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Thinking About Teaching, Dancing, and Being Good Enough

Back in January of 2015, I discovered that I love teaching neuroscience-y stuff (which probably shouldn’t have surprised me, since I am both a gigantic know-it-all and the kind of person who delights in watching other people make discoveries).

Unsurprisingly, this year, I’ve discovered that my fondness for teaching transfers really well to teaching dancers.

Full disclosure: where teaching dance is concerned, I literally have the worst case of impostor syndrome I’ve ever had. I’m totally like, “How are they allowing me to do this?! I could completely ruin this whole class with my generalized incompetence AT ANY SECOND!”

It’s significantly worse than the voice in my head that shouted, NO YOU CAN’T, DON’T AGREE, SHUT UP, SHUT UP, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! every time I was offered some exposed or otherwise significant piece of choreography in rep class in Cinci. (Which, btw: I screwed up some stage business — returned to my starting place at one point when I should’ve gone to a different place — but I reminded myself that the audience has no idea it’s not supposed to look like this and it shook out just fine. So there you go.)

What I’m learning, though, is that I have good ideas, sometimes, and that Aerial A and I teach synergistically. My ideas and hers work really well together.

I’ve also learned that, while it can still be hard for me to articulate things verbally, I’m really solid with the physical corrections — those moments in which you actually grab someone’s leg and sort of show it what to do, or (as Claire once so usefully did to me) tap something and say, “Lift this.”

I will totally feel like I seriously have no business being up here, but I’m also learning that a lot of people feel that way a lot of the time. I’m learning to overcome that feeling: maybe not to make it go away, but to more or less thumb my nose at it. I remind myself that Aerial A is particular about her teaching staff and that our dancers are coming along so unbelievably well.

In short, it looks like I am, in fact, good enough — though maybe not in the way my brain means when it thinks, “But I’m nowhere near good enough!”

I’m not perfect. I’m new. I’m inexperienced. I’m learning.

But I’m serviceable. I get the job done. I’m, you know, good enough. Maybe not The. BEST. Teacher! — but still a teacher with some value.

Nobody ever knows everything (not even insufferable know-it-alls) and everybody has to start somewhere.

I’m trying to keep this thought before me as a dancer, as well: in a field where basically every working second is more or less a potential audition, there’s really nowhere to hide. People judge my ability based on what they see, not based on the things I say about myself or the things I think about myself. When people ask me to dance for them, then, the part of my brain that thinks, “She had no idea how awful I really am at this,” is wrong. People who have seen me dance can probably judge my strengths and weaknesses better than I can.

It’s up to them to decide whether, for their purposes, I’m good enough.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if that means “good enough” as in “This guy is clearly to compete in the highest echelons” (hint: I’m not!) or, “Eh, he’ll do all right.”

Good enough is good enough if it gets you in the door.

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