Saying “Yes, and…”

Criticism is hard to take, especially for a recovering perfectionist. I frequently find myself denying any correction offered by teachers in workshops that I attend. But then I remind myself that the critique is why I’m here. I’ve paid good money to be told that I’m wrong. So instead of immediately  begrudging the teach telling me that I’m locking my elbow out in a floreo, I should listen to what’s being offered. I’m working to say, “Yes.”

I am currently attending ATS® General Skills. I have been dancing a long time, so my form is generally pretty good. But I have only been doing ATS for a couple of years. That form is imperfect. Most of the time, I know a different way to do a particular move. Today, I found myself getting frustrated by floreos. I could see that I was missing something because my timing was off. During a break, I asked one of the teachers to help me figure out what was wrong. She very patiently helped me figure out that I was “missing half the move”. I had originally learned floreos as being about the circle of the wrist. In ATS, the move is about the circle of the fingers. Because I focused on the wrist, my fingers short the top half of the circle from an ATS perspective. During the next drill, I went back to my spot and really focused on getting the fingers right. Another teacher came over and told me that I was locking out my elbow. My internal monologue said, “No I’m not. I’m just focusing on my fingers. There’s no elbow lock occurring.”

But I’ve been here before. I remembered a recent piece of advice from another teacher, Jill Parker. She said, “Don’t let your ego get in the way of your learning.” Instead of ignoring the information, I put it in my back pocket and kept working on my fingers. A couple of hours, and several drill sessions later, my fingers were noticeably improved. I was ready to revisit the locking out comment. I worked my refined finger technique, and watched my elbow. It was straightening ever so slightly, and dipping when I flipped my fingers over in my new-found improvements. The comment clicked, along with one that another teacher had said. I now had a new thing to work, along with my fingers.

I already said yes to this training. I said yes to learning a new style of dance. Class is the time to also say yes to help offered. This is how to get your money’s worth.