Am I good enough?

This question always gets asked especially in dance classes. We’ve had two classes and several of you have expressed concern about your work or proper placement in this class. How do you think you’re doing? What tools do you use to measure your success in a movement-based practice? What measures do you employ,  if any, that silence the internal critic that creeps up and says you are not good enough?

Much of what we will do in this course addresses physical function as manifested through dance. However, much of this requires observation of the mind-body connection. Please be patient with yourself as we begin to identify patterns of holding as expressed in the body. The process of undoing, unlocking and acceptance (letting things be) is not always easy but well worth the struggle and perseverance.

Breathe… watch… process… and reveal…

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15 thoughts on “Am I good enough?

  1. I think that today I did better than I did last Thursday, but I most definitely think that I am not too high on the skill level right now, but I think that I will have much improvement over the quarter because of that. Everyone has to start there and this is my starting line, so I need to be patient as I make it through this. In classes I usually measure my success based off of how well I am getting the moves that are being demonstrated to me. For example, in one exercise today I found it a success that I could match the foot work you showed us, but I lost it when I tried to match the hands, so my feet are a success and my hands are not there yet. I also pay attention to how far behind I am compared to everyone else to measure my success. It’s hard to silence the voice, but I just try to tell myself that I am new to this, so the skills sill take time. It’s okay if I’m not as good as others who have been dancing for years. Ill get there. I also try to look at the positive things I have done to out way the negative. Looking forward, not back.

  2. For it being my first class I was very intimidated, but also very inspired to someday dance like the some if the students in that class. I would say that I’m not good enough yet but I do plan to work hard and practice so that I will be able to say that I am good enough. I think some of the things I need to work on in order to accomplish my goal is to practice and visualize the dance, instructor, and techniques that are being presented.

  3. I definitely agree on how I am always concerned about my work, but I feel I did way better today, even though at times I have moments where I am confused as to how I am supposed to do the movements. I find it amazing to see how kind my classmates are by assisting me in class with certain movements that I do not know how to do. I am able to measure my success by realizing my mistakes and asking questions on ways to improve my movements. Through my movements I am able to recognize that I am a beginner and have a lot to learn, but I know that with patience and dedication I will improve as a dancer and a student. The moments we have performed so far have made me realize how important alignment is. The most difficult movement for me is when the hands go on the floor and one leg has to go over. I know at times I can get hard on myself when I see that I am not able to correctly do the movement. In my inner silence mind I critique myself harshly, but I try to motivate myself and push myself to do better. I know that I can get intimidated because of how great my classmates are, but I want to prove to myself that I have the potential to improve and become a better dancer within time.

  4. The classes have been definitely a challenge. I constantly find myself in the back of the room marking everything i see. Thats just how i personally am able to remember the combinations. Thus far, i feel like the class has been a reality check with myself. I constantly push myself to work harder to get the best out of class. How i measure my success after every class is simple, if the following morning i wake up soared that translates to an effective class, where i put in my everything. I look forward to taking this class!

  5. I think I am doing better than I ever have been as a dancer. Last quarter has made me more comfortable with improvisation and more willing to explore different types of movements with my body. I feel better, and some of the old injuries are not as noticeable r restricting now. I generally judge my progress using the criteria of strength, flexibility, ease of movement, and range of movement. If I am improving, however incrementally, in any or all of these areas, I am happy. My strategy for dealing with the feelings of inadequacy is to reword the inner dialogue of “I’m not good enough” into “I can do better.” I try to transform that negativity into motivation to do better. I also try to have the mentality that nothing my body is doing, unless it is dangerous, is wrong. It is simply not what I am trying to do at that moment.

