Yesterday was my first lesson in a week. I enjoyed my time off but I was so ready to get back to it. They have changed the group class schedule and I wasn’t paying attention so I showed up when I thought group class was and it turned out to be formation practice. It is a little strange because in all my years at the studio, we had done one formation at Showcase and this is now going to be the fourth in a row. I’m still not completely sold on the idea because you get dancers of all different levels so it certainly looks more like a bad high school talent show presentation than an actual formation and, knowing this, they’ve tended to amp up the “entertainment” value but throwing in a lot of cheesy stuff. Still, I guess if everyone else is having fun, I can play along. I know both Kid T and M-Dawg were happy to see me show up and join in.
What we practiced was just some basic hustle moves. We’ve not seen the whole thing but Kid T promised us that there would be a Cha Cha part after the hustle. That’s what does make the formations interesting because you jump between dance styles. This is a little quibble but it is something that bothers me as someone who believes in language precision. Kid T was doing a great job of explaining where we should face after each move and I find that knowing where I’m going is a huge help. Near the end, we do a turn and she tells us guys to face the corner while the ladies face straight ahead so we weren’t looking directly at each other. So I do that and later she tells me that I need to be facing my lady. OK, then why did you say something different earlier?? I cut her a lot of slack because teaching a formation is a big thing and she’s new but this is just a pet peeve of mine. If you wanted me to face my partner, then just say that when introducing the step. But on a 1 to 10 irritation scale, I would rate this a 2.
On my lesson with the Body Double, we started with Bolero to pick up where we left off. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating and its my blog so I can repeat things if I want to. It is still so weird to be dancing this with someone besides Z. It is just amazing how different it feels; I’m used to a certain response and when I get something different, it can throw me just a bit. Plus, the Body Double is having to step it up big time to learn all these and she’s having to learn both parts so she can dance her part but help me out if I get stuck. That means she does bounce back into being a boy from time to time and then we have to start over. I supposed gender confusion is just a natural part of being a dance instructor. On the irritation scale, this one rates just a 1 because I can see that she’s really trying and we are still getting used to each other so I expect these things.
There is a check somewhere in the routine which she gave me a lot of compliments on. I guess the staff had talked and they seem to think this is a difficult thing and that I guess I pull it off pretty well. There is one step that we had to change right before Boston because Z wasn’t doing the proper school figure so it is still relatively new but we worked through that. I know that one of my problems is when my footwork gets a little muddy and indistinct because I don’t really change weight and I forget what foot I’m on. But we broke this step down in great detail so I knew exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. And, what continues to be great about the Body Double is I get instant feedback on how things go. If there is a rough patch, she’ll let me know. Sometimes, she asks to see if I felt the same thing and then she tells me how to fix it. Sometimes, I’m not aware but she feels something and so that also becomes something to fix. I still hate criticism but the delivery is much better and it just feels more constructive. M-Dawg was watching us do the Bolero because he didn’t have a lesson and he had some nice things to say.
Then, we moved on to Cha-Cha. First, she asks how I feel about the Cha-Cha and then tells me that Z has had some good things to say about it. Part of me instantly went to the thought “yeah, but she never said anything to ME about it”. Not wanting to continue to beat this horse but all I can say is that if all you know is one thing, then that thing becomes normal and expected and you don’t know what you’ve been missing until you are introduced to something new. OK, that may be too generic so let me just say that people need feedback and bad things can happen if you don’t get any. For me, it was just an easy way for the doubt and demons to rise up. “She’s not saying anything, I must really be screwing everything up”. It would have been nice if Z could have shared that with me rather than having me hear it through the Body Double.
This was the first time we had danced the Cha-Cha routine. Again, it is so different. But there were three parts in the routine where I’ve always been a little lost and I’ve ended up faking things to make it work. She noticed and worked with me to fix them. In one case, it was a simple change of a back rock and she related the step to a half moon which I love. You know, it is always interesting that you can hear something many times but then someone says something just a little different and it clicks in place.
Part of me started to get a little down on myself. I get frustrated with myself when I learn a step and then forget some part of it and have to have it explained to me again. Especially if I’ve been doing it wrong for a significant amount of time. That hits at some of the uncertainties. If I’m doing that wrong, then what else am I screwing up, etc, etc. But then another part of me realized that this was just another sign of how my relationship with Z had gotten so off track and has impeded my progress. The parts I was doing wrong always felt strange to me but I never wanted to bring that up to her because I didn’t want the harsh criticism so avoidance was the better answer. She may have felt me doing wrong and simply avoided telling me because she was afraid of my reaction. I do have to accept that this is a step backward in a lot of ways because there are some serious cracks in the foundation that were left alone for far too long. We are patching them one at a time which isn’t easy for me to take but I know that in the end it will make me a stronger dancer. I don’t know if we are going to be ready to go at the next possible dance road trip in September so it might not be until Showcase in November that we have our debut as a full time couple.
There was some other sad non-dance related news for me. The work daughter is back in the US for a couple weeks before she leaves for the next semester. But she won’t be making a trip here to the heartland. She’ll be staying on the east coast where she has other family and friends. It is a disappointing because a visit from her brightens my day but I know that her family ties here are a little frayed and it would complicate things for her to be here so I understand the logic. Well I guess even work kids grow up and leave the nest.
But I’m back at the dancing thing and life is good.