Can’t Can’t Can’t
Do you find yourself saying or thinking this word? When you consider it, it seems really silly that out of everything we practice in class (most of which we’re quite good at), we choose to focus only on what we have trouble with. Teachers, too, often forget that their students need to hear the accomplishments as well as the corrections. If we’re not careful, those little voices inside begin telling us all about what we “can’t” do. We begin to fear anything new or untried, and fear not being good enough or even failing at the things we do try.
I know how it feels to think you’re the only one in class who can’t get it right. The key is to not let it take you off the path – quitting or giving up on yourself because you’re not perfect. Stay grounded in the fact that everyone has something they’re reaching for, everyone has something they’re good at, and everyone has something to give. Remembering your strengths and abilities will sustain you through the “I can’t!” moments and allow you to continue striving for those goals that are just out of reach.
Even if you only struggle with the “I can’t” syndrome occasionally, it is important to keep in mind that you can do it. It may not be perfect this time or next but getting better is just a matter of time, hard work, and some guidance from a knowledgeable teacher. Of course, thinking this way is easier said than done when you find yourself struggling through a class. During these times, remember you must leave the comfort of what you already know in order to grow. If your teacher gave you only the things you already do well, you’d never improve. While practicing the things that feel comfortable is important in a dance class, you have to face challenges in order to advance in technique and performance. Your job as a student is to accept those challenges and trust that you’ll benefit from them. It’s not always easy, or fun, or comfortable. The hardest part is being willing to fail before you can succeed. When doubt starts to creep in consider this: Each failure brings you one step closer to success.
Combating the Can’ts
Most dancers are very hard on themselves. They’re the first to self-criticize and very rarely let themselves off the hook. Because dancers are ultimately responsible for their own learning and growth, a reasonable amount of self-analysis and scrutiny can be a very good thing. In fact, most good dancers need a degree of perfectionism in order to succeed. However, this same quality can be destructive when dancers let the criticisms take over and discourage them from believing that difficulties can be overcome.
One of the best (and sometimes worst) things about dance is that there is always something to strive for. We will never be great at everything and we’ll almost never do something perfectly the first time (or the second, or third…), or even every time. If we did there would be no reason to spend hours practicing each week. Remembering this in moments of insecurity may allow you to accept challenges and face them rather than giving up with an “I Can’t.”
The study of dance is a long, sometimes frustrating, often rewarding, path. If you keep a positive attitude, I can promise that you’ll find yourself that much closer to feeling comfortable with things that were once very difficult. Of course, you’ll also be battling new challenges! It never ends, but it’s never boring either!
Check out this post by Shawn Byfield. In his class “can’t” is a dirty word and uttering it has consequences!
This post was initially a sort of test page on the site. The content is more appropriate for a post. Therefore, I am relocating it. The original comments are below. Please feel free to add your own.
From gyl: This post is seriously inspiring. I find myself almost thinking of just giving up when I can’t catch up or when I do find a hard time with a certain choreography. I totally like this post. Thank You.
When do you find yourself saying/thinking these dreadful words?
How do you combat the I Can’ts?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.