  6. As a beginner, venturing in this world of dance is an intimidating quest. But, I’m not going to lie: I am beyond proud of myself for being able to let go of my fears and simply dance. I want to thank the class for being so friendly and helpful; and that way, creating a safe environment to just dance. I know that I am lacking in training, but, for a beginner, I stand proud of where I am (a dancer in the making). I definitely will pay close attention to finding my center and not wobbling all over the place and to remembering choreographed movement. On a more demanding note, however, to measure my success I set a goal. I look at YouTube videos and the people in class that I stare at in awe. And, while I wouldn’t want to say that I compare myself to others, I do like to see what other dancers do right or wrong and employ it accordingly into my training. If I am tired, sweaty, shaky, but happy, I know that I gave it my all: how I feel is all that matters at the end of the day. However, while sounding confident, I will share that I am intimidated by a lot of the other dancers, but I fight the urge to let myself give in to intimidation by allowing myself to see my daily growths. I am passionate; I want to learn; I am a dancer! 🙂

    (Sorry, I got a little passionate towards the end. LOLz)

  7. This question is a really tough one because it can be felt on so many different levels. Often in dance classes I ask this question because I compare myself to others. My biggest challenge in class is to watch and absorb everyone’s movement, but not to compare. I feel fairly confident during class with the movement, but often I will get stuck on particular steps and that ultimately takes away from the rest of the sequence. It helps me to not get very into my head about dancing in class, so I guess that is how I measure my success. Thinking too much makes me tense. That also goes hand in hand with my not judging myself too harshly. Whenever I find that I’m unproductively critical, I focus on my breathing and let my body relax. It helps a lot!

  8. Although, I may not be able to perform my fullest potential at the moment, I imagine my reactions and thoughts that would go through my head. I have always thought of myself as a slow learner, and found it difficult to memorize choreography. At first I thought being successful in dance is equivalent to getting the steps down, perfectly. It should be beyond that, right? I have a tendency to care too much about what others around me are thinking. Forgetting that they too are focused on their own movements. I always fear about the critiques from instructors, petrified with the thought of them thinking not good enough. I need to stop caring about the thoughts of others, and focus on myself. We may not all be perfect because everyone has their own rhythm. I want to see the change from “who I was” to “who I have become” as a dancer.

  9. After reading these replies, it was pretty relieving seeing how difficult it is for everyone to discipline and work with one’s “internal critic”. Every day I catch myself watching how others move and compare their skill, performance, and execution to my own. Initially, my internal critic’s doubt in my own strengths washes over me, making my own movement sluggish and nervous and sloppy, simply because I am allowing the negative influence of this internalized critique take over. Recently, however, after talking to other students and to Gerald, I am slowly learning how to not let this inevitable criticism of myself, from myself, overwhelm me but rather inspire me! It is incredibly difficult and doesn’t really work at first, but I think it is important for everyone to actually take into account the different things their internal critic is saying and use it to make themselves aware of their insecurities, weaknesses, and desires as a dancer! It is scary working with a group of talented others, but turning that intimidation into admiration into inspiration is the best way to go, and i am trying to do this more and more everyday!!

  10. The mind-body connection is something I have always struggled with, because my brain so desperately wants my body to reach those lines of perfection I constantly see in the ballet repertoire. I also feel as though my injury has made me extremely self conscious, because I’ve now lost even more flexibility that I worked so hard to gain in pervious quarters.
    Something that I’m hoping for in this class is to readjust my “tool for movement and success” as the dancers around me, and I believe I’ve already begun to do this in these few short weeks. I see the different levels of dancers around me, and seeing others grow encourages me for growth within myself (instead of often discouraging feelings from being observed by more advanced dancers). For example, we will do an inversion, which is something I am very uncomfortable with, but seeing other attempts encourage me to lose the embarrassment and push myself to try again. Eventually I hope to just feel comfortable in my own movement by understanding what I am fully capable of.

  11. Normally I don’t enjoy reading and hearing about other student’s experiences in class, but this blog has been an exception. I recently vowed to not beat myself up, so I have been particularly aware of my self critic. Am I good enough? I am! In dance, I evaluate myself based on my ability to perform the movements demonstrated. My inability to perform some of the more complex movements that require tons of, say turn out, core strength and balance doesn’t get under my skin. What does is when I cannot remember a sequence of choreography. I have been trying to watch Gerald do the movement then imagine myself performing the movement, and mark it to somatize the movement. This is my biggest challenge in this class, and where my inner critic reveals itself the most. It doesn’t seem to serve me to dwell when I forget a movement sequence, so I try to drop that thought like it’s hot and depend on my persistence to bring that knowing into my muscle memory. When I am able to perform a sequence without peeking at people around me I feel really good. So I try to pay close attention to when the movement is being demonstrated and follow what I said above. When I think about my performance overall, I always remember that I am in many ways a beginner, and in other ways experienced. Comparing myself to my classmates doesn’t make sense because our backgrounds and experience levels are so different. The measure of my success depends upon my ability to observe then embody. But the greatest measure comes when I fail and my persistence pays dividends.

