Making the Connections

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Three lessons with Z in two days and my head is about to explode. Yesterday, we worked on the Mambo steps the coach gave us and some more on head position and shaping in the waltz. I won’t lie, I was not in a good mental place at the end of Wednesday. I know I’m trying to get my dancing to the next level but the next level seems so far away. Part of my problem is I start worrying about the future and the negative voice in my head starts telling me that it is too much for me and that I’ll never get it and I have trouble turning that voice off. And once the demon takes over then I can’t even accept a compliment since I’m convince they are just saying nice things to make me feel better (more on this later) so I just leave feeling like I’m never going to progress. On the long ride home Wednesday, I was actually having the conversation with myself as to whether it was worth it to continue with this. It just seems so hard and frustrating and do I really want to subject myself to that. The thought of actually doing these routines for real with judges watching just depressed me because I figured I’d look like a total fraud and someone who has no idea what I was doing. Yeah, I kind of went to a little dark place in my head.
So what was so bad? Well the Mambo actually wasn’t terrible to start with. Unlike the hot mess with OwnerGuy and 3 of 3, Z actually knew what the step was and we were able to practice it. I was getting it which you think would make me happy but the inner voice was telling me that I was only getting it because we were doing it slowly and that I’d never get it up to actual Mambo timing. My bad habit of expecting to get it all at once and assuming I’m terrible because I can’t.
The Waltz was about head position and shaping so we went through the routine in slow, excruciating detail with Z trying to break down certain parts to tell me how to move my body to create the pretty, pretty lines that judges like so much. There is actually a reason to some of it as you stretch one way to allow you to create momentum for the next step when you move in the opposite direction. There’s a great deal of physics in dancing which should appeal to me but I always hated physics. Yes, I was doing it but it put me back in that awkward stage which I hate because I just assume I look like a total dork and everyone is laughing at me. Of course, that is totally not true but that’s where I go from time to time. Another demon that must be dealt with. Then, since I was already in a bad place, I started to think about all of the little pieces that had to go together. I have to worry about keeping the tempo and staying on time, I have to worry about making sure the dance goes in the direction it is supposed to so I need to be able to adjust on the fly and I have to think about my frame and keeping it big and my posture and now my head position and now worrying about stretching in certain places. What I needed to do was to just focus on the one part we were working on but my mind raced ahead and I started to get overwhelmed with all the things that have to be done. At the end, there were parts that felt different and seemed to go better but I was so messed up that I couldn’t attribute that to me doing things correctly so I just assumed it was because Z was making it happen.
For tonight’s lesson, Z had to sit out because of an ear infection which was making her dizzy. It started to come on last night at the end of my lessons so maybe doing two in a row just after coming back from the flu was too much. So she got to direct while I danced with the Body Double. The focus was on connection which is what really makes leading easier and helps put the man in charge (at least that’s what I was told). We picked the Cha-Cha so the Body Double got a crash course in our routine this afternoon before the lesson.
It didn’t start out so great. Again, when you are in awkward use, I find that I have to devote a lot more mental energy to thinking about making what we are working on happen. In this case, that was connection and making sure we either had a positive connection (towards each other) or a negative connection. While I was thinking about that, I lost the footwork in some parts and that was just frustrating because I was drawing blanks and not able to complete parts that I’ve done hundreds of times before. The good thing is we worked through it.
But this is another area where I have problems. I know enough about the teaching methods at the Famous Franchise to know that they don’t want any student to walk away feeling like a failure so you always get plenty of positive feedback. Since I don’t know what “right” feels like, I will sometimes assume that all they are doing is some false praise to make me feel good. In other words, I just have a hard time accepting compliments. However, there was one part where we I’m supposed to move into her and then bounce her away and I got a spontaneous reaction from Z and she talked about emotional dancing and how what I had done showed a real connection. I didn’t get any of it because I didn’t see but it is interesting to think that something so small can make a real difference in how someone perceives your dancing. After that, I had a better time accepting the comments. At the end of the day, we did manage to get through the routine a couple of times. Whether I was truly leading everything may be debatable but getting through it with someone who wasn’t intimately familiar with the routine was a win. I’ll take it for now.
I still have a long way to go to get to that next level but it doesn’t seem as far away as it did last night. I’ll take the small victories.
I’m not kidding myself, this is hard. But there is always my go to quote from Tom Hanks in a League of their Own – Its supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. Its the hard that makes it great.

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