In less than a week, one of my favorite summer pastimes begins again. Formerly a guilty pleasure, I just cannot get enough of it.
Yes, on Thursday, the show “So You Think You Can Dance” returns for another season. For those not up on their reality-show, competitions, this is a show about dance. Some of the best choreographers work with dancers to deliver performances week after week.
Last season, a particular routine struck me hard. I even used my first ever video-embed in the blog (check it out here) so I could write about “the launch”–when one dancer runs across the stage and full-on launches herself, laid-out at her dance partner to collapse (in a good way) in his arms. I couldn’t get enough of it. Even today, I watched the full routine twice.
I used to take dance, ages and ages ago. I loved moving to the music. Tap and Jazz were my specialities, and I can still do the most complicated tap combo I learned when I was a mere pre-teen.
Of all the routines in those years of lessons and recitals, I can remember this single combination. Not because it was profound or easy, but because it was the hardest thing I had to learn. Week after week in practice, in the “tap technique” class comprised of the best tappers across all age groups, I stumbled. Finally, I had to ask my teacher to write it down for me. Other combos I could learn by watching and hearing and recreating what I had heard and seen. This one just killed me. So I tried. I tried and tried to do it at speed…and I cried little girl tears because there was “no way” I would ever be able to perform it with the big girls.
And I remember my mom telling me to take it slow. Learn one piece at a time, at a very slow pace, and it will come. I did not believe her. I refused to believe her. I could only see the end–that I would need to do it lightening speed, and do it so well, so ingrained, that it would be second nature. So I continued to struggle, and struggle, and struggle.
Then, one night, downstairs with the cutting board as my dance floor, I tried her advice. I started one step at a time. Slow. Adding the next step only after I could feel the move rather than think it.
Lo and behold, I finally got it. And today, nearly 25 years later, I can still do that combination. The key was not the speed. The key was the practice, creating the muscle memory so that my brain could disconnect and my feet could do their thing. And the key to the step was to not shift my weight at all–but instead to keep the weight seemingly “up” in the air so the shoes could do their thing.
Practice. Slow. So sloooooooooow at first. Eventually, building step after step, it was mastered. And it was mastered in heels 🙂 (My feet were too big for traditional tap shoes, so I had the grown up heels version.)
Maybe this is what God talks about when He shares:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” –Matthew 25:21
Maybe, right now, we just have the small little post it note with the seemingly impossible steps we are supposed to master. And maybe, just maybe, all He is asking is for us to practice. he does not expect us to be perfect, or up to speed, or able to dance with the big girls. Maybe He just wants us to commit to doing the thing in front of us, of doing whatever necessary to do that thing well, and to keep trying.
Just keep trying. He will work it out.
Image by Marta Rostek