I learned to dance in a year

People who watch me dance today sometimes assume I’ve been dancing for many years. I made this video so you could see the awkward body that started just one year ago.

Here’s my secret: I practiced everywhere. At bus stops. In line at the grocery store. At work — Using the mouse with my right hand and practicing drills with my left hand. You don’t have to train hardcore for years to become a dancer. But you must be willing to practice and you better be hungry.

This isn’t a story about dancing, though. It’s about having a dream and not knowing how to get there — but starting anyway. Maybe you’re a musician dreaming of writing an original song. You’re an entrepreneur dying to start your first venture. You’re an athlete but you just haven’t left the chair yet.

When you watch someone perform, you’re seeing them at the top of their game. When they score the winning point or sell their company for millions — you’re seeing them in their moment of glory. What you don’t see is the thousands of hours of preparation. You don’t see the self doubt, the lost sleep, the lonely nights spent working. You don’t see the moment they started. The moment they were just like you, wondering how they could ever be good.

Read more at Dance In A Year.

69 Comments

69 Responses to “I learned to dance in a year”

  1. Chetane July 9, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    You’re awesome! :)

  2. Billy Murphy July 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    This is awesome. Did you spend much time with coaches, or was it 100% self taught?

  3. Ateeb July 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice work! I think ill start learning how to dance as well! Thanks for the video its very inspiring! Keep up the good work.

  4. Karen July 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    I spent a lot of time with dance teachers. I went to dance classes, and then asked for private instruction from the teachers I liked the most. Private instruction really speeds up learning!

  5. Graham July 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Karen, how many marriage proposals have you received since posting this video? Quick follow-up: room for one more?

    In all seriousness, I’d at least start with a date.

    No, but really, that’s absolutely incredible, and you should be insanely proud of your accomplishment. The most sincere kudos. That was very well done.

  6. Chetane July 9, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Do you primarily focus on popping/tutting, or also a little bit of bboying?

  7. Ben July 10, 2013 at 6:20 am #

    Hey Karen – congrats for your achievement and thx for the inspiration.
    I’m wondering, how did you create your site http://danceinayear.com ?
    I’d like to create something similar.
    Cheers

  8. Brian July 10, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    1st off – great article. Inspiring.

    2nd – Fitocracy highlighted your post on FB. You might just get the deserved attention for your wonderful post.

  9. Erik July 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Awesome is all I can say! being in the bay area and having the bart train go past was a nice touch to the performance.

  10. Robert July 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Loved your video, you are very talented and have obviously worked hard to get as good as you are. Do make more videos please. One form of art that I will never appreciate is ballet, or the high brow interpretive modern dance, I can’t dance myself (too white), but I would actually pay good money to see something like you are doing, unlike ballet, this is brilliant.

  11. Mike T July 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    You are great Karen thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Mike in Texas July 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Karen,
    Truly inspiring.
    I’m 41 with 2 left feet, but now I am inspired!
    Probably like me you have always felt the rhythm inside
    and finally found a way to express it outwardly. Congrats!
    Mike in Texas

  13. Samian July 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    I call BS on this video. You can clearly see that the dancer is super-fit and knows what she’s doing on “day 4″. Clearly, she was totally proficient at dancing before she started this ‘film project’!

  14. Amy S. July 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Hi Karen, I just wanted to say way to go and thanks for the inspiration. It’s truly inspirational to see someone chase their dreams like you have. I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you this, I normally don’t speak up on these comment thingies, but I found your video really moving. It’s also cool that you live in San Fran…moving there someday is one of my dreams :) Best of luck!

  15. E S July 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Serious question. How much of this was mastering technique, and how much was overcoming inhibition?

  16. Jeremy July 11, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Hi, I live in China, and am developing an education program aimed at boosting creative endeavours in chinese schools.

    I have no cash, but I want to do the right thing and ask if I can use your video as an example of what practical dedication can do, versus academic nothingness.

