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It's obvious, isn't it? Fitness, sportsmanship, persistence.... Yeah, yeah, I know all that, but what else is there? Well, I thought about it, and here are some life lessons I think my daughter is learning from Irish dance.
For first time readers, TGC is The Girl Child, my dancing daughter.
This one is kind of obvious, I know, but very few dancers have that natural gift, the other 99.25% have to work at it. The amount of work you put into your dance with practice, exercise, stamina training, planks, makeup and wig practice (for the girls), etc, helps determine how well you do. More effort generally yields better results. I don't know how many times TGC has danced well at a feis and said after the fact, 'well, I did work extra hard on 'whatever' this week.'
I know dance is 'just a sport' and judging in dance is obvious. From First Feis through whatever level your dancer obtains, they will be dancing for a judge, be it an adjudicator at a feis, the TCRG at the studio, or their parents at home. But your dancers will continue to be judged throughout life. School, job, promotions, other sports, even by family and friends. It won't always be obvious, but it will always be there. If they learn to handle it well in all that dance results can bring, the rest of life will be 'easier.' (please note, I said easier, not easy).
I know no dancer who has not experienced this. They put in the work, they did more planks, more situps, and practiced more than ever before. When they walked off the stage, the TCRG said they had never danced better, and the results come out... nothing. Why? If you have not been around the dance community that long this post on judging might help, but great effort not getting great results doesn't happen just in dance, it will happen elsewhere in life. And that being said...
Another obvious one, but if that is not bad enough, you will be judged on how you deal with that disappointment. And the disappointment may not be because you didn't place, it could be because you didn't place as high as you think you deserved. I saw a dancer get podium, just not the top, and she stood there with an undeniable RBF. When she left the awards area, she literally threw the award she had just received. There is no doubt her actions got her judged, I know, because I judged her. I used it as a life lesson for TGC.
I am just a plethora of good news with this post, aren't I? But we all know it is true, that is why the dancers do all this, to improve, to reach the top of one level to move to the next, where they will most likely be back at the bottom. It is just like life, you try to keep getting better. Very few of us want to stop growing, stop learning, stop challenging ourselves, not just in dance, but in just about everything we do.
This part was really what prompted this post. TGC recently moved from Preliminary Champion into Open Champion level, and she left PC in style with back to back firsts in back to back feiseanna. She had a number of seconds, before that weekend, but only one first, and the last one she needed had eluded her. To not only get the one she needed, then another the following day, was the sign she was ready to move up.
She had her first OC feis the following week, and she knew she would probably not place, so her goal was 'not last.' She didn't make that goal, she got last. Being the 'best' at one thing (or level) does not mean you will automatically be the best for the next part of your journey, but it does not mean you should stop your journey.
This past weekend, TGC had her second OC feis. She kept the same goal as she had at her first OC feis, 'not last', since she had not accomplished that at the previous feis. She danced well, didn't place in the top half, but none of us expected her to, and I watched from afar as she went to get her results from the presenter. It took a minute, but I saw her do that 'oh yeah, fist pump' move, and she came over to us with a huge smile saying, 'I didn't get last, I got second to last, but that is better.'
That is when it really hit me. Three weeks ago, second to last would have devastated her, not outwardly, she has gotten really good at that, but inwardly. She was still a PC then, but now, she has realized she is not a PC anymore, and she just can't keep doing the same things. She is going to have to take the same small steps to get to where she wants to be, that got her to where she is. Watching her this weekend, the PC glory days are no more, and she is OK with that, because she is thrilled to be where she is, and is making progress in this new part of her life. Life continually hands you new challenges, you won't automatically be good at it, so you just do the best you can until you master it.
Read all of the above, actually just read the headlines. Think about your life. See?
I do not need to share this with TGC, she inspired this. Besides, she follows me on FB and will see when I post it, and she may or may not read it. But what about you? My suggestion, keep this in a back pocket if you ever need it, it may be more interesting to see how your dancers develop without any pointers. It has been for me.