Practice doesn’t make perfect

The saying goes that the more you do something the better you will get at it, so imagine my confusion when one of the top dancers in West Coast Swing contradicts the idea. At the weekend I was fortunate enough to be taken to a workshop taught by the one and only Robert Cordoba. He went through elasticity, musicality, steals and ‘double trouble’ as part of the itinerary. Each session was rammed with advice and technique pointers. On more than one occasion my follow told me how intense my concentration face was, which I think is probably the best measure for the day.

At the point Mr Cordoba declared practice doesn’t make perfect I think my concentration face broke into utter confusion. Then he very quickly clarified, perfect practice makes perfect. I mentally logged the pithy remark intending to tattoo it to each of my students’ foreheads at first opportunity.

The comment resonated with me. I attend workshops, lessons and freestyles but then had to admit I don’t spend time actively practising. Is there any wonder I’m not getting better? As hard as it was to hear I realised I have to put more effort in if, of course, I want the results.

I look at dancers like Lisa (leader of CurlyWurly and organiser of this event) and think “I’d love to be as confident as her”. Not only does Lisa teach, compete and organise events, she does so regularly. I already admire her, but then to boot, on Sunday she was the demo for Mr Cordoba!

Now, at this event, a different friend and I, were talking about how life is completely a set of choices and the penny dropped. I could be jealous of Lisa, dancing with this world known professional or I could see her as my inspiration.

I chose the second. At the interval, red lippy on, I approached Mr Cordoba and asked him to dance with me. It was flipping brilliant. I’ve still not been doing West Coast Swing for a year so I always begin by acknowledging my novice status, this guy made me feel like I was a pro. By far the best feeling in the world. He smiled for the entire dance. I know it’s such a small thing but my anxieties just disappeared.

During the last workshop of the day we did ‘steals’ not something I’ve ever done before or seen – potentially where we differ from our American friends – so I made a fool of myself on more than one occasion…. whilst demoing for Mr Cordoba. That’s right, I was one of the demos! Me. Numpty over here. What a feeling. I saw people embarrassed on my behalf when I goofed but I’d been picked to be worked with and I was elated.

As if that wasn’t magical enough, at the end of the day the teachers usually let you film some of the moves, being a gent so did Mr Cordoba. Guess who was in one of the videos…. ME!!!

I’m going to keep putting my hand up, I’m going to keep pushing past my comfort zone, I’m going to keep being me. Even if that includes my crazy hair and powerful laugh.

I can’t thank Lisa and Robert enough for giving me Sunday. So much food for thought and tea for the soul, so much more than a dance workshop.

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