What Have We Learned

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So Kid T had taken all my critiques and grouped them by dance and put them in my book.  She’s good.  I read through them once yesterday but I came early today to take some notes.  For me, I’m looking for big themes and, sometimes, it is what they don’t that matters.  In the whole journey/destination thing, doing the Showcase is the journey because I just love the whole thing about being out there.  Getting the feedback helps determine if we are still moving towards the destination which is just me reaching whatever potential I’ve got.  So, once all the good feelings start to fade, I look at the critiques and see if there was progress.

And, I won’t keep you in suspense, but there was a lot.  Dancing is never going to be something you master.  The more you do it, the more layers it reveals and the more you have to work on.  But, there was still a lot of good to take away.

  1.  Posture – I actually had two dances where they commented that I had good posture!!!!!  Yes, there were still several cases in the rhythm dances where they wanted me to pull my head back so this is going to be something I have to continue to work on.  But, for a least a couple of dances, what they saw was good.
  2. Timing – Another of my long time issues but there were very few comments on timing.  In fact, there were just three.  One Waltz where they said I had good timing.  One Mambo where they said I had great timing and one Mambo where they said my timing faded in and out.  Three comments on timing and two were positive!!  Even six months ago, I was still getting a lot of comments on timing.  OwnerGuy has said he’s seen improvement and this bears it out.
  3. The Quickstep routine.  You know how much I grumbled about this going into the event.  This was the one part where I didn’t feel strong.  Well, I got better scores this time than I did back in May with the Body Double.  Progress!
  4. I got another comment about my expression in the Fox Trot and one about having good drama in my Tango.  Again, these are signs of moving in the right direction because I do really so much want to show the spirit of each dance and not just walk through the steps.

Another big theme was how I danced with Kid T.  I had several comments where they said “nice partnering”.  I’m not entirely sure what that means in dance terminology but I assume it is good.  I had a couple of times where they said good lead/follow and a couple where they said I did a good job navigating.  There was one comment that said “you make it look easy” and another that said “you work well together”.  Considering that we’ve only been full time dance partners for three months, that seems pretty good to me.

The best one came from the lady pro and I took a photo of it just so I could get it right.  It read “I have enjoyed watching you grow in your dancing! Push yourself to move with more confidence!  You have so much potential!  Use those long legs”  Here’s what’s interesting about this.  The last time she saw me dance would have been the road trip last year.  And she wasn’t judging then so I don’t really know how much she was watching but I guess enough to have formed an impression (I swear these instructors have eyes everywhere)  But if she’s seen growth then that is also a clear sign of progress.

Now, to be clear, I’ve just given you the positive side of things.  There are some technical things I need to work on both from this Showcase and the last one but, in the big picture, there was a lot of progress and it tells me I’m moving in the right direction.

Oh, one last little note.  On the solos, they are supposed to judge you on four categories:  Technique, Execution, Poise and Showmanship.  In both solos, I got the highest marks in Showmanship.  That does make me happy.  While I enjoy doing them, it is out of my comfort zone to show off that much.  But it proves to me that I can do it which is nice to know.

I had a coaching lesson with one of the judges today.  It did illustrate to me the gap between being a social dancer or even someone who is fun to watch and being someone who scores high with the judges.  What he told me was that at an advanced level, I should just be doing my dance and not look like I’m trying to lead her.  That comes down to not looking at her as much and maybe not hesitating to see where she is but just moving knowing that she’ll be there.

Now, that only happens if you have the right posture or, as he said, have all your blocks aligned.  That means having the spine straight, your head over your heel and forward so you can bounce on your toes.  He actually lead me using his method vs what he was seeing my do and I could really feel the difference.  He was very hands on which is really what I need.  I do need to feel something to know how it feels to be in the right position so he would manipulate me into place and then I’d try to hold it while doing some steps.  We did the Fox Trot and he eventually got me to move a lot more but not with using a lot more effort.  Just by body placement and positioning, you can be more free to move and cover more ground.  It was a lot but it was good.

So I have a good game plan for the future in terms of what things I need to do to take my dances to the next level.  I did talk with OwnerGuy and signed up for more lessons.  Give the man some credit, he knew to strike while the iron was hot and I was on the high from Showcase.  But, the two events were so positive and they have done so much to bury the ugliness from earlier this year.  I did tell OwnerGuy that I want a new challenge and we need to reintroduce the open routines and he was already thinking that so that’s where we go.

Oh, and Kid T and I started on our Peabody routine.  I’m going to have to get the song but somehow it evoked an Alice in Wonderland theme to our routine.  Before the music kicks in, there’s a section at the beginning where she’s going to be sleeping while I’m off stage.  I guess I’m going with some kind of Mad Hatter look so on the first eight count, I sneak up on her.  For the second eight count, we walk together.  Then the music really kicks in and we start the Peabody.  We start with a pivot which you can think of that being me taking her to Wonderland.  (OK, I know the rabbit was involved but I ain’t wearing a rabbit suit).  The funny thing is that I just instantly got her vision and we started discussing how this could shake out.  I’m really actually quite excited about doing this.  It has a chance to be epic.

I also had my first lesson with OwnerGuy and Hilde on our Waltz.  She wants to do it to the “dark waltz” and that was fine with me.  I did kind of jokingly say that this would be my first dramatic part since most of my other routines have gone for light comedy.  I can really sense that this is important to her and it will be a challenge and that’s a good thing.  OwnerGuy choreographed some nice stuff.  Nothing to advanced because we are at different levels although he is going to throw in some Silver stuff.  But he wants to emphasize shapes and lines to fit with the tone of the Waltz.  I know he is doing this to stretch me because that’s what I need to do as well.  I think it will be interesting and I’m looking forward to it because it is so different.

So, there you go.  There has been a lot of upheaval and turmoil in my dance life since May but the ship has been righted and we are sailing in the right direction.  I don’t think I can ever truly kill the doubt monster but, after the event and the comments, I do have a quiet confidence about my ability and the future.

Happy Dancing to All and to all a good night!

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