My missed step(s) occurred within the first minute of stepping on stage and during the last minute of stepping off of it.
It was March 21, 2009 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Edmonton’s largest street dance competition, Artists Emerge, was well underway with the final qualifying category for that night’s finals: Professional Dance Crews with a $2,000 first place prize up for grabs.
Our first section was a waacking routine. At the end of it was a shoulder cartwheel that I had practiced and flawlessly executed dozens of times, including the very first time the trick was introduced as a potential element to our routine...except once: the first time we performed our routine for an outsider in studio and now twice: on stage.
At the end of our routine was a “rise up” illusion move that I executed with noticeable hesitation because I second-guessed myself. Even worse: I had never attempted the move wearing gloves, a costume piece we added the day of competition.
After the routine ended, I ran off stage crying, swearing I would NEVER dance again!...JUST KIDDING!
I finished the four and a half minute routine with the ugly cartwheel and pathetic rise-up illusion behind me. Performing the routine on autopilot rather than focusing on the present was my misstep.
When we stepped off stage, I was DEFINITELY worried that my flop would affect our qualifying into the finals. From memory, I believe at least one judge might have noted my flop on our adjudication sheet but we still qualified. WOOP!
What did I do about it?
In between the qualifying round and finals, I practiced my shoulder cartwheel about 673 times. My girls STILL, 10 years later, joke about how I came around a corner sweating and breathing heavily while they relaxed, touching up their makeup. There was NO WAY I was going to mess up something my BODY was capable of executing so easily but that my MIND got in the way of. I still entered the cartwheel hesitant which I can see in the video of our routine in finals and flopped the rise up but…WE STILL WON!
Even if we came in second, third, fourth or even LAST place, I would have kept dancing and would have realistically probably worked even harder on my dancing and on my mindset in studio so that I am able to execute on stage. (We came in 1st in Canda and 3rd in the world the following year which would have been pretty high on my list of life regrets had I quit!)
I now use missed steps like these to better coach in studio about how only PERFECT practice makes perfect and missed steps are opportunities for growth that will always be in our rearview. It is our choice whether to keep negative experiences in our focus.
As teachers, we want our students to be successful and give them the tools to be just that. The final version of our routine would have never included elements that the rest of my crew believed any of us were incapable of executing. In the same way, I only give my students steps that I truly believe they will grow from at least trying and eventually successfully performing.
I hope that my students will live their lives on and off the stage with an inner voice that says “I got this!,” a “don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” mentality, and a commitment to pursuing whatever it is that is important to them, regardless of any missed steps along the way.