Moving in Stereo

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I’m driving home from my lesson and a whole bunch of things are rattling around inside my brain.  This post may jump from point to point in a seemingly random fashion or it might make perfect sense.  I have no idea since it is just going to be more stream of consciousness.  But that’s mostly how I roll.  Just wanted to warn you up front.

Have you ever listened to music on an AM station.  Or even on an FM station but through a crappy radio or some other piece of equipment.  It is still music but it is flat and one dimensional and doesn’t really have much power.  But play music through a nice speaker system or with some great headphones and you get full stereo and the music just comes alive.  Which, for me, just makes it easier to get lost in and it has more emotional impact.

So, last night and tonight, Kid T was introducing a new Silver Step and blending it in to our closed routine.  Last night was a fall away swivel in Mambo and tonight was a weave in Fox Trot.  Neither one is particularly hard – at least to get the basic footwork down but both left me cold.  And I was struggling with that on both lessons because she’s wanting feedback and I’m digging in and there just isn’t anything there.  As I told her tonight, I don’t hate the step but I don’t love it either.  There is some similarity in the Fox Trot step to one we do in Peabody and she thought that would be a plus.  It is but in my mind I was comparing how that step felt to how the Peabody did and there was no comparison.

But then I had to stop myself because that’s an unfair comparison.  I’ve been doing the Peabody for a lot longer and the footwork has become so automatic that we’ve been able to move on to other things to strengthen the connection and the lead/follow and make the step flow much better.  I forget sometimes that they like to start with the feet and make sure you know where you are going and then move on to other things.  Kid T tells me this all the time.

Problem is that I generally want it all and I want it all RIGHT NOW.  It is very much like the music analogy.  Learning the steps is like listening to an AM station.  When that was all you knew, it wasn’t an issue.  But once you got an AM/FM radio and some good speakers, it was very hard to go back and listen to music on AM.  Really the same thing here.  We’ve got other dances that have advanced to a point where we have a stronger connection and it makes the lead/follow better and it brings the dance more to life.  And that makes it hard to go back to a stage where things are flat and dull and really don’t speak to me.

There is another part to this and that is because this is a closed routine.  When I’m learning a solo routine, I’ve found that this stage is more manageable.  You still have those periods where you are just learning choreography and the dance is clunky but once you’ve picked a song and started thinking about costumes and other things, there is a vision of what it can be and that helps get me through this stage.

See, a solo routine is really about the only thing you can “own”.  Well it is a joint ownership but I’ve found them to be truly special.  You pick the song, you get to do some parts that may not be in any syllabus and you have some freedom to add little flourishes to truly make it your own.  That makes it easier to stay focused because the stuff getting you to the finished product is rough.

A closed routine is different.  You are doing steps from the syllabus and, while there are variations, there are still a limited number of options.  You can fit the pieces together in different ways but, even there, there are limits.  In a studio like ours, with other dancers working at my level, you see a lot of similarities.  And I’ve got this whole part of me that wants to be unique and special and that is hard to do when everyone is doing basically the same thing.  Its just another reason why it can be hard for me to get truly jazzed about a new step. Sometimes, they speak to me and I can fall in love with them the first time I do them.  Other times, it is more of an acquired taste and you have to keep grinding until you can start to work on the connection and parts that will add color and dimension to the step.

Anyway, the good news is that we are adding new stuff to the closed routines.  I’m happy we are doing that.  It is just a battle for me to keep expectations low and find a way to focus and keep going when the step feels flat and one dimensional.  I know that in time it won’t feel that way and I have to be a little patient and let the learning process run which isn’t always my strong suit.

BCBallroomDancer’s last post linked to a blog from an instructor in her region about personality types in dancing.  I’d link to it but then they’ll know I’ve linked to it and I still want to keep a low profile.  So I’m not giving proper credit but you know I got this from someone else.  I would fit very well into what he describes as an Amiable type.  The thing that spoke to me about the description was that we are technical but only to a point because focusing too much on the finer points may make use lose the personal connection to dance.  It is unsaid there but it is the personal connection to dance that is the most important thing.

On a side note, that article helps to explain why Z and I flamed out.  She would be a classic Driver personality – results oriented, impatient and someone who wants to win.  It was probably inevitable that she’d run over me and get frustrated because I wasn’t as driven and more about the emotional connection.  But that’s not important to this discussion – it was a side benefit of reading this article.

And I’m sure that makes me sound a little weird.  Why in the world would you spend all that money and devote all that time to doing this if you aren’t trying to win competitions.  It took me a long time to realize how much I needed something like dance to speak to give me an opportunity to exercise my creative and artistic side and something I can really get a strong emotional attachment to.  Not really a reason I can effectively explain to anyone but I dance because of how it makes me feel.  And I’m at my best when I’ve reached a point where the dance is more than the footwork and I can start to connect more to the music.  When I’m moving in stereo.

Having now put all these random thoughts down, I feel better about these last two lessons than I did when I first walked out of the studio.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  If you made it through all this, then thanks for putting up with it.

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