I think it is fair to say that learning to dance isn’t easy. Well, I have to modify that since it goes against what the Famous Franchise preaches. You can walk into a dance studio and take a few lessons and technically you are dancing. But you’ve just scratched the surface of what dancing really is. When you start layering on the lead/follow, timing, posture, poise, choreography, frame, etc, that’s when it stops being easy.
I’ve read a lot about learning styles including articles that talk about how learning styles are basically bunk so I don’t know what the truth really is. It seems obvious to me that people learn in different ways and certain teaching methods are better than others. Maybe it is just attempting to define the styles that is bunk.
Where I’m going with this is that last night was another frustrating lesson and it made me think a little bit more about the bigger picture. I don’t know why these particular steps are giving me more problems because Kid T has taught me other choreography before and it wasn’t as much of a struggle. But these last two weeks have been a struggle and I leave with the frustration needle buried in the red.
Whether there are defined styles or not, I was thinking about what works and what doesn’t. I know that, for me, listening to someone describe a step is often ineffective. It worked in the beginning for simple moves like a box step but, when for more complicated material, it really doesn’t work for me. That becomes more true when you start adding arms and/or other positioning to it. I find that if I can’t visualize how the step is going to work, then just having it explained to me isn’t enough.
This goes along with watching the step demonstrated. I’m probably good for a couple of moves but, if you get beyond three or so, you start to lose me. I guess my mental camera runs out of RAM so I can’t retain it all. The other problem that goes along with that is that once the words start running together, I’m really just looking at the feet to see how the step is supposed to move. Guess I figure if I can walk through it, then maybe we can fix the other things.
The problem with that is sometimes Kid T is really focused on explaining some other part of the step (like alignment or something) and her feet aren’t quite doing the right thing. Or, there can be steps where my movement requires tracking her so the footwork isn’t always going to be consistent or match what she does when demonstrating the step.
The frustration for me starts to kick in when she’s demonstrated some step and I have no real clue how it is supposed to work and then I’m supposed to give it a try. There is probably an element of ego involved her because who really likes to look stupid and incompetent which is what I feel like I’m going to be. Then, when the step blows up (like it typically does), it doesn’t help when she offers some correction or tries to explain what I did wrong. Have that happen a couple of times on the lesson and I’m screaming inside. “You want to know what went wrong? Its because I have no fricking idea of how this step moves or what I’m supposed to do and I’m just stumbling along hoping to get lucky” (For the record, I don’t use “fricking” in my head but I want to keep this post family friendly)
Oh, and this is just a little issue of mine. I hate it when dance instructors make analogies that don’t make any sense to me. “Oh this Waltz step is just like a move in Rumba.” Really? In what universe? There may be some vague similarities between the steps but that’s all. See, they say that and I then my mind starts working to figure out what they meant and how the steps can actually be the same.
So, what does work for me? Honestly, the only thing that really makes something click for me is doing it and feeling it. The problem is the process of getting there. When I’m totally lost and confused and just trying to stumble my through something, then I know my mind starts to close and I start to focus on all the little things I’m doing wrong. And I get to a point where it just sounds like the instructor is speaking a foreign language because now I have no idea what they are saying and no idea how to make this step work. Then, when something finally falls into place, I start kicking myself for getting as frustrated as I was. “How could I have not seen how this step actually works”
And, once I’ve felt it, I have a better shot of recreating it. I think then I can also make my own connections to other steps I’ve done. A lot of times, that isn’t really a conscious thing. I don’t say “oh, that feels like this step”, but I’m able to somehow relate it. I wish I had a more concrete example to give you because this doesn’t make much sense. But it is like I figure out some part of the step that she hasn’t explained and that just happens automatically because it feels like something else. So I’ll sometimes get compliments on things they hadn’t specifically taught me and that I wasn’t even thinking about when doing the step. OK, I don’t know if that is any better but its all I’ve got.
But, for some reason, there is this huge barrier and whatever style or way Kid T is explaining things, it isn’t clicking for me. It was like the step where I had to close my eyes and hope for the best because I just had to let my body figure it out without any other interference. I’m having to do that more often than I would like.
And, since I can’t really explain what she’s not giving me, I find it hard to say anything to her. Mostly, I just give her a blank look or say that I have no idea what she’s trying to say. Then, she wants to know what part is confusing and, most of the time, I’m screaming “Everything!!” in my head.
Anyway, that’s what the last few days have been like. We hit a wall because I’m not following her and the frustration builds because I’m not getting it and the lesson goes way off the rails. Then, when I’m lucky, something finally falls into place and I get it but instead of feeling good, I fell more upset for getting as frustrated as I was. Good times!
Well, tonight is a coaching lesson so we shall see if she can say things in a different way.