Multiple Forks in the Road

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Last night, Kid T asks if I still wanted to continue with the Quickstep and Argentine Tango.  Since I rarely think these things out, I said yes because I have enjoyed both dances.  Well, to be honest, I haven’t really met a dance I don’t like except Merengue and that hardly counts.  So we agreed to give that another shot on our second lesson after first going through some more of the open routines.

The problem with having multiple instructors on the same dance is that they all teach slightly differently and they all emphasize different points.  The amalgamation we worked on was basically the start of the routine I did with Sunny but Kid T cut down on the rotation I usually got before the Spin Turn.  That wasn’t a problem but she changed part of the routine to loop it in a different place to cut out all the more advanced stuff that Sunny was giving me.  (Not sure if that was her call or OwnerGuy).  The problem is that I’ve got the routine burned into muscle memory and the looping actually requires rotating in a different direction.  I could do it slow but when the music picked up, the muscle memory took over and I kept breaking into Sunny’s routine.

At one point, OwnerGuy yells at us from his lesson to keep the frame up.  Kind of wanted to tell him to just shut up.  If you aren’t going to be an active piece of my development, then you don’t get to toss out random critiques while we are focused on a different thing.  Free up your calendar and do a real progress check or just keep your opinions to yourself.  Drive by comments aren’t helpful.

There is one other problem with the Quickstep which may be something Sunny didn’t feel or chose to ignore.  But my rise isn’t quite right because I’m supposed to stay slightly down and in flexed knees through the slows.  Kid T was telling me that if I pop up too much then it won’t look right and the judges would notice.  Part of me was thinking “Screw the judges” but more on that later.

Now, I look younger than I actually am (you’ll have to take my word for that but people have said so) and I’m reasonably fit so it is easy to assume that I can do almost anything.  This is the problem with arthritis.  There are no visible outward signs – well except when my knee swells up but you can only see that if I’m wearing shorts.  It doesn’t actually prevent me from doing anything but, there is a cost associated with extended periods of certain activity.  It is a degenerative thing that is never going to get any better.  Depressing but that is my reality.  The shots I got earlier this month have helped but I’m still going to be vulnerable to pain and stiffness if I overwork the joints.  Again, this is not whining, this is my reality.

And, I think that my body has tried to compensate for the pain so that when I try to do dance moves that are stressful, my body reacts in ways I’m not really aware of.  I’m sure my rise and fall is just a reaction to trying to keep the knees flexed while moving on them.  I’ve had countless instructors tell me that it is just like walking but it isn’t even close.  Weight bearing on a bent knee is going to cause me some pain and stiffness the next day.  That’s a given.  The amount of pain is based on how much activity I do.  So I have to fight my natural reflex to not place myself in positions that I know the knee is not going to like.

Which is also why I resist like heck when some instructor tries to get me to do something like that.  Yeah, that’s a lot of fear talking because I’m afraid of seriously messing up my knee.  I know it holds me back.  I know it keeps me from giving more.  But I seriously just don’t know how much more I have to give.

And that brings up back to competitive dancing.  If I can’t make things look like they are supposed to, is it really worth continuing down this path?  I’m always going to be at a disadvantage to someone with better knees.  There is only so much compensation that can be done.  I know some of the rise comes through the ankles but, again, there is only so much you can cover up.  Tango is supposed to be danced down and I certainly can’t do that without paying a high price.

The big dance events are certainly expensive and there are better ways I could use the money.  I suppose one could argue whether it really makes any sense at all to spend the money when I have no shot of doing well.  (Oh, that’s a little defeatist, let’s say the odds are stacked against me)  On the other hand, the value of money for me is more in the experience that it creates and I really did enjoy the last Big Dance Event.  Of course, that was also due to having a gang to hang with.  Without that, I’d be dependent on the kindness of strangers (or readers) to have some fun at the social dances.

To be honest, I’m really not getting the level of preparation that others are getting in the studio.  Kid T is good but, as we’ve covered on multiple occasions, she doesn’t stack up against Z or OwnerGuy and dancing just with her is also going to put me behind the curve when it comes to what the judges are looking for.  However, doing well at a competitive event does not come close to being enough motivation for attempting to dance with Z again.  That door is permanently closed.  So I’m dependent on the few crumbs OwnerGuy tosses my way and with Cosmo and Sunny leaving, he’s going to be tied up with his students.  So is it even smart to continue working on open routines?

On the other hand, enough people (including at least one judge) have told me that they like certain things I’ve done.  I’m not a top competitive dancer and some people like what I do.  And I do love the rush of doing a solo routine.  So I could keep working towards Showcases where the judges do critique but I think their primary purpose is to make you feel good about your dancing so you get a lot of nice feedback.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what I want to do and the problem is that I have no real idea.  I think this is a repeating pattern.  I start to feel good about things at the Famous Franchise and there is a disturbance in the force that just leaves things unsettled.  I then pick up on that and start to question what I should be doing with my dance life.

Well, I didn’t really solve anything here because I still don’t know.  If I’m not cut out to be a real competitive dancer, then what can I be.  I know I can do performances and people respond to those.  Could I just devote my time there and not worry so much about trying to master open and closed routines in nine dances?  No, because just doing solos at Showcase would make for a long day so there is a reason to keep up with the other dances.

Maybe we’ll just ride along for a bit and let events determine my proper course.



One comment

  1. Ah, yes–Rheumatoid arthritis, I know thee well. The recent flare I’ve been dealing with definitely put a crimp in m check-out performance and I’m worried sick about my upcoming January return to the competitive floor. Hard to manage full Cuban motion with a hip and knee screaming obscenities at you!! Ah, the joys of ballroom … LOL

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