Underwhelmed

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Getting feedback after a Showcase was always something I looked forward to.  The first lesson after was kind of like Christmas – wanting to rip open the presents and see what you got.  It was validation.  These wonderfully talented dancers saying nice things about me.  And I could usually live with the areas for improvement because what they said (and didn’t say) was my yardstick.

Last night, I got there and I didn’t even open my book.  Partly because I didn’t think they’d be ready and partly because I wasn’t all that excited about it.  Another dancer who was at the Showcase came in and asked about feedback and let me know she had received hers.  So I knew it was probably in the book but I still didn’t really feel compelled to look.

Went to group class first which was a total waste of time.  Z took a step from a Country Waltz and taught it in a Waltz class.  Think she did that because one of her students is big into country dancing so this was a way to use a group class to get him more practice.  Country Waltz is a bit faster and there is less rise so the steps flow differently than a regular Waltz and I think this step lost a lot in the translation.

Then my lesson starts and Kid T opens the book and she’s a bit surprised that I haven’t looked through everything yet.  So we started with the smooth critiques because she wanted to take their feedback and apply it to a dance so I could start to incorporate what they were saying.

It was really the same type of comments I’ve received before.  About half of them were just one liners commenting on things like my facial expressions or how it looked like I was having fun.  And then there were the typical comments on watching posture and other things.  There was one comment about musicality on the Fox Trot which was OK.

I suppose I should just take the good comments as a sign that they didn’t see anything glaring in the heat and I can only imagine how tough it is to fill out all of those cards while trying to think of something useful to say.  Still, I came away underwhelmed.  All the stress leading up to this event.  All of the doubt and fear and insecurity and work to get the routines right and all they can say is “you look like you’re having fun”.   Somehow seems anti climatic.

It hit me harder than I expected and I really don’t know why.   I’m just reading those things and not finding anything I can really latch on to that gives me hope that I’m moving forward.  I almost didn’t hold it together.  Yes, the emotions are still a bit stirred up and raw – not just because of dance but that’s where it came out.  It may really just be a sign that I’m placing way too much importance on what comes back on the paper.  Maybe is best to just dance the best I can and have fun and that makes a successful event.

The general theme of the comments validates what I think of myself anyways.  “Fun” is kind of an understatement for what I’m feeling when I’m out there.  So what reflects on my face is real.  I think there has to be some appeal to that because if you look mostly relaxed and joyful then it is probably more entertaining to watch.  Because people do seem to like watching me dance.  So my skills play to a general audience.  But, like many dancers, there are the technical flaws that those who know dancing well are going to pick up on.

And I can accept that I’m not perfect.  Heck, that’s easy for me.  But when you see the same comments repeated over multiple Showcases, it is hard to feel like there has been any progress.  And the feeling of being on a treadmill – working hard but going nowhere – is not something I enjoy.

So Kid T is starting to talk about goals and things and I’m like “I can’t really sort any of that out right now”.  I did let on about some of things I’m feeling.  Some of it is stuff she’s heard before – like my feeling that I’m not making any progress.  And some of it was my nagging insecurity which has been a problem most of this year and does color my dancing a bit.  I know she needs to know a little about what is going on inside my head but it is so hard to talk about.  My feelings are mine and I’m loathe to share them unless I really know and trust the person.  Not that I don’t trust Kid T but when you have to share fears and insecurities, you leave yourself open and vulnerable and if you do that to the wrong person, then it gives them weapons to use against you.  Kid T has certainly not done that but I’ve given trust to another dance instructor and assumed a connection that didn’t exist and it ended badly.  That experience alone just makes it harder for me to really want to open up.  Some wounds don’t heal easily.

I already have a sneak peak about the rhythm comments and there is going to be a theme about forward poise which I know is a problem.   And I also know it is something we’ve worked on.   So, here’s my frustration in a few bullet points – not just with forward poise but with some of these other concepts.

  • Something is not “real” to me until I can feel it and know how “right” is supposed to feel and then I can figure out how to move my body to get the “right” feeling.
  • If the difference between “right” and “wrong” is too subtle, then I can’t feel the difference and that’s when something becomes inconsistent.  Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t.
  • I know repetition is the key but if I can’t feel it, then I can’t replicate it and practices and lessons become a grind and it gets frustrating (see the treadmill analogy above)
  • When the lessons become a grind, it sucks all the fun out of dancing and then I’m left wondering why I’m spending money just to frustrate myself.
  • The longer I go before “getting” a concept, the more room for doubt and fear that I’ll never get it and the more likely I am to go into my “I’ve peaked” mode.  There is nothing worse than a challenge that can’t be met.  Where you keep jumping but keep knocking the bar off.  Can’t quit because that would be worse but to keep trying and failing is not good either.
  • Also, the longer I work on a single concept, the more and more it feels like I’m not making any progress especially when I see others who seem to be moving on up.

Could I be happy just saying “screw the finer points of technique” and just go all in for entertainment value?  Short term, yes but long term I don’t think so.  Some of the “showier” things we do are only possible because I’m somewhat advanced.  Which means you have to keep moving forward.  But how do I know if I’m making progress?  And you have to find a way to keep fun in there somehow or else I get frustrated and bored and start to act up to sabotage my own lessons just to give me something different to do.

I’ve just reread the paragraph above and I have no idea how to formulate that into a coherent thought or thoughts to give Kid T something to work with.  Guess I have a little bit of time before the lesson tonight to see if I can come up with something.

 

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