Last week, I wrote a brief piece on one’s intention for dance being “sufficient for success.” That is, considering what success might look like for you in that next dance with that next partner. Then, considering what you might do that is sufficient for success as you define it, without necessarily having to be perfect in your actions. What I sometimes find among my students – both dance students and academic students – is not a lack of a reasonable standard against which to measure themselves. Rather, it is the fear of not being able to reach even that reasonable standard which precludes the attempt. They don’t want to try unless they can know beforehand that they’ll get it right. I think this boils down to a lack of resilience—a secondary fear that if they fail or fall, they won’t be able to recover and get back up.
Most people have heard of the “fear of failure.” But, with many students, it’s not the fear of failing that brings a paralysis of action. Instead, it’s the fear of what happens next, what they’ll be called on to do in the event that they fall short in the attempt. Interestingly, this is the same phenomenon as the admittedly less common and more-difficult-to-understand “fear of success.” We’re afraid of what happens next.
In dance, as in life, the music continues, and so must the motion. Irrespective of what you’ve just done and how it turned out (assuming that you haven’t caused injury to your partner), you can pick up based on something you know, and literally move on. You flow into the next move, reconnecting with your partner, the music, and the floor. The ability to recover like this is known as resilience, and it is an important personal attribute that enables you to thrive, develop, and grow. Dance resilience gives you permission to be not-perfect, confident in your ability to recover and continue to dance. Dance resilience allows you to try new things, fail, learn, and continue in your personal growth as a dancer. You might seek advice and guidance from an instructor. However, at the end of it, the learning is up to you, and your personal resilience is key to that learning as we…
See you on the dance floor.