Crashing Back to Earth

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Two lessons yesterday.  The interesting one was with Sunny.  We took some of the comments from the Argentine Tango and started to work on that.  But then it turned into a conversation about future plans which I was OK with because I was dead tired and not looking forward to doing the Quickstep.  I’m going to blame it on the fact that I was tired because I think I shared more than I normally would about dance and how it makes me feel.  We talked about those lessons where I got frustrated and she told me that she’d leave wondering what she did wrong so we touched on the reasons for my frustration.  We talked about learning styles and some other things.

On the earlier lesson with Kid T, we were trying to start in on the Waltz routine the coach came up with.  I was doing it but, for a couple of reasons, I just wasn’t feeling it.  And it is difficult for me to actually do something if I don’t really feel like it.  At one point, she said something about how I had been so enthusiastic when the coach was there and wondered where that went.

Here’s how I would address that.   Much of this is stuff you’ve probably heard multiple times before.  I’m sure I repeat myself a lot when I get into these moods.

I dance because of how it makes me feel.  I don’t need to win a competition and so I’m not as driven or competitive as Tex or one of OwnerGuy’s students.  Events like Showcase are like a trip to Disney World for me.  I get to step out of my normal life and enter a fantasy world full of glitter and colorful costumes and I get to wear different clothes and I get to pretend to be somebody I’m not.  Its an escape and it is wonderful.  The stress comes in the days leading up to the event.  Once I hit day of, all of that tends to go away.  It didn’t always but it has been true ever since I stopped dancing with Z.  Sunny told me that she can how much I light up on the dance floor and I know that is true.

But I know it only lights me up because of the fluidity of movement and the partners actually working together.  I’ve said this so many times that I’m sure you are sick of hearing it but that is what just feeds my soul.  Because when you are out there and the moves just come naturally and one flows into the other you can really get into the feel of the music and the dance.  There are heats where you get boxed into a corner and nothing works right and you have to adapt and find something else.  Those aren’t as much fun but there is still a feeling of accomplishment in getting through it.  These events do spoil me for social dancing.  Social dancing is still fun but it is much more hit or mess.

And I know that learning the proper technique will make things move better and that will make it feel better.  It was like that one brief moment in the Waltz a couple of weeks ago where something went right and it was a like a shot of electricity went through my body.  I also know that practicing over and over again locks the footwork and choreography into muscle memory.  That allows those parts of the dance to go on autopilot so you can focus on floorcraft and posture and trying to connect with the audience.

I do know the value of practice and, most days, I work pretty hard at it.  But it can be soul crushing for me.  It is like being in school and memorizing the times table or dates on a day where you can look out the window and see that it is sunny and beautiful.  You want so much to run outside and play but you are trapped in the classroom going 2×2=4, etc.  (Yeah, I’m old enough to have had to do that)

Yes, the practices makes the magic stronger but the ratio of practice to magic is all out of whack.  When the grind gets to me and I get a little beat down, it makes it easier for the dark thoughts to take over.  The ones that make me doubt myself and convince myself that I can’t do this.  In that grip, I stop being receptive to what they are trying to teach and then I just get frustrated because I’m not picking it up and that’s when things go seriously off track.

When I was at Showcase, the emcee was talking to us towards the end of the night and talking about getting all fired up and getting back into the studio to work on the things that the judges found.  Well that’s not really me. The transition from fantasy to reality is hard.  I’m not ready to come back from vacation and go back to school.  I want to look at the critiques and take them all and get an impression of how it went.  I want to talk about how it felt.  If it went really well (like this one did), I want to spend a little time basking in the glow of the comments.  Yeah, I’m needy like that.  In a good event, the critiques just become endless sources of validation that what I’m doing is good and I need that.

Well the first day with the coach I was still in the fantasy world.  Watching him create a routine and seeing the possibilities was great.  Getting a chance to do the same steps gave me an opportunity to try it on and see that it isn’t outside my abilities.  So it is still a new and exciting experience.

Last night, when we started working on it, all I could picture was the months of work ahead.  It was like I was at the bottom of a hill looking at the steps I’d have to do to get where I wanted to go.  Part of my mind just wanted to still be in the fantasy – OK most of my mind.  So it made for an off lesson and that’s why she was confused since I was so enthusiastic on Tuesday.

But I did look through all the critiques.  One common theme was eye level.  I guess I still like to look at Kid T while I’m dancing but the height differences make my head look down and that’s no good.  There were other scattered comments about watching footwork and frame.

There were also some really good comments.  I’m going to have to look at them again to try and get some of these down.  In one Mambo heat, I think I started off time but fixed it and the judge made a note about it being a nice recovery.  There were lots of comments about how certain dances seemed to fit me or that I had a good feel for them.  Fox Trot was one which was cool.  Tango seemed to be my struggle spot this time around.  But, on balance, there was a lot of nice feedback and the overall impression I walked away with was that there has been improvement since the last Showcase and that’s a good thing.

I know I couldn’t tell all that to Kid T because I’d end up rambling like crazy.  I’ll have to hit the highlights.  Yes, I still want to do the Waltz.  Yesterday was just a bad day because I wasn’t ready to fully get back to work.

I did have one sad thought though.  The overall tone of the comments was positive and there were some dances they really liked.  I’ve got skills.  But I’m still primarily learning from Kid T and Sunny who are still young and not very experienced.  I only saw OwnerGuy a handful of times.  I just wonder how much further along I’d be if he had done the number of progress checks he is sort of expected to.  I guess we’ll never know.


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