Quickstep in Quicksand

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Let me just state from the very start that I HATE being watched and having someone critique and judge me right there.  Sure, I get nervous before performances and comps but that is a whole different animal.  It is more nervous energy and adrenaline.  Plus, I’m usually in a costume and that just takes me to a different place.  Performing is sensory overload but it lights me up inside like very few things do.  So, even though there are judges there, I’m less worried about them.

But, put me on a coaching lesson with someone I don’t really connect with, and my brain just locks up on me.  I put so much internal pressure on myself to not screw up.  I want this person to generally believe that I’m a dancer and that I belong on that floor.  I know they are just there to help me do better but that thought just flies out of my mind and I just think they are going to see right through me and just mentally dismiss me as a serious dancer.  The lesson last night was Quickstep so it was the Body Double and not Z but I felt the same thing from her that I do from Z.  This may be real or it may just be in my head but, as teachers, I feel they want to see me do well and look good in front of the coach.  So I take that additional pressure on as well because if I screw up, not only is the coach going to know that I’m not a dancer but I’ll seriously disappoint my instructor.

So suddenly, steps that felt so natural and easy become difficult and my mind can’t focus on what I need to do and I screw up parts that I never screw up.  Then, the coach jumps in and I want to say “No, I know this part!” but, by then it is too late so we to stop and fix something that may or may not need fixing.  Then, one screw up leads to another and my brain decides to totally block how to do a certain step.  We were trying to do one part slowly and I couldn’t make my feet work right.  I was following the Body Double’s counting and I actually started arguing with her because what she was saying didn’t make sense.  I couldn’t make it work the way she wanted with the quicks and slows.  So the coach had to step in again.  Of course, she was right and I was just dealing with a huge mental block and couldn’t make it work right.

It got so bad that she wanted me to start from a certain part in the routine and I couldn’t even understand what part she was referring to.  I had her say it multiple times but it just kept bouncing off my now thick skull and we had to go back even farther to find a spot I could focus on.  Then, the flop sweat starts because I’m just hoping this stupid lesson ends so I can crawl out of the studio and recover.

The Body Double usually wears a little jacket on our lessons.  Normally, it never presents a problem.  The beginning of our routine is the silly faux Egyptian arms with her behind me but then she comes out and I roll her in, get in frame and off we go.  Well, wouldn’t you know it that on one run through, I got my hand caught under her jacket.  Now, how the hell I did, I’ll never know but we’re doing the routine with her jacket bunched up and me trying to disengage without stopping but we ended up messing up a few spots and were seriously off time.  Of course, there were people on the floor who would move into our path at all the right times so we rarely got a clear run through.

Oh, and there is a part of the routine where we are in shadow position.  OwnerGuy likes me to have my hand high on her shoulder since that creates a nicer line.  The coach figures I’ll have more control if I get her by the hip.  Well that works fine when he has us start with my hand on her hip and then go through the next set of moves.  But I tried to get there during one of the attempts and let’s just say I missed the target by a little bit.  Yeah, that wasn’t awkward in any way.  Plus, they changed the orientation of the final move and we kept running out of floor so I had to cut it short.  Presumably, we’ll have more room at Showcase, but this wasn’t Showcase.

Was there any good that came of it, you ask?  Well, aside from correcting things that I don’t normally screw up, he did try to change a couple of things.  Supposedly, I made them work but that is all lost in the fog of the lesson right now.  The Body Double took a lot of notes so I hope it makes sense to her.

One of the things I do remember was that we have a corte that becomes something like a slip pivot.  So he tells me to use my bent left leg and hip to do most of the action and only slipping my right foot when I’m all the way up on my left leg.  There’s another part after a single leg lunge where I’m suppose to bring her around so he had me fold my left arm over my chest and just do it with my legs and body.  These are nice concepts but I really have no good way of knowing if I get them or not.  The Body Double claimed something felt different but who knows.

Oh, and we attempted to tackle the whole “samba roll” thing again.  I don’t fell we had much success and the coach even admitted it was kind of difficult considering how we get into it and the fact that we only do one.  (Curse you OwnerGuy for your mad choreography)  Again, we might have made improvements on the spot but whether I can retain enough to make those improvements stick remains to be seen.

After seeing the complete run through for the first time, the coach did say he liked the choreography but made several comments about the variety of moves and even yelled something to OwnerGuy about his choices.  If one assumes that they will never give you something you can’t handle, then this could be a good thing.  After last night, now I’m wondering if the comments were just his way of saying “Hey, this guy’s in so far over his head”.  If they tweak anything at the next lesson, that would confirm it.

In case you were curious about the title, here’s how I came up with it.  I like to use pop culture references to illustrate certain points and my mind has stored away so much useless information, that driving home last night, this is what popped into my head.

Shane – I can totally relate.

One comment

  1. Wall – I feel ya! Had coaching myself yesterday and I could sense my instructor’s embarrassment at the mistakes I made. No doubt he feared the coach would think he’d not taught me properly. By now, though, I’m so inured to screwing up in front of people I hardly even feel bad about it. Humble pie is often on the menu and I just swallow it down.

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