I made a promise to myself that there would be no postings about a lesson until I’ve had a chance to sleep on it. This will hopefully allow me to better process the experience (which my logical mind needs to do) and may spare you from the full force gale that happens when my emotions take over.
The entire studio was in training this weekend and had originally planned to close the studio today. But, for other reasons, Z missed a couple of lessons with me last week, so we scheduled a double last night to make up for lost time. These training sessions always fire her up and she was trying to share some of that with me. There was one particular pithy statement she seemed to just be in love with. I love a good pithy slogan as much as the next person and I have a whole collection sitting in Pinterest but it was hard for me to get that excited about something related to dance instruction. And, I’m an introvert (and an INTP at that) and we don’t like to show emotion. So I might have stomped on her enthusiasm without meaning to since I just kind of took what she was saying in stride without sharing her passion.
But it also meant that she was full on into performance mode when dancing. This means all her moves are bigger and showier. And leading her makes me feel like some rookie driver who’s just been handed the keys to a Ferrari or Porsche. (Think Richard Gere grinding gears in the Lotus at the beginning of Pretty Woman) My mind tells me I need to do more to compensate but she told me later with one step that I need to do less. I don’t think this was a conscious decision of hers but her mood does dictate how she dances and how she dances dictates how she feels when I’m trying to lead.
And then for some reason the inner demons decided to come out and play. I’m watching her and all I can think about it how flat and boring I must look dancing next to her when we are out of frame. And then I start to wonder what the hell I’m really doing and who I’m trying to kid and why I’m even bothering because it’s never going to work. Some of this is just my natural, pre-Showcase nerves since I never feel like I’m ready. Some of it is a little deeper. Dance has been this magical journey for me – kind of like a slow drive through the country where you don’t have a final destination in mind and you just stop off at whatever appears interesting and just experience it. But the more practical parts of my mind every now and then start wondering about where I’m going with all this and what do I want to get out of it. And it seems like I’ve been working on these routines forever and what is the next step. And, if I’ve been working on these routines for so long and I still can’t get certain things down then maybe there really isn’t a point in continuing this just for the experience. So I get all that going on and instead of trying to feel the music and relaxing, I just get even more self-conscious and start limiting my arm styling because I just know I look really bad next to her so why even try.
So I had some of these toxic thoughts going through and we hit a part in the Tango that the coach worked on and she wants to touch on again. I know she didn’t mean anything by it but her comment was “I’m going to teach you how to do it right”. Oh, so I’ve just been fooling myself every other time I’ve done that step? Told you the demons were out. Well, to make her shape I have to “relax into my knee”. Which means placing most of my weight on a bent right knee and that just happens to be my really bad knee. I don’t do a good job of explaining when something hurts. For some reason, I was brought up believing you just pushed through and don’t complain about pain. I do tell them when I’m worried about the knee but I don’t think they know how bad it can get so I just get something like “don’t bend too far”. Well I can physically do the steps but there is a price to be paid afterward and I’m paying that price today. The knee is a physical limitation that I can’t do much about but my mind started going on about that as well. Again, if I have to use this knee a lot to make certain shapes work, is it really worth it. Especially if I can’t get it quite right but I still feel it the next day.
I was so down on myself that it must have showed. Towards the end of the first lesson (Fox Trot, Tango, Waltz and Viennese Waltz), we took a little break and there was another couple waiting to take a lesson. We talked a bit about how I was getting ready for Showcase and she told me how beautiful the Viennese Waltz looked but ended it with “but I know it isn’t what you want” and then gave me a hug to cheer me up. See, I can never play poker. I may not speak of emotions but they must be right there to be read on my face.
But her comment also made me realize that I was too far inside my head so I rallied a bit for the next lesson which was all Mambo and Bolero. Those weren’t as bad but there were still some special moments as I tried to get certain parts to work.
Just to segue back to something and bring this to a close, there is a pithy statement that I was fond of that goes “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. There is truth in there. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of my limited skill set from just working at it. To be fair, I know I’d be a lot farther along if I could work my mind as much as I work my body and just get a new attitude but that’s not the point. I do believe though that a combination of factors will place a limit on you that no amount of work will ever allow you to break through. I mean Jay Cutler could spend his entire off season doing reps but he isn’t going to become Peyton Manning because he’s Jay Cutler. It doesn’t make him a bad quarterback but he’s just not Peyton Manning. And I know I’m not a bad dancer. It is just that there are so many times when it feels like I’m on a treadmill or a stationary bike – expending a lot of energy and not really getting anywhere. I’m reasonably confident that I can get to Showcase and do all the dances without any major glitches but will that really be a step forward or just another side step on this same plateau. The problem is I won’t really have a good way to judge that. I struggle with setting goals for dancing but I do need to know that progress is being made and there are just times when it doesn’t feel that way and I could certainly find other ways to make up for all the time I spend in the studio. Oh, these pre-Showcase deep thoughts. I do so love what it does to my head (written with a very heavy amount of sarcasm)