Not So Smooth

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Last night was the smooth night so we were going to work on the Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot and Viennese Waltz.  Since the title probably gives it away, let’s just say that it didn’t go all that well.

I know that I bring a lot of this on myself.  I’m getting ready for Showcase and its been a year since I’ve done one of these events.  Plus I’ve got a new partner and, even though we’ve had six months together, it hasn’t been as much of a natural fit as some of my other transitions.  So I’ve got a pretty big case of the nerves going on right now.

Here’s the deal.  I’ve had events where I’ve been at the top of my game and it felt good.  Yes, I have to admit that I like getting the feedback during an event.  But it means more when I also feel good about what I’ve done.  I have a strong day on the floor and the comments validate that and it is a great accomplishment and it’s wonderful.

But there’s this part of me that starts to twist that into that I have to be at the top of my game because everyone is going to be expecting it.  I can’t screw this up.  If I don’t feel something went well, then the positive comments take on a whole different meaning.  They shouldn’t but they do.  They have to penetrate the layers of “you suck” that I’ve put up and it is hard to do.

And if it doesn’t feel perfect, then it isn’t perfect and there are really only two possibilities – perfection or total and complete failure.  Pretty sure I’ve described this before but it is how things get twisted up inside me and the frustration of not being able to be perfect just leads to the feelings that I’m a failure.  And that just makes me want to run out of the studio and never come back.  Haven’t quite figured out how to have that intervention with myself to keep it from getting that far.  In the calmness of a new day, it is easy to sit here and write about and realize how silly it all is.

So, if you are going to spiral into a dark place, the best way to have that happen is to forget a crucial piece of your Fox Trot routine.  The first half of the Fox Trot is basically what I used to do with Kid T and it is familiar and generally goes well.  Once we hit the pivot, I’m supposed to come out with some kind of back twinkle and supposed to end up rotating to a certain alignment to make the curved run go where it needs to go.  I know that when we last worked on the Fox Trot, OwnerGuy helped us fix that part but my notes were incomplete and I would reach into my memory banks but come back empty.

Well, JoNY wants to keep practicing and she’s probably right.  Sometimes, something will come to you through muscle memory but that was shooting blanks as well.  In my head, repeating something over and over when you don’t know what you are doing is wrong because you could probably the incorrect pattern into your muscles.  Then, it could come out at the wrong time.  So we sort of worked around it and did what we could.

But, having started down this path, I can easily get to a place where I get super critical of myself.  I remember bits and pieces of things OwnerGuy has said but I remember them after I’ve done them wrong.  When you’re in a good place, you just repeat it and give yourself a break because nobody remembers everything.  When you are in the bad place, it just further reinforces the “failure” vibe.  I mean, how stupid do you have to be to not remember something so basic.

That was just Fox Trot.  We still had three more dances to do.

Now for an interlude where I discuss a pet peeve with an instructor that I’m just not comfortable saying to them in person.  I know that Showcase is going to be crowded (its not my first rodeo after all).  I know things need to change on the fly.  Yes, doing it during a lesson could help but a lesson doesn’t effectively simulate a Showcase.  There has never been a Showcase where an instructor was on the floor taking a new couple on their first lesson through a box step.

But, and more importantly, if you want me to practice some floor craft, then you have to give me some sign that you trust that I’m not going to get you killed.  If you are freaking out anytime someone gets close, then it just sends a very strong message that you don’t trust me enough to let me steer.  And worse than that, it sends a message to me that I’m not very good at maneuvering around the floor.  Since I don’t want to continue to get that message, I’m much more likely to just stop and start over if we end up near the new couple or the new guy working with his lady right in the middle of our flight path.

Tango was probably better than I give it credit for.  I forgot OwnerGuy’s instructions on the Viennese Crosses but I realized I forgot so it was an easy correction.  The back lock steps out of the pivot still aren’t were I want them to be and the alignment is questionable.  Also forgot and over rotated the Turning Whisk but I fixed that.

Like our Rhythm dances, there are a lot of common steps.  I do pivots in Fox Trot and Tango.  I do shadow spirals in Waltz and Viennese Waltz.  I do a Whisk in Waltz and Tango.  So, like with the Rhythm, my body got confused a few times.  Wait, you just did a sprial.  That means we now do x, y and z.  Start x and an alarm goes off “FEEL AWKWARD, YOU HAVE THE WRONG DANCE”.  Then, I have to try and correct it but that can sometimes be a mess.

Waltz was generally OK.  The Shadow Spirals are still not very comfortable.  We finished with the Viennese Waltz and that was still good.  The pick up to loop is a problem and stopping the run around could be better but it moves better than the other four dances.

I take that back, we ended up going back to Fox Trot.  We skipped the step after the pivot so we just kind of reset and started the next part of the routine.  I guess all of these are passable but there is still that part of me that wants them to be PERFECT!!!

So I was going to leave but the men were seriously outnumbered at Group Class so I decided to stay.  Group was a Rumba with a variation on a step I’ve done before.  The ending was a little weird because we did what was essentially an open box.  I finish by moving towards here.  But to end the step and get back in frame, I need to go straight backwards on the slow.  That took a bit to get used to.

That was my Thursday night.  Just a few more lessons until Showcase.



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