    Could you please contact me… i can give copies of anything I make for you to look at to understand where I’m coming from. jeremy dot sinclair at yahoo dot com

    You are a champion, Ive been trying to tell people about not asking permission, and not playing by invisible, unwritten, restricting rules.

    Thanks, and congratulations… i hope you can spring into an awesome, awesome life.
    Jeremy

  17. karla with TeamPoux July 11, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Wow Karen, great job!!! I love dancing and I was so inspired by what you did and said…check my network team out & our blog…maybe you can implement what you are doing with what we can provide…www.empowernetwork.com/teampoux/ who knows, maybe that coca cola commercial is just around the corner :-)

  18. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" July 11, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Karen, your blog is inspiring. I love your determination and ability to reinvent yourself. Can only imagine how the private lessons helped. I can’t fathom learning to play piano as I have without private lessons. How many did you take, and what’s a common price range?

  19. Adam July 11, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    Incredible. The vid combined with your danceinayear site are an espresso shot of inspiration.

    Every day. Every damn day.

    Thank you for sharing this with the world.

  20. Jerry July 11, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Great video! Would’ve loved to have seen more “awkward” moments to see more contrast between the beginning and the end. But awesome work! I need to find a new “obsession”. Thank you!

  21. Shaina July 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    I think dancing is an AMAZING way to express yourself, but the thing is, I CAN NOT DANCE!!! I’m serious… I stink! When I dance Just Dance (the game) or something, I just..Fail! You are such an inspiration!!! I was just wondering if you were born a great dancer, or was it just that you practiced ALOT? Since I am horrible at dancing, do you think that if I practice everyday that I will dance as amazing as you? I just want to dance and be able to express myself WITH DANCING!!! Please help and answer… THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! Bai!!

  22. Graham needs to grow a pair July 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Seriously dude? That comment is super creepy, and pro-tip for you, publicly commenting about marriage proposals as a lead in to asking for a date is not even remotely close to the top 10 successful ways to ask a girl out. Who knows, maybe it works for you. I just wanted to say that I find it bordering on inappropriate and definitely creepy.

    That’s all I wanted to say about that.

    Karen, I think your work is great and I find your (whole) story, not just dance, to be very inspiring.

  23. Will July 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    You’re amazing!! I’ve always wanted to be able to dance, but have always lacked the natural knack for it. What you did is exactly what I’ve wished I could do before someone like you actually made it happen! How did you get started. Do you have any advice for just getting off the ground?

  24. Mark July 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Saw u on “Right This Minuet”
    Congats hope u go big time
    Can’t wait too see ya on a Coke commercial
    Just keep movin that money maker!

  25. Kierra July 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Thank the stars I stumbled across your video today on Tumblr. I’ve only scanned through a few of your posts (with the full intention of reading them fully, I’m just very sleepy at the moment lol z__z) and I am so ridiculously inspired by you! I keep re-learning that it’s possible for anyone to do anything with practice and commitment but you are so much more relatable and fun than other stories I’ve heard.

    Thank you thank you thank you for telling your story and maintaining this blog.

    You are truly an amazing and talented woman.

    I wish you nothing but success in your many future endeavors!!

  26. Edo July 12, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Never do I leave comments in such an environment. I’m not a dancer, thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for what you have done, I am grateful. Myself? 365 starts now….not dancing, a business, a plan, I’ll try dancing along the way…gassho

  27. Webrek July 12, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Amazing

  28. Chicho July 12, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    thanks cute, you made my day with your great video! :D

  29. Dominika July 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Great stuff Karen, I was mesmerized by your delicate yet firm moves. Kudos for learning to dance like this (obviously there is a spark or two of talent :) ) and for making the video! All the best. D.

  30. Kate July 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Thank you for doing this and chronicling your year – I teach belly dance, and I tell them all the time, you CAN do it. You don’t have to be an expert and it will take time, but you can do it. And now here’s proof…. I’m going to make everyone watch this!

