Double Coaching

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Yesterday I had three lessons (two coaching lessons and a private with Z) plus a master class so I was at the studio for three hours.  This was also the same day I had workout session with my trainer.  Seemed like a good idea at the time but I’m in a little bit of pain today.  Some days I have to admit to myself that I’m not as young as I used to be.  Still it was a productive day.

Had a little struggle on my private lesson.  It was the end of the night and my body and brain were a little fried and we were working on our hustle routine.  Because our focus has been on the main dances I do for competitions, the hustle has kind of taken a back seat so it is rusty and I started to screw up in places.  Naturally, the little demon that lives in the dark corners of my mind started to come to the front.  You would think I’ve been doing this long enough that I would accept that it is a part of my world and I do belong but, every know and then I hear the voices calling me to the dark side and telling my I don’t belong and that I’m not a dancer.  It then magnifies each mistake because they all become evidence that the demon is correct.  Z recognized where I was going (I know this is the least fun part of her job) and since we had started the night off with a wonderful coaching lesson, she wanted to know how I could go from that to where I was.  Good question.  And I don’t have the answer but it won’t stop me from speculating.

As rocky as our relationship can be at times, I deeply care about what Z thinks about my dancing.  I’m funny in the sense that I don’t automatically give deference to someone’s opinion based on title or position but once you prove to me that you are the real deal, then your opinion of me matters more.  I suppose part of this is the natural student/teacher dynamic but because I’ve seen Z in competitions and I know how talented she is so her opinion becomes more important than the other instructors.  She made a short but interesting point the other day.  We got done with a pattern and asked me how I felt about it and I turned the question back to her and she said to me that I needed to dance for myself and not for anyone else.  I think I was looking more for feedback on how it felt to her so we could improve it but wrapped in this whole dynamic is my need for approval.  But it is good advice and I’ve said before that I need to not get so wrapped up in what she and OwnerGuy think since it then allows me to put extra pressure on myself to be perfect and that just ain’t going to happen.

The other thing that feeds into this is the introvert/extrovert dynamic.  Or maybe it is just me but I think we introverts don’t engage in small talk so we may tend to attach more meaning to words since we use our sparingly and the natural assumption is that everyone else does the same.  But strong extroverts are just a constant stream of words and phrases that sometimes really don’t mean anything.  While we are turning things over in our minds trying to find the right thing to say, you are just spitting out whatever is on your mind with no filter.  So a lot of stuff comes out that makes us go “now what did they really mean by that”.  When the reality is that there is often is no deeper meaning attached even though us introverts believe there should be.  Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar after all.  In the logical aftermath as I type these words, my brain can easily process that but the dance floor is an emotional spot and it doesn’t give me time to logically process things so I can overreact to meaningless words and phrases.

Well I’ve probably lead you to believe that the hustle was a complete disaster and it wasn’t.  We righted the ship and got through it.  It isn’t completely comfortable but a couple of parts that were giving me trouble make more sense now so it was a successful lesson.  Which is good because it had the potential to spiral out of control and it didn’t.  At one point, she told me that my legs were doing it right but my mind was telling me I was doing it wrong so I needed to trust my legs more.  Will work on that.

I should have covered the coaching lessons first since they went very well.  But I thought I’d get the emotionally heavy stuff out of the way.  Promise the rest of this post is filled with light and happy stuff – think puppies and rainbows.  This was one of the few times where I didn’t go into panic mode when the coach started with the “show me what you’ve got” thing.  So we were able to focus on those parts of the routine that I actually struggle with and not something I normally do but mess up when the pressure was on.  Our main focus with Z was on the Tango.  All of his changes were just little subtle things but they made big differences.  I look at it like putting the final touches on something that is already pretty good.  And since he said it was a very challenging routine, it felt good to know that there were no major issues.  Guess I can do this after all.  The beginning part which I thought I’d never get was the last thing we got to and he just suggested rotating her before taking my step so using the slow for two actions and it made the thing work even better.  There was a funny exchange between the two of them on one part.  There’s a pivot into another step and to make that step work, I needed to shape a certain way two steps before.  And we made that work.  But then he said something about this being a very difficult step and Z made a comment that it was just a bronze level step.  He then grabs her and says, here’s what the Bronze level looks like and there was none of the shaping that we are trying to do.  So it is not the steps that were difficult but the rest of the body movement that makes the step look the way it is supposed to.  I need to get it through my head that they wouldn’t be throwing these steps at me if I didn’t have some skill level.  Maybe that would shut that demon up forever.  I do so look forward to that day.

We also did two-step and shuffle with 3 of 3.  That was coaching lesson #2.  This guy is something of a expert in country dancing so he fixed a part we didn’t quite have and gave me a lot of new things to try.  He really liked our shuffle routine – again commenting on how there was some really good content in there.  The part of my brain that likes to get compliments from experts walked away with a great feeling from both coaching lessons.

I’ll finish with just a couple of random things.

First, a postscript to my Argentine Tango experience.  Yes, I’m such a geek that I started doing random internet searches and I found a couple of other people describing something that one of them called a Tango trance.  Seemed like a good description but many of them mentioned a lot of the same things I did.  I swear I did not do this until after the post where someone else commented on their experience so I got curious.  There are times where I feel dance is transforming me and opening up things inside me and this feels like another step in that journey.  (Does that sound a little out there??)

And, I’ve mentioned before that I don’t listen to music the same way.  What happens to me from time to time is that a song comes on and it can be one I’ve heard 100 times before but suddenly something fires in my brain and I say “I think you can dance xxxx to that.”.  Sometimes, the dance doesn’t seem to fit the song but there is a part of the beat that just works.  Had that happen today with a song that seemed to have a Bachata beat hidden inside.  Yes, I’m such a geek that I called it up on You Tube and tried to do the Bachata.  That can’t be normal – see what I mean about dance transforming me.  What we really need is some kind of website where you can just type in “Can you dance XXX to YYY?” and find the answer.  I’d need some experts in music and dance to staff it but I would use it all the time.

Lastly, in thinking back to my little inner demons, this clip just came to mind.  If only, it were this simple.  Must find my metaphorical glove because I’d love to smack that little voice right upside the head.


    1. Thank you. Last night’s lesson wasn’t the best as we tried to build on what the coach gave us. But progress for me is rarely a straight line forward – just got to keep at it.

  1. Makes me feel so comforted when I read my thoughts in someone else’s blog. I’m not alone! From the need to belong to the challenges of being introverted in the ballroom world, I’m right there with you! And that clip is so perfect. Must find that glove!

    1. Thank you. That’s been the best thing about doing this – finding others who are having similar experiences. It was so nice to know I’m not the only one there who feels like this. Its nice to know others find my ramblings useful.

  2. This post got me right in the feelings. I’m a serious newbie (just started working through Bronze) and haven’t done any showcases or comps yet, but there’s so much you’re writing about that is mirroring my own experiences, too. I wonder how many of us massive introverts have found ourselves addicted to ballroom, and I wonder why that happens?

    And I am forever trying to figure out if I can dance XX to YY song. Always. It almost always comes up as Swing or Cha-cha for most of my typical musical tastes, but every so often I can figure out how to work out a Tango or Paso into popular music, and it makes me inappropriately happy.

    1. I’ve been trying to figure out my addiction for the longest time but haven’t had any success. Some things defy logic (and it pains me to say that). Good luck with your dancing. I’m glad you can relate. It is always nice to know I’m not the only one with these feelings.

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