The Break-Up

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Well here’s how it went down.  I didn’t mention that last night before the disaster that was our lesson, Z and I had tentatively put a plan together because tomorrow is the last night of the festival and I’m also a little below the minimum for the special club that they’ve put together.  So naturally, to get them points, it would help if I signed up for more lessons.  When I got there today, OwnerGuy wanted to grab me before our lesson which meant I didn’t get a real chance to talk with Z.  But I did explain my issue to OwnerGuy and he seemed to think we could work though it and he even offered to help talk with Z about what I had told him.

So we tried that and I could see from her expression that she wasn’t buying it.  I happened to mention that I loved doing solos at Showcase and that I wanted to redo the Quickstep and also have the Argentine Tango grow into a routine.  I had told Z that I wanted to keep doing three solos at each showcase so we needed a third and she pushed me towards doing a West Coast Swing or Hustle with Kid T.  Well, when OwnerGuy brought that up in our discussion, she seemed to get offended by his tone because he was going on about how I loved doing routines and none of those were with her.  Which is stupid because I said I loved routines and didn’t say anything about the instructor.  Then he got to the whole counting thing and it wasn’t working.

We started with Tango and she introduced a new concept that hadn’t been introduced before.  That you don’t step on the 1 but rather on the 2 for a slow.  This gives Tango the whole stalking feeling but it was not something that had been explained in that context before – who knows why?  Well, I’m focused on doing that and I stopped counting and she starts in on that.  Long story short, we ended up with emotions boiling over.  She gave me the “I’m doing what you told me to do” which pisses me off because all I gave her was a goal – not the method of how to get there.  And then she hits me with “how should I teach you”.  I made the mistake of talking about what the Body Double does and then she basically got all “so you like working with her better”.  Well, it’s true but that’s not what I really expected.  It ended with her crumpling our plan into a ball and dropping it on the table and walking off to teach a group class.

I do understand a source of her frustration.  I’m terrible with words and I’m terrible at coming up with the right words on the spot especially when I’m under emotional stress.  But this is why I didn’t want her to read this blog.  She’s hyper sensitive to criticism and I think she takes everyone of these as a personal assault on her teaching skills.  But I have my own emotional things going on so I’m not going to fault her for that.  The reality is we are oil and water.  You can shake it up and make it look like it is combined but, over time, they will separate.

The strange thing is that I’m not all that upset about it.  I think I’ve known this had to end but my fear was always that if I couldn’t dance with Z that I didn’t have a place at the studio.  OwnerGuy made it clear that was not the case.  It may be a little awkward but I can get along with anyone.  I’d even be open to taking lessons with her down the road on a limited basis but the days of her being my primary instructor are over (unless some miracle happens tomorrow)

It is no secret to those of you who have read this for some time, that I have all kinds of self-esteem issues.  I have come to strongly believe that a lot of that is being a strong introvert in an environment that values extroversion.  My parents never told me to be more outgoing but there has always been that subtle pressure to do so.  I’ve hated myself at events when I couldn’t muster the courage to go across the room and ask a lady to dance even as my skills have improved.  Those drives back from lessons when I was second guessing myself and wondering why I couldn’t just do the things they wanted me to do.  Why were certain things so hard for me.  Why were there lines I couldn’t cross.  And the physical reaction when I was pushed to do so.  I’ve stretched way out of my comfort zone due to dancing and it has been a hard process but there are limits.

I’m starting to ramble a bit here so let me get to the bigger point.  I’m not there yet but I’ve gained a greater understanding of who I am.  I always knew I was an introvert but I’ve really just started to embrace that and, more importantly, accept that it is OK that I’m an introvert.  I don’t need to change and become more extroverted.  I’m fine the way I am.  As I’ve started to accept that, I realize that I have certain needs.  If you want to push me out of my comfort zone, then you have to make it safe for me to do so.  You have to move me slowly and give me time to catch up.  You have to give me support – and sometimes I need a whole lot of support.  You have to make it OK for me to mess up and you can’t jump on me for mistakes because I won’t respond well.  You can laugh at certain things but you can’t make me feel foolish.  I’m not going to volunteer a lot of information.  If you want to know, you have to ask but you may have to give me time to formulate an opinion.  You can’t throw a whole bunch of information at me at once, I need time to sort it out and process it.  If you don’t give me that time, I’m going to shut down.  If you want to know how I feel, then you have to really care.  If I sense you aren’t true, then I’m going to give you the bare minimum.  You can’t press me for quick decisions – i.e. showing me two steps and saying “which one do you like better”.  I won’t know for quite some time and I hate having to make a decision because I might make the wrong one.  Oh, and if you are busy in conversation, I’m not going to interrupt to ask you to dance so don’t come back later and get mad at me because I’m not asking you to dance.

That’s not too much is it??  OK, some are more important than others but I’m in my rambling mode so you are getting a bit of a brain dump here.

So I left it with OwnerGuy that we were likely done and that I’d need a new plan.  He told me to think about overnight and then we’d discuss tomorrow.  Like I said, I think this has just been building up for quite some time.  I’ve just spent a lot of time and money on learning these routines and so I felt stuck with Z because nobody else could take over.  But that’s not fair to either of us.  She taught me a lot and I’m grateful for everything.

I guess I will have to post tomorrow once there is a final resolution but I really don’t see any way to patch things up and there is a large part of me that really doesn’t want to.


  1. A great teacher can teach to all personality types. Do not feel bad for what you are. You’re not the only introvert that’s going to walk into the dance studio. She needed to learn to teach you for what you are and not what she wished you were and she failed. Not you. I’m sorry it came to this. It will work itself out in the end.

  2. Wall – Everything ends, one way, or another. This change may bring gifts you can’t yet foresee. It may well turn out to be a blessing for both you and Z. Be grateful for all you have learned from her about dancing – and about yourself.

  3. Ugh, I’m sorry! But I agree with the other ladies. There was nothing done wrong on your part. And it’s really gracious of you to try to be understanding of her reaction, but she is supposed to be the professional. And what you describe does not sound very professional. This might sound harsh, but you shouldn’t have to cater to her emotional hangups, whatever they might be. This is coming from someone who was very hurt because of a previous teacher’s unprofessional behavior. I don’t put up with it anymore. Everything happens for a reason!

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