I would have never thought what a single dance step done correctly or incorrectly for that matter would teach me. As I reflect on aspects of life that pull from what we do on stage vs the patterns we create off the stage, I recognize the subtle shifts that need to occur. The subtle shifts that need rehearsal over and over just like our dance steps.
Accessibility: Episode transcript for hearing-impaired or those who prefer to read.
I would have never thought that a single dance step done incorrectly could teach me so many things. Today, I want to talk about the patterns that get ingrained in our muscle memory and how to recognize when things need to be adjusted and shifted and relearned in this stage called life.
I'm Priscilla Pfeiffer and welcome to Spark your inner fire. A podcast for artists, performers and closet creatives You bring a lighter, and I'll bring the fuel. It's time to spark your inner fire..
I just spent the past couple of hours trying to practice this tap step. If you if you're a tapper, if you've ever done tap, there's a step called the Shirley Temple or the Broadway. And as I looked at the step, I'm like, Oh, I know that step. I know it because I did tap growing up. My grandma was like this master tap legend and my aunt was and my mom tapped, my dad tapped, everybody tapped in my family.
All of these years I did this step called the Shirley Temple, and I've been doing it wrong my whole life.I just found out I mean, I haven't tapped in like 15 years, probably 15 years. So as it is, I'm a little rough trying to pick it up, pick the steps back up, get my muscle memory going again, and for many of the steps is coming back pretty quickly. And I'm noticing, wow, all of these years I was doing that step wrong. And it was an easy miss because when it comes to tap dancing, if your movements are the same as the other dancers and the sounds are the same coming from your feet, then it's really hard to miss a mistake because taps are not forgiving.
If you've got one heel off, you are going to notice that something is off in the number.
So the pattern of the music of my feet were correct, but it was incorrect.
And so I did this Shirley Temple about a thousand times.
I'm pulling out my hair right now. I did it a thousand times in my living room trying to unlearn what my muscle memory wants to do and relearn this new pattern. And it's such a subtle shift.
I mean, the majority of the steps that I had in the Shirley Temple were correct. It's the subtle, subtle shift that I was doing incorrectly that needed to be adjusted.
And it really got me thinking about how many times there's these patterns that need to be disrupted. And they may be subtle shifts. I mean, maybe the majority of the steps are correct. They're in the right direction. But there's a small step that looks right. It sounds right, but it's not right. And it needs to be corrected.
Those are the hardest to break because they're in our muscle memory, they're in our autopilot, and our body is fighting with all its might to go against what we're trying to learn that's new.
Have you ever try to start a new habit or new pattern in your life and just not sticking, your body and your mind just wants to go right back to your old ways?Right?
I remember even times when I would have to do a piece of choreography. And there's two things that would drive me crazy when it comes to choreography. One being, I have the I have the choreography in my mind. We've been doing it for a couple of years and then the choreographer wants to change it. And our muscle memory is stuck in those steps.
It takes everything to adjust and shift that one step that the choreographer wants to change and the other being I would be in multiple shows and some of them had the same songs in the shows, with different choreography.
Do you know how do you know how difficult that is? I mean, it's kind of like a mind screw. Normally when you're on stage, if you're a performer, you may relate, but it's like you're on stage and you kind of go on autopilot, especially with these dance numbers. You started thinking about your grocery list and what needs to happen tomorrow.
You can't do that when you've got multiple pieces of choreography to the same music.
Your body's like, what? What's happening here?
And it's the same thing that goes on with any patterns. If you think about it, you know, we're going through our day to day picking up the food we're going to eat, doing the normal habits that we're used to doing. We're on autopilot. We're thinking about the next day. We're thinking about our grocery list. We're not thinking about the present and the patterns that are occurring on autopilot. And the last episode I I talked a little bit about pattern interrupt and why it's so important to be mindful of the patterns that you're creating.
And this is why. Because life is our stage and the choreography is ever changing. And that's telling about me, the fact that the two things that irked me was when I needed to learn a new chunk of the same choreography or when I needed to do two things at the same time and learn two pieces of choreography to the same music.
And I have to ask myself, like, where else is this showing up?
Do I get rattled in my day to day if certain patterns are disrupted because a little disruption in our normal patterns is not always a bad thing. And whether it be like in a dance where a choreographer would tell you you're doing something wrong or in the stage of life, a friend telling you you're doing something wrong that needs to be adjusted. Or maybe it's you notice you're doing something wrong.
Your steps are not quite what they need to be and they need to be adjusted. They're not easy. Unlearning old patterns and relearning new ones are way more difficult than just starting with a blank slate and learning from scratch. It's like that quote that says you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well, sure you can, but it's a lot more difficult than teaching a puppy or a dog that's brand new to learning tricks. And going through that today reminds me so much of the importance of opening your mind to learning things from a juvenile level like you've never learned them before.
Have you ever said the term, "I already know that" and brush new information aside? Well, if you already knew that, you'd be doing it.
So many things that I know in my head I should be doing. I'm shoulding on myself, but I'm not, because I know them intellectually and I'm not taking the action with them.
I've tried to take that out of my vocabulary completely the term "I already know that" because there just might be a small step like the tap step earlier that needs to be adjusted or that can be improved. And the moment you say, "I already know that" you close yourself off to possibility of any growth or learning in that category.
I mean, think about it. What if I had just looked at this dance step and said, "no, I've been doing this all of my life, of course I know the step. Are you kidding me?How dare you even question?"
But I had to put my ego aside and think that there's a possibility I'm doing this incorrectly. There's a possibility I have something to learn here.
And it takes humility to admit and it takes courage to push aside the ego and allow for that new growth and possibility. Wow, what a single dance step taught me. A single dance step done incorrectly. And as I move forward, unlearning old patterns, unlearning old habits, unlearning old mindsets, and unlearning old steps in this stage called life. And just like any dance step, we need rehearsal. So with the new patterns comes a rehearsal over and over until it's ingrained.
So next time you catch yourself saying, "I already know that", or even worse, "this is just the way I am." or "That's just the way it is."
Question that thought, is that true or are those the steps that got embedded into your mind that got ingrained in your muscle memory and made you believe that there's no possibility to shift them or adjust them or improve them?
Because you absolutely can.
If you open up your mind to the possibility. It's Priscilla Pfeiffer. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Please subscribe, leave a comment, so I can reach more people like you and go to Sparkyourinnerfire.com I have a special gift for you go check it out.