When not being front and center gets you centered

So a few things happened in the last couple of months.

I finished one of the most physically and emotionally challenging professional dance performances I’ve ever done.

I shot a music video with a gospel artist as a backup dancer – but in the final cut, you can’t see me at all.

I agreed to do a gig at an upcoming expo as a backup dancer for an up and coming singer, only for the gig to be canceled due to the artist’s scheduling conflicts.


All the while, to make sure I had the mental and physical energy for the show I just wrapped, I passed over a few other gigs that would have been amazing.

What do all of these things have in common? They all relate to me learning to step back and sit things out. And they all taught me a very important lesson.

A couple of weeks before my show went up, I had a pretty uncomfortable realization. In the last year or so, I’d become really selfish about my dancing. As I started getting cast more and booking more jobs, I started focusing on being seen, on being in the front, on taking any and every gig that might get me a little extra money or exposure. But in trying to be front and center, I lost sight of why I dance.

I like to say that I dance because it’s a creative outlet, it brings me joy and it’s my way of giving glory to God. But if I’d said that to you in the fall of last year, those words would have been little more than hollow lip service.

When I found myself suddenly not in the spots I’d grown accustomed to occupying, not cast or in the back, I had to dig deep to determine what was driving me. I was forced to find a new endgame other than keeping my position or leading the group. Had I not been able to find that drive, I might have decided to take a break from dancing – or I might have gone into the next phase of my career with a chip on my shoulder.

Instead, I learned that I have way more to give as a dancer than smiles, turns or legs. I channeled all the soul I had to offer and found myself feeling every step I took.

I found out that dancing really is a way for me to give glory to God. I’m Christian (more spiritual than religious) and dancing helps me give thanks, not just for the artistic gift He blessed me with, but also to express joy at the life I have, no matter what’s going on.

I started to connect and enjoy my time with the creatives and professionals I have the pleasure of knowing through dance. Even though the gig I started rehearsing for looks like it won’t happen, I truly enjoyed creating and practicing movement for a few hours during the evening with no pressure.

And, over time, I did find myself getting cast, moving to the front and getting my old spots back. More importantly, though, I rediscovered the joy in my dancing. As I mentioned in the very first episode of my podcast, I’d reached a point where I was getting so nervous about performing, it started to make performing a drag. I think this was an extension of my desire to be flawless so I’d get cast more. But, you know what they say, perfect is boring and getting steps right can only get me so far.

Rather than being flawless, I’m going to work toward my new challenge to be more honest, to be freer and to have more fun. I want to see how far I can go just for me and for no one else. And I’m going to have faith, that whatever comes from this phase in my dance journey is exactly what I need.

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