Showcase Eve

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Tomorrow is Showcase.  I put all my costumes together in one bag and then I’ve got my smooth and rhythm outfits in another.  Plus the stuff I’m going to wear to the dinner afterward.  Plus the sunglasses I need for the west coast routine.  Plus some water.  And some snacks and a couple of towels.  Have to make sure I remember the shoes and my knee brace.  By there at 9 for a formation practice and showtime starts at 10.

Do I feel ready?  When have I ever really felt ready?  Seriously, what kind of a silly question is that.  For someone as plagued by demons and doubts, I could spend all day today drilling and still not feel ready.  But I do feel like I know everything and it is really just a matter of trusting that I do.

Last night we ran through everything.  All the smooth dances – waltz, fox trot, tango, Viennese waltz and Peabody.   All the rhythm dances – rumba, cha-cha, swing, bolero, mambo and west coast swing.  Ran through all three solos – Peabody, west coast swing and Quickstep.  Did a couple of loops on each one and then moved on.  We stopped and fixed obvious breakdowns but mostly it was just plow through them all.

The glitch last night was group class.  Cosmo was doing some kind of hustle thing where we were switching partners a lot and he’d call out the steps so we were all supposed to be doing the same thing.  Something about the particular pattern was a lot of short little steps and it was seriously starting to hurt my knee.  So much so that I had to drop out with about 15 minutes left because I couldn’t take it.  Recovered enough to make it through the lesson.  The cortisone shot has seriously reduced the inflammation but the weather changes and constant use mean I’m not truly pain free.  But I just need to make it through tomorrow.

As a hobby, this is why dancing is so much different from most of the rest.  Unless you are very well off financially, there just aren’t that many opportunities to do things for real.  I know this isn’t the same thing as a true comp in that you don’t get placements.  But the benefit is the ability to do more heats in each dance.  You practice in the studio over and over and over again doing the same routine to a variety of different songs and with a variety of different people on the floor.  Now, you are finally assured of getting the correct music and that all the people on the floor are going to be doing the same dance.  Those are good things.  The bad thing is that you’ve only got a couple of opportunities to do each dance.  Mess em up and then you are waiting for the next event.  No pressure at all.

Ballroom is such an incredible combination of highs and lows.  It punishes your body.  It can punish your mind as well.  It puts your emotions on edge so that little things that normally wouldn’t bother you get multiplied and push you right over the edge.  Does it ever give back?  Yes, and I’ve tried to capture the feelings when things go right but words usually fail me.  Strangely, it is easier to explain the negative stuff- there are lots of words and picture I can use to illustrate that.

I’m not a runner but I wonder if this is somewhat like running a distance race.  During the day, it is hard to really think about all that is going on.  You go from one heat to the next to the next and hope you remember what dance is in each heat.  The passage of time is marked by the transitions – from smooth to rhythm and with the solo rounds worked in.  But you get done and you look around at all the people and you’ve all shared in something and all accomplished something.  I don’t think a non-dancer would fully understand but there is a quiet pride that comes with getting through an event like this and being able to look back at how the heats went.  Normally, there is one stretch of hell with several dances in a row which seems daunting when you see the heat list but, you get through it and it was never as bad as you imagined.

For me, this a chance to temporarily bury those demons.  Unless something goes catastrophically wrong, you really don’t have time to focus on it because there’s another heat right around the corner.  You have to put it out of your head and move on.

So I go in with some goals.  I want to work on my posture. I’d love to see positive comments about that because that would be a sign of moving in the right direction.  Each time I do this, it is another opportunity to try and express what I’m feeling through my body.  I still have filters and limits that I fight but this is another chance to drop those fears and fully go for it.

It has been a long six months since the last Showcase.  I’m anxious, excited, afraid, nervous, hopeful and a bundle of other emotions.  I don’t feel ready but I know I am.  Let the games begin.

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