Getting the Groove Back

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There have been some side effects to the long layoff and having two instructors leave. It has just been hard to feel any sense of stability so my dance journey has kind of been like a boat cut loose from the pier. Just kind of randomly drifting across the lake without a real destination in mind – going where the wind and current take it.

Now I have at least one goal – to get to Showcase and do this Tango. But in a lot of ways, I realized I was still kind of just drifting. Some of the things I used to do to help me learn faster kind of fell by the wayside. I have always been a note taker. For me, the process of writing down the steps helps me lock in a visual picture that I can use to go over a pattern in my mind.

It is kind of like writing an outline. Start with a general overall sketch of what needs to happen and then I can add little notes and bullet points at appropriate places. Like timing and foot placement and direction and even what foot I’m supposed to end on. I don’t do well just looking at a video. Eventually, I do get into working through some parts on my own but the first step is always writing it down.

And I used to do that at the end of every lesson. Sometimes, they’d yell at me to join group class and I’d be a little late because I was frantically trying to scribble down some last reminders. It works best when things are fresh in my head. A lot of times, it is just a matter of picking up a few key points on every lesson that I can add to my outline.

As a system, it works for me. The evidence is all the routines that I’ve done. Yes, taking lessons helps but that can’t be all you do.

And I had fallen out of that habit. Partly because of some of the new realities of the studio. They have to wipe down tables between students so sitting for too long after a lesson kind of makes it difficult for them to do what they need to do. Not that there was ever any “get out” vibes but it was more of a general understanding of the situation. Plus, after dancing for 45 minutes in a mask, I’m so ready to just rip that thing off so it is a distraction to sitting longer after a lesson to write things down.

But each lesson has been videoed so I finally took the time today to transcribe each video into an outline. Took a lot of rewinding and starting over so I could focus on the feet and then focus on OwnerGuy calling out the timing. There are still gaps and things to fill in but at least I have a start.

One problem is my writing leaves a lot to be desired. So I have to read it over and clarify parts where my scrawl started to really become illegible. But I can read it and see the action in my mind. Right now, it is four pages long and OwnerGuy still has a little to add. My level of detail on the stuff we just learned last Thursday isn’t there yet so that’s where I’ll need to focus. Writing it down also gives me an opportunity to see where the information gaps are and what questions I still need to ask.

Most of all, it feels active. Relying on the lessons alone just ended feeling too passive. With this relatively small first step, it starts to feel like I’m in control of that boat and taking it somewhere – not just aimlessly drifting with the current.

And that makes me feel a little better about tonight’s lesson.

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