So, I’m driving to the studio last night and get a call from my instructor. She has eaten something that didn’t agree with her and was pretty sure she wasn’t going to be able to do our lesson. She wanted to know if I wanted to cancel. Or another option was to have me work with one of the other instructors while she watched and pointed out the things I was doing wrong. I said that since I was already headed in for group that we’d just see how it turned out. I got a text message from her a little later stating that she was leaving and that she had turned me over to OwnerGuy who would lead the lesson while I danced with one of the other instructors. This is one problem about being more advanced and being in a smaller studio since she and OwnerGuy are the only ones who can teach the things I do and OwnerGuy really doesn’t make a good lady.
I should qualify that OwnerGuy was our instructor when my wife and I started. Personality wise, he is actually a little better fit for me as he is a little more reserved and a lot more technical and precise in most of his descriptions. He also tends to be more supportive – I see that when I watch him on a lesson. Still highly demanding but a little better at offering the support when you need it. My instructor is much more along the lines of “do it again and do it right this time”. Not completely because she does know when I need a little pat on the back. We were going to work on Viennese Waltz because my closed routine had a couple of full silver steps in it and that works at Showcase but not at the upcoming event that I dare not speak of. We had actually been planning on working on Tango but I get there and find out that I’m working with OwnerGuy and a body double on a brand new closed Viennese Waltz routine. Shockingly, I was able to roll with this change.
The instructor I was actually dancing with is relatively new and she teaches mostly intermediate level stuff. One thing that is interesting about being a long time student is that you can see how fast instructors are able to progress. The book I’m reading (I gave the title last post but I don’t want to do it again cause I don’t want the author to think I’m trolling for more comments since she was nice enough to stop by unexpectedly last time) describes the training process at that fictional studio and I suspect it is similar to what happens at the Famous Franchise. But I don’t think she’s really done a lot of Viennese Waltz and certainly not a lot of Silver stuff and I saw them working on the routine while I was at group class. The group class was Tango and we were working on the Ganchos which is just a classic Tango step and one I really love. Just a sidebar here but while dancing with bent knees and a lady glued to your right hip is a little awkward but I can see that it makes the Tango what the Tango is. It is probably true of most steps but there really feels like a big difference between social Tango and competitive Tango since the other ladies could do the step but it did not feel anything like it did when I was doing it with the instructor.
Well we get done with group class and OwnerGuy and the body double come over. He starts out with the dreaded “why don’t you two just dance a bit and warm up”. While that should be easy, all I’ve really done lately is my routines and those wont’ work as well here. So I just did some basics and tried to move as much as possible. I see why he did it because everyone dances a little differently and I’m so used to how my instructor dances that taking a little time with the body double was a good thing. But, just as nice, it didn’t last long so he then went through and demonstrated the routine piece by piece all along telling me it is all stuff I know and stuff I’ve done before and so on and so on. I think they only choreographed about half of it to get me started and then we can work on finishing it and looping it.
The other thing that was nice about having OwnerGuy just watching is that he could step in and point out things that I could do a little differently. Not major changes but just little minor tweaks in positioning – like not looking at her as she spins but looking where I want to go next and then just moving which actually did make things smoother. He’s all talking about how the judges will look for this and for that and it was actually nice to get that perspective. Most of it was about getting me to dance bigger. There was a lot of alpha male type stuff about taking up more space – especially at the start where you place the lady and then take your position and just extend your arms to claim your territory. (I thought about asking if I should just lift me leg and really mark things out but it wouldn’t have been appropriate). We practiced getting her into frame and then changing the starting position ever so slightly to get her just out of my field of vision. Lots and lots of little details that apparently all add up to big things.
I’ve mentioned this before but this is the toughest adjustment for me as a serious introvert and mostly beta male type. I’ve consistently gotten nice feedback about how well I show off the lady which is the biggest part of the job but the male coaches and OwnerGuy continue to push me to do more. It is a partner sport and even though she is the professional, I can’t fade totally into the background. I have to do things that basically say “Look at me” and to really own the floor since the judges are only going to be on you for a short period of time and you need to give them something so they want to look at you more. This is what OwnerGuy said last night and it makes perfect sense to me. But I’ve been so used to fading into the background because I didn’t want people to look at me that it makes it that much harder to do things to try to stand out. But I’m working on it though. OwnerGuy did even say that my frame is much better so I’ll take the small steps. We did tape the routine and I’ve even watched it once (don’t ask me what I think because I needed to keep my head back more and I am still my own worst and harshest critic) so I’ll least have something to work from this week when I’m out of town.
I also booked several more lessons since we are now just a month away from the event that must remain nameless. I also paid for the last installment so it is a go. Oh and I got an email from the maker of the pants and she’s going to fix them and send me a larger shirt although she cautioned that they are supposed to fit “snugly”. Drop the sn and it might be more appropriate for my body type but maybe my instructor will be wearing some knockout thing so nobody will pay attention to my not so tight abs. The good news is that for the smooth, I’ll have a vest on which is so tight it will hold everything in place. The rhythm stuff will be different. Picturing myself doing swing in a tight shirt doesn’t paint a very good mental picture. Oh well, this is the choice I’ve made and that choice requires certain things so I’ll just have to suck it up and do it (was channeling my instructor there for a bit) Perhaps when this is over, I will feel more like a competitive dancer. At the very least, I’ll certainly look more like one.