Remember Karen X. Cheng, the inspiring girl who went from hip-hop newbie to credible dancer over the course of a year—and documented the whole process on film?

Well, meet her dance-quest doppelganger: YouTube user Neiland, a lifelong Michael Jackson fan who, a year ago, decided to master some of the pop legend's signature moves. Like Karen, he created a time-lapse film of his progress over the course of the 365-day journey. (He may not be dancing backup for Usher anytime soon, but the video is still pretty impressive.)

We're such suckers for this kind of thing. We understand the hours upon hours of hard work it takes for dancers to see even minor improvements. So a video like this, which shows in dramatic fashion just how much good those hours upon hours are doing, practically brings us to tears.


In dance, progress is usually measured in infinitesimal degrees. Over the course of a month, you were able to get your leg a teeny-tiny bit higher in arabesque! It only took you four years to finally get that triple pirouette! Because it's hard to see ourselves improving over such long periods of time, it's easy to get discouraged.

That's why we need role models like Karen X. Cheng.

One year ago, Karen wasn't a dancer. Today she is. Not the best dancer we've ever seen, sure, but impressively good.

Karen danced like crazy during her year of training, taking classes and learning from YouTube videos. She also practiced pretty much everywhere—at bus stops, on subway trains and "in line at the grocery store." (Sounds familiar, right?)

The best part is that Karen took regular videos tracking her progress over the course of the year. She assembled all those clips into a time-lapse film that's truly inspiring: You see her going from super awkward (day four) to fluid and controlled (day 365).


The next time you feel like you're not getting anywhere in class, take a look at Karen's video. All those tiny little steps forward, those miniature victories that take weeks of sweat and tears to achieve? Well, they add up. And someday, they'll add up to the dancer you want to be.


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