Dance Without Fear

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Kind of had a mini-revelation last night but I’ll get to that a bit later.  Yes, that’s a teaser.

The lesson with OwnerGuy was marginally productive which is better than a complete waste of time.  As I told Kid T, the closed Rumba routine is so stale that if it were bread, a squirrel wouldn’t touch it.  I thought that was funny and she liked it but OwnerGuy didn’t seem as amused.  We danced though the routine and I pointed out the parts that are just a series of rock steps (weight changes) and how tiresome it was getting to do those things over and over.

Rumba is really becoming my least favorite dance.  I guess I just enjoy the ones that move a little more.  Also, while I can appreciate a good ballad as much as the next person, a lot of the Rumbas they play are, for lack of a better word, low energy.  Plus, there is that whole thing of the chemistry Rumba is supposed to have which I just have a hard time channeling.  For some reason, I seem to be able to make Argentine Tango work but not Rumba.

Side note – I also have this whole perception that I can’t make the Latin part of Rumba look good so I see someone like OwnerGuy with all his Cuban motion and it starts to deflate me.  Then, I realized that I’m comparing myself to a pro who’s been dancing most of his life and has countless hours of Rumba under his belt.  So I nicely slapped myself back into reality and just focused on what he was saying.

Anyway, he showed me a few of the more advanced Rumba steps and then said we should be incorporating a few of those into the routine to refresh it a bit.  Which is the goal and was the goal for last year but we didn’t quite get around to Rumba.  Maybe the more I whine about it, the more incentive Kid T has to fix it.

Then, we also showed him our Fox Trot because Kid T was concerned about the run around we do and how it sometimes doesn’t go where it needs to go.  He made a minor tweak in how we do it but it requires some major brain power to consciously unlearn the way that has been drilled into my head.  He did point out something about how you land setting up the next move and that seemed to help a bit.

We also showed him our pivot and we do it from a passing twinkle which I then close and go into a twinkle and pivot.  And he says “why are you closing”.  It does kill the momentum and just makes it look like we are doing step 1 followed by step 2.  Instead, he wanted me to go right into the pivot after the last passing twinkle.  (Sorry I’m getting all dance terminology on you here so this might not make a lot of sense to you non dancers)  And, instead of doing it in frame, he wants my left arm extended because it is a cooler look and helps with some momentum.

The other thing he told me to do was to use my size to my advantage.  Kid T is significantly shorter than I am and is light as a feather.  While I’m no Superman, there is enough upper body strength to let her stretch further away because I have more control over her than I think.  In other words, if I just remain solid, she can stretch away like that spring and then, when we go into the next move we really start with a lot of momentum.  And momentum is key in a lot of dancing.  So there were a few concrete things to work on.

Now back to the little revelation I talked about earlier.  It was in group class and we were doing Waltz.  The step was Silver and, while this sounds mean, we have several dancers who are “Silver” meaning that they’ve checked out of bronze and can do some of the figures but really aren’t where they need to be.  The step we were doing is one I’ve done thousands of times since it is in my routine but it really requires the rise and fall to set it up properly.  People weren’t doing that and weren’t getting clean weight changes and weren’t really extending their steps so it was kind of a mess.  That happens in group class so I’m not that worked up about it.

But one of the ladies I had to dance with is one I’ve talked about before.  I was going to go into a rant about how she rarely tries because she’s often not paying attention to what is said and is late starting.  It kind of hit me that what is really going on is that she’s tentative about everything.  I don’t know where that comes from but it is like she is dancing scared.  It is hard to fully describe but she’s not really going for it and so it is like she is just dancing to avoid major screw ups.  But that actually ends up with more mistakes.  When she dances with someone who has lead the step, she can get through it.  When she dances with someone who doesn’t really know then some very strange things were happening.

It again reminds me of a movie scene I’ve used before.  In the original (and far better) Karate Kid, when Mr Miyagi agrees to teach Daniel karate, he gives him a little talk and it was basically that if you agree to do Karate, then give it your all.  If you do Karate so-so, you get squished like a grape.  Well ballroom is kind of the same way except for the grape squishing part.  You have to be all in.  There is no maybe.  And, yes, this is something they’ve been trying to tell me and it is only starting to sink in.  It means letting go of the fear when they tell me to do something.  It means letting go of the excuses for why I can’t do something and finding reasons why I can.  It means putting an honest effort in even when I’ve done something 100 times.  If you spend your time worrying about screwing up, then you are guaranteed to screw up.  It is also about getting over that fear of looking silly or awkward when you are first learning something (that’s a pretty big hurdle though)

To be honest with myself, I’ve accomplished a lot for someone who walked into the studio with no previous dance experience and no real understanding of music.  But the path will be quicker and less rocky the more I’m able to trust the instructor and the process.  To be fair to myself, I had some problems with trusting the instructor previously when I worked with someone who took delight in my screw ups but Kid T is different.  Maybe I’m just now seeing that.  Or maybe I’m just in a strange mood where it is easy to vocalize things that are rolling around inside my head.

I saw another example of this with one of the beginner couples.  It is sad to see a couple dancing where one party is really enjoying it and the other is barely tolerating it.  In this case, it is the guy who never looks like he is having fun.  I got a similar vibe from him as well watching him a bit during group class.  Dancing requires putting yourself out there and if you spend your time worrying about what others might be thinking or how silly you feel, then you are going to dance tentative and it isn’t going to be any fun.

And, don’t get me wrong, I know that this is not an easy hurdle to get over and I’m still struggling with it.  (Except when I have an audience which is still a little weird to me)

I guess where I was going with all this is that almost for the first time, I could really see the impact of listening to the little voices in your head telling you bad things.  OK, I don’t know if these people have the same demons but, for some reason, it felt like that and it was a good lesson in what not to do.

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