Since leaving California, it’s been hard finding ways to cope with the change and the distance, and also with the absence of the Berkeley dance community from my life. One October night, I freestyled in my room on a total whim - then a week later, with the encouragement of a friend, decided to make it a challenge to freestyle every day for 150 days. In January I restructured the challenge so that I would stop doing just freestyle and actually learn hip-hop from square zero - that is, the basics of the style (e.g. groove, muscle control/tension, footwork).
With this restructuring of the challenge, I reset the Day Count. If I hadn’t gone on hiatus for the solo that I was preparing to perform (last night!!!), I would have gone past Day 50 over a week ago. Of course 50 days is not long, 100 days (if counting from October) is not long - so if we’re talking how advanced I’ve become in these few months , don’t expect me to be anywhere near advanced, near even intermediate. If we’re talking improvement, I do see that I have improved a little but it’s nothing jaw-dropping. If we’re talking entertainment potential, you can check out my freestyling videos and you’ll see there’s nothing terribly amazing in them.
With all of that in mind - the reason why I’m sharing this now with people is because I have finally reached the stage (no pun intended) when I dance for myself. Not to be applauded (although that’s nice), not to reach a level good enough to get into a good team, not to be ‘blocked’ prominently into a team’s dance set, not even to be recognised as a ‘good dancer’. Or, those may still be factors, but they are now factors dwarfed infinitely by my dancing for myself. Now, I do it to push my determination, my faith in myself, my creativity, my work ethic, dare I say my artistry, my abilities, my self-knowledge, the boundaries of my comfort zone. And a tiny puncture (the first of many to come) was made in those boundaries last night when I got on stage and performed that solo - something I would never have thought, two years, one year, even six months ago, that I would be capable of gathering up enough courage to do.
Dancing for myself has been a problem for a long time, and in the early days of the dance challenge I struggled to reconcile myself with what seemed to be my need to be recognised and applauded by people. So realising, after my solo yesterday, that I loved dancing first and foremost, and sharing my joy with people only secondarily - that was a breakthrough for me. Of course I realise that this is not eternal - it’s something I need to sustain in my heart, soul and mind, and actively so. But wooo0oo0oo0ooo baby steps!
Last but not least, after doing the solo last night, for the first time since forever, I finally had the courage to think of myself as a ‘dancer’, to accept myself as a dancer (almost wrote ‘danger’) regardless of how much of a beginner I may still be.
If you’re at all interested in my progress and journey, here is mine and my friend’s blog for the dance challenge: 150 DAYS OF DANCE (there are videos!)
(the shiny lady in the back is so distracting HAHA)