Knees and Toes

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Well mostly knees but that would make a boring title. Our first lesson covered Bolero and Argentine Tango. They run a group class at the same time as our lesson and this one was a Waltz so it was going to travel meaning they split the room and we got to dance on the small floor behind the curtain.

To be honest, there are nights when dancing on the small floor is not a lot of fun. Last night, Z had Tex and his wife and the new guy was working with someone on their routine for Showcase. A solo naturally takes up a little more space and because it was one of their last chances to practice, we tried to work around them as much as possible.

I know they make the argument that this also helps you practice floorcraft but sometimes you want to focus specifically on a particular step or technique that you need to master. And dividing your focus isn’t always a good thing. It makes things feel different when you are trying to do something and then have to adjust midway because someone is Viennese Waltzing right at you. Or when the instructor is making a point and you are trying to watch her and your focus is there and not on people around you. Again, this is why I always say that the floorcraft argument is a bit bogus because, in a situation like Showcase, everyone is doing the same dance and part of your job is to be on the lookout for other couples. When you spend significant time on a lesson making sure you aren’t going to get in someone’s way, I think it does reduce the effectiveness of the lesson.

Our second lesson was going to be Tango and Fox Trot and OwnerGuy was supposed to join us. Now, I am going to have to ask for clarification on what that means. Does it mean he is there for the majority of the lesson and he is the primary instructor. Or does it mean that he just makes kind of a cameo appearance to briefly fix one or two things and then moves on. Plus, I am going to have to get some clarification on the cost and whether it makes a difference.

Because I’m going to go on a little rant here. Look, I’m not a confrontational kind of guy and sometimes I think people take advantage of that and it kind of ticks me off. Just for example, they have JoNY super booked with people meaning that she’s always on a lesson when I get in. They don’t guarantee that your lesson will start on time but I believe there is only supposed to be a five minute grace period. Well, JoNY gets a lot of new students and she needs to schedule follow up lessons and/or answer a significant amount of questions so that five minutes often turns into ten. If I was anal about it, I would be keeping track so I could go to OwnerGuy with data and maybe I’ll need to start doing that. Plus, our first lesson is right before the second group class, so she typically ends ours with about 5 minutes left to allow for a transition. Well 10 minutes at the beginning and 5 at the turns a 45 minute lesson into a 30 minute lesson. Not saying this happens all the time but I tend to let things like that slide until they start to become more common and then it starts to bug me.

Well, the second lesson starts and OwnerGuy is still talking with his student. So we go over the Tango and he’s still busy with his student. Part of me gets this but the other part of me that honors commitments doesn’t. We go over the rough parts of the Tango and he’s still busy so we start in on the Fox Trot. See here’s the problem. In an OwnerGuy lesson, JoNY doesn’t really prepare anything because he’s supposed to look at certain things that we are struggling with. If she could fix it, she would. But we need him to make any progress. So, right now, we are just getting in a little extra practice on the Tango and Fox Trot. Not bad but not what was advertised.

OwnerGuy finally wraps up with his student but Z grabs him to help her with Tex on whatever dance they were working on. OK, this does piss me off. I’m sure in her mind it was only going to be a minute or two so what’s the problem. Except it turned into a little more than a minute or two. And it really makes me feel like a second class citizen. He is always going to help her first and she always feels like she can call him over at any time. I guess because Tex spends a lot more money and does the Big Dance Events that he gets the special treatment. Class structure does exist in the dance studio. He finally finishes with her and JoNY asks if he’s coming but he has to get a drink and then he finally shows up to offer some advice.

He did give several constructive comments which is why is certainly would have been nice to have had him on the lesson for more than 15-20 minutes. But it also pointed out one problem. We have this same foot lunge in the Tango where I’m supposed to take a strong step into her with my right leg and bring my right side forward. Then, I do a little hip rotation to get her to move in a certain way and then, to get out of it, I’m supposed to transfer my weight to the left foot and rotate out of it. This was the part that was not going well.

And then I watch him do it and listen to his comments and a little light goes on. See, I’m supposed to have the majority of my weight on my right leg in the lunge which makes for more momentum when I shift weight back to my left leg. Well, to try and make the lunge a little deeper, I was keeping weight in my left leg. Not exactly split weight but enough to throw off the whole getting out of the position.

The problem was this was kind of an unconscious move. The right knee has the arthritis and one of the absolute worst things for it is for me to be doing weight bearing stuff on a bent knee. So I was just naturally leaving some weight in my left leg to protect the joint. From talking with the occupational therapist, this is typically what happens. You start to recognize what causes pain and your body kind of takes over to adjust to make things less painful. Except, in this case, it messes up the step.

So I have to find a position where I can do a “lunge” but have the vast majority of my weight on my right leg. I was explaining to him that I was keeping weight in my left leg and why and I’m not sure it registered.

I want to be optimistic and assume I can find a safe middle ground and I probably can. I know there are others who dance with arthritis so I’m not alone here. I don’t want to throw a little pity party for one but it just continues to get frustrating to run up against this limitation and trying to figure out how to accommodate for it. And, in the back of my mind, there is always this little voice saying that any accommodation is going to look like improper technique to a judge. There always going to tell me that I need to lower or push out more strongly or whatever else people with two good knees can do.

Oh, and part of the lesson was OwnerGuy trying to get me to sign up for coaching with the judges who are coming to Showcase. I told him no. For lots of reasons but none that I really want to share. I know this is my problem where I want to keep things to myself. I know that if I took a lesson, the topic of what I wasn’t at Showcase would come up and I don’t really want to go into the whole job saga to some random Famous Franchise person. Plus, I’m getting tired of having to explain the whole knee thing because I kind of feel like these people don’t get it and they think I’m just making excuses. Of course, in part, I am. I mean I could probably do some of what they are asking for but the cost is more pain and joint damage.

Some days, dance is very good for my mental state. Yesterday was not one of those days. Between the whole “second class citizen” thing and once again having to deal with my fracking limitations just left me wondering “why do I do this?”

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