If by the movies, I mean the two minute montage of hard work, sweat, and tears before the big payoff. Except instead of two minutes it’s the entire movie. And instead of a two hour movie, it’s your entire dance life.

But you still get the payoff.

All movies and shows are like this, because we watch for entertainment value. And there’s not much entertaining about watching someone do the same step a bazillion times. And not even the big exciting steps, but basics. It’s boring. It’s even boring to do, in that we have to actively keep ourselves motivated and focused when just like the movie viewer, we want to move on to the payoff.

Of course movies and television are entertaining, but they skew our perception on what learning a skill really means. We can see it’s hard and intense, but we don’t see just how repetitious and monotonous and long it is. In two minutes, our hero masters his craft. In real life, a year down the road you’re barely out of the starting gate.

But no really, there’s still a payoff.

In the movies, we rush through the hard work because we want the payoff. In real life, we slough through the hard work because we want that payoff. And because we can’t take the montage, because we had to go the long way around, the payoff is so much better. Instant gratification is never as satisfying. Not only that, but the payoffs never stop.

In that, the movie dancing will never match up to real life dancing, because those dancers are just working to one big payoff at the climax. As a dancer or student, every accomplishment has a payoff, and they all feel so good.

It’s like that time spotting finally clicked, and I turned one after another after another down the floor. It was clean and sharp and in the mirror I looked pretty cool doing it. And when I stopped a little breathless (but not dizzy) I was in complete amazement of myself because I finally did it. Or the first time one of my teachers picked me up off my feet and I was terrified and practically clung for dear life. But when he put my down I stumbled away thinking oh my god, did that just happen? Or I’m at a party and I get that great dance with my favorite dancer. “Our song” comes on and I perk right up. Then like it was scripted we both turn and lock eyes. The chemistry is there and I’m following everything, leaving that dance in a state of euphoria. And I think, This is just like the movies.

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