Shall We Recap Medal Ball?

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So I’m not going to say that last night changed my mind about Medal Ball. I was sitting with another couple that has been around the dance block a time or two and she also brought up the point that they are never really going to hold you back. I guess in one of their check outs, she even did the wrong dance steps but nobody noticed. In one sense this is kind of like a participation trophy. I mean I’ve got my certificate but do I really feel any different?

And this could just be a Famous Franchise thing. Other places might be bit more strict when it comes to advancing levels.

On the other hand, having invested a significant amount of effort into getting ready for the event, I do start to see the point. Ballroom dance isn’t easy and if you really want to excel then it requires doing a lot of hard work. Yes, the actual dancing is fun but lessons can become an endless grind of going over a set of steps multiple times and always getting picked apart on something. When you get into that mode, it is hard (at least for me) to sometimes sit back and accept that progress has been made and that it should be celebrated.

As I’ve said multiple times, ballroom dancing is never truly a finished product. Even if you aren’t learning new steps or choreography, there is always technique to be worked on. While I didn’t really follow the marshmallow analogy Mini used, the main point is that the different parts of your body often have to work in different ways to really make something come together. Head weight, upper body rotation, shaping, legs, feet and figuring out one often lead to having to go back and retrain another. But if you just focus on how much you still have to do, it is way too easy to forget how much you’ve actually already done. That’s why you have these milestones and you get people around to help celebrate the progress.

So how did it go? I did manage to strike the right balance by not dancing every open dance. Got a chance to do both the Fox Trot and Waltz with PJ during the open dances and we had to dodge the others on the floor but that was a good warm up. They had multiple levels with open dances scattered between the levels and I found that one or two open dances was enough to keep things loose without wearing myself down. Another problem with going last is that as people finish, the pressure is off and they are ready to cut loose while I was still trying to pace myself.

They did keep levels separate although since there was a person in Bronze IV who didn’t show, it left only one person doing that level and she was doing all the smooth dances so OwnerGuy asked if I wanted to share the floor. Probably a way to speed things up a bit and get everyone out a little earlier (or leave more time for general dancing at the end). I turned him down. I wouldn’t mind other people on the floor but not at a lower level. I know OwnerGuy would have been leading but the last thing I wanted to do was to have to watch out for someone else.

I suppose I should also point out that when I was dancing with a lady who’s been there a couple of years and has been bit hard by the dance bug, she kept telling me how much she was looking forward to seeing me dance. Its nice to hear. In some ways it kind of makes me put more pressure on myself because who wants to let anyone down. But it actually helps get me more into performance mode. I mean I’m not going to be anonymous at my level so why not get into it and try to show off a bit.

All of the dances went well. No major bobbles and I think the timing was OK – except for the Fox Trot but more on that later. With the Viennese Waltz, OwnerGuy had been on me to just loop it without doing the hesitations that I typically do. I thought they were going to fade the music as we finished the pattern but they didn’t so I just took the opportunity to go right back into the pattern without the hesitations and I actually heard OwnerGuy cheer for that.

And, yes, the Viennese Waltz tends to be a crowd pleaser. Anything that moves fast and covers a lot of ground is going to look super impressive to people in early Bronze where things tend to stay in one place. Honestly, all of the smooth dances travel so just being able to lap the floor makes you stand out especially to the beginners.

Got a chance to talk to the judge at the end of the event. This is a guy I’ve worked with multiple times so he knows me. He wanted to explain his feedback to me just so it wouldn’t be a shock when I get it next week. Well I should say he wanted to explain how he looks at upper levels and why that would help me understand his feedback. I can’t remember the exact quote but the concept was something I’ve talked about before and that is that dancing is more than the steps. So it is about seeing more mastery of the technique which comes as no shock. This is even something OwnerGuy had said and I knew he had gone a bit light on some of the technique so as not to overload my brain heading into Medal Ball. With the foundation set, we can work more on the other parts to round out the patterns.

As I said at the beginning, this is never going to be my favorite event. But I do see the concept and the reason for it. The dance journey can’t be all work. You have to take moments every now and then to look at what you’ve done and celebrate the accomplishment.

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