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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Fall Down. We Get Up.

I'm posting a fantastic video of the performance that the New York City-based dance troupe THE BIG APPLE LINDY HOPPERS did recently at our dance. I'm posting it because I'm proud of it on so many levels, but even more importantly, because of what it has to teach us about life, expectations, performing and dancing.

First sit back and watch. Enjoy. Observe. And then I'll share six quick insights into what you are seeing.

1. Chester's Dancing.
When Chester and I met in 1997, neither of us danced aside from independent body flailing that we thought looked pretty good. That is to say we were not "born" dancers. We learned as adults. Like most of our students. Look at him now.

He's not alone. I constantly see students walk in the door convinced they have two left feet who become dancers.

2. Chester's Age.
He'll kill me for pointing this out, but Chester is more than twice the age of every other performer in the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers. But he doesn't let it stop him. Not a bit. Before we started dancing Chester had a bad back. He'd throw it out opening a window. Fifteen years later, he's throwing girls over his head. Go figure.

He's not alone. I constantly see students grow "younger" before my eyes the more they dance.

3. Chester's Choreography.
This video marks the world-debut of Chester's choreography for the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers. Prior to this only Frankie Manning, Ryan Francios, and Laura Jeffers ever choreographed for the troupe. He started small by first choreographing for us and our friends, and then started a performance class in 2006. He got better and better at choreographing with each routine. You can see his evolution by watching the performance clips on our website. This is not idle work. Believe me, he spends hours and hours listening to music and watching performances to hone his creative ideas.

He's not alone. I have had the pleasure of seeing some of our students go on to create their own choreography. Here's a video of Dorrie Boice performing her award-winning choreography with Chester.

3. Chester's Performance.
Notice that it's Chester up there, not me. Performing was Chester's dream, not mine. For me it was a challenge to overcome. It's one of the reasons we started our performance class. So he could choreograph and perform and I could get over my fear of performing. I've been doing every performance class since 2006 and have performed countless times with Chester on cruise ships and major venues. Participating in a performance class makes you a better dancer because you have to practice. It raises the stakes. It makes you understand the moves inside out.

I'm not alone. Many students have joined our performance class with the same fears and trepidations I had.

4.  Hard Work Makes it Look Easy.
A three-minute routine takes months and months of practice. All the work behind what looks like just fun  is mind boggling. When you watch a performance, realize how much work is involved (physically, mentally and emotionally) to bring you what you are seeing. Performers get energy from the crowd, so hoot and holler. There's nothing worse than performing to a silent audience.

Don't make them feel alone up there. Next time you see a performance show your appreciation. Clap harder.

5. Only Three Couples are Performing.
Only a small percentage of the troupe performed Chester's choreography. Why? The rest weren't ready. Everyone learns at a different pace. I used to get so frustrated because Chester learns quicker than I do. He can look at a move and copy it in an instant while I'm still trying to figure out what happened. His musical background also made it easier for him than for me.

I'm not alone. There will always be those who learn quicker and easier and those for whom it takes a bit longer. No judgement. Especially of yourself.

6. A Girl Falls Down. And Gets Back Up.
It's nearly off the screen, but one of the performers falls out of a flip. And gets right back up and keeps dancing. Chester said she never fell in rehearsal, and of all the dancers, she was the one who had the move the most solid. So what does it mean that she fell? She fell. That's all it means.

She's not alone. We all fall down figuratively or literally. The secret in being a success in life is not to be afraid to make mistakes, and to get right back up after falling down. It's all part of learning to dance, and living.

1. NO ONE IS A BORN DANCER. Take our Classes or Workshops or Technique Clinics
2. YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD. Take our Classes or Workshops or Technique Clinics
3. GET OVER YOUR FEARS. Take our Performance Class or our upcoming Zen of Swing Dance Workshop at Omega.
4. SHOW APPRECIATION. Clap hard at our upcoming Cool Cats & Kittens Performances.
5. LEARN AT YOUR OWN PACE. Take our Classes or Privates.
6. KEEP ON DANCING. Attend our dances. 1st Thursdays. 1st Saturdays. 2nd Fridays. and May 11.

See you all dancing!