We had screwed up.
A local orchestra had asked us to accompany one of their songs with a waltz showcase in an upcoming performance, and they were specifically looking for an amateur couple. My partner and I were honored and excited, so of course we said yes. We’d connected with the orchestra director and examined the stage. We’d set aside time to choreograph.
But now, as we were listening to the music, we discovered that the song was actually a Viennese waltz, a much faster dance that required more space — and stamina and knowledge — than we had. Six minutes of Viennese? Could we survive? Would it get too repetitive? How would we fit the steps onto a small stage? Could we dance a regular-speed waltz instead? Was it too late to back out?
We had screwed up — and now we had to deal with the consequences.
You Can’t Do Everything
Nobody can. There’s a lot of nonsense out there that will have you believe that you can do everything and anything, no matter how ridiculous or lofty your goal is.
Don’t believe it.
My partner works full-time. I’m a full-time graduate student with multiple part-time jobs. We had three months to choreograph for a stage far too small for a Viennese waltz. Expecting to pull that off anyway would be the same thing as expecting to win a marathon after jogging a mile once; there’s a fine line between pushing your comfort zone and being unrealistic. Is it possible to learn to run a marathon? Of course, but it takes practice — and time. One run isn’t enough.
My partner and I knew we didn’t have the time required to create and perfect a Viennese showcase. That left us with two options: we could back out, or we could get creative.
We chose to get creative.
One, two, three, one, two, three — can anyone dance that fast for that long?!
Fix it, Felix
The easy lesson to learn from this is that we should have listened to the song BEFORE agreeing to do the showcase. My partner and I were told it was a waltz and never bothered to double-check — and that was pretty foolish, but we’re human; we make mistakes. Being able to recover from mistakes is almost as important as trying to avoid them in the first place.
My partner and I didn’t want to cancel the showcase, but six minutes of Viennese waltz was beyond not only our comfort zone but also the realm of possibility. We had to come up with something else. Though we didn’t have Felix’s golden hammer to fix the situation, we both pursued alternatives: my partner consulted a professional dance instructor. I contacted the orchestra director. My partner and I brainstormed how we could enter and exit the stage, how long that would take, and if we should take breaks during the song. Doing this opened up a number of new options, and suddenly, it didn’t seem like we had screwed up so badly after all.
Maybe we couldn’t dance a Viennese, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t dance at all.
Instead of forcing a sloppy showcase, we got creative and found a way to push ourselves while remaining realistic — and as of now, we’re on schedule to perform at the end of April.
Want to see how it turned out? Check it out here.