why I'm not a bad dancer

I was supposed to learn a series of dance moves for a performance. My friend urged me to practice with her and as I did it became apparent that I didn't know the dance moves and had to mimic her after the beat. I knew that this was why I had been placed at the back of the formation.

My first thought upon waking was: What an odd dream. Because I'm a good dancer. And then: What a powerful dream. Because what if my only experience with dance had been that of doing a kind of dance I did not find compelling; what if I had to do it not because I was interested in the dance itself but for others' interests; what if it was presented to me as something that only a certain type of people (of which I am not one) can do well; what if competition was expected and I wouldn't under any circumstances be good enough to compete at it; what if I learned it only well enough to fulfill the merest of expectations, just so I could be left alone?

If that had been my first and usual experience of dance, would I still think of myself as a good dancer?

In real life, that all actually happened for me with drama, speech, music, art, science, languages, team sports, math, and yes, even writing. Some of those things I have no present skill at and don't expect to ever have any; others, because of later intervention that undid some of the prior conditioning, I know I'm good at now on some objective level, but I still carry paralyzing self-doubt about not being good enough (for what, I'm never sure.)

But that didn't happen with dance. I love dancing, and I can recognize that I have a natural affinity for it. I'm not one of the best, certainly, but I have no concern about that. And I think it must be because I did not have the opportunity to dance until I was able to do so on my own terms, and in an environment where I was considered as capable as anyone, and where there were no external expectations (i.e. not my own) to live up to.

Up until now I was of the mind that one of the failings of schools is that there is so little attention given to the arts. But now I see that's all wrong, and it's just one more reason that the schools in their present form need to be scrapped for human potential to really be served.