Top Dog

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Yesterday, an interesting thing happened.  Sunny came over to me before group class to ask about the Big Dance Event and she wanted to know if I was going.  Because (a) I’m something of a smart a** and (b) I never like to commit until I have to, my response was “That’s the rumor.”   It is also my not so subtly, more than a bit passive-aggressive way of suggesting that they haven’t sealed the deal to get me to go to the Big Dance Event.

It was interesting because she wanted to know why I’d be hesitant.  Turns out she had been talking with both Z and Kid T about my past history.  Seems she sensed something was “off” and wanted to know a little bit more about the back story.  Not sure what exactly she was told but I know part of it was the impression that I used to be “top dog” and that is what was bothering me.  She said she wanted to help me be “top dog” again.

There is a genuine concern there.  I could tell from what she was saying and how she was saying it.  So I’m not trying to make light of that.  I do find it interesting that she would initiate this type of conversation.  I feel like I should have a warning sticker though.  “Feelings are deeper than they appear on the surface”.  Or something like “Beware the undertow”.  If you unleash the emotions, they may draw you down.

But I’m writing this as a possible warm up to a conversation I may or may not choose to continue with her.  I think I have to say something because I also think she’s going from a false assumption.  And I think that desire to make me “top dog” gets translated as making me the best technical dancer possible which is why she was drilling the heck out of me on the Quickstep.  I think there is still an element of her wanting to prove something but now, she may also be on a quest to get me back on top with this Quickstep as part of the vehicle.

The problem is that it isn’t about being “top dog”.  Yes, that might be part of it but it is just a small part.  It was more that when I was on the track and doing comps, they (Z and OwnerGuy) had a way of making you feel special, different, and important.  We were the A-team.  The elite bunch.  We went to these comps to represent our little corner of the world and to show what we could do.  Even that wasn’t as much about the competition but just about doing your best in a pressure situation to show the Famous Franchise world that we belong on that stage.   So you got all kinds of encouragement and little extras on lessons and it was clear you were being prepped for the competition level which is different from Showcase or social dancing.  It was hard not to get swept up into it.

Then, after one lesson, it was all gone.  I had been seriously derailed and it required a massive clean up effort.  All of the open routines I had with Z were just gone.  Burned up without leaving any ash.  It sounds silly but I had invested a lot of myself into getting them where they were.  Not to mention the number of lessons I took to get them battle ready.  And then it was all gone – vanished with no trace.

If the Body Double had stayed, I might have been back on the track quicker but then she left and Kid T was the only option.  She had to get a crash course in the close routines and open routines were just a far off dream.  I became unimportant.  There was the obligatory ask if I wanted to go to a dance comp in October but that wasn’t going to happen.  There was no way I felt ready to jump back into that with a brand new partner and routines that we were still polishing.  So I got moved to the bench.  Out of the limelight.  Off the team.  Just another dancer not really working towards anything.  (Does that sound pathetic enough).

For a time, that was a motivator.  And I rebounded to have two good Showcases in the fall.  It made me think that I was closer to getting back on the track than I thought.  That I could start working towards something.  But, for that, I would need help beyond what Kid T could provide and it never came.  There were a series of broken promises and unfinished routines as OwnerGuy always found other things that were more important.  I might have been on a track but it was two guy with a push cart and not an express train.  It is hard to describe how that felt but it wore on me because they were happy to take my money but I was getting little in return.  I think that is one reason why this last Showcase didn’t go as well as it could of.

There have been encouraging signs of late.  Routines are being finished and OwnerGuy has been on two of my lessons.  So does that make it all better?  Does that balance the scales?  I wish I could say yes but I’m still not there yet. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt as much as I can but once I’ve been burned it takes a long time to re-establish trust.  It has to be built piece by piece like a huge jigsaw puzzle and we aren’t there yet.  But what is difficult is that there is nothing concrete I can tell OwnerGuy or that I can tell Sunny that she can relay to OwnerGuy.

And, I’ve got a chance to go to this Big Dance Event.  Do I want to go?  Yes and no.  I want (maybe I need) to get back into that environment and see what I can do.  There is something about performing under pressure that really does allow you to grow.  Clay is hardened in the fire and I think that happens with us as well.   But, I want to feel like a real member of the team.  I don’t want to be the kid on the playground picked last just to give the teams an even number.  And I want to feel that they are really going to devote some time to prepare me for this event.

Again, it is hard because I can’t define what this looks like.  Having these deep feelings and emotions is a real pain in the ass at times.  All I know is that right now, things just don’t feel quite “right” and it is why I’m hesitant.  That and the family obligation and knowing that I’m going to disappoint someone no matter what I choose.

Well, I certainly can’t give Sunny all of that.  I do think I need to say something about the “top dog” thing.  I’m not competitive with the other students in the studio.  If they do well, I’ll feel good.  What I want is to just feel like I’ve got the same chance to succeed that they do.

So, ready to move on?

Got to talk a little about the group and lesson.  OwnerGuy finished the Fox Trot routine so that’s what we were doing last night.  He’s continuing his emphasis on shapes and lines and pretty, pretty pictures.  I’ve told you what I think about that.  I have to force it out of my mind because I hardly think I’ve got the dancer body that is going to look good.  And, if I screw something up, it just going to look silly.  It is why I still have that huge urge to just shrink up and fade into the background every time Kid T tells me to get bigger.

We do have one line where we are facing forward and she’s slightly ahead of me.  So we both stretch to the right so our arms form this diagonal line even though our bodies face front.  It involves more twisting and stretching.  That whole long arm thing that they keep harping on and wanting me to take up more space.  Admittedly, it could look cool.  I’m just not entirely sure I can make it look cool.

Z was teaching group class which I guess is going to be her thing on Tuesday nights.  No ladies showed up (our studio is weird that way) so it was three male students and the three female instructors.  But it was a Silver step which neither Sunny or the new girl had done.  We got through it OK though.

Tex wasn’t there and, even though the other two guys are her students, I seemed to be catching most of her flack.  She decided to change one step slightly so we do a triple step while bringing the lady into a sweetheart like position and then we were supposed to catch her hips and whip around her.  Since it involved touching a lady in my large zone of discomfort, she had to mention how uncomfortable this was going to make me.  It was jabs like that.  Kind of like the old days.  I’ve really given up trying to figure out what her deal is because we don’t have that kind of relationship anymore.  But I suppose it makes things less awkward for her so I just kind of smile and move on.  It is what it is.




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