Using life’s lessons to dance.

Last night was the “Love Hangover” dance showcase put on by Dance Austin Studio. Year after year, show after show, I’ve made it my duty to put my thoughts and feelings from the day and the performance right here on this blog — not out of obligation, but because putting yourself on stage takes a lot!

I’ll admit that after “The Aftermath” showcase in November, a lot was happening in my life, mostly at my job. So between the showcase and the time the dance studio announced dates and classes for the next showcase, I went to New York City for the first time, and had just quit my job.

I wasn’t sure if I should spend the money to do the showcase, or if I was even emotionally ready, given that I’d just flipped my life upside down. But, after thinking on it for a few days, I knew I’d regret not doing it.

So, I signed up for the Beginning Hip-Hop performance series. On our first night of class, it was a lot of people I didn’t recognize from classes. It was mostly people who were taking dance class and/or performing for the first time. I was really excited because I love it when people take action and decide to go for their dreams, even if it’s scary.

We started learning our routine, and it was right on par with my dance level. Since July, I’ve been spending more time at a yoga studio than I have at the dance studio. Not because I like one over the other, but because I have been in search of something to aid in my mental health.

For a majority of 2018, my depression was hitting some scary lows, and I was considering therapy, but I also felt like I might need medication. I was scared of all of it, searching for anything to help me. So, I decided to get back into yoga as I had been practicing meditation at home using an app and it was very helpful.

After a month of doing yoga (even crying in many of my sessions), I knew this was too helpful to quit – so I’m there several times a week.

Back at the dance studio, I was starting to feel alone in my performance group. I was the only one who’d performed before and I felt like there was a barrier between myself and the rest of the group, although that was likely something I made up in my head.

I practiced so much at home for this performance because I just wanted to get on stage and have FUN.

In performances passed, even going all the way back to high school, I would get extreme anxiety right before a performance, just plaster a smile on my face, and almost going into a blank mental space, relying completely on muscle memory to get through.

But last night, I felt like everything I’ve learned in yoga and meditation actually helped make my performance the best it’s ever been: I was present. I was aware of the audience and my classmates. I was calm. Before difficult parts in the dance came up, I just took a breath and went for it.

These same lessons have applied to my short experience as a solopreneur as well – I don’t make snap decisions when I get frustrated or worried, I breathe through it, and keep it moving.

One of the things that continues to amaze me about these showcases, is that everyone is so different, but we can all come together on a Sunday and put on an amazing performance, and then get right back into our lives come Monday morning.

It’s a perfect reminder that you don’t have to just be one thing. You can be successful in your career, and have hobbies, and you can also perform in front of 200 people all in a given week.

I’ve learned so much from the instructors and choreographers from the studio, and my fellow performers. I’ve seen everyone improve over the years, and I am motivated by how awesome everyone does on stage.

After this performance, I feel excited to get back into a better routine of going to the dance studio, in hopes of improving my dance technique, and relieving any stress from the day.

I feel really lucky to have even found this type of opportunity, happy that it even exists, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

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