Twists and Turns in the Dance Journey

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When the studio shut down last year, it was a clearly a detour in my dance journey. I was in a good place in terms of working with JoNY my overall confidence level. We were going to knock out all the Silver III stuff at Medal Ball and were already working on a Mambo routine for the next Showcase. (Not the first routine that has died prematurely by the way). I ended up logging into the virtual group classes just as way to keep something familiar in my life and when the studio opened, I was ready to get back to it.

It has been a time of ups and downs and further changes and roadblocks and detours and all sorts of things. I went on in a previous post about how different the studio feels now and it sort of becomes clear that a big part of me just wanted to go back to how it used to be. Which isn’t going to happen. The only constant in life is change and I’ve been through enough iterations at the studio to know that nothing lasts forever.

It doesn’t keep me from missing the way things used to be though.

And, to be honest, the instructor situation is less than ideal. This is to take nothing away from PJ who is one of the most talented instructors I’ve worked with when it comes to dancing. But the Silver stuff is new to her so we have to rely on OwnerGuy to at least sketch out the basics which we can hopefully master through practice.

In theory, this sounds good. In practice, it doesn’t always work out so good. OwnerGuy put together Cha-Cha and Bolero patterns and we did have him on a lesson to work through them. On the lesson, they made perfect sense but things don’t always stick after some time has passed and I found that my notes weren’t complete. Which made the Tuesday lesson no fun at all because neither one of us knew the patterns well enough to correct what wasn’t working and we ended up have to shift gears and abandon them.

This is always an issue when working at a franchise studio. Unless you are working with an owner, the life span of an instructor is limited and the number who hang around long enough to get proficient in the levels beyond Bronze is small. It might be different in other places because I only speak from my limited experience although I do know a guy at another studio who had to radically change his dance plans when his long term instructor left. I certainly lived through it multiple times.

And I’m just one student out of a growing studio and OwnerGuy has a lot going on which means you can only expect a certain amount of his time. In theory, he’s prepping PJ to teach the lessons. In practice, it seems like that is uneven as there are other things both are working on. So it just means that the last couple of lessons have been up and down. I know I shouldn’t let these things shake me but it is frustrating when I can’t make things work and then it is far too easy to let that break my confidence. Its not a good place to be.

But am I going anywhere?

Just so you don’t think all is gloom and despair, let’s talk about the coaching lesson I had last night. I’ll be honest, coming off the disaster that was Tuesday, I really wasn’t looking forward to it. Because we didn’t have either the Bolero or Cha-Cha down, we only focused on the Rumba. Didn’t have a problem with that because we’re supposed to be doing a Rumba routine at Showcase and I wanted to add some polish to the basic figures.

And last night’s lesson was a great experience. We went over each step in the routine and the coach was adding little bits here and there. No real major changes but she just wanted me to rotate a little more in certain spots and be a little more assertive in the lead in other places. She did make some subtle changes to two of the steps so we may not be dancing them in the Famous Franchise way but the changes make them a lot more visually appealing. Plus one sets us up for better connections and just changes the way the step moves and flows.

This lesson really reflects where I’ve tried to evolve as a dancer. When I started, it was all about wanting to know precisely where each step was supposed to go. I still have some of that because there is nothing worse to me than seeing an instructor do something and being asked to do it without having a clue as how it was done. But what is becoming more important is how the dance feels and flows. And that is all about lead/follow and setting up the right connections and using them to generate the proper momentum and all that type of stuff.

Certainly, it is important to have a good foundation but if you stop with the foundation, you’ve just got a shell. Anyway, last night was an up compared to the down on Tuesday.

But one good coaching lesson is not quite enough to shake away all the doubts. I dance because of how it makes me feel. Struggling to learn is part of the process but too much struggle starts to eat away at the passion and without the passion, there is no reason to continue. I know we are still early in the journey back but it just sometimes feels like this isn’t the road for me. I have to at least give it a good effort to get to Showcase but that might be the opportunity to reassess the situation.

To speak to the above quote, I think I could adapt to a slower speed if I was actually sure that this process is moving me in the right direction. That’s where the dilemma is right now.

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