  31. Cora July 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    YOU are so damn inspiring! Love your metro dance!

  32. Jason July 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    Inspiring post Karen! I blogged about it today here over here – http://jasondemeo.net/2013/07/12/learn-how-to-dance/

  33. D. Ann July 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    I totally saw this yesterday and loved it. Imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through yahoo news to see a familiar video. You made it to the front page of yahoo today:

    http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/woman-learns-masterfully-dance-365-days-202800371.html?vp=1

  34. Carlos July 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Great job and a real inspiration. I will use this to help me achieve my goal of becoming a mobile developer.

  35. Jason Matthews July 12, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    So cool, can’t believe there aren’t 600 comments by now. And there’s hope for me yet :)

  36. Ham July 13, 2013 at 2:30 am #

    Hi. I saw your video and was really inspired by it. It only showed that if we are determined to achieve something, we can truly accomplish it through hard work and dedication. In your videos, I saw that you were an expert in excel and juggling. You are a very talented person indeed. I have to change my lifestyle and start learning new things. ^^

    what are you going to do next?

  37. rachael July 13, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    i know this comment will probably get buried, but i still have to thank you for the inspiration. your example brought tears to my eyes — i had dreams as a kid that got buried in ‘adult life’. thank you!

  38. Oliver July 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Big props to that learning speed, I’ve also been dancing for a year or two, but I’m not nearly as good (Which doesn’t mean I’m bad either). I get what you mean by the practicing at bus stops and at the grocery line because I also do it. I proably should hit a dance class sometime to get my basics down perfectly put.

  39. Randy July 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    I am floored by your video.
    Find myself coming back to see it many times since stumbling upon it yesterday.
    Extraordinary work, Karen!
    Hope you will make more.
    Made my weekend.

  40. Paul Nevins July 13, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Fantastic video and nice choice of music. Pay no attention to the haters out there. They are jealous for one reason and one reason only. You truly enjoy what you are doing after having the courage to try many different disciplines in life.

  41. Anirudha July 14, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    Amazing performance.

    What about Singing, Do you like it ? I play harmonica for fun ! :)

  42. Greg S July 14, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Your passion for pursuing your dancing is amazing! I really admire your fortitude.

    Although I have no aspirations to dance, your story certainly inspires me to be more honest about establishing a regimen to accomplish my own long-neglected goals.

    Thanks for creating and posting your video and sharing your positive story!

  43. Andrew July 14, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi there!

    I never feel inclined to submit comments, but I have spent the past 3 days sick in bed with stress from work, in a new country far away from home …and then stumbled across your video (and subsequently your blog).

    I’ve reinvented myself a few times too, and realised I’m probably about to do so again – I’d usually rather rub jam in my eyes and wait for bees to attack than read someone’s blog, but I have definitely gained something from reading yours and I’m very grateful!

    All the best for the future, and thank you again x

  44. arinn July 14, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    this was super inspiring! i keep watching this video, and have been dancing around my apartment like crazy. i’ve got the itch!

  45. Jeff Nagata July 30, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    This video is rocking my world right now. I just graduated from college, and I’m discovering that what I studied really isn’t what I want to do as my work. It’s been really stressful to try to come up with what I want to do and what I passion and causes I want to pursue.

    But this video showed me that life is much more flexible than we make it out to be. You just transformed yourself in just a YEAR. That’s amazing. It gives me the courage to just go try things out, because it is possible to reinvent yourself, you just have to go out and do it.

  46. Tony August 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Karen, I just read an article you were featured in on Co.Design and I am so glad I took the time to watch your video and come to your blog. I am going through the same thing, trying to teach myself design and code after realizing that this is what I am truly passionate about; doing web design. Your articles are a great help as I continue to better myself.

    You’re awesome. Stop ever stop doing what you’re doing.

  47. Imperial Ballroom Dance Center September 6, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    Awesome video and it really shows that practice is to key to perfect dancing, no dance is difficult or impossible to do. You can do it if you have a heart to do it. Keep practicing.

  48. zenonia 5 hack April 9, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    You’re so cool! I do not suppose I have read through anything like this before.
    So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject matter.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up.
    This site is something that’s needed on the internet, someone
    with a little originality!

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