Caution – I think this may turn into a free association stream of consciousness post so hold on there might be some sharp twists and turns.
After an event like this last Showcase, I’m filled with such a sense of accomplishment and happiness that I can’t wait to get back into the studio so I decided to go to group class tonight even though Tuesday has typically been my day off. While I was waiting, Kid T handed me a thank you card for dancing with her at Showcase. And, somehow, I’m pushing back my inner cynic because this means something to me. There was a line in particular where she said “you really gave it you all and everyone could see that”.
It struck me because I had my normal conversations at work with the “how did it go” and I try to explain but I realize that nobody really has the context to fully understand what happens at these events. The closest would be my friends who run. In a race, unless you are world class, you are generally competing against yourself to try and get a personal best. But, even just finishing a race is an accomplishment. And a dance comp where you do a lot of heats is a physical grind and just surviving is something to be proud of. (If I could come up with the appropriate figure, I think we should have little stickers like the 13.1 and 26.2 stickers that runners have)
But it is so much more than just physical. There are the parts of me that want to capture the spirit of the dance. To transform myself into the leading man for the Tango, into a romantic lead for the Rumba and Bolero, into the elegance of the Waltz or the fun of the Swing. I’m not there yet but I’m getting closer and cutting loose more and more each time I do this. But that calls on me to draw on emotions and express them in ways that I don’t normally do. On top of it, I want people to see that this isn’t just a hobby for me. That dance touches my soul and fills me with so much that I want to share it with everyone in the room. I want them to feel the way I do when the Viennese Waltz effortless glides across the floor. I am opening windows inside myself that are normally kept blocked.
You do that though and you are exposed and vulnerable and putting yourself out there for an entire room full of people you don’t know that well. You are being judged, commented on and talked about. There is no place to hide. I don’t know about the rest of you but when I’m at comps and events, I watch faces. I try to see behind the smile and look for the tells when something doesn’t go right. Facing fears and just getting out there and working through the bobbles is an accomplishment so I don’t want to minimize anyone. But there are those who just draw you in and make you want to watch and they are the ones who leave it all on the floor. That’s what I really want to do.
And, coming back to the note, I know that it may come off as a little needy but I want some acknowledgement from my instructor/partner. I was told once that you dance for yourself and not for anyone else and that is certainly true. But dance is a partnership and that can’t be minimized or overlooked. I want her to feel like she hasn’t wasted her time with me. I want her to feel proud of what I’ve done because I know when I’ve given it my best and to not get anything would be a bit demotivating. Oh, and don’t get me wrong, I got plenty of that at the event. There was one time in particular where someone came up to us and said something about how well I did and she added something very enthusiastically. The note is just a topper to the event.
I do know that confidence has to built from the inside. 100 people could tell you that you’re great but if you don’t believe it yourself, you will find a way to discount everything they say. I know because I’m an expert at that. Again, I don’t think I’ll ever fully kill the doubt monster because I strongly suspect that OwnerGuy is going to amp up our routines. (Actually, if he doesn’t, I’m going to ask him to because I need a new challenge) And going back to the awkward phase tends to bring out the worst of the demons. But I have had two very successful events in a row. I felt good about how everything went – including the Quickstep which I was grumbling about before. And I got a lot of positive feedback which is important because I am putting a lot out there and it is nice to have that acknowledged.
Well, I’m not sure where I was going this or how to wrap it up. I guess the bigger point was that I can never really explain any of this to those who don’t understand dancing. If dancing is not in your soul, then you’ll never understand why we fight the demons and why we put ourselves through all this. And, if you don’t understand that, then you’ll never really understand what an accomplishment Sunday was. I think most people hear dance event and expect me to talk about whether I won or not and the Showcase isn’t that kind of event. I won. Don’t get me wrong. And it isn’t a participation trophy. It is a legit win. The people I talk to just don’t have the frame of reference to truly understand it. I figure some of you in the village might, so I thought I’d share.