Mental Break or Push Forward?

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In the realm of major decisions, this one is no more than a little speed bump.  But, since all decisions of mine require some level of thought, I figured I’d just put it out here and see what I come up with.

The decision is whether to cancel Thursday and Friday’s lessons and just take a long weekend away from lessons.  That’s the big decision.  Secondarily to that is whether to own up as to why I’m doing it.  I’m currently leaning towards cancelling but also leaning towards fudging the reason.

Friday’s lesson was not the best.  We were doing a Viennese Waltz and I got hung up on part of it and just felt the frustration rising and the demons screaming to be let loose.  In the end, they did not escape but I was still left with a dance that I can do but still doesn’t “feel” smooth the way I imagine Viennese Waltz should be.  I’ve also noticed that I’m simply forgetting certain parts of each routine.  Not all the time but I’ll just get on auto pilot and totally skip a step.

To be honest, these are symptoms.  I’m just a little burned out again with the whole way these lessons are going.  Come in, pick two dances and do the same routines over and over again.  FT Diva made a comment sometime ago about her heart not singing and that is totally where I am.  I know it is not a burn out on dancing because I hear music and I just feel the need to move and I can imagine myself doing all kinds of things.  It is just when I get into that studio and just work on the same routines I’ve been working on for what seems like forever, it just feels so constraining and limited.  I’m like a bird in a cage.  I want to be free to fly around and do what I want to do.

There is another layer to this (well there are multiple layers because I never make anything simple) and that is whether there is any real improvement.  Logically, I know there should be some because she talks about how much better certain steps feel.  I was struck on Friday about our height difference which was noticeable because (a) she was not wearing heels and (b) I’m getting better about really standing up.  And, I can feel a connection more often than not.  So the things she are saying are sinking in to some degree.  You would think that would be sufficient but it isn’t.  The differences are subtle enough that it is really difficult for me to feel any substantial change.  So it just seems again like I’m doing the same routines over and over again.  Kind of like a hamster running on his wheel going and going but never really getting anywhere.  If I had the mind of a hamster, that might be sufficient but I hate feeling like I’m not making any progress.  Firstly, the lessons aren’t cheap so am I really getting any return on my investment.  And, secondly, I’ve always said I want to go as far as I can with the skill set I’ve got and, when I stop making progress, there is that little nasty voice that starts to say “That’s as good as your ever going to get.  Time to give it up and move on.”  Yes, logically, I have to believe there has been some progress but I can’t get my logical side to convince my emotional side that this is the case and my emotional side simply feels like we aren’t getting anywhere.

There is yet another layer and this one isn’t too pretty but I’ll own up to my own negative emotions.  At some point, the cool kids will be back from Hawaii.  I do really hope that everyone had a good time and did well but I just don’t want to hear about it.  I know I was never going to be able to swing the trip to Hawaii so I shouldn’t be sulking about it but it is more the fact that is another reminder of the step back that I’ve taken.  And then it leaves me wondering when, if ever, I’ll get that next chance to be the one going to one of these events.

Yes, there will always be Showcase but I have serious doubts that I’ll be able to do anything beyond that this year.  That may sound defeatist given that it is only January and I’ve seemingly given up on all of 2016.  Well, hear me out.  If you go to one of these events, you are limited in the amount of times you can do a particular dance.  I could go and just do closed routines but that would limit me to 18 heats – 9 dances and two age categories.  And possible an all around but, given the prohibitive cost of just going to these things, I don’t know that I could justify going for that small number of entries.  And, it isn’t just the entry cost.  These events always have dinners that are themed and requires some kind of costume which usually adds some amount of extra cost.

But, you say, there is plenty of time to bring back the open routines.  Yeah, not so sure about that.   I know they were set up to stretch my skills so there are a few gold moves in some of them.  They were all designed for me and Z and, take nothing away from Kid T, but she’s not the dancer Z is and these are still above her comfort zone.  OwnerGuy was supposed to be modifying them but I ain’t seen nothing.  Even if he does get his act together and make some changes, there is still time needed to learn them.  I know all about the “you’ll never feel ready enough” and not waiting until you think you are ready but, if I’m going to be shelling out a significant amount of money, I want to be able to get from point A to point B and, with 9 dances, that still takes a long time.  I hold no real illusion of having great success at anything beyond a Showcase but it doesn’t mean I want to just go wing some open routines.

