Always Learning

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The quote above certainly applies to ballroom dancing. But it is more accurate to say there are learning curves as there is always something that can be improved. It is one thing to progress through levels and learn new steps – that is certainly a part of it. It is another thing to get deeper into the technique to try and understand how something works because it is much more than just using your feet to get from point A to point B.

I would imagine that learning other skills (like say golf) are different because if you are working with a pro, they can watch your every move and offer more feedback. In ballroom, your instructor has to dance with you and that limits what they can see so it comes down to what they feel and what you communicate. It works but it can lead to areas where you just get stuck.

That’s the big advantage of having a coaching lesson. It is another pair of eyes and, usually, a more experienced pair of eyes. I had one on Friday and the focus was on the Waltz because there were a couple of patterns that still didn’t feel right. They were more work than they should have been.

For me, these coaching lessons still produce a little anxiety. Your are going to be judged and critiqued and that isn’t always a comfortable place to be. I’d say I’ve gotten more used to it through the years and it helps to change your mindset just a bit. You have to check the ego just a bit and realize that getting advice on how to do something doesn’t mean you’ve been doing something “wrong” all these years. It may just mean that you are finally ready to take a next step.

Like I’ve found with other recent coaching lessons, it tends to be smaller, more subtle changes but it makes a big difference in how something feels. In this case, the big takeaway is I need more contra-body. So much of dancing is initiating and controlling energy and momentum and starting in a slightly twisted position helps because your body naturally wants to unwind and that is going to generate energy.

And he helped bring out those points. Asking what actually triggers the movement and explaining why it was needed. It may not help everyone but I think it made a difference for me. Sometimes it helps to understand what really drives a particular step and why doing something like bringing your right side forward on the lead makes a real difference.

Now, this doesn’t take anything away from my instructor. I was able to do the steps but it was more work than it should have been. By implementing what he was saying, it just made the steps feel like a lot less work and we got significantly more movement and rotation. A very good lesson and it shows the value of getting a second set of eyes on you from time to time.

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