More Smooth Than Rhythm

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I make these random connections from time to time. They make sense to me although I’m not entirely sure they translate. Anyway, after last night, I couldn’t help but think of a line from the movie Major League. Remember that all of my movie and TV references are dated because I just don’t watch anything right now. It centers around a guy who can hit fastballs but not the curve and in one scene he says “Bats. They are sick. I can no hit curveball. Straight ball, I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid.”

What the heck does that have to do with ballroom dancing? Well you do have two major styles – standard/smooth and latin/rhythm. I’m more of a natural smooth dancer and those dances just feel more comfortable to me. If I’m at a party and nobody is watching, I can have a lot of fun with Cha-Cha and Swing. But ask me to perform them at a Showcase where judges are looking for certain things and it starts to feel a whole lot less comfortable.

It is just easier for me to find the character of the smooth dances – even the Tango which is much different from the rest. There are still a lot of technique things I have to improve on but the dances themselves just feel more natural to me.

This is also why I wanted to do a Rumba routine. You want to grow, then do what scares you. Wait! How can a dance scare you? Well it isn’t so much the dance as trying to express it. Sure, I can do the steps. That’s not the problem. But it is like someone drawing a perfect square on a blank canvas. It is geometrically correct but is it really art? (I only use this analogy because I saw something like this in a museum once).

Same thing goes for the Cha-Cha which just got reintroduced. I mean I can do the basic patterns with a bit of the lead/follow that I remember from a year or so ago. But then I’ve got moments where I’m trying to figure out what to do with the free arm and how do I capture what a Cha-Cha should look like. Then I think about being judged on the full picture and start to focus on my shortcomings. Because that’s what I do.

And I need to explain a little bit more here. There are many reasons for doing Showcase. The first is because it is fun and a challenge. There is something about stepping away from the normal world and into the dance world for a day. But in the quest to become the best dance I can be, the critiques are also valuable. It points out where you need to go to get better. The problem is that if I already know that I’m not performing at the same level I was before the pandemic, then getting comments focusing on things I already know need improvement doesn’t seem so helpful.

I mean I do chase perfection much more than I should and I rely far too much on how it feels to me. I know these things. And maybe my memory gets fuzzy with age but the Cha-Cha felt a lot more natural and comfortable towards then end with JoNY then it does now. I mean never fully comfortable because there is always the part of me that never feels truly like I capture the essence of the rhythm dances. But certainly better than it does now.

It is a little too early for the pre-Showcase doubts to be creeping in but that’s where we are right now. Some of it is because I know I’ll miss significant time the last weeks before Showcase with Dad’s memorial and having to deal with the house. Part of it is because OwnerGuy has been MIA on our lessons recently. Maybe he feels his only job now is to reintroduce the steps and then it is up to us to figure out how to make them work. The problem with that is I know he’s got an assortment of tricks and techniques up his sleeve and a depth of experience that PJ simply lacks. And the perfectionist in me knows this and knows that I could be doing these things better but I need someone who knows what to look for.

Although PJ did say something interesting about Showcase last night. This is going to be a scaled back version of previous ones. It may only be two studios and it isn’t clear how many people are going to come from the other. So it may not have the energy of previous events.

And that may be something to consider. A lot of dancing got put on hold because of the pandemic and we are just starting the process of getting back to where we were. In some ways, everyone is starting over again and we could think of this event like an exhibition or preseason game.

Maybe I’ll just pull on the baseball analogy so it fits with how I started. They don’t jump right into regular season games. You start with basic drills and things to get back into the flow of the game. The first spring training games would be like the in studio events we did over the last couple of months. It is baseball but it is more about shaking off the dust and getting the timing back. Toward the end of spring training, the games get closer to what you’d expect and that’s maybe where this Showcase belongs. Closer to regular season baseball but still not quite there. So it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Of course, the cost will still be like a regular Showcase. It might have been better to compare this to preseason football where the games are played in the regular stadiums and they still charge the fans full price but the energy is nowhere near what it is in the regular season.

Not a perfect analogy because the players don’t really care about winning these games but maybe it is close.

I guess at the end of the day, all you can do is try to quiet the inner voices and just go out and dance your dances. Most of the rest of it isn’t really in your control anyway. And try to accept that it won’t feel perfect.

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