Stayin' alive [as a dancer]...

January 17, 2018

I have had several of my older students come to me recently and say something that I realized I have always done, but now I know why I do. 


One student said to me a couple weeks ago "I like learning from you because you challenge us." And then, her peer in the same class said "Yes, you don't just make the steps easier when we're not getting it. I go to other dance teachers and they just make the steps easier when we're not getting it. You work on it with us, and you tell us that we can get it."


My BollyForm team is a group of dancers whom I teach dance routines in a rapid learning format. And all of them are experienced dancers. What is interesting is that they often feel very challenged in my classes. One of the dancers recently said that the new choreography we're working on is "outside her comfort zone." 


I said "YES! It is. And that's good."


I want my dancers and students to step out of their comfort zones. I want them to push their personal boundaries and see how far they can grow! 


If I was one of those teachers who "dumbed" down the steps for a group of students just because they were not getting it, I would be doing them a disservice. Yes, when I encourage you do facial expressions in front of the mirror with your peers it feels 'hella awkward and ridiculously uncomfortable. Are you kidding? If was a tween just hitting puberty, I'd already be self-conscious and now I gotta do Indian dance style facial expressions in the mirror - ugh! The best place to have this experience though, is in the dance classroom with your peers who are all going through the same thing. They are your tribe. You work on things together. It's a safe space. 


If I was one of those teachers, I would be dispassionate and without a care for your progress. But most of the time I want your progress more than you want it yourself - and that is something I'm working on - not to get too emotionally wrapped up in wanting you to grow into an amazing self-confident dancer and person whose passion flows through her body and expresses itself on stage, no. You've got to want that for yourself. I can't want it for you anymore. It can be painful for me to want it more than you.


But yes, discomfort. I would not want you to get too comfortable in dance. Because when you're too comfortable you're not growing - and when you're not growing, you're kind of a flat-line dancer. And well, we all know from those Electrocardiograph monitors that if you're flat-line, you're technically dead! Grow, get uncomfortable, lose your superficial self in the dance and music, and find your real true self in movement, and shine! 


Love and Growth be Yours!

Ashley Anjlien Kumar



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