I received my rhythm showcase critiques on Tuesday night but then had three coaching lessons in a row (more on that later) so I didn’t have time to fully process them. Had another lesson last night and got a chance to read through the smooth dances and to look at the sheets from the two routines. So, I’m going to bore you a little bit with those and then move on to our next steps. This showcase was such a high for me but I know the best thing is to not dwell there too long because there is still work to do.
The routines are graded on four components: technique, execution, poise and showmanship. Each one is on a 25 point scale for a grand total of 100 points. On the west coast swing, my overall scores were 97 from both judges. The male judge gave me a 25 on execution while the female gave me a 25 on showmanship. For the quickstep, I got 96’s from both of them with straight 24’s across the board. I wasn’t able to see a lot of the other routines because we were making costume changes but it seemed like they both enjoyed the outfits and the little story we did at the beginning of the quickstep. I don’t remember a lot of other people getting into costumes so I’m guessing that’s what made us stand out a little more. There were technique things noticed on both so we have things to polish for the next show case.
The individual critiques varied. To be fair to the judges, they’ve got 3-6 couples to watch in just over a minute and have to make comments about everyone so I think it boils down to whatever they see that makes an impression. That means it can be a mix of positive things if they saw you do something particularly well or areas to improve on if they notice something that stands out as needing work. While I didn’t do a formal count, it felt like I had a lot more positive comments which is not to say that there aren’t things I need to work on but just that maybe my strengths stood out a little more.
Two dances stood out for me. One was the tango which is something I’ve invested a lot of work in because my problem has been making the tango look like a tango. I used to get comments about my tango looking more like a waltz or fox trot so I spent a lot of time this year on figuring out the differences and how to make the tango look like a tango. One line in one of the tango heats was “this is a good dance for you”. This is why the showcase is so valuable. You get two people who haven’t seen you before and don’t know all the past stuff you bring to the table so they just look at what they see on that day and, on that day, I seem to have nailed the tango. The second dance was bolero where I also got a lot of very positive remarks that I wasn’t fully expecting so I was happy with that since I’ve also worked a lot on the connection to my partner with the bolero.
For the coaching lessons, I worked on rhythm technique for a bit. The lady was moving my hips to convince me that the do move more than I thought and that I’m capable of doing more than I currently do. This will be a challenge because it involves being more free with my movement without worrying so much about how I look. And she hit me with about 6-8 things to focus on to improve Cuban motion which was a bit overwhelming but I’ve got good notes and time to work through these things. With the smooth dances, the guy was working with me on expanding my frame more and keeping my head in the right position and he was able to demonstrate how much more power you can generate by doing that. I think I’ve shown improvement but he was really pushing me to get to a higher level. After watching the two of them dance, I realize how lucky I am to be able to work with them. I didn’t used to get coaching lessons but I now see the value. My instructor is a great dancer and I’m privileged to be able to work with such an accomplished dancer every day but getting to work with different dancers who are also top notch but in different dances is such a great experience.
We also had her develop an open cha-cha routine. This is the next step forward for me because my instructor wants me to not just string school figures together but to create more competition oriented patterns that have more choreography and style. This was the first step down that path. The beginning has us starting away not in hold so it is quite a bit different. It is going to be a challenge because it focuses more on the technique which is my weakest part of rhythm dances (but I got a lot from the coach to work on). The interesting thing is that both coaches left the impression that I should be competing which just tells me I need to take another shot at one of the dance-o-ramas.
After our regular lesson last night, I did have a good talk with my instructor about some of the issues related to the last dance-o-rama. Basically, I owned up to being a complete jerk heading into the event but told her that was driven by my fears and left it that I wanted to do another one but not until I was sure that I wouldn’t go to dark place where I start randomly lashing out at her. There were some very rough moments at the last dance-o-rama and a lot of that was driven by the big blow up we had right before which did some damage to our relationship. This showcase was extremely successful and has gone a long way to repairing that but we both agreed that waiting an additional year is probably best. That will give me the time I need to work on the open routines and so I can actually compete in an open level. That will give me 2-3 showcases to work on these new routines and then I’ll be ready for another larger event. Its also OK because since we are franchise studio, the franchise events are much more expensive then a general dance comp and it becomes difficult to justify spending that much money every year.
So, we now put this behind and move on to the next chapter in my continuing dance story.