Go Into Your Dance
Yes, you read that title correctly. I, Angie Fischer, 46-year-old female with zero dance training, am taking tap dancing lessons. Call it cabin fever, stir craziness or a mid-life crisis, but I impulsively said “yes” to my sister when she asked if I wanted to sign up for lessons. It’s something we’d talked about for ages, after obsessing over the character of Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, our favorite tap-centric musical. Over a decade ago I even bought both of us tap shoes for her birthday, vowing we’d take lessons. But, you know, I had kids (twins!), she had kids (two! at different times!), we both have busy jobs, those twins grew up to be teenagers with a zillion activities, and, you guessed it, the lessons never happened.
Fast forward to February 2023 and me nervously pulling the tissue paper stuffing out of the shoes, buckling them on my feet for the first time ever. “What specific steps were we hoping to learn,” Tina, our ever-so-patient teacher, inquired. Um, all of them? Was I supposed to know the names of steps? Tina also mentioned that we should take it at our own pace over the course of our 16 weeks together. SIXTEEN WEEKS? In my head I had signed up for more like four classes, which seemed like a nice “tap sampler.” Oh, and Tina said we should start thinking now about participating in the recital coming up in June! RECITAL? Alarm bells started going off in my head. Sure, lessons are fine, but no way in H-E-double hockey sticks am I going to be up on stage in any RECITAL.
Here’s how it’s gone so far:
I’m nervous, but this was fun and it flew by! I need to wear different/better socks with these shoes. When did I get bunions?
I’ve totally got the warm up down. Nice and slow, maybe go for double time every now and then. Do I need a tap dancing outfit?
Whoops, wore the wrong socks again. How can I focus on my Bombershay step when I’m clearly getting a blister?
Tina said it would start to click by week 4, and gosh darn it she was RIGHT! I’ve totally got this.
What happened tonight? I’m getting worse. Two left feet over here. Never am I ever going to get that $%#@* Time Step down and now I have shin splints.
There are still 11 more sessions but I’ll share my top 3 learnings so far, which all just happen to begin with the letter “P” because you know we marketers like our alliterative lists.
Participate. As a mom of active teenagers I’ve gotten used to being the “viewer” and not the “player.” It’s been a surprise and delight to use my brain and my body in new ways. It’s important to watch my kids play lacrosse and baseball, but it’s important for me to do things too. And while my kids act uber embarrassed when I say I’m going to my tap lesson each Wednesday, deep down I think they’re also a little bit proud.
Practice (and practice, and practice some more). Why am I going into my week 6 class knowing how to do the infamous Time Step, the step Tina informed us is the one that weeds out the true dancers from the imposters? Because it finally dawned on me that an hour a week isn’t going to cut it for this newbie. I found a painfully dated YouTube video instructor (“Still Kicking with Karie-Lee” if you’re interested) who broke it down so I could practice on my own, and I’m going to my next class confidently knowing I’ve got it down: shuffle-hop-step-fa-lap-step. I want it all to come so easily, but putting in that extra effort has made all the difference.
Push. Get uncomfortable. How can you ever grow if you don’t? I’ve learned this lesson before, but it’s easier said than done at this stage of my life. Standing most awkwardly in front of that giant mirror, surrounded by other significantly more experienced dancers is scary and humbling, but also a great reminder about how important it is to have that nervous energy that drives you to learn, no matter how much you think you’ve done and seen it all.
I know the burning question on all your minds now is: are you going to be in the June recital? I’ll just answer “outlook good” for now. I’m no Peggy Sawyer on her way to replace Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street, but as Peggy would say, I’m having a “grand, Grand, GRAND” time, thank you very much. Get out there, friends, and go into your dance!