Friday night random thoughts

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Tonight was the trinity – private lesson followed by a group class followed by a party.  Some good things and some not so good things.  Enough interesting stuff that I felt it warranted a post.  But mostly, I want to rant a little bit about my instructor.

To be totally clear, I love her as a friend but she can really piss me off from time to time (I understand the feeling is totally mutual).  Some lessons, she is soft and supportive and some lessons, she brings out the drill sargent.  I know that from time to time, I need the kick in the butt that the drill sargent provides but there are times that I really can’t stand the drill sargent.  We started off with swing and more on technique.  I wanted to have a conversation about her plan because she has stated on many times that she loves working on technique and the coach gave us a lot to do.  I accept that technique is a necessary evil but it is a grind and it can suck all the fun out of dancing for me.  I understood that we had to strike now while the swing stuff was in our memory so I was totally fine with spending another day on it but there is only a month left to showcase and there is a lot of work needed in a lot of dances and I was concerned that we’d get lost in the swing.  Well she started going off about how she takes many more lessons than I do and after she works with a coach, she can’t wait to devote a lot of time to working on what she learned.  She makes this type of argument before and it kind of ticks me off.  She’s a professional who competes and dance is her life.  Of course, she’s going to spend endless hours fine tuning the technique.  It’s a hobby for me and I’m gearing up for showcase where I don’t expect to look perfect but I want to do well in all the dances and not just the swing.

Something else that doesn’t sit well with me is that she’ll make a statement about her expectations and then raise the bar later.  For example, she told me that she was only concerned that I get through the routines for the upcoming showcase and then we’d use the critiques to determine the areas to work on.  Now, after the coaching lesson, she was all about expecting me to add in the arm styling to the swing and to master the things that the coach brought up which I’ve been struggling with since the routine was first designed.  In the past, I’ve tried to remind her of her earlier statement but it never ends well so I just kept quiet knowing I could vent like crazy here.  Don’t mind raising the bar but a goal needs to be attainable.  Maybe she does think it is and it probably could be if swing was the only thing I would be doing.

But, there was a lot of positive stuff as well.  We got through the swing, cha-cha and rumba.  I was able to do enough arm styling in the swing to make her happy.  It is still rough and awkward and I have to think very hard about it but in time it is doable.  We looped each one multiple times and I got lost on about the 4th loop on the cha-cha and the swing.  She called me out on the cha-cha making some comment about how I lost it somewhere towards the end.  Yeah, like I’m not acutely aware of my own screw ups.  But I also think I made her mad because she said things went well and wanted to know how I felt.  I suppose the easy thing would have been to have lied but I don’t like kidding myself.  I know I have a habit of getting way too down on myself but, believe it or not, the reverse is true and I can also start thinking that I’m some kind of superstar which makes the crashes all that much harder when some mistake is pointed out to me.  And, since I’m the worst judge of my own abilities, the safest course seemed to be to say nothing because I got through them but I had to think a lot which means the movements are natural.

Group class was a rumba.  Mostly positive.  At the end, there’s a couple who likes to video the routines and he asked me to dance it with his wife so he could record it.  Same thing happened at the group last night.  So he’s using me as a learning tool which seems a little strange to me but I should take it as a compliment.  The interesting thing is he’s probably watched me dance more than I have since I can’t stand to watch myself.

Party wasn’t so great.  My knee started bothering me so I left a little earlier.  My instructor makes me ask her to dance at these events but there are many times when I perceive she is sending signals that she doesn’t want to dance so I don’t ask her that much.  Did ask her for a cha-cha and it was a disaster.  I actually froze up a bit at the start.  Did finally get going but ran into a problem.  There is one step I do in the closed routine where I step back into a certain move.  In the open routine, she has the same type of step but I’m supposed to step forward and swivel because it is more advanced.  Well this is where muscle memory is not your friend.  Got to that point and my brain is saying “go forward” but my body is saying “no, we always go backwards here” and I ended up stuck in the middle and not really doing anything at all.  She was still in the drill sargent mode and gave me a “no excuse for that”.  Seriously thought she was going to ask me to drop and give her twenty.  Sorry, but I’m human and I screw up.  But if you’re going to get all judgmental on me or assume I did it on purpose (which she does from time to time), then I don’t need that kind of pressure.  So I didn’t ask her to dance for the rest of the party.  Might here about that at the next lesson but oh well.

Last note (boy have I rambled).  It turns out that I won’t be doing the Rumba at the open house next Friday.  As I was leaving, one of the other instructors came over and said she had some real beginners who had volunteered to dance at the open house because they like to demonstrate all the levels.  But they were going to do a rumba and she said something about how they’d be afraid of how they’d look by comparison so could I switch to a different dance.  Really?  I’m intimidating to newcomers?  This also blows me away.  But I agreed to change so I just wrote down bolero but we’ll see what happens at my next lesson.  I’m guessing my instructor might try to push me into cha-cha or swing.

OK, I lied as I have one more thing to say.  At the end of the lesson, the drill sargent told me she was going to work on posture next week.  I have two weaknesses – timing and posture which are probably the worst areas to have shortcomings.  I do try to think about posture but it obviously doesn’t take so that will make for some fun times next week.  She’ll just be screaming “head up” at me during each dance.  But I can take that.


  1. Rocco – you can improve your posture. I know you can ’cause I did, but it took me over two years. I’m a tall woman and not a young one, and the uncounted hours I’d spent hunched over a computer had really taken their toll. I was determined to acquire impeccable dancer posture, though, so I went to a chiropractor, who told me I need to loosen up my upper spine, shoulders and neck a LOT! He told me to me to put a pillow under my upper back and let my head hang down over it – a little at first, and then more and more. I did that twice a day, for 10 minutes or so, for months. The chiro worked on my upper and lower back every week and eventually lengthened the time between visits, as my structures loosened. I also prioritized posture above all else in my dancing and tried to walk ramrod straight, all the time. I forgot a lot, but maintaining good posture has slowly become the habit slouching once was. I’ve finally developed a very upright dance frame that feels good; my back muscles ached at first, but don’t anymore. Go for it!

    1. Marian – I’ve got my trainer helping me with posture as well. I can do it but it still takes a lot of conscious thought and it is the first thing to go when I start trying to focus on other things. There are times when I just get overwhelmed by how hard some of this stuff is. But, then, as the quote goes “It is supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” That was a little motivation from my instructor. I’ll be OK. This is just a cycle I go through before showcase. All the practice has paid off before but I get to this stage and it becomes more of a grind and less fun.

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