Making Mistakes and Still Being Fierce

Me and the divasCredit: Julia Sorin:

Me and the divas
Credit: Julia Sorin

Last week was Valentine’s day and we had a Valentine’s swing ball at Holy Lindy Land. Having always disliked how single people are excluded on this day whether I’m part of a couple or not, I wanted us to have something especially for our unattached attendees.

The first thing that popped into my mind was Beyoncé. Single Ladies is still awesome 5 years after it came out and it’s the ultimate “I’m single and I’m proud” anthem. Then I remembered the Saturday Night Live skit she did with Justin Timberlake in a black leotard. This inspired me to beg HLL’s most eligible bachelors to perform the routine, but only 2 of them were free to take on the project. They had to twist my arm a bit, but I agreed to be a part of it as well. And by “a bit” I mean not at all.

We only had a week to prepare for the show, and you wouldn’t believe how much work goes into breaking down and learning a 2:30 minute choreography. Barak, Ilya and I met whenever the three of us had time and worked our booties off, much to the amusement of my roommates and  innocent visitors of Dizengoff center.

In order to give the guys a grand entrance, we added a short intro where I started with Sharon Davis’s routine “Got Nobody to Love”. I added a bit of my own choreography too, inspired by miss Davis. This dramatic and melancholy piece served as a contrast to what followed.

The goal of this performance was to make the singles at the party feel that they have a place on Valentine’s day and to get people laughing. A good portion of practice was dedicated to channeling our inner divas through an “I’m hot and I know it” mantra. I knew the performance would turn out well because whenever I watched the guys go through it on their own, uncontrollable giggle fits prevented me from keeping count for them.

The boys and I had our last practice on the day of the party and we felt pretty confident that we finally had the routine down, sassy attitude included. When time came to take the stage, I was a bit nervous. It’s not everyday that I dance in front of dozens of people in minimal clothing. Aside from my day job as a stripper, that is. (That’s a joke, mom & dad). But I digress.

If you look at the two emotions of fear and excitement, you’ll see that they are quite similar as far as the body is concerned (heart racing, butterflies in your stomach, etc.), but the difference is how we perceive the experience. When something scares me, I’ve learned to tell myself that it’s excitement that I’m feeling, not nerves. This makes performing much easier and even enjoyable. I used to only like the feeling of finishing a performance – when the tension has gone down and I felt like I conquered a fear or accomplished the goal of learning a routine well, for example.
This time around I enjoyed those few minutes on stage and didn’t even feel like throwing up beforehand.

In addition to overcoming nervousness, another lesson I’ve learned is letting go of perfectionism. Choreography-wise, our number was far from perfect. We weren’t always in sync with each other, we sometimes forgot moves or didn’t do them as well as we were capable of doing them. At 1:32 I totally messed up the most famous Single Ladies move in terms of timing. Normally, what would go through my mind at that moment would be “&%#^! I messed up. That’s it, the whole thing is ruined now.” It would have probably affected the way I did the rest of the routine and the way I felt about the performance afterwards. Instead, what went through my mind this time was “&%#^! I messed up. Whatever. Better nail what’s left of it as best I can.” Afterwards, I was able to accept people’s compliments without a self-derogatory remark about making mistakes. Our goals of representing singles and offering a comedic break were achieved, so I allowed myself to take pride in our number.

Rebecca Brightly recently wrote a blog post about perfectionism as a follower in swing dancing, which I can definitely relate to. I’m doing my best to adopt the mindset of being ok with “mistakes” while social dancing as well.

I’m adding another video here, just because it’s awesome and you should watch it.

Do you also battle with perfectionism? Or do you feel you could use more of it? Let me know how you cope with either in the comments!


3 thoughts on “Making Mistakes and Still Being Fierce

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