Many of us long to see growth and accomplishment as we aspire to become better and greater in life. Whether we are striving for greatness in our work, hobbies, relationships, or personal challenges, there should always be a solid starting foundation to build from. Neglecting our beginnings can not only induce unnecessary stress, but also result in failure to make successful progress.

Below is a short story about a fictional student, Sherri, as she discovers why Newcomer group will always be an integral part of her dance journey regardless of her level.

The Medal Ball celebration carried on into the night with party music and chatter filling the air. Jonathan, Sherri’s instructor, approached and asked her to dance.

“How does it feel to have received your first Medal Ball certificate?” Jonathan questioned.

Sherri proudly stated, “I’m feeling pretty great and excited to begin learning new things. No more Newcomer groups!” Jonathan pondered her response as they continued dancing. They said their goodbyes at the end of the night confirming her lesson for the week as she left.

A few days later, Sherri was waiting anxiously to begin her lesson. Jonathan could see her buzzing with excitement from across the ballroom. “Good evening, Sherri. You seem eager to dance! Let’s get started.”

Jonathan reviewed her Medal Ball critiques concentrating on specific topics such as footwork & posture. Sherri felt challenged and was really enjoying the start of her Bronze level.

Wrapping up the lesson, Jonathan gave Sherri a calendar highlighted with Bronze 1 & Newcomer group classes to attend. He cautioned her about neglecting Newcomer groups as he wanted her to understand how the layering process works when adding new techniques to ones dancing. Having this awareness would minimize the potential overwhelming feelings of starting a new level. Preoccupied with changing her shoes, Sherri nodded and took the calendar not paying much attention to Jonathan’s Newcomer group advice.

A few weeks had gone by since Sherri began attending Bronze 1 groups. She began finding herself troubled from all the new material, and found it difficult to simultaneously practice her new techniques from her lessons while learning new patterns in group classes. As a result, Sherri’s thrill and excitement began to dwindle.

Jonathan noticed the decline in Sherri’s excitement and decided to chat with her. “How are you Sherri? I’ve noticed that you seem a little down. Has work been taking a toll you on you?”

Sherri mumbled “No” as she shook her head and tried to force a smile. Jonathan, having a feeling he knew what was bothering her, decided to ask her about her dancing.

“Sherri, I know you’re learning several new patterns and techniques. How do you feel with your progress?”

Sherri responded hesitantly, “Okay.” Jonathan smiled at Sherri and repeated, “Just okay? You sound very ‘okay.’ ”

Sherri gave in and admitted to Jonathan, “Instead of enjoying all the new material and dances, I feel discouraged and stuck. It isn’t fun anymore.”

Pausing for a moment, Johnathan leaned in a little as he proceeded to ask a more serious question. “Sherri, be honest. Have you gone to any Newcomer groups lately?”

She smirked and sheepishly said, “Well no. I’m not a newcomer anymore.”

“That is true, but there was still a reason I highlighted Newcomer groups on your calendar. Newcomer is your current dancing default, and you are working on becoming a Bronze student. You can use those Newcomer groups as a way to layer your new techniques without worrying about new patterns, and your Bronze 1 groups can be strictly pattern focused. If you split the new material in this way you will find yourself having the kind of fun and progress you’ve always loved getting out of your dancing. Would you be willing to try this?”

Sherri nodded in agreement as she asked one last question. “So, is Newcomer group always relevant?”

“Yes, Sherri. Without Newcomer you don’t have a solid foundation on which to build the rest of your dancing. Newcomer turns into a social outlet, a place to work on lead and follow, as well as new technique.”  

Sherri listened to Jonathan’s advice this time and began attending a couple Newcomer groups to work on her form and technique. She soon found herself enjoying dance again once she had a system to work on her new material. A month went by when Jonathan followed up with Sherri on her progress. She proudly reported she felt better progress, liked learning all the new patterns, and was having a better time following at the parties.   

Just like Sherri, we all need to go back and revisit our foundation from time to time in order to keep progressing forward. If we never refer back to the beginning we can actually find ourselves falling backwards and losing momentum in our progress.