Yeah, when I put all this down, I do think this week has the potential to be a serious downer.  I’d be slogging away on the same old routines and the cool kids would be telling tales of fun and sun from Hawaii.  That certainly could send me into a downward spiral.  I do think it is probably best to just skip the end of the week.

What to say.  Well, I think there is nothing gained by fudging the reason.  I know this is hard work but it is getting to the point where all the fun has just been sucked out of the room.  If I was in the end stages of gearing up for a comp, then this level of intensity and focus would make sense.  It still wouldn’t be a great deal of fun but there would be something to shoot for and something that would make all the work pay off.  I don’t have anything like that now and I don’t know that I will.  I dance for how it makes me feel and this just feels tedious and that’s not what I need.  I have no idea whether she plans to stay as a dance instructor, but she needs to know that you have to look beyond the next lesson.  This is a necessary part of improvement but it isn’t a lot of fun for me and if she wants to keep me interested, then she has to find a way to reach that emotional part of me that needs to feel something.  Of course, she probably doesn’t know that side exists which is another reason why I have to give her the real reasons.

I’m getting burned out and I’m not feeling the fun and enjoyment that I should.  I need to know that this is going somewhere and that I’m actually making progress.  Right now, I’ve got none of that.   I suspect it will require discussing this with OwnerGuy but we have to start somewhere and that will be with Kid T.   Yep, I’m about 75% convinced that I need to go to group tomorrow (when the studio will be mostly quiet) and cancel my lessons for the end of the week and take a long weekend to recharge.  And, I need to tell her the reasons so we can figure out where I’m really going with this.




  1. Know what’s good for burn-out? A whole new challenge. Like you, I was getting bored with same ole same ole’, so I decided to change things up. I’m getting a big kick out of learning to lead (at a much smaller, much cheaper studio) and,even though I suck, big time, the novelty and challenge are reviving me. I’m still at the FF, of course, but I’m bored anymore.

    What if you found yourself a street dance community and immersed yourself in Street West Coast or Lindy or Hussle or Salsa? Trust me, any of ’em would kick your butt. You could cut back on Ballroom until your batteries recharge.

  2. I was going to comment the same thing as Marian, but then I saw she already had it covered! Time to change things up! We all know there is so much more to dance than just going through the same series of steps over and over and trying to beat the right technique out of them. One way my Teacher has had me learn/practice technique is he tells me to focus on whatever concept we’re working on, and then he just leads me through steps. They aren’t our usual steps, he just makes them up as he goes along to show me how the technique helps me in any dancing, even if I have no idea what’s coming next. A new challenge is just the thing to reignite the fire. 🙂

    1. You are both right. The open routines would be a new challenge. Learning a new solo would be a new challenge. Finishing up the parts of associate silver would be a new challenge. Don’t really care which direction but something needs to change. First step is letting them know I’m not a happy customer so that’s the plan.

  3. (I could have written this post myself) …. I wholeheartedly endorse Marian’s suggestion of pursuing something outside of your current studio. There have been several occasions where I absolutely *had* to snap the pressure of never-ending technique and the “same old same old”. I managed to work up my bravado and went totally outside of my comfort zone by signing on for a group class or workshop at a studio other than my own. This will sound awful, but truth be told, I felt like I had broken out of prison !! (or having a secret affair, LOL) …. And as long as I’m confessing, I may as well admit that’s the reason I sent a text to my instructor this morning, telling him that I wouldn’t be competing in Peabody come February …. I had wanted to do the dance just for the fun of it, not to add it (and the accompanying stress) to my competitive roster. You know your heart, Wall, and deep down you know exactly what to do. Go with it ….

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