This week’s Discover Challenge asks participants to fill in the blank: “The Greatest (Insert the Greatest) in the World.”
With so much dislike and contempt for others that has prevailed in recent months, it is nice to be able to discuss the positives of someone or something. In my case, someone.
I recently wished my former Hip Hop instructor a Happy Birthday, and wound up having a brief but nice conversation with him. It isn’t hard to put me in a good mood, and he proved that even when not in the classroom, he is still putting me in a great mood.
Sam become my instructor when I joined his Adult-level Hip Hop class in September 2008. Until that time, I had only taken Ballet and Jazz, and wasn’t sure how I’d fare in a Hip Hop class. But when I wasn’t really interested in taking Ballet anymore, I was told that couldn’t be in a Jazz class. There was a Hip Hop class created for the adults, held at the same time. I decided to give it a try, and see how I felt about it. I gave myself a month, since my tuition was paid already.
That month turned into 6 1/2 year commitment.
From September 2008 until December 2014, I was one of the original dancers in an all Adult Hip Hop class, ranging in age and diversity (we all couldn’t have been more different!). We had people come and go, and return, but there was a small group of us that were there from the beginning. Being that I had never done anything quite like Hip Hop before, I was intimidated. But Sam didn’t allow me to show it. He worked with us, bringing out the skills we probably didn’t even know we had, in an environment that fostered individual talent. He capitalized on our best skills and talents, as well as our personalities, to choreograph his amazing routines. And because he loved the thrill of it, he even danced with us in recitals! It was one of the personal touches I loved about the dance studio I spent 7 1/2 years of my adult life dancing at.
Studio time was amazing – we would have social warm-up time. Lots of talking and laughing. He would teach us something at the beginning of class that would be the precursor to what we would be learning later in the class. He compelled you to stretch your abilities beyond what you thought you knew how to do. For me, I knew how to lip sync, but it was Sam that got me to lip sync to a good portion of a Jay Z song in 2011. In a recital. By myself. While my class danced around me, I had to lip sync for a crowd. Now, you’ve obviously seen pictures of me, and it isn’t any secret, but I’m white. Really white. Lily white. And my lily white girlie self lip synced a Jay Z song like it was nobody’s business.
I should add that Sam only wanted me to start learning the song. I came into class the following week full-out singing along.
The confidence Sam had in all of us was unwavering. He worked with kids primarily, but we were his adult class, and this was a special distinction. We had some fans among the younger kids, but we also had our “adoring crowds.” I know that sounds a bit silly, but it is true. The first recital we had as a group, in June 2009, we knew we were nailing every step, and that we looked amazing. People crowded the backstage areas (which were way too small), so they could watch. When we finished the first night and left the stage, one of the adults in a tap class said to me “do you realize how much applause you’re getting?” I really wasn’t listening, I was caught up in the excitement of the moment and didn’t think to listen.
But it was true. I was leaving that night, and people were stopping me to congratulate me. I was in shock – these people loved us! The second show, we were more aware of how the audience felt, and we totally capitalized on that excitement. Each year brought more and more excitement and crowd love. For six more years, it was the most amazing feeling, and I knew it was because Sam showed us the way.
I started my seventh year of Adult Hip Hop in September 2014, and a month into the year, injured my ankle at home doing exactly what I loved, dancing. Being the tough dancer I was, I still went to class every week. The injury wasn’t bad (so I thought), so I dealt with it (and had perfect attendance!). But it popped two months later, and I took a break so I could get the problem addressed. It was sprained, so I took a month off. I wasn’t worried, and I told Sam I’d come back when I was ready. I’d had surgery the two previous years for two different reasons, so a sprained ankle really didn’t have me concerned at all. And when it turned out to be a little more complicated than a simple sprain, I told Sam I wouldn’t be back the rest of the year. For the first time in 21 1/2 years, I was sidelined from an injury.
And it turned out he wouldn’t be back the following year – Sam’s team was thriving and awesome, and he was also teaching at other studios. So 2014 wound up being my final year of dance, and after 21 1/2 years total, I “retired” at the ripe old age of 32.
Yep, soooo old!
Once dance ended, I turned to writing, which I didn’t realize I loved nearly as much as I did until I really had time to focus on it. I’ve found a new passion to be confident about – where I was passionate about conquering a difficult step, or amazing choreography, I’m now passionate about putting words to keyboard and computer screen. As for Sam, he’s still teaching, and his team is amazing. I watch the videos he shares. He’s so incredible, and it is great to know that someone with the greatest abilities was the very person to bring my talents to the surface.
So who’s the greatest (insert greatest here) in the world? My former dance instructor, Sam Chisholm!
And if you’d like to see some of what he does best, his group’s name is L3GACY, and he is inspiring kids to be “the greatest in the world.”
Greatest what, you ask? The greatest dancers in the world!
Thanks Sam! 🙂