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by Darren Held

My friend, neighbor and troupemate, Tracy Araujo has some stuff to say…


Last night was the first night of my “Beginning” Adult Musical Theater Dance class. The problem was it was not for beginners like me. It’s an ongoing class and, even though last night was the first night of class, the same people had been in this class for months and already knew a lot more “dance” than I did. In fact, they were 3 weeks into a choreographed dance routine! I was the only one who had no idea what was going on. The teacher told me to “follow along the best you can.” My “best” was pretty bad.

In the middle of class, I made up my mind that I didn’t belong here and told myself I’d never come back. I was even a little bit angry that the class was considered a “beginners” class when everyone obviously had known each other for a while and had way more dance experience than I did.

Then it dawned on me that this is how a brand new person starting improv must feel. Not knowing anyone, kind of lost, and surrounded by people who know each other and have obviously been taking improv for a while. It’s very intimidating and can make even normally calm people like myself extremely uncomfortable.

But, I’ve decided to stick it out with the dance class. Know why? The people. The teacher, as well as the other women in the class, were wonderful. They made me feel more than welcome, constantly encouraged me, and when I actually did something right, they all said “yay!” At the end of class, a couple of the women said “We’ll see you next week, right? Don’t be discouraged! We’re all still learning.”

That’s how improv is too, and that’s why people keep coming back – because they are made to feel welcome and that, even though they have no idea what they’re doing in the very first class, our wonderful teachers as well as the wonderful returning students wholeheartedly support EVERYONE, no matter how silly and self-conscious they may feel at first. Since Sonnjea is now the first face any new student sees in H2G improv classes, she’s the person that a new student will remember most and will probably make the decision to return to classes based on how she made them feel in their very first class. And if I recall correctly, a whole lotta Sonnjea’s students are now in levels 2 and 3 so she’s definitely doing something right.

I’ve been taking improv classes for going on 3 years now and a compliment in my level 1 class is still just as satisfying as a compliment in my level 3 class. H2G is a wonderful group that makes people feel good about themselves, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

I’m off to buy some new dance shoes now.

by Tracy Araujo

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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