The Reclamation Project

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We’re going to start today’s post with a little rant.  Sunny did get the Quickstep routine finished and we were starting on the first part and there is a step where I’m supposed to take two backward hops on one leg.  This was OwnerGuy’s bright idea.  You will be proud of me that I refused to even consider it and Sunny and had a little conversation.  She kept telling me to try and I kept saying no.  We tried a couple of things that didn’t involve a hop but none of those worked.   We ended up agreeing to get that part changed.

As I told her, doing a couple of hops one time is not an issue.  But, to get it right would require lots of practice and lots of hops and that would be a problem.  I just got the left knee to a point where the swelling is mostly gone and it is easier to bend.  I could already feel it protesting with some of the things we were trying so I shut it down.

I just can’t begin to tell you how frustrating that was to get started and hear that the first thing he wanted me to do was some hopping.  I know Quickstep is loaded with that kind of stuff and I would love to be able to do it.  I know it doesn’t look like I have physical restrictions but I do.  I don’t know what is so hard about respecting that.  OK, I won’t be able to do some of the more iconic Quickstep stuff.  I don’t care.  I can still have fun with the dance.  But no dance is worth months of knee pain which is what I know this would be.

Oh, and I have proof.  Here is something I clipped from Web MD.  There was more but I just took the most relevant bullet point.  Key points are both feet off the ground at once, and however briefly.   That’s pretty much hopping.  I am seriously going to print this and bring it in and highlight it and leave it in my binder.  Or I might just hand it to OwnerGuy.

Exercises to Avoid With OA of the Knee or Hip:

Any activity where, at any time, you have both feet off the ground at once, however briefly

And, what really frustrates me is that it shouldn’t have to be this way.  Here’s a quote from Louis Van Amstel talking about teaching students with arthritis.

Most of them can work around mild symptoms, but if a particular dance move causes pain, I show them how to modify it—or how to slow it down,” says Louis, who has also shown competitive dancers how to wow the judges on So You Think You Can Dance. “If students feel uncomfortable doing a step such as the cha-cha because it’s causing knee pain, I’d rather see them only do two out of the seven dance moves and just work on keeping the rhythm.”

Maybe I’ll take that one in as well.  I don’t know what frustrates me more.  That they keep throwing stuff like that at me or that they argue with me when I tell them no.  I think I’m the best judge of what’s going to hurt my knee so why argue with me.  Just adjust the damn pattern and figure out some way to make it work.  Well, I know part of the reason is that I’ve been too willing to just push forward before and they haven’t seen the after effects.  So maybe they just need to get used to my more aggressive self who is willing to say no and stick to it.

Ended up having a small conversation with Sunny after the lesson because I did want to address that whole “top dog” thing.  I did bring up how it felt to be training for a comp and how all that just vanished.  I left it with that it is just me trying to figure out my place in this studio.

But the more she talked, the more I started to feel like a reclamation project.  Like some old house that had been abandoned for years and she was going to fix it up and restore it to its previous glory.  Or maybe something you find at an antique place and get for a cheap price because it needs lots of repairs.  She talked about watching my videos (they have videos of me??) and wanting me to “get back to where I was”.   I know she means well and I’ll chalk some of that up maybe to word choices but does she really think I’ve regressed that much??  The more I thought about it, the more depressed I started to get.  Or if she’s watching old videos, then maybe it just means Z was better at hiding my flaws than Kid T (which is undoubtedly true).  Probably just her way of trying to show me that she’s committed to my success.  And that’s good to hear.  But her choice of words didn’t feel the greatest.  I’m not entirely sure why she’s so into this or why I would be her goal.  She is definitely on a mission though.

Had a lesson with Kid T before and we continued to work on the Fox Trot.  I know Kid T wanted to get to the Cha-Cha but there were parts of this Fox Trot that were just confusing the hell out of me.  I’ve always felt that my big strength was in continuity of movement and making things flow but there are parts where I can’t figure out the transition because it requires a significant amount of rotation or some hovering or something else to get it to go where it is supposed to go.  Those parts just feel rough and ugly.  And, my inner perfectionist tells me I should just be able to get these and when they continue to suck, it gets frustrating for me because I don’t know what to do to make the right.  And whatever Kid T was saying just wasn’t sinking in.

I may grow to like this routine but, right now, there is no joy in it.  It doesn’t make my heart sing if you know what I mean.  I can only vaguely remember my old open routine that I did with Z but that always felt light and airy and fun.  Maybe because there are parts that seem jazzy and bouncy and then there’s this other part where we have to hit this line which is all stretched and big and tense.  It’s like a movie that tries to be both a drama and a comedy but fails at both because the comedy comes at the wrong times.  So I’m supposed to be a little loose in parts and then seriously formal in others.  I don’t know.  It just feels weirdly disjointed in places.  Probably because a coach did the first part of it and then OwnerGuy changed the parts he didn’t like and I think they had different visions.

Yesterday, we actually tried to loop it and it was a freaking disaster.  There are times when I seriously struggle with different alignments.   So when I do a step for the first time in a different spot, there are just times when I have no idea how it is supposed to rotate to keep moving in the right direction.  Normally, it veers off into a corner and I end up trapped and unable to do anything.  And, that’s what happened here.  After backing us into a corner the first time, Kid T told me to change the direction and she demonstrated how it could work.  Again, I don’t always do well with just watching because it isn’t clear to me how the body is actually rotating.  So I couldn’t duplicate what she did and we just ended up being trapped in a different corner.

Then, she goes on about how it would be different at the Big Dance Event because the floor will be different and we’ll be able to move it differently.  First, I can’t see how the floor is going to make that much difference because I’ll just get trapped in the corner sooner.  Secondly, it brought on a serious internal panic about doing this at the Big Dance Event.  This thing moves and I can’t really control it and I don’t know how to get around the things that are going to be in my way on a crowded dance floor.  I just started to see all kinds of bad things happening with people cutting across us while we are setting up for a big move.   Or people doing a little pose right where I need to get to.  If I was more confidence with the routine, I could adjust but, right now, I’d just get lost after an adjustment because I’m not sure I could find the right angle.  The whole thing just triggered a big neon sign in my head that was flashing “YOU’RE NOT READY TO DO THIS”.  OK, I should cut myself a little slack here since this was just the second freaking lesson with the whole routine after OwnerGuy’s changes.  But the reality is that the Big Dance Event isn’t that far away and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to commit major dollars relatively quickly.  If you asked me today, I’ll be honest that I’m really afraid to try and do this at a Big Dance Event.  The counter argument is that you’re never going to feel ready and I get that.  But do I want my first comp in over a year to be a complete disaster?   No, because that would just make it that much harder for me to get back out there.  There’s a possibility of a Small Dance Event in the fall.  Maybe it would be better to aim for that one.   I do suppose I’m going to have to come clean about my serious reservations about doing this Big Dance Event since everyone seems to believe I’m locked and loaded to go.


  1. Good for you for standing up for yourself. I think you need to trust your gut on the upcoming comp. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt completely ready for a comp but deep down I know whether that’s just nerves or I’m really not ready. I think it’s important for you to feel good at your first comp back after a break. Not to be too cynical, but remember for the teachers and the studio comps mean extra $$ and status. For you the comp should be a fun, happy and positive experience. I say YOU decide what’s best for YOU! 😄

    1. Funny thing – first thing I saw on Pinterest this morning was this quote: “Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” Hmm….

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