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Dance Like No one is watching!

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If I search the literature on learning (and /or education) I am sure there will be a model on the learning journey!

It will have a number of stages in it and it will look like:

Getting started – early awkward steps – thinking you can do it alone – discovering it is not that easy – acknowledging it is about the work – Practice! Practice! Practice! Until a form of mastery is achieved! The story in this blog is a brief glimpse in my ballroom dancing journey – a “showcase”.

After 5 years I took the plunge. I finally reached the starting point. In some of the literature it is called “conscious incompetence”.

Some weeks ago I completed a stage on a learning journey which when I first started was beyond comprehension.


 My reflection:

About five years ago my wife Sally encouraged me to start ballroom dancing with her. With some trepidation I started and I was a tentative learner. I was certain I did not want it to take over my life!    Initially we learnt together but after a period of time we decided to learn separately! Easier for both of us! I was enjoying the learning and not necessarily the dancing!

Later in the first year we went to a showcase – an end of year graduation where students performed a selected dance.  I saw the quickstep performed and decided then and there – “ if I am going to do a show case – it will be that dance – the quick step!”

Four years later and my instructor challenges me with the opportunity. Until now my progress has been slow – this is not taking over my life!  BUT I am keen. The journey begins – very slowly – step by step – I inch along – not without some “conversation” (some might say whinging!) with my instructor about – how difficult it was – that she was actually making it harder for me!

I’m still enjoying the learning more than the dancing.  I am attending two lessons a week and progress is slow. I find it hard to believe I am going to make it in time. The fear of humiliation is lurking!

With about 10 weeks to go I need to book an additional lesson a week.   It is now taking over my life!  3 lessons a week – how could this be happening?

With about four maybe five weeks to go, I can at least see the possibility of completing the dance routine – at a level – BUT it will be modest!

And now my instructor has lifted the bar. We have to do it with style – hands, eyes – smiling – it’s a performance!  Now I may be a lot of things but I am not a performer!  So we go to work – AND there are lifts! – Way out of my league!

Quite a journey this!

We have the dress rehearsal! It happened so fast I missed it – no idea what happened – did not see anyone – did not hear anything – and it appears I got through it! Then the count down – the last seven days – all the thoughts – why am I doing this? I really enjoy the adrenalin – wish it was over!

The Night – it’s like waiting to go into bat!

Wickets fall! – THEN the walk – the lights – focus on Sue – centre – timing – the music – more lights – shit it’s fast – the table of friends – missed something – the jumps – timing – the steps – the lock, got it – timing – the smile  – the turn – the race – the twinkle – whoops – the turns – we are finished – don’t drop Sue!

WTF – Bow – walk off – it was quick!  Some clapping! – “More than my table” Sue says!

Its over!

Then the quick reflection – could have been better!


The feedback:

Bruce (old friend from cricket) said he could not believe what he was seeing!  “Highlights for me”, he says, “were the set of skip jumps and the sprint for the line – probably not the classical definitions, but you’ll get a picture.”  he adds.  He even thinks he learnt something!

My brother – “very light on your feet – amazing”

Son Paul – “It was thrilling” – said he. “I’ve seen you shuffle, Dad, but I’ve never seen you run before!”

Sally says she was on the edge of her seat (with tears) – she was with me in every step.

I must have done something right – No mistakes were noticed!

Fantastic – amazing – such a small thing –-doing the quick step – in front of a crowd.  Who would have thought it?  It did take over my life!  (With skiing – it is just me dancing with the mountain a few weeks a year!)

Learning is such a challenge and so exciting – preparation – commitment – small steps  – over and over again – it comes together – creating a performance – the performance – so quick I missed it! – The exhilaration! – Nothing like it!

There is a cycle in the process of building teams: forming-storming-norming-performing and mourning! Maybe it’s the same?

The key element – have a teacher (coach) you can trust – who will front up when needed – who is tolerant, compassionate (and can laugh!) and who makes you look good in the performance – must do it again – it was a blast!

Thanks Sue

Ben K – 2 December 2014


This is my last Blog for 2014 and in the light of the above reflection I am in very early days – have not yet done 5 years! BUT I am committed for the long haul – purpose, persistence and passion are there.

But – having the discipline? I look forward to it!

May all your learning goals be BIG ones!!

Ben Kehoe 29th December 2014

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