Be the Albatross

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First private lessons in over a week last night.  She jumped right into the open routines thinking I wouldn’t remember too much about them and to start working on the dreaded arm styling.  I think I shocked her a little bit by how much I remembered because we breezed through the rumba, swing and bolero.  The cha-cha we saved for another day since the last coach had made some tweaks and we had worked on that the week after showcase.  Since we had time, we also threw in the fox trot where I remembered some changes the other coach had made to a couple of places.   Again, she seemed a little surprised that I remembered but past history was on her side because I was a little shocked at how easy it was to pull some of that stuff back as well.

The difficult part was the arm styling and remembering to get my arm out and working through each routine to find places where I needed to be using my free arm more.  This is where she made some random connection inside her head and asked if I had ever seen “Rescuers Down Under”.  I’m not as up on my Disney cartoons as she was but somehow she related things to the albatross in that movie and I guess how the bird carries two mice while flying and if I dropped my arms then it was like the albatross lowering its wings and the mice would die.  I was at a disadvantage having not seen the movie and so she brought in the other younger instructors who quickly got the reference and that lead to her yelling “albatross” at me when I’d drop my arms.  Yes, it was a little silly but in a good way and it did work although I will freely admit that it was hard not to be self-conscious when my arm would be sticking out there.  The hardest part was during the bolero where there is some kind of turn where I need to extend my arm just after she went by me which took a bit to get used to.  Turns out that it really made the bolero better because when my arm was extended, it was easier to pick her back up and get her back in frame to lead her to the next step.  At least this is what she told me and I bought into it.  So now I’m an albatross.  Guess that fits since a coach last fall talked about my “wingspan”.

Funny thing was at group class which was a swing so I decided to keep working on the arms a bit to try to get comfortable with the concept.  Most of the swing group was in hold so the only real opportunity was right at the beginning where we started in a single hand hold and then moved to get into frame.  I had to tell all the ladies I was dancing with that I was working on this since I was the only guy who started with my free arm stretched out like crazy.   But, most of the ladies actually ended up copying my move so as I extended my arm, they did the same.  Wouldn’t you know it but it actually made getting into frame a little easier.  Maybe there is some other reason for this rather than just trying to make myself look “pretty” and I’ve already commented on that.  As always, it will take many more repetitions before I truly get comfortable doing this (the optimist in me assumes that at some point extending my arms out to take up space will become comfortable)

The lesson after the group focused on the hustle routine.  We have about three weeks to put something together so her husband decided he wanted to do the choreography.  (Probably because right before we left she brought him on to work on a step and it turns out she wasn’t doing it correctly so I suspect he wanted to take over).  Most of the time, I just watched as he’d do a series of moves and then change it and then change it again and then change it again and finally end up saying “that’d be cool” and then asking what I thought.  Sorry, but you lost me after the first series of moves so I have no idea what this will actually look or feel like so the blank stare on my face means my brain is about ready to explode because I’m trying to process too much information.  The bad parts were when I was supposed to try something and I had seen so many variations that I had no idea what I was really supposed to do and kept rocking on the wrong foot.  Oh, that quickly brought back all the frustrations and the “I’m never going to get this” side of me.  But, we did manage a couple of walk throughs of some of the parts by the end of the lesson.  He mentioned several times that he wanted to challenge me.  I hate it when they do that because the inner competitor wants to accept the challenge but that part may be writing checks that my body can’t cash.  Oh well, I think we can pull it together for the showstoppers which is June 13th.

My challenge for the next three weeks is to figure out how many points I need in their little competition to reach the top level.  I’ve run the numbers a couple of times and it appears I’d come up just short and that would really suck so I have to figure out how many lessons/groups it will take to get me there.  At first, I thought I’d just give up and focus on the second level but the inner competitor is kicking in again.  Yeah, you upped the challenge but I don’t fear your challenge.  Probably means I’ll end up going to more groups without lessons around them.  At least that will give me more opportunities to channel my inner albatross.  Can’t let those mice die after all.

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