Called Out

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At one group class some time ago (but within the life of this blog), I offered some unsolicited critiques to a fellow dancer. I started second guessing myself and several commenters concurred so I decided not to do that anymore. If someone asks a specific question, then I will answer honestly. If I’m dancing with someone and they are struggling with a step and I can help with a solution, then I offer that. I’ve used “aggressive” leads when needed to get someone used to turning in the right direction. And I’ll count the beat if I’m dancing with someone who isn’t familiar with a dance. Those feel like the right things to do. The last in particular because if I’ve asked someone to dance a dance they don’t know well then I do thing I bear some responsibility for making the experience as pleasant as possible.
In other words, there’s a right way and a wrong way to help a fellow dancer. Well last night, I was on the wrong end and it threw me into a little tailspin. I’m kind of on edge anyway this week after dealing with Chrissy and some work related things so it probably didn’t take much to set me off.
Last night’s group was a swing and Wednesday is the one night they have a silver group now that we have sufficient mass of silver level people to make it worthwhile. OnwerGuy was teaching and he pulled out a Silver 3 step. By a happy coincidence, it just happened to be a step that one of his students was just working on in her private lesson. This student is an advanced dancer and also competes so you could consider this group class a little extra practice at a much reduced rate. Not going to complain too much since I’ve had that happen to me a couple of times. But the step was above what the rest of us were used to so I don’t think it was a great group class for most of us.
Part of the step was a place where the lady does some swivels and the guy is supposed to provide a sold frame. There is some connection required – forward poise and all that. Well OwnerGuy’s student started off dancing with him but they rotate partners throughout. She does it with the other guy and then comes to me and we do it once and she stops and says to OwnerGuy “These guys need help because they don’t know how to lead the swivels”. What I wanted to tell her was that connection is a two way street and if she wants to work off me for the swivel, then give me some forward connection and I’ll be there. But I decided that would be petty so I said nothing.
It didn’t help that early in the evening, she says to me “you’ve done this step before, right?” I said I hadn’t and she said “Aren’t you in silver, what are you working on?”.
It shouldn’t have gotten to me but it did. Yes, I’m in silver but I’m really trying to learn the technique so it feels more like I belong in silver. But on the ride home I had the conversation in my head about why am I doing this and whether I’m really making any progress. I have to think I am but the Famous Franchise only measures you by levels and I’ve been in the same level for a long time. So how would I ever know that I’m progressing. Should I know that step by now?
It also didn’t help that OwnerGuy talks about a certain connection during the group class and just says something like “it should come naturally, you shouldn’t have to force it”. Sure, with a gazillion repetitions, it will be natural. Until then, not so much. I really hate it when they just take something complex and make it look and sound so easy. I know part of that is to keep you motivated – who wants to hear that something is difficult and going to be a struggle, even when that is the truth. But it starts me down that path of bad comparisons when I look at him and perceive how badly I’m making it work. That lead into the whole “who do I think I’m kidding” mental conversation.
It also doesn’t help that next weekend is a Famous Franchise party where the celebrate people graduating the various levels. I didn’t want to go but sort of got talked into it. I’m dreading the questions about what level are you and when are you going to check out, etc. It falls into the whole issue of am I really making any progress here or am I just a car stuck in the mud spinning my wheels and throwing my money away.
Well I’m back at it tonight. I was feeling pretty low but got to do my treadmill today and I can just lose myself in the music and the exercise left me feeling pretty positive. It is starting to fade but I should have enough to make it through tonight. Besides, OwnerGuy’s student usually only shows up on Wednesdays. So life should be good.

One comment

  1. Oh, yeah. Trying to be helpful without coming off as critical or superior is VERY tricky. My policy is to keep my trap shut (hard for an extrovert), and go along with whatever is happening UNLESS the guy asks me a specific question. Even then, I’m very, very diplomatic. I also try not to say things like, “You’re doing so much better” to anyone, because that implies he or she was formerly looking pretty bad.

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