After watching the Showcase Division (think West Coast Swing + lifts and aerials) tonight, I found myself practically moved to tears after almost every single performance. I think it finally hit me hard: that to be out on the US Open Swing Dance Championship floor is an incredible honor. And to perform with the likes of the great legends of the dance leaves me incredibly humbled, inspired and let's be honest, PUMPED (and pee-my-pants-nervous) to get out there and be able to join them tomorrow! (side note: thank you, Showcase dancers for taking the first night like champs--that was truly inspiring.)
So tonight, as I sit here attempting to bring my thoughts and feelings into order, I realize that it feels to me just like Christmas Eve... except with a great deal more pressure to deliver a "gift" tomorrow. Though, I imagine this might be 1/7-billionth of what Santa must feel like each year on the 24th. :)
That said, the energy in the ballroom tonight, and then later on in the side ballroom afterwards--with couples scattered around a working floor, each in their own zone...the focus, the passion, the tweaking towards perfection...it was a sight and a feeling to behold. I felt awed and inspired just to share that space with my fellow dancers. And, not gonna lie, pretty darn proud of both myself and proud of all of us for traveling our various roads to be there together.
One thing that I love about this whole thing is that for most of us, there's no coach like there was in high school or college sports, telling us when practice is; no mom or dad asking if we've finished our "dance practice homework" for that day. This is a self-driven, self-motivated pursuit, and I don't mean that in an egotistic way. But instead, it's because each of us has been so strongly compelled from within to take the seed of an idea and bring it to life through this dance, that has brought us here together this weekend.
I was talking briefly with my friend Warren as we were both admiring the palpable energy of work ethic in that side ballroom tonight--watching each couple in sweats and t-shirts, rehearsing sans rhinestones--and we talked about the metaphor that these routines represent.
Like we saw tonight in the Showcase Division, errors and missteps happen. They do. Even at the highest level. But instead of seeing those and worrying about them or about how we'll perform tomorrow, you know what I lessons I took away from seeing those tonight?
I learned that the routines on the floor out there are not so unlike the dance of life: we can practice and prepare all we want, but sometimes, it just doesn't unfold the way we think it will or the way we think it "should." And as much as that could make me want to dive into bed and sleep through the day tomorrow instead of perform, I also know that deep down I'd rather be out on the floor, messing up and dancing, than in the stands wishing I were out there. But even with all the little imperfections or moments of being off-balance, I clearly saw the beauty of expression. Boiled down, no matter how the dance comes out, it's still art. And no matter how the dance of our lives turns out, it's still a work of art. And therein lies that elusive idea of perfection--it's found within the dance, including (and perhaps sometimes because of) the errors and the "missteps."
How amazing it is, then, to be able to witness each couple on the floor, each in their own way, allowing themselves to put their dance, their art, out on the floor, and yet still be vulnerable to whatever the moment throws at them... working it out in the arena, in front of all those people. And if/when an error happens--the grace and poise they possess to refocus and carry on.
Tomorrow is the day that Andy and I (and all our fellow Classic Division
competitors dancers) have been preparing, rehearsing, sweating, dreaming, worrying, praying, stressing, and giddy-nervous-laughing about all year.
And at this point, all I want to do tomorrow is to be able to walk off that floor with my head held high, knowing that I left it ALL out on the field. Mess-ups or not...I know that the dance we dance tomorrow will be perfect, even in its potential imperfections. Though, please don't mistake me for copping out here, and saying that we should expect to have errors.
Rather, my thought for all of us tonight is that we can know and trust that each moment is a new moment, unattached to what we've done before or what's to come next; that the work we've put in all year long to our routines will shine forth; that our visions will come to life out there; and that our passion (cue visual of Robert Royston's face from his routine tonight) on the floor will inspire, move, and ignite others with the same flame of love that we have for the dance. That is true art, and that is what I aim to express tomorrow on that US Open floor.
And if ever in doubt... add more rhinestones!!