More Adventures of the Masked Dancer

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Work in Progress!

Medal Ball is now just ten short days away. The good news is that the patterns for the four smooth dances I’m doing are finalized and this means we now can just focus on running through them to iron out the rough patches. I’m going to admit that Medal Ball is not my favorite event. But that’s because I just get wrapped up in my own version of what a dancer at my level should look and feel like. So going out there and “graduating” really doesn’t do much for me.

That’s probably a little twisted and I realize it but advancing from one level to another has rarely given me a true sense of accomplishment. But it is what it is and it is a part of the Famous Franchise system so I’ll go and do my dances and move up to another level. The issue is that with ballroom there is always something to work on – always something that can be improved. So when I get on a lesson and OwnerGuy is trying to get me to work on something, my mind just goes to a place that I can’t really “graduate” until I’m a “complete” dancer. With the problem being that you are never complete so it is really just about having some mastery of the level with the knowledge that you continue to work and improve.

The studio was packed when I arrived. It was group class time and it was a beginner group and a lot of new students decided to make this their first group (or so it seemed). I didn’t get an exact count but I’d guess around 18-20 people which may or may not be a lot depending on your experience but it was on the large size for our COVID world. Clearly, there was no way to maintain six feet of distance but they were within the current limits on indoor capacity so all is good.

I did talk briefly with OwnerGuy about the future. Our state has not yet lifted the mask mandate and I don’t expect it will be lifted until April. There’s some big basketball tournament coming to town starting mid March and our governor is just a little too conservative to open himself to criticism for potentially creating a “super spreader” by removing the restrictions so I think he waits until they pack up all the basketballs and leave town. Anyway, OwnerGuy said that he’ll probably still have instructors in masks unless their students are OK with it but he won’t require students to be masked. It will be interesting to see how people react when it does happen.

Hard to Inhale Anything with a Mask!

I have this tendency to hold my breath when doing a run of a particular pattern or routine. Why? I don’t know. I just do. I’ve learned to breathe while doing planks which used to be a problem but I think there it is easier to focus and remember to breathe. Something about trying to keep track of the music, my position on the floor, the pattern and whatever bits of technique I’m trying to work on doesn’t leave room for the little things like breathing. I’m sure I probably don’t hold it for the entire time but it is close. This creates all kinds of fun with the mask on top making it even harder to recover.

OwnerGuy is also always on me to keep my knees flexed. I have this tendency to straighten when I shouldn’t. Again, something I’m not conscious of at all. There are times when parts of my body just have a mind of their own and decide they are just going to do what they want to do. I wonder if part of it is trying to protect the knee except that landing on a straight leg is supposed to be worse than softening into the knee to cushion the blow. At least that’s what they tell me.

And since I’m on the subject of my little aches and pains, lets talk about my shoulder and wrists. OwnerGuy is also hammering at us to remain offset which does make things easier. But it requires expanding the frame and keeping the shoulders up so you aren’t drooping. As I’ve mentioned, there is a bit of a height difference between me and PJ and I’d probably have her off her feet if I kept my forearm at the same level as my shoulder. And to keep offset, it requires some weird positioning of the wrist which shouldn’t put pressure on it but it does. (Maybe a lifetime of typing away at a computer has created some instability there). Plus, part of my workout is actually working the shoulder too much – I know this but sometimes I’m silly and just try to push through which is not what you should do. Things can be sore but they shouldn’t hurt. That’s the line I need to keep in mind.

It just seems like ballroom seeks out whatever shortcomings you have. Or maybe it is just that it engages so many things and who can be perfect in so many parts? This is also why it can be kind of a trap for overachievers and perfectionists because you can push yourself too far in pursuit of that perfect form.

Despite the aches and pains, we did get through all four dances yesterday and ended up having relatively clean runs on all four. There was a wedding couple working on their dance and another newer couple so there were some things to navigate around at times. It means we didn’t always get things to go into the corners or we had to do some sharper than expected rotations but it all worked. Is it perfect? No because it never will be but it is improving and I need to take that.

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