One moment of embarrassment made me lose passion for dance

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Jacob Frank, Opinion Editor

From right to left, Jacob Frank after a performance with sisters Jordan and Jaycie Frank on Sept. 27, 2013, at Xavier College Preparatory High School in Palm Desert, Calif. Jacob and his sisters had been dancing together for over five years, and just performed at a Xavier football game.
From right to left, Jacob Frank after a performance with sisters Jordan and Jaycie Frank on Sept. 27, 2013, at Xavier College Preparatory High School in Palm Desert, Calif. The three had been dancing together for over five years, and just performed at a football game. (Jacob Frank)

I’m usually not one to back out of something.

When I sign up for a class, I get through it. If I agree to help you move, I’m clearing the day. When I order food, I eat it all—except when I pull the trigger and get the French toast with the omelet.

It takes a lot to break my commitment to something because it isn’t worth giving up or missing the experience. 

But when I performed with my dance team at our high-school football game 7 years ago, my commitment led to embarrassment, marking the end of a 5-year passion.

I was the only freshman that made varsity that year. It was a small team that would go and compete against other high schools in California for awards, like any other sport. 

We did hip-hop. I wore Converse and jeans, 59Fifty caps, and moved every inch of my body to every hard-hitting beat of the song. 

My commitment to new experiences led me to hip-hop in the first place. Three of my five sisters were taking different dance classes at a local studio: from jazz and ballet, to tap and hip-hop. I was bound to get sucked in.

They encouraged me to take a hip-hop class, but it was scary and difficult at first. I found myself in a room with 20 other girls and no idea what I was doing. I was eight or nine and can still remember occasionally receding to the back of the room to hide in the curtains. 

But I stuck it out and performed on stage at the end of the year. Dance forced me to get over a lot of fears that many still deal with today, like performing in front of people or just dancing and feeling comfortable with your body.

I didn’t want to stop. Dancing is the pure moment, an exhilarating form of expression that puts me in the same focused, Zen state as yoga, skateboarding and surfing. 

I took five or six more years of classes, competed against other studios, went to conventions and finally joined my high school’s dance team in 2013.

But not everyone at my school got to see what I saw. When we started learning the dance we’d perform at the football game, I realized quickly that it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. 

First of all, it was to “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. It wasn’t to M.O.P. and it wasn’t like the Jabbawockeez. It felt like we were background dancers or something, swinging our hips and spinning around.

I was afraid that people were going to watch me and make fun of me, or think that I wasn’t as cool as some of these dancers I looked up to. And I thought I had to go through with it.

It was too late to back out and I didn’t want to mess things up for everyone else.

I was shy and held myself back on the field, trying to hide within the group. It backfired because not only did I look silly doing the dance, it looked like I wasn’t good.

It always felt like a jeer or an insult whenever someone would talk about me on the dance team after that. It was my last year being on any team or taking any classes.

I regret not doing my best and having fun with it. If you find yourself doing something embarrassing, at least look good doing it.

It’s been seven years and I would love to get back into it. I know now not to take myself so seriously or let other people’s perceptions get in my way of doing what I love. 

Even though it was a little humiliating, getting embarrassed doesn’t always have to mean the end of the world.