Language Barriers

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When I first started at Studio B, I was a little concerned about the possible differences in terminology between Studio B and the Famous Franchise.  I had hoped that taking lessons at two studios would be complementary.  Maybe like learning French and Spanish at the same time since the languages are similar in a lot of ways.  Instead, it feels like learning German and Japanese at the same time with nothing in common so I have to constantly shift my mind from one place to the other.  OK, it isn’t really that bad since I may have a slight tendency to exaggerate.  And, I’m not even sure if my point on languages is valid but it sounded good in my head and I’m all about a good analogy.

It also doesn’t help that I really don’t know the names of many of the steps at the Famous Franchise.  Some dances are better than others but, for the most part, I just dance ’em.  If someone held a gun to my head and told me to dance a certain figure, I’d probably have a 50/50 shot at getting it right (good thing for me it is unlikely that I’d ever face that particular situation).  Now, if you told me to dance a certain part of a routine, I could probably nail it.  You should see my notes since it is a mix of step names and descriptions that really only make sense to me.  Something like “that swively step” which makes total sense to me since I can visualize it in the context of a routine.

So, when Mindy asks if I’ve done something before, my usual response is a blank stare followed by a “I don’t think so”.  Because that is ultimately the safest answer.  Set expectations low so if it is actually something that I know, then maybe I look like a quick learner.  Besides, I’ve discovered that the things the Famous Franchise focuses on are completely different, so knowing a step in the way that the Famous Franchise does it has limited value in trying to translate to what Mindy wants.

Case in point, we were doing something called flip flops yesterday.  I found it bore a resemblance to what is called passing twinkles at the Famous Franchise.  So I knew the basic principal of the step which is she moves from one side of me to the other as we progress down the floor.  But, she was all about the shaping of the step and keeping our centers towards each other and not opening up the opposite shoulder.  The concept of keeping your centers facing each other is something the Famous Franchise brings up but, in the passing twinkles, the focus has been on progressing the step to make it move more so I can be bigger.  As a result, we do tend to get a little flat to each other rather than then the somewhat odd curved shape that is created in the flip flops.  Of course, my left shoulder refused to cooperate with me and just kept flying open on the last one so Mindy kept stopping me because the next step was going to fail miserably if we weren’t in the right position.  Even when I tried to keep my center to her, my stupid left shoulder just decided it wanted to go in a different direction.

You would think that with my center towards her and my left shoulder in some wide open position, that it would feel awkward and weird enough for me to not do it anymore.  Alas, that wasn’t the case.  The few times I did it right earned me the dreaded “did you feel that?” question.  I hate that question!  I know for me that dance is really about feel.  You can tell me what to do but when it involves twisting parts of my body in certain ways, my brain can’t always make my body do what it is supposed to so the best I can do is hope that it feels different enough that I can try to recreate that feeling.  If there is an obvious difference, then the question is easy to answer.  If not, then I don’t know how to answer it.  I could be honest and say ‘no, I didn’t feel anything really different’ but that always leads to the disappointed teacher face.   Which is fair because they’ve explained it as best they can and I managed to do it so it should feel different.  Besides, at that point, there really isn’t much more they can do except repeat multiple times and see if I can actually do it right more often than not.  So, I usually end up lying a bit and saying something felt different.  Probably not the best solution in the long run but sometimes it means we can move on to something else which is always a good thing for me.  Spending too long trying to get something right that I can’t feel is frustrating as hell.  Sometimes, you need to just set it aside and come back to it later.

We also ended up doing a pivot which is a step I actually know and one I do in my Fox Trot routine at the Famous Franchise!!  So, you think I’d be set up for success.  Yeah, not so much.  Here’s another thing you hear in dance class that would probably get you in trouble in a lot of other settings.  “Step between my leg and connect to my inner thigh with yours.”   That part of the pivot I’ve done before but I got a little tentative trying to get around her.  Not entirely sure why but the pivot is supposed to move down the line and part of that is on me and I just wasn’t taking strong enough steps to move the thing where it was supposed to move.  I generally do decent pivots at the Famous Franchise but these were more hit and miss.  I suppose it also does depend on the partner since each one dances and feels different.

There is probably still good reasons for continuing at both places.  Just don’t think the knowledge transfers as readily as I thought it might.

OK, this song has only a loose relationship to the post – talk/language.  All you do is “talk talk” which is meant in a bad way in the song but sometimes, it does feel that way with an instructor.  They try so hard and I just hear words because I can’t figure out what they want me to do.

Besides, I’m a sucker for good 80’s synth-pop.  And bands that have a song that is the same as the band name.

Just for fun, here’s a bonus track.  (I’m in a good mood)  The comment about a band having a song title that is the same as the band name naturally made me think of these guys.  Also from the early 80’s.

That’s all.  Goodnight for now.

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