Two weeks ago I was judging a solo Showcase in the San Jose studios, franchised by my brother and sister in-law, Juan and Cari Jo Garcia. Coincidentally, during the performances a scenario happened that mirrored the blog I shared on the very same day. Let me share the story of what happened and the amazing results that unveiled over the course of that weekend.
The Solo Showcase was full of performances from different levels and many couples, performing to the best of their ability. The crowd was cheering and laughing as my hand scribbled away to give them feedback on their routines. [Note: as judges, we are told to observe and give feedback, typically on 2 things; areas of strength, and areas that need improvement. Quite often, the improvement part is a suggested technique that you are ready to learn.] When the night concluded, all of us were discussing how well the night turned out. The students stretched themselves out of their comfort zone and danced beautifully.
One of instructors shared she was concerned about a particular student because he was not at all satisfied with his Swing routine. Unfortunately, he left before the event concluded, and as a result his instructor was worried he would not come the following day to hear his critique.
The next day I began to visit each student, for 15 minutes, in person to review my written feedback with him or her. I was working with one of the ladies, when I noticed the gentleman student deep in conversation with his teacher. He was up next. We sat down and I started to share with him what I saw in his Country 2-Step and Swing. As I started the Swing portion, he abruptly interrupted me, and proceeded to tell me how horrible it was.
Wait! This is the student that we were talking about the night before. He shared with me that Swing has always been a challenge, and back in 2009 at Unique DOR he competed in a competition that consisted of 2 dances, Waltz and Swing. He was told from a judge his Waltz was amazing but his Swing…eh.
Now imagine, he has been holding onto this for 6 years! Consequently, he has a mental block on his Swing, yet he would like to compete in The Scholarship category, which includes Swing. After he opened up, I advised him the best I could, passionately wanting to help him past this stumbling block.
After a pretty intense 15 minutes, I told him exactly what I thought and did not pull any punches. He said he wanted that “magic technique” that was going to fix his Swing. I told him I knew that I could help him with his Swing, but that’s not the cure for what he is feeling. The real solution was for him to let go of the past, unlocking the mental block, and being open to new information. If he didn’t do his part, my suggestions (or any judges for that matter) wouldn’t get through to him. I could already tell his guard was down a little, and fortunately I had another opportunity to work with him for a full coaching lesson on Monday.
Saturday was over and I shared what the student told me with Juan and Cari. My hope was that I got through to him and I found myself questioning the advice I had given to him. I then tagged Juan on the post knowing that this gentleman isn’t the only person to ever feel this way AND hoping it would get to him.
Hallelujah! It did, he read it and he came into the studio on Monday a changed man. It wasn’t to the credit of my own. It took a team effort from his teacher, Juan and Cari, and most importantly himself. He was ready to take the feedback and use it to improve and overcome a two-minute conversation from back in 2009.
He was the final lesson of that Monday evening and he shared with me that when he left that Friday night, he was going to disappear into the sunset and give up on his challenges. It was only out of consideration for his instructor and the studio that he showed up for his critique that next day.
No matter what you are learning, know that there will always be ups and downs, the way you handle those challenges is where you truly grow. Remember; be open to feedback, open to making mistakes, open to not delivering.
Live, Love, Dance, and Enjoy!
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