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Failing at Success

“Solid B+”

To succeed in a dance class you must (a) learn the steps to the dance and (b) remember these steps. Simple right? Yeah, I thought so too.

In class, it tends to take me just a little bit longer than most to process the information…. and about a million more practice opportunities to get my feet to sort out their identity crisis. (They are clearly unsure of who is being referred to when told to “step left”). So, during class, I keep my eyes glued on whoever is teaching to make sure I don’t miss a beat… literally. This works fine until, inevitably, the teacher gets us practice on our own. Then… well… I’m screwed.

To avoid this problem, I try to find a person in the front row to follow. (If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself I wonder if she has ever followed me I’ll make it easy for you – if you have ever stood in the front right corner of the studio, the answer is probably “yes”.) Unfortunately, last week this so-called “plan B” was a bust.

I’ll explain.

I was really excited when class started because we were dancing to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.

Sidebar: If you are too young to remember the days when Beyoncé shared the spotlight, you are now assigned to some YouTube research. Do not come back until you can explain (in rhyming form) which bills you need paid, what it takes to be a survivor and what makes a woman independent.

During the first part of class, I was dancing behind Kix. As soon as we started running through the first few counts of 8 with the music, I shifted my focus from Giulia to him. (Yes, this was in preparation for the end of class when Giulia stops doing the choreography with us… and yes, I am that neurotic about planning ahead). Now I’ve taken Kix’s classes before so this was not my first time following him to pick up choreography. But watching his interpretation of Giulia’s moves, I found myself tripping over my feet. I couldn’t follow his coordinations at all. Kix wasn’t “doing Giulia’s choreography”. He was doing “Kix does Giulia’s choreography”. His hips didn’t quite move like hers did (which I realize is probably a good thing for the two of them), his knees bent in a different way, his arms extended at a different speed. (And yes, I am that reliant on watching other people. I get into this monkey-see-monkey-do mode where I blindly copy what’s in front of me. Honestly, he could have thrown a back flip into the choreography and I would have been flat on my face before realizing what I had tried to do.)

In conclusion, watching Kix just confused me more.

So I shifted my focus to Dario, an E3 regular. But his movements were much sharper whereas Giulia’s had more flow. I can’t do sharp. I can hardly do dull. I was starting to get frustrated.

I was still in the process of coaching my feet through the last few 8-counts when we divided up into the usual 1s and 2s to practice the whole dance with a bit more space. Not surprisingly, Giulia assigned me to both groups. (She gets that I need the extra practice.) With the 1s, I found myself behind a “new-to-me-but-not-to-E3” dancer named Alex. (He tends to take class from the front left corner, conveniently out of my line of vision.) As the music started, I adopted him as my new model. But when the first verse blasted out of the speakers I swear, from my vantage point, Alex could have been part of a different class. Don’t get me wrong, he was getting all the right moves on all the right beats…. but… well… let me put it this way – there was a point where we had to turn 90 degrees, from facing the back to facing the left wall. I think he got 4 pirouettes into that one beat.

When the group 2s came up, I decided to follow Carlin, another E3 regular. I’ve seen her dance before and I know she has a tendency to infuse sexy swag into even the most gangsta’ choreos. I thought it would be easy to slip into this mode given the Destiny’s Child motif. But those weren’t the “s-words” I was feeling that day and sexy swag is apparently not an attitude you can fake. I got so lost trying to give attitude that I messed up the one part of the dance I could actually do from memory.

So Kix, Dario, Alex and Carlin… all beautiful dancers… were all useless to me as models. Their movements were the same but their dances were different. As amazing as they all are to watch, I think for now I’m going to limit myself to learning one dance per class.

For the record, I did eventually get Giulia’s steps down. So technically I was successful in class. But somehow I left the studio feeling like I had missed something. It wasn’t enough for me to get the Giulia way. I wanted to find the Jynx way.

(But I did manage to coordinate all the steps so I’m giving myself a solid B+ for my efforts.)

PS: Want to know what I’m talking about when I refer to feeling “s-words”?

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