When you think of tap dance recitals what image comes to mind? Cute little girls in patent leather Mary Janes? Well that ain’t me!
BUT… believe it or not, I’m going to be in a tap dance recital the end of this month! WHAT? HOW? WHY you ask? Well, it’s all about the WHY literally and figuratively. I joined my local Y – MCA last year when my super cool, chi chi gym suddenly went out of business. One day I saw another “refugee” from my old gym at the Y and she told me she was taking tap classes and loved it. I knew from all the brain science studies I’ve read that challenging your brain is super helpful and I love dancing. Zumba is my jam but tap dancing? Those days were gone if they’d ever existed. Instead I tried a Step class. After all, I was a super stepper in the 90’s. But the class I stepped into at the Y had been ongoing for 14 years! They were all familiar with the incredibly complicated choreography. I could catch on to some of it but it got to the point where my brain just refused to learn or care to learn and it convinced me that the class was evil and I should just give up. I didn’t want my brain to turn this failure into lack of confidence in my coordination skills soooo… I decided to give tap a try.
I knew from all the brain science studies that I’ve read that challenging your brain is super helpful
I spent a ridiculous amount of time on Amazon looking for a pair of tap shoes that didn’t look hideous and were reasonably priced (in case this class went the way of step) I settled on a pair of patent leather tie ups and showed up to my first class ready to give it my best. Just like the step class, I picked up the beginning stuff easily. But when the teachers started adding choreography my brain started its little freak out. This time though, the class was full of people at all stages and the joy I felt when I got one routine down made me keep coming back. Even after my super cool, chi chi gym reopened under different management, I rejoined but kept going to the Y for tap class.
Fast forward to last week when one of our teachers announced that he was putting together a performance. I thought he was telling us this because he wanted us to come. But NO… he wanted US to be IN the performance. “Just give me your emails if you’re interested and I will send you the information.” As other students lined up to give them their info, I politely stayed away packing up my stuff. I’m a business professional. I can’t embarrass myself on stage tap dancing! When I looked up, there was the teacher, dangling his list in front of me. “Just in case you change your mind.” So, to be nice, I signed the list. I was not going to change my mind.
The next day, before another tap class, I took a yoga class at my super cool, chi chi gym. I walked out with a fellow yogi. We’d had an interesting discussion about the brain because she was recovering from a traumatic brain injury. I told her about my tap class and how funny it was that the teacher was doing a recital and how I was not going to participate. She asked me why not. She thought it would be great to stretch myself like that. And I immediately realized that she was right. After all, my theme for the year 2020 is “Go for the Bold.” She also reminded me that in the work I do, I am constantly asking my clients and audiences to step out of their comfort zone. Shouldn’t I practice what I preach? Couldn’t argue with that. I also remembered how when I taught English as a Second Language how I made my students perform for the entire department and how that had skyrocketed their confidence. I realized my brain needed me to do this!
And that’s the other WHY behind Why, I will be onstage on February 29th tapping my little heart out. If you happen to be in Harlem that day and want to add an additional level of anxiety to my performance, come! Cause I’m Steppin’ Out and going for the BOLD! How are you Steppin’ Out this year?