The Blank Canvas

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Has been a busy couple of days.  Lots to say.  So let’s get started.

I get to Studio B basically right when my lesson is supposed to start.  Mindy is finishing up with the lesson right before me which is a Tango.  I’ve seen this guy in some of the group classes and we’ve talked a little bit and he’s seen me dance.  Anyway, he asks if he can watch our practice because he’s just learning Tango and the fact that we are doing a Swing/Tango combination intrigues him.  I didn’t have a problem with it so I said that’d be fine even though a lesson can be a bit boring as you just drill on parts over and over again.  I think he realized that because he didn’t stay too long.  He did get back in time to see us do one final run through of what we had and he seemed to enjoy it.

We tried the Swango to music a few times.  I’m having some problems when the swing transitions to Tango.  I can hear the Swing pretty well but I’m having some troubles picking up the Tango.  And the adjustment from Swing to Tango is a bit harder than I thought.  Probably because I’ve got all this energy from the Swing and you have to cool it down to start hitting the slows in Tango.  Still, its coming along.  I’m always my worst critic but I don’t have any major problems with anything.  Just a matter of repeating it and getting the timing and transitions down.

For Hustle, we worked on some new choreography and added it to what we previously had.  Ever have one of those moments when your brain gets seriously overloaded?  I wouldn’t say I’m slow to pick things up but I do have my limits.  I do sometimes need a bit of time to process what I’ve learned so when I get with rapid fire series of things, it tends to overwhelm me.  That happened a bit yesterday as she kept hitting me with steps and then we’d try to do them and I’d just hit a wall where I really couldn’t remember what came next.  But, with time, it did all sort of come together.  I like that Mindy is really enthused about doing this.  It was a very productive lesson though.

Tuesday, I had my workout.  This is with the male trainer and he tends to push me just a bit harder than the woman I work with on Friday.  He seems to like to focus on shoulders and upper body so we did a lot of that.  I tell people that the day after a workout, its like a treasure hunt.  Which muscle group is going to be sore?  I don’t generally know until I start moving and then, sooner or later, something pops up.  But it was a pretty tough workout so I was a little tired coming into my lesson last night.

And, we had a coaching lesson to start with.  This is a coach I’ve worked with many times before and she’s judged a Showcase where I danced so she has some idea what I can do.  The focus was RUMBA.  I knew that’s what it was going to be which is fine because Kid T said she might have some ideas of how to change up the Rumba so I can start to get into it.

I had to repeat my line about how I need to “feel” the dance to really enjoy it and that I haven’t found a way to really get into Rumba.  It doesn’t move like the smooth dances and it is kind of low energy.  It gets easier to say this stuff although it still sounds a little silly when I say it.  But I guess it is better than trying to hide the truth and hoping they get it.  Still, you can feel like some bad method actor.  “What’s my motivation for doing the Rumba”.  She actually seemed like she understood where I was coming from and then asked what I liked about the rest of the dances and I explained that.

Then, the work started.  We first tried to dance the Rumba but I just blanked at the new parts.  No matter, she wanted to work on the start which was the part I thought I knew.  Turns out she didn’t want to change any of the steps but just wanted to change how they were danced.  We do a half box to a side step and then I rock into her and bring her across in a cross body lead.  She wanted me to really get my weight over my right foot on the step before I rock into her.  This will kind of draw Kid T in and give me a better ability to really “bounce” her off me with the rock.  Then, she wanted the same type of action on the cross body lead.  It felt a little like Tango with me kind of tossing Kid T around although I wasn’t really doing that and the coach agreed that it was Tangoesque (not a word but I’m keeping it.  If people can make verbs out of nouns, then I can create new words by adding things at the end)

So she tells me that in some ways, Rumba is like a blank canvas and we can use that to make certain parts of the dance like other dances.  It gives you opportunities to create contrast within the dance.  Some parts are danced softly and some parts you can dance with quick, sharp moves.  You can work the connections to create a rubber band feel that is a bit like Hustle.  As she said to me, most people think Rumba just needs to be sexy but you can do so much more with it.  If you’ve read my ramblings for any length of time, you know that I probably could have fit very well into Victorian society and trying to be “sexy” just isn’t me.  Especially when I’m dancing with someone who is so much younger.  So this is a nice change and something I can get behind.

She ended up going through the dance piece by piece and making little suggestions everywhere.  In one part, she wants certain moves to be sharp and fast.  There is a part where I roll her out and then get her in some kind of weird shadow position and we do a little grapevine to the right and then back to the left where I release her.  She related it to a Waltz step which wasn’t a perfect analogy but it was good and it did reinforce that this was a step that could move a little bit.  Already mentioned the rubber band (positive/negative) connection that she wanted even more of in one part.  That was nice because all I’m doing is rocking but this now gives me something to focus on and I have to do better weight shifts and get my body weight more over a foot to create the feel.  And I think that will create more movement and make it more dynamic.

Again, it was a lot of information crammed into a very short period of time.  At the very end of the lesson, she wanted us to try the whole thing.  I’m not really sure how (maybe I just turned my mind off and went on autopilot), but we got through the whole routine without me really having to think about which step came next.  And I was able to add in a lot of what she wanted.  It really did change the feel of the dance because it created contrast in a lot of places which kept it from feeling flat and colorless.

There was one time when we were trying to make the one step more Tangoy.  (Again, not a word but I don’t care)  Both Kid T and the coach really thought I had gotten into it.  The coach said she could read it on my face.  And then Kid T asks if I was in the “performance zone”.  Yeah, I probably was in that minute.  The good thing is that she took a stale closed Rumba and gave it some new life.

On our lesson after the coaching lesson, we just worked on Peabody and Viennese Waltz.  Did manage to improve the kick pivots and also managed to get the dance to move around just a small section of the floor which was pretty nice.  I’d say more but it is kind of a blur.  I just know that we made a couple of small tweaks to each dance and they are both improving.  I was tired coming out of the studio but there was a nice feeling of accomplishment which is what happens when you have some successful lessons.

I was talking with another student before my lesson with Kid T.  He and his lady friend had a lesson with the coach earlier and he was telling me that she was giving him pointers to make his dancing look more smooth.  Then he says “like you since you always look smooth”.  I really don’t know why but sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around things like that.  Again, if you’ve read this for any length of time, you know that I love ballroom but it can seriously tie me up in knots.  Sometimes, I hear comments like that I want to say “do you know what I mess I am”.  Then, I realize that some people don’t see the internal demons that I have to keep at bay (and they don’t read this).  All they see is a dancer they like to watch and maybe a dancer they’d like to emulate.  Do I really want to be a role model?  I guess so.  It is still a bit weird at times.

Now, for something completely different.  I don’t know why but I sometimes feel compelled to share some of the little quirks that make me tick.  This is what life is like for an INFP.  Today at work, I get a pile of papers to review and they are clipped together.  Well, I always take the paper clips off.  But that usually means that I end up with a stack of paper clips and binder clips (I hate those) on my desk or stuffed in a drawer.  Well, back in the fall, when there were questions about my future at the company, I started to purge and all the paper clips and binder clips went in the trash with no guilt at all.

So, I toss the clip into the waste basket and start to review the stuff and this little voice inside my head says “you shouldn’t have thrown that away”.  Then this vision popped in my head of this clip buried somewhere in a landfill and feeling sad.  Yes, I know paper clips don’t have any feelings … that we know of.  But it just felt “wrong” to leave him in the trash so I fished him out and reclipped the stack of papers.  It made me feel better.

Well, now I’m off to the studio for another lesson.  Not sure what we’ll be working on but I’m sure there will be enough material for another post.

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