“If you’re working on your art all the time, you don’t got time for no ego.” -Nas, Rapture
Time spent in art does correlate with mastery: 10,000 hours of it. I remember some misguided attempts from a slightly older dancer who advised me, “You know, just because you spend time dancing doesn’t mean you get better. Sometimes you stall.” Since then, I’ve been terrified of plateaus. Perhaps this explains why I attempt too much, never leaving room for a 4th 8th “wow” moment because each of my 8ths dwindles into let-me-put-in-as-much-footwork-as-possible or “Hey, I’m going to play with slowing down time even if it doesn’t fit.” Sigh.
The best advice I recently received was from an incredibly kind balboa partner during the Hot Rhythm advanced tryouts. He said, “You know this. You’re just doing too much. Slow down.” Something magical happened. Everything that I struggled with for so long, just for that one bridge of music, seemed to fade away. I don’t say this to lift up this one lead (although what a remarkable example of positive reinforcement), but instead to emphasize the idea that ego sometimes drives me, and possibly you, to…well, interesting dance places.
I remember hearing at that same weekend event a follow who boasted about having danced only a few months and having made advanced track. I felt jealous — pure and simple. I’m not proud to admit that, but I’m always a bit envious of pure talent. I wondered: Why am I stuck? This was, for me, the incorrect question. Watching stories of people who have made their craft their life, the work never stops. If you want to be not just good or better, you have to be willing to sacrifice to be the best. Granted, yeah, some people are protegés – really and truly. But..who among us can say that we haven’t benefited from a rigorous practice session?
I’ve spent the majority of my lindy hop career on this blog documenting a subculture I sometimes adored, sometimes disdained, and sometimes just needed a break from. It’s been a long, fateful road. Dance is my third language, and because of jazz melodies, it’s opened doors to new cultures. Now, in my mind, is the time to work on craft.
Point in question…what will happen to this blog? This record of mistakes made and said, mostly by a younger, ignorant, blunter me…will stay, if only to testify to one person’s experiences in dance. It does not pretend to be anything else. Nor will I. I’m going to take these hours I spend moping and stroking ego to bring some finesse, some sort of structure to this passion. It’s not enough for me to be good, to be on the fringe of advanced (scraping by as the last person accepted in the track). No. I won’t accept defeat this round. I just need to work. I need to make time. I need to change.
Perhaps…after this self-imposed sabbatical, I’ll see you on the other side. I’ll leave you with that age-old adage.
Dance like you. No need for happy feet.