Its not what you said, its how you said it

Posted by

Tomorrow night, the studio is doing an open house.  They do these from time to time during the year where they open the doors to anyone who is interested which means people can bring guests or random people off the street can show up.  They do a large group lesson and then a party where they explain some of the basics of ballroom dancing and give people an opportunity to actually try some of the basic steps they’ve learned in the group.  They also always have a couple of students demonstrate to show that it is possible to actually learn and move beyond the basics.  They try to pick people at different levels and since I’m always there and generally do some of the most advanced moves, it is implied that I’ll be in on the show.  So it was not a shock last night when I found out I had been signed up.  What did shock me was that they wanted me to do the fox trot routine we just got started on.  There was a certain amount of logic in that the other two demos were Rumba and Hustle so they wanted a smooth dance so I get that but it did cause me to freak out just a bit.

I do love performing but only when I feel comfortable with what I’m doing.  When I’m still deep in the learning stage, I’m thinking about all the things I don’t know and trying to remember what step comes next so it never flows the way I want it to and parts always feel awkward and I hate that because I just assume if it feels awkward to me, then it must look like crap (I’ve learned this isn’t always true but it is still where my mind goes).  It also didn’t help that it started snowing like crazy while I was there.  In the end, the snow didn’t amount to much but I was also then thinking about how much the drive home was going to suck.  Bottom line is I wasn’t in the best mental place and that’s normally where things start going bad.

And we did have a couple of moments like that last night but I managed to keep it under control and she only called me out once for the drama.  Thinking about it, I realized that, despite the fact that we’ve worked together for so long, we still infer an awful lot from non verbal clues.  And, it means we also make a lot of bad assumptions about what the other person means which leads to some of the communication issues.  I knew I did this but last night, I was able to see that she does some of the same things so it doesn’t matter so much what the words are, but we then apply our own faulty filters and get a different and unintended meaning.

For me, I go off her facial expressions.  There are times and places where we’ll get done with a step and she’s giving me a look which tells me I did something she wasn’t expecting which automatically leads me to the “I screwed up again”.  Mistakes have to be expected when learning something new but I’m much better at forgiving other people’s mistakes than I am my own.  I know this is stupid but my mind tells me I should be getting this stuff so any screw up just starts to bug the hell out of me.  There is also so much that has to be learned to do each step – feet, arms, body, head, etc.  Sometimes a step will fail badly because I’m out of position and there are times when I infer from here tone that she thinks I’m an idiot which isn’t true but I’m already on the edge because I screwed something up which I hate to do that it becomes harder for me to accept that I’m still the student with a lot to learn.

But we did have one real positive last night.  There is a section where I roll her in and then there is a dip.  It failed miserably on one attempt because I needed to be closer.  At one point, we were doing the step and she said something about the fact that she was in front of me.  At the current time, she was actually behind me.  These lapses in logic drive me crazy but instead of pointing it out to her, I just asked what she meant.  Turns out she meant that given the position we were in, she was going to end up in front of me when the dip was supposed to happen so we’d be too far apart and it wouldn’t work right.  Meaning that what I had to do was anticipate where she was going to be and move accordingly.  One of those situations where there are no real rules but you have to just react to what your partner is doing and be in the right place.  Still not easy but at least I understood what she was getting at and managed to put her comment in my words (at times it does appear we speak different languages) and things worked much better after that.

I also have a habit of making little noises when something feels awkward.  Trying to stop it but it is difficult.  Also, I worked with my trainer on Tuesday and we spent a lot of time on shoulders and I was feeling it last night so I would make involuntary little sounds when having to extend my shoulders in a certain way because it tweaked the things that had been worked Tuesday.  Unfortunately, I did it several times during the dip which she took to mean that I thought she was heavy.  This is ridiculous because she is far from that (one of the reasons I never liked dancing close before is because I felt like some huge blob that was going to swallow her up).  She makes jokes about it but I finally got the impression last night that it is a sore subject for her.  It would be easy for me to say that this shouldn’t be an issue for her since she was never like I was but I know from my own experience that the mind sees things that aren’t there.  I tried to explain that it wasn’t what she thought but it didn’t go anywhere.

We have a chance for more snow tomorrow night but the timing will be critical.  It is not supposed to start until late Friday night which shouldn’t be a problem.  I suspect the cold and wind will keep most people away though so I might not have much of a crowd which will be OK.  We did get through the steps last night and we have tonight and a lesson before the party tomorrow to get it to a point where I can do a walk through.  It will be rough and unlikely to be on time but I don’t think that will matter to most people.  If we nail the pivot and a couple of other steps, it will look good and that’s all I’m going for at this point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s