I had come to the conclusion that this was neither my best nor my worst Showcase. I felt “off” most of the day. For some reason, I arrived tired and the coffee and energy things never kicked in. It didn’t help that I did nine smooth heats in the first 20 minutes which just left me sweaty and worn out. The sweat went away but the fatigue didn’t. By the time I got to my Mambo routine at the end of the day, I just wanted it to be over. I felt like I wasn’t hearing the music as well I as normally did so it wasn’t a total disaster but just not my best effort.
The critiques from the judges sort of confirmed that but, as always, there were positive surprises. Again, you have to know how to read these things and sometimes it is more what they don’t say than what they say. But you look for common themes within a dance to see where there’s been improvement.
Comments on posture were a mix of positive and negative which is actually a good thing. Last time out, there was more of a theme of keeping my head back which didn’t show up that often. There were specific comments about having good posture in some dances. All in all, my takeaway is that there was improvement there although there is still work to be done.
Got several positive comments on timing in various dances. The one that shocked me was Bolero which I’ve never really felt that comfortable with. But, at least for one heat, I nailed it because the judge even added “Wow” to the comment about timing. Again, I’ll take that as a sign of improvement.
Some of the other good comments were on lines which Z told me once is kind of a cop out when then can’t think of other things to say. But there were comments on nice fluid movements (or something similar since I didn’t write down the exact phrase). That kind of dovetails with the student who told me I make it look easy. I have always felt that one area of strength for me is continuity of movement because I do seem to be able to move smoothly from one step to the next.
I’ve had better scores on the routines which I was going to complain about but then I realized that we really just tossed that Argentine Tango routine together in the last couple of months. The normal process is that you develop a routine at Showstoppers and then expand on it for Showcase so it gives you five to six months to work on it. Not five to six months of continuous work but enough so that you have time to get it down. Also, I’ve tended to do routines twice and the second time is always better. Here, I was doing two new routines (Mambo dated from the last Showstoppers). But the Argentine Tango was really new so getting the scores I did was actually pretty good in retrospect. In the heats we did, I did again get a comment that the Argentine Tango was a good dance for me so that may be true. As with last time, they want me to work on the embrace and get closer to my partner. We’ll see how that goes.
Oh and the last bit of good news was there were many comments about strong leads and I think I mentioned that the coach even told me that it was obvious that I was leading. (Perhaps in contrast to others who weren’t) OK, I’ll take that.
The areas to work on are the top line in the smooth dances. This is a repeat from the last Showcase so it will have to be something we focus on. All about keeping the frame throughout the dance since I have a tendency to drop it in certain places like when we do spirals in Waltz. That is doable.
The rhythm stuff is going to be more difficult. As always, they want more cuban motion and more hips. They also want more rib cage in the Mambo. I know the Cuban motion is bending and straightening of the knees so having one leg straight and one bent creates the hip motion. If I still had two perfect knees, this would not be a problem. But I don’t. The problem is for me to feel something, I have to exaggerate the motion and spending extended time on the bending/straightening just puts too much pressure on my knees. And, yes, I’m afraid to give it my all because I really don’t want to be in pain for the next week or so. So I’m always tentative and really resistant to try anything in this area. Kid T did work on a slightly different approach with Mambo and Rumba. It sort of worked but it wasn’t pain free. One real problem for me is that it is actually difficult to truly straighten my right knee. Don’t know why, it just is. So I can never really hit the kind of sharp line if it requires my right leg to be fully extended. I have better luck with my left leg.
I do wonder sometimes how far I could have gone if the knees were better. But it also makes me wonder if it is really worth spending the money to do a Big Dance Event since I already know I’ve got a strike against me.
I’ve said this before and it still seems relevant. If I put this in Dancing with the Stars terms, I’d be the type of guy who tops out with 8’s and 9’s but keeps going forward because the audience loves his dancing. (With the Peabody last fall, I showed myself that I could reach a 10 under the right set of circumstances). But I’d be the guy kicked out right before the finals. There would always be some technical point for Len (if he is still there since I haven’t watched the show in year) to downgrade me on. And I could hear one of the others saying something like “this is the semi-finals and we need more”. I just wouldn’t have any more to give.
So we go back and see what we can fix with the Cuban motion and try and find some compromise where I can do something that resembles it but doesn’t put too much stress on my knees.
I do actually feel a little better about my dancing though. Strange but true. I read enough to feel like progress was being made and I know I’m still fun to watch which is for some reason important to me.
Did you figure the title out yet? I’m not sure if this song was ever a hit and I’m pretty sure it was the only one that they ever had. Kind of an obscure group with the name Hipsway.
Hip sway = Hipsway
Yeah, its a stretch but talking about hips just made me flash to this so here’s your musical interlude for the day. If you’ve never heard it, it is kind of a catchy little number.