Shall we start with something that should be obvious – your success in ballroom is totally tied to your teacher. And there are many things that go into a successful student-teacher relationship. As I have had many teachers in my ballroom life, I may be something of an expert on this. Then again, this is just my opinion so you can take it for what it is worth.
I’m going to say that the two biggest factors are the skill level of your teacher and the chemistry between you. I would say teaching style but different people respond to different teaching styles so I’ve just lumped that into the term “chemistry”. I like chemistry as a word because you are mixing two different people together. Sometimes you get an explosion and that’s not good. (Accept the word of one who knows)
So now let’s get to last night and you’ll see why I opened the way I did. It turns out the JoNY has some type of flu and so she was out yesterday. Z called me earlier in the day and they had booked my lesson with the more experienced instructor. We did Quickstep the last time JoNY was out. But it was my choice whether to come in or not and I decided that it was worth coming in to try some more standard dancing. She had shown me some waltz earlier so why not keep going with that.
I’m going to admit that I’ve had this plan brewing in my head for a bit about maybe picking up some more standard. Since I’ve already done multiple Quickstep routines, maybe something like Waltz would be something we could turn into a little routine like for Showstoppers. So this was an opportunity to just see how that might go.
Now, I have to be clear that this is not meant as a slam on JoNY. She got put in a difficult situation and had her learning curve accelerated to handle the Silver stuff. But there is no comparison to dancing with someone who’s been dancing at a higher level for a significantly longer period of time.
Do you become a better dancer with a more experienced partner? Well yes and no. Clearly my skill level remains the same so it isn’t like things get magically better. But a partner at a higher level can get more out of you with some subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) use of backleading. But I think that does help the learning curve because you are feeling how something is supposed to feel and learning that you can get the rotation you need.
In other words, there were definitely a lot of places where the Waltz felt like a Waltz should feel. I’d tell you what that is but the best word I can come up with is flowy and that’s not even a real word. But it was checking a lot of little boxes for me. Part of it might be the difference between American smooth and International Standard because you close your feet more in Standard. Something about doing that I think gives you more ability to rise and move while you are rising.
So the skill level is clearly there. For me, the whole chemistry thing just takes time to develop. It takes me forever to really start to warm up to someone. I suspect she’s going to be super picky about certain things but I don’t think there would be any major issues.
Right now, my focus is on Showcase and I’m not looking to make any major changes until that is behind me. After that, I’ve got decisions to make. I do think I want to continue working with this instructor but the big decision is how do I split things up.
Then again, I’ve been dancing with JoNY for about 18 months and the expected lifespan of a teacher in the Famous Franchise world is about 2 years. It is entirely possible that the decision will just be made for me. I’ve certainly had no rumblings about JoNY leaving but they are always good at hiding that.