For me, one of the biggest challenges in my ballroom life is believing in my own abilities. I’m sure that part of it is that ballroom dancing is so different from what I spent the first part of my life doing. So you walk in with all these preconceived notions about dancing and how you don’t have any rhythm or any talent and some of that just kind of stays with you.
And ballroom dancing is one of those things that can always be improved on. It is easy to do but impossible to master. You end up going through the learning curve multiple times as you try to work on engaging different parts of your body. It can be deflating and just feeds into the insecurities. I mean how can you consider yourself a “good dancer” if there is still so much you need to work on?
For me, another part of it is the whole perfectionist thing which works against you in so many ways. It is far too easy for me to obsess over every little thing during a lesson. It didn’t feel perfect and so, therefore, it must suck. Of course that is not true but it is hard sometimes to escape from that mindset and perhaps harder in the lead up to an event like Showcase.
Then I get to Showcase and the magic happens. A lot of it is because I’ve finally learned that not everything is going to go perfectly and mistakes aren’t fatal. Maybe it is just performance me taking over my mind and body but I can laugh off the stuff that goes wrong. Screw up two heats and then figure out how to fix it and just make the last one of a given dance the one that counts.
Not to say I’m not thinking about certain things (in this case the topline) but it becomes more of a general awareness than a real obsessive thing that can happen on lessons.
Where is this going?
Well I had a coaching lesson last night and we first reviewed the critiques and I can say that the vast majority of them were positive. The judges do get just a quick look but they can spot obvious problems and comment on those. If they don’t see anything obvious, then they tend to focus on what they saw as the stronger parts of your dance. Meaning if you get a lot of good comments, they liked what they saw.
We did work on four dances (Bolero, Cha-Cha, Swing and Mambo). In all cases, it was really just some minor tweaks in the leg work to better capture the spirit of the dance and give the judges what they are looking for. Maybe I shouldn’t say minor tweaks because the Bolero and Swing could be difficult to implement. The Cha-Cha and Mambo might be a little easier. The important thing is that I showed on the lesson that I could do all of them so nothing is out of reach.
And I do know that I can’t rely on just the feedback. It is nice to hear but external validation fades and what matters is that you believe in your own skills. Easy to say but hard to do. But it does get easier and easier to accept that I’m pretty darn good at this ballroom thing even if there is still more to be learned.
That’s my big take away from the Showcase this past weekend.