthwhile achievement. But that’s not my intention. Rather, it’s for the students to pick up One Small Step, or maybe Two. Take that/those element(s) to the social dance floor and perfect them in flow with the other moves that are part of their personal repertoire. Then, weeks or even months later, come back to the pattern (posted on either the website or on our YouTube channel) and pick up another element, another One Small Step to incorporate into your own style and expertise. In fact, many of the patterns I use in class incorporate elements or variation on elements that we’ve used before, so in time, the Repertoire class itself becomes easier to follow, easier to learn from, easier to apply to your social dancing, and more enjoyable.
Remember, a great dancer becomes great through learning, practice, and most of all, dancing with a wide variety of partners. They didn’t do it overnight or by rushing to take lessons every night. It’s all about One Small Step at a time when we…
See you on the dance floor.