Just Keep Dancing, Just Keep Dancing

How I kept my head down and learned some moves

“We would like you to be a part of Fantasy Fair.”

These were words I was not expecting to hear. I had been hired to go into a new musical comedy show that was starting at Disneyland.

I had gone through the audition process and had done all right, but there was a concern.

I can sing, but dancing is not in my wheelhouse.

The director took a chance and offered me the job.

I accepted and I was scared.  Sure I could perform comedy with some ease, I’d been doing that for nearly two decades.

But dancing? Oh boy…

dancing

Kevin as Mr. Jones (picture credit: Jerry Buteyn)

It took a lot of work.

Here’s what helped me get through the process:

  • Persistence and perseverance

I’d record the choreographers dancing on my phone. Then I’d transfer the video to my laptop and watch the video playback in slow motion.

I would literally force my body to imitate the moves I saw the choreographers and other performers do.

My family would catch me rehearsing the steps in the middle of our living room on my days off from work.

I would show up each morning 45 minutes early for rehearsal and practice the dance steps in the parking lot.

Even during our breaks I would slowly review and go over the steps again and again and again.

  • Partnering

My friend, Mark McConville was my partner in arms during the process.  It was a challenge for him too but we bonded during rehearsal as we tried to master the steps. 

If it hadn’t been for him, I would have completely spun out.

  • Prayer, positive thought, and talking

There’s a tendency when working with a group of guys work on a project, there’s a bit of making fun of each other that happens.

It’s a way that men sometimes bond with each other. However, in a scenario when you’re in an uncomfortable situation, even a simple lighthearted joke can cause anxiety and doubt.

Fortunately, the group of guys that I was with was very supportive. I did, though, have to make sure that I didn’t take any lighthearted joking personally.

Joking was their way of getting through a challenging rehearsal process.

I also stopped comparing myself to other performers who got the dance steps quicker and easier than I did. I wasn’t going to be like them. This took my full concentrated effort.

I also learned to open my mouth and talk about the process with my close circle. My wife, Kate, and my sons were incredibly supportive of me during this time. Also, the men in my Bible study group were available to talk and pray for me.

Finally four weeks later I got on stage and did it for audiences at Disneyland. Here’s an example of what I did (I’m the one in blue)(more after the jump…)

A year after I was in that show one of the maintenance choreographers kindly said to me that I could be a dance captain for the show. That meant a lot to me because a year earlier I wasn’t sure I could do it at all.

I share this story because there might be something that you are facing right now which is completely different than anything that you have done before. You might be terrified to jump in. If you are in that situation right now I highly suggest that you put your head down and go for it.

Persevere, partner up with someone, pray and talk about it.

Before you know it you just might surprise yourself and be doing what you once thought was impossible.

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