I am not a competition dancer. They spend at least fifteen hours a week in the studio pushing to do five pirouettes into a back illusion into a tilt, all perfectly in sync. The focus is winning, and they strive to learn combinations as quickly as possible. At my studio, we study the art of dance. While we learn the same tricks as competition dancers, impressive leaps and turns arent the focuses of our end-of-year performance pieces. Even in my advanced jazz class, there is no requirement to master tricks.
It is an individual learning process and everyone has their own limits. Our teachers emphasize dance as a storytelling medium, to engage audience members and affect them in deeply personal ways. When I attended the 2013 Maryland Council for Dance, I took a class called Jumps Trix and Turns taught by a petite dancer with unbelievable core control. I grimaced at the combination she gave us, knowing from past experience that I could not do a triple pirouette — turning three times in a row on one set of toes with the other leg bent at the knee.Order now
I had been trying to master it for several years and every time, I had fallen off my leg before finishing. I sighed and told myself to try my best, but I knew I wouldnt be able to pull it off. The competition dancers, on the other hand, nodded confidently as though they had been doing triples since they could walk. As the other dancers lined up in the front and took their turns, they displayed horribly flexed feet and warped alignment even as they were inexplicably turning beyond triples.
These were the flaws that I had worked for years to fix. Everything that would prevent me from turning ran through my head at once — leaning back, the pass at the ankle instead of at the knee, flimsy arms, poor spotting — all things that I knew I had problems with, and could fix. Wow, I thought. They can pull off those turns without technique on their side. What could I, with my strong foundation, do? I had never done more than a double pirouette in jazz class, but I realized that fear of failure may have been the only thing holding me back.
With technique, it was not impossible for me; it just had never been done. It was time to challenge my own irrational conviction that my skill had plateaued. When it was my turn, I carefully set up my preparation: feet pointed, legs straight, arms stable, and torso stacked. I took a deep breath, remembered all my fixable technique problems, did a pas de bourre to prepare, and despite the unforgiving high school gym floor, I pulled off my very first triple pirouette. I smiled, nodding confidently as though I had been doing triples since I could walk.
When I attended modern class a few days later, the fear was gone, and dedication had taken its place. The week before, I didnt know if I could pull off the combinations harder sections, so I played it safe and didnt put all my effort into it. But the Wednesday after Maryland Council, as I was performing in a group for the class, I remembered conquering my triple pirouette and the six years of technique ingrained in my body, and I shot energy out of every extended limb and finger to perfectly suspend a perpendicular Horton tilt.