I have a homework assignment. Z wanted me to list three things I was proud of from Showcase and also three things that I still want to work on. Believe it or not, while this sounds like a simple assignment, I still argued with her a bit. What I struggle with is that I might believe something about my dancing that is just wrong because I have an imperfect view of my own abilities. I rely on the feedback of others – and especially the professionals – to point me in the right direction. She agreed and disagreed with me. While she said it was good to take feedback, I really needed three things I could own for myself that I could look back later on. Well I thought about it in the car on the way home and it wasn’t easy but here’s what I came up with.
1. Arm styling – I could point you to previous posts to describe how I feel about arm styling but I’m too lazy. But I did a lot of it on Sunday. Some dances just required it – Tango, Hustle, Waltz in particular. In certain circumstances, it just felt natural to do it so I’m proud of reaching the point where I could do it without worrying about what it looked like.
2. Bachata – Kind of a shocker but there’s a reason. I’ve mentioned before that personal space is an issue for me for a whole host of reasons. Most guys would probably kill to be dancing close to a young and attractive female but I’ve got too many things holding me back. But I did the whole sexy elbow thing and did it in front of an audience without worrying about what people were thinking.
3. The silly bits of the Quickstep and Shuffle. I fought the Egyptian parts of the Quickstep. Didn’t want to do them. Didn’t want to look stupid. I think 3 of 3’s approach to the Shuffle helped me get over that. And working in some non-dance moves just for entertainment isn’t a bad thing. Again, the ability to do that on stage with everyone watching is big for me.
There you go. Now, that wasn’t so hard was it. Guess the common theme is just being proud of letting down my guard a bit and no being so self-conscious.
To work on. Well that parts super easy for me. The hard part is limiting it to just three.
1. Timing – yeah the Mambo for sure but the Hustle heats that were not my song were difficult as well. Bolero also. Got to find a way to get those down.
2. Nerves and slowing down. I actually was too fast in one of Mambo heats !!! That was the first rhythm heat I did and it came after a break and I was a little jacked up so finding a way to just shake that off and forcing myself to slow down and breathe through these dances.
3. More commanding presence – For some reason, I type this and I can hear “Macho Man” in the background. Say what you will about gender rolls, in ballroom, the judges expect men to be men. That means getting bigger and taking up space and not fading into the background which is hard to do when I’m dancing with a super pro. Hell, I kind of like to just watch her go but no, I must carry my part of this partnership.
A couple of general impressions from the critiques and comments from the coach:
1. My rhythm was actually better than my smooth which just floors me. Z figures it was because the rhythm doesn’t move as much and I don’t have to worry about running into people and so I’m more free. Could be.
2. They really seemed to like the Tango. Two of the heats commented on the power I showed. Maybe I can channel my inner he-man from time to time. That also shocked me a bit since Tango was a little shaky going in.
3. The coach really liked my Argentine Tango. She said is suited me and even suggested I do a solo. Z had to remind her that I dance that with another instructor.
The coaching lesson was a little strange but it turns out that it was strange in a good way. We actually started by practicing walking on to the floor like it was a heat. She (I didn’t mention this but the coach tonight was the female half of the duo that judged) wanted me to work on walking confidently, placing my lady but also making sure to rotate so the judges get my number. But then remaining still as that shows more confidence. We even talked about what to do if a couple gets in our way after we’ve positioned ourselves. If someone gets in Z’s way, I’m just supposed to move her. If someone gets in my way, I’m supposed to acknowledge them and then move if they don’t. In other words, don’t slink away without first letting them know that I know they are invading my space. Sounds like dogs peeing on trees to mark territory but it makes some sense. Act like you belong out there and the judges will notice. Act like you don’t, and they’ll probably dismiss you pretty quickly.
We also worked on what to do at the end of each heat. She prefers the whole show – with me stopping to roll Z out and then taking a bow. I’m guilty of not doing that but she says you need the entire presentation. We even talked about eye contact for those parts when we are looking at each other – basically locking eyes and freezing until we had to move again. At one point in working through the cha-cha, I ended up grabbing Z’s wrist rather than the train car connection we had been practicing. The coach stopped us and asked me what I was thinking and I said I wasn’t thinking anything that it was just kind of instinctual. So she took that to mean I had some fear of Z falling and I was trying to grab her to make sure it didn’t happen. So then she made Z pretend to fall and she also dropped to the ground and made me help both of them out to get over the fear. (Remember I said this was a little weird) We did work on parts of the cha-cha but that wasn’t really the primary focus. I did get a couple of tips about additional styling – hand on my hip because it looks good.
After that, she taught a Rumba master class which didn’t introduce any new steps but she took some very basic bronze stuff and showed us how to amp it up. I was talking with 3 of 3 about my coaching lesson and mentioned that we were practicing walking on the floor and other things and her response was “you’ve made it”. I guess her logic was if that is the focus, then you aren’t making any major mistakes in your dancing so it is all about making sure you’re entrance and exit are in top shape as well since that’s what the judges want to see. Not sure I completely buy it but it sounds good in theory.
Anyway, Showcase always offers a few shocks when I get the feedback and this one was no exception. Tomorrow I get to work with the male half of the duo. I’ve worked with him before. He’s the guy who taught a lesson that went way over my head but we’ve had good lessons in the past. He’s a total ball of energy and I’m just curious to get his impressions and what we need to work on next. Good stuff.