Oct 9, 2014


"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. 
If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you." -Barbara Sher

I've been dancing salsa pretty regularly for the past year (actually, just over a year) and I've built some confidence in my skills and abilities. I can follow pretty well and dance in a social setting.

The idea of feeling bad at something is very uncomfortable for me. I like the idea of being competent and decently skilled at any particular activity. So as someone that has finished school, and have been doing a very familiar set of hobbies/activities for a long time, I haven't had that feeling of "being a beginner" for a while.

Anytime you learn a new skill - riding a bike, playing a new sport, playing a new instrument - its inevitable, you're going to suck at it - like be really really embarrassingly bad. "Sucking", at least initially, is a necessary step to eventual mastery of a skill. Embracing this attitude humbles us, and forces us to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And that if we continue working persistently at it with deliberate practice, we can get a level where we don't suck as much - we might even become good, or great at what we do.

For me the activity I "suck at" is urban dance. I've attempted hip hop before, bad at it.  I decided to take up breakdancing after trying out one class and really enjoying the class, teacher, and moves we were learning (top rock, down rock and freezes - beginner class doesn't cover power moves like windmills).

If someone shows me a set of choreography, I'm relatively okay at replicating it. For the first few classes we did a "monkey see monkey do" routine. The instructor showed us some moves and we copied it. Very straight forward, very non-threatening and comfortable.

What REALLY pushed me outside of my comfort zone was when we tried applying what we learned in freestyle. Our instructor introduced us to breakdancing "cyphers" aka a dance circle. We play the bboy music and take turns trying out different moves we learned together. All of us are beginners (albeit 1 or 2 I'm PRETTY sure had bboyed before) but we encouraged each other, cheering or saying "good job good job" if one of us messed up.  When it was my turn, I went into the circle and did my thing, and I was HORRIBLE at it. I felt eembarrassed self-conscious... all really unfamiliar, uncomfortable feelings.  However in spite of this, I was absolutely delighted and excited - for the first time (in a long time) I felt challenged. I went home thinking about how much practice I needed before I would enter the dance circle again.

My mind was just teeming with possibilities, all the things I could learn. I didn't really care that I probably looked really bad at it, I was genuinely enjoying myself. I left each class feeling I had learned so much, and I was just eager to learn and practice more. It helped that my classmates were super friendly and teacher was very open and helped us learn at a relatively quick pace.

What I also really enjoyed about the class was how athletic breakdancing actually is. It requires a lot of core strength, flexibility and balance. Someone referred to it as the "martial arts" of urban dance. I can see why - some moves that our instructor demo'ed were gravity defying.

Group handstands. 

Practicing a "CC" move. 

Doing a shoulder freeze, one of my classmates doing a turtle freeze.
I've been learning breakdancing for the past month about once a week. We have our last class next week. I'm sad that the class is coming to a close, but happy to have been exposed to something that I pretty much stumbled upon by accident. 

Is there anything new that you've wanted to learn recently? 

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