Another Step Forward

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I know this was about baseball but it applies to Ballroom as well!

We’ve had some twists and turns at the studio on the way back to whatever “normal” will look like. When they first opened, there were many things in place to limit the number of people in the studio. Those started to relax and we had the in studio event in November. Then came the COVID scare and parties were put on hold even though they did hold the annual Snowball/Showstoppers. Parties have started up again but there are still sign up sheets for both groups and parties to make sure we don’t exceed whatever is the current limit on gatherings.

With luck, we’ll get to Showcase in June and that will be the first multi studio event in our part of the woods since the fall Showcase of 2019. Seems like such a long time ago and the world was so different. But they have introduced some new in studio events like the one coming up on Saturday. This is going to be run like a very limited Showcase (kind of like last year’s baseball season). They will have heats like a Showcase/comp in various dance styles. The smooth is Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot and Viennese Waltz. But a student can only sign up for one heat in each style so it is very scaled back. There will still be masks required and they won’t offer any food or drink there.

I have no idea if they are going to mix levels or how else it is going to run. I guess I will just show up on Saturday and see what happens. This was originally going to be at the end of January but it got pushed back two weeks because of COVID numbers. The good news is that cases have been dropping a lot here and many counties have been moved into categories that allow for larger gatherings. That’s not important for this event but it is what we need to see to get to Showcase.

Anyway, this is what I’ve been working towards and I’m finding there is so much difference between prepping for an event like this and prepping for a solo routine like I was doing last year. In a solo, you have the floor to yourself and you can pick the precise starting spot and you know you aren’t going to be disturbed by any other dancers. The choreography is fixed and once it is learned, you just focus on timing and performance.

While I do have patterns for each of the four dances I’m doing, the starting spot isn’t guaranteed. Plus, if you have other couples on the floor, they might be exactly where you want to be so sometimes you have to be able to call an audible and maybe do something basic to get around the obstacle and/or reset your alignment to get back to the pattern. To continue with the football analogy, leading sometimes requires reading the “defense” or being aware of other dancers so you know where the open space is and whether you can execute the move you had planned or need to go with something else.

With the routine, it is one song and one character. When you do heats, it is multiple dances in a row with a short break in between. It means adjusting the feel and flow of the different dances and shifting gears in a hurry. From the rise and fall in waltz to the more down to earth tango. We have some similarities in the patterns so you have to remember that this is tango and in tango the step goes like this. It is all part of what makes getting through a Showcase (or a comp) such an accomplishment. But I’m here to tell you that it is really hard to do this after taking such a long break and trying to do this with a new partner when neither one of you are really 100% sure of the steps.

While I’ve done a lot of workouts over the last year, it was all focused on strength training. Dancing four dances over and over again on a single lesson is more cardio than I’ve done in a long time. Plus having to wear the mask which makes it a little harder to breathe. And, even with the strength training, there are some muscles I’ve missed out on which I’m feeling today.

Then there is the mental pressure some of us still put on ourselves. I know OwnerGuy’s plan is to just get us to the point where we know the steps and can move through the event on Saturday. As you advance levels, there is so much more than footwork and he’s introduced a bit of that but is holding back because we are still new in this partnership. But, like I mentioned before, it sometimes makes things feel not so great and that opens up a lot of questions for me. If I can stay out of my head and just dance, then Saturday will go just fine.

And, yes, if I didn’t put so much pressure on myself, then I wouldn’t need to work as hard. It wouldn’t take much to slop through all four but I’ve never been one to give half effort and especially not to something like ballroom. I know it is just a hobby and I’m never going to be any type of champion but because of what it means to me it is still important to give it my best.

Which is why I’m drawn to that quote I used at the top. The hard is what makes it great. I wouldn’t have appreciated that as much if I wasn’t dancing.

And now I need to go toss some salt on the driveway just to make sure I can get to my lesson tonight.

4 comments

  1. I hear you loud and clear — my primary focus has been recovering strength and mobility since the surgery with the dancing scaled back to accommodate my physical ability (which, BTW, has been astounding in the way it’s rebounding). Now my issue is the cardio part — having moved up to actually dancing as opposed to stepping through the choreography, moving at a faster pace plus the necessity of the mask is making it very difficult to catch my breath! Factor in knowing that I have my 1st Gold checkout coming up, as well as an informal studio showcase scheduled for April, I sometimes think I can hear all those old buried demons scratching at the door LOL!

    1. Mine are pounding at that door! I think for me, my body “remembers” how these dances once felt. And with all the changes, I’m trying to get back there but things don’t flow as well as I’d like. That just seems to attack my confidence.

  2. Can you explain to me how in spite of KNOWING that we’ll knock it out of the park, we still have these pesky nasties still raising their mean little heads? Is it just us, or is everyone fair game at one time or another ?? 🙂

    1. Some very good questions. If we knew, maybe we could keep those nasties locked away. Probably a lot of people feel this way from time to time. Some of us may just be “lucky” enough to get these feelings more often.

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