  12. This is the second time I get to enjoy intruction by Gerald Cassel and having a previous knowledge of his style doesn’t hinder nor help my performance in class. I know that his style isn’t what I am used to and struggle naturally to do well because my training in modern dance isn’t vast.

    I am well aware of the challenges that other people face especially when they are taking a dance class for the first time. I was there once and I struggled immensely. I know that there is a lot that I have to learn to be a good dancer and the only piece of advice from me to my peers is to continue on being confident that if they work hard enough, they will see how their mind and body will respond how they want. To dance isn’t to have a beautiful body, but to be able to feel every movment in our bodies and being able to express emotion or an idea through articulated intention.

  13. I find it extremely difficult to just let go of trying to mimic the choreography, and find a place from within to be intentional with my movement. My internal critic will never let me just settle into the choreography. Instead, I am constantly breaking down each piece of movement to present each piece “perfectly.” More often than not, I confuse myself this way. I hyper-focus on such little details that it is hard for me to execute, or even fathom, choreography in its entirety. I often forget that in some ways my body and my experiences can be smarter than me– at least, more equipped to interpret choreography. I make the mistake of trying to know movement instead of experiencing it. This is both frustrating and usually counterproductive.

    Now though, I would measure improvement in myself in my ability to release myself from that inner critic into the movements we learn in this class. I would like to be more adaptable. If I could listen to my intuition as a human being and be able to actually reclaim some agency as a dancer, rather than rigidly regurgitate the given choreography to satisfy my inner critic, I would feel improved.

  14. Being surrounded by experienced dancers (dancers who have been practicing dance for a while), can appear intimidating to the minds of dancers who are not as experienced. Feeling intimidated, can lead to questioning whether one is good enough for a particular dance class. I have felt this feeling before, yet I always keep in mind that everyone within the class is there to learn and grow. Everyone is also really concerned with themselves in regards to their own learning and are not judging others. Everyone once started at beginners level, and everyone continues to learn as well as struggle in the art of learning dance. By observance, practice, and desire to want to learn one is good enough to do anything. It takes desire to learn,as well as willingness to interconnect deeply with the body… and on occasion passion. ( I had written this since January 24, 2014 but didn’t know how to share so I had written it in my own blog instead of commenting on here)…….but after being in the class for a few weeks now, I am now feeling more confident and very welcomed. It is nice to hear everyone open up to make class more class friendly and less intimidate. I realize that we all have one common goal, and that is that we all love or like to dance.

  15. “Am I good enough?” This question is the double-edged sword that I believe all movers face at some point in their dance careers. I see it as being interpreted in one of two different ways: “Am I good enough to be in the same room as these dancers that are far more experienced than I am?” or “Am I good enough to push myself to levels I didn’t imagine I had?” When I started dancing with Gerald last quarter, I thought I was way in over my head. I thought I didn’t belong with this group of talented dancers when the most I had done was taken a few ballroom classes. But from the very start of class, Gerald took all the pressure off, reminding us that it was taking risks and chances that would reap the most rewards, not doing what are conceived as one’s limits because it’s as comfortable as they feel. That really helped me relax and embrace the challenge I had before me. As an actor, I’m my harshest critic, but now whenever I dance, I finally feel like there is no grading scale, no pressure. The only goal I have when I dance isn’t to match the technique as best I can, but to push myself to do more than I did the last time. The technique and form will follow confidence in yourself. Being able to let go and just dance has pushed me to do things I never thought I could do. In dance, the mind is the body’s worst enemy. But when it becomes it’s greatest ally, the possibilities are endless.

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