Knees and Toes

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Well I remain in the grips of my self-induced and destructive mind set at the Famous Franchise.  In part it is the difference between learning new choreography and attempting to improve technique in the routines I already know.  Both are difficult but learning a new routine is much more exciting and fun to me.  Yes, I have those moments of self doubt but, unless I am at a total loss with what I’m supposed to do, they don’t hit me as bad.

And, with learning choreography, there is a much more obvious feedback loop.  It it much more clear when you “know” a step.  And the first time you can get through a pattern without stopping, is an obvious milestone.  I guess there is also just the fun of trying to picture performing the routine and what kind of character you need to be in.  So, when I have those lessons, it is much more fun.  And this is also why I’m enjoying Studio B a lot more right now.

Trying to improve technique still avoids me.  It is like holding the carrot on a string in front of a donkey.  You keep moving towards the carrot but you never get it.  It is very hard for me to see or feel progress and it makes it super frustrating because I can’t figure out what is “right” about what I’m supposed to be doing and what is “wrong” about what I’m doing.

Every so often, there is something that clicks and I can honestly answer the question “Did you feel the difference?’  Unfortunately, those seem to be few and far between and then there is always the dilemma about how to answer that question.  When I’m honest and say “no”, I can sense the frustration coming from Kid T.  I mean she’s trying and it might feel better to her (and sometimes she says that) but the difference is subtle enough that it isn’t obvious to me.  Which then frustrates me because if I can’t feel the difference, then I don’t know what to do to move from being “wrong” to being “right”.  If I lie and tell her that I did, then sometimes she knows I’m not being honest or she’ll follow up and ask if I’m just telling her what she wants to hear.  Usually, I can’t keep up the facade for that long and, eventually, it becomes clear that I was lying and we are back at square one.

The other thing is that I do hold back because of my knee.  This is the hardest thing for me to get over.  If I don’t think about it, then sometimes I can find the appropriate balance between the technique she wants and what I’m capable of delivering.  But, when I’m asked to try something for the first time – like this hover step we were doing in waltz where I’m supposed to land and then go into the knee – it is awkward because I just naturally go into self-preservation mode and start doing the least amount possible.  Or, I just stare at her like she’s crazy when she asks me to do these things.

The most frustrating part of these encounters is that she keeps telling me that she knows I’m capable of doing it.  Really, and how do you know?  Are you able to occupy my body and figure out how far I can truly bend the knee?  And this is also the frustrating thing about the stupid arthritis.  As I’ve said on many occasions, if you look at me, there are no obvious signs of physical limitations.  And, right now, the arthritis doesn’t keep me from doing things.  (Well except deep squats which are just right out)  But there is always the unseen price to pay afterward.  She doesn’t see the ice packs and the extra doses of anti-inflammatories.  She doesn’t feel the ache which accompanies working too much the night before.  yes, I’m capable but there is a price and I’ll admit that sometimes I can be a wimp and I don’t want to pay that price.

Oh, and I think I’ve mentioned this before but I’ve also got arthritis in the joints of my big toes.  The left is worse than the right – which is the opposite of the knees.  I mean who seriously gets arthritis in their freaking toes?  This only really bothers me if I rise too much so it is kind of a self-correcting thing except I often can’t stop myself so I risk until the toe strikes back with a nice jolt of pain.  It has been so bad at times that I can’t hold the rise and I just stumble out of it.  And then I mostly keep quiet about it because I figure they don’t really want to here me complain anymore since it will just sound like excuses to them.

In this hover step we were doing in waltz, I got the double whammy of rising in the left foot and then trying to land and soften with the right knee.  So I’d rise and the toe would react and it messed up what I was trying to do with the third step which is what she was trying to get me to do.  So, I’d start playing it safe but then I wasn’t doing enough.  And then she’d hit me with the “I know you can do more”.  And then I gave her the “you are totally crazy” stare.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then, she starts going on about how the judges are going to want to see “x” and how I don’t want to get a whole bunch of feedback about my knees at the next showcase.  Meaning that if I try more, then maybe I can do enough so they can find something else to pick on.

And, then I realize that she really is terrible at providing motivation because these are the wrong things to say.  Which is probably because there are things I just keep locked inside and that she doesn’t know.  Not sure what playbook she’s using for motivation but one size doesn’t fit all.

See, I hear things like that and I just naturally go to truly dark places.  I don’t want to be defeatist but there are physical limitations that will make it difficult for me to do the things she wants me to do.  And, if that’s all the judges are going to see, then why would I even bother doing another comp since I’m never going to measure up to people with fully functioning knees.  And so if I can’t get past some of these technique barriers then I really have stalled out and this is as good as it is going to get.  That gets back to the whole feeling that I’m not just not making progress but that my dancing has really regressed.   Then, I just stop trying and go through the motions to get the lesson over with.  Yeah, comments like that have the opposite effect on me.  Maybe I’m just some bizarro student.

I took last night off because I have family in for a visit.  I’ve got lessons all next week and then we are on vacation.  I kind of feel like a little break will be good for me.


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