Foray Into Silver

This past week I had a coaching lesson with one of the other studio managers. It was kind of weird because I still have I’m JUST beginning silver smooth Bambi legs. All the other coachings I’ve had I at least knew a bit of what I was doing before going into the coaching. It ended up fine, of course. They know how to teach and I’m way to hard on myself. Teach began by mentioning to this coach that I wasn’t sure I was ready for silver, and, funnily enough, she told me that some students are termed forever bronze and I wasn’t one of them! I thought I made up that term all by myself. Guess I’m not as clever as I thought.

We started with Foxtrot because that’s the only dance I’ve done any silver in at all. To be honest, I can’t even remember all the things she tweaked. What ended up staying with me is that I need to stay with my partner better. It’s interesting because I have a reputation as a good follow, but I’ve become so used to bronze syllabus and so in tune with Teach’s lead that I was only half heartedly following. I didn’t need to devote energy to it because I already knew what was coming. Now I have to think about it again. She talked about how I would be just a moment shy of late in my slow, but it’s not really late. To wait for teach to initiate the final movement. She announced me much improved by the end of Foxtrot. This was one of the times I actually felt the difference, so , YAY!

We moved on to Tango. I have not had the honor of being exposed to basic Silver Tango timing yet. That wasn’t too difficult to understand and it really makes it sharper and sexier. (I can’t believe I typed that) But the figures are ridiculous! Teach and coach were trying to figure out which figure they wanted to teach me and they all looked crazy difficult. Each figure takes an entire wall! (Feel free to laugh at my nieveity) I finally had to interject my opinion and they taught me the easiest of the figures. Basically it introduced me to a fallaway type of step with a ronde. Then I had to learn how to ronde correctly… You get the picture. More on Tango later in my non-coaching lesson.

Coach calls Viennese Waltz the Venomous Waltz. Seriously, I love this woman! She didn’t have much to say here, but she helped me spot better so that I wouldn’t get as dizzy. I used to be better at this and I don’t know what happened. Maybe it’s because VW is my least practiced Smooth dance. All good reminders though.

I really liked working with this coach. I’m not going to give her a name because I can’t think of one and I don’t know if I’ll ever work with her again. I will if I can though because she’s funny and very real. She has to be the only chunky dancer I know. After our coaching she went and bought a pizza to chow down on. I kid you not.

My lesson with teach followed the awesome coaching. We reviewed everything from the prior lesson and then he focused on the dreaded CBM – counter body movement. Where your upper body and lower body seem to be going in different directions. Where you look like a wringed out towel or a barber shop pole. Nice, huh? One of the big concepts of Silver. Tango is where he brought it in to. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like going straight, to the left, to the right and doing it pigeon-toed all at the same time. That’s all I can say about that. Let’s leave it at this being something that’s going to take a lot of time.

On to emotions and feelings. Yuck. I’m ok with being Silver now. I think I needed it. Look at how much I have to talk about now. But I’m struggling with being the baby fish again. It was nice to be a shining star at the top of bronze. Coachings were little tweaks to arm styling and fingers within that styling! Now it’s about figures and timing and steps again. I can’t even do them in proper frame. It’s a bit humbling. Teach tried to make me feel better by telling me that I’m one of only five students who dance at a silver level in that particular studio. It does help to know that this studio doesn’t graduate just anyone. If you don’t meet specific  technique minimums (I’m not sure what they are) then you don’t move up.

The other thing I’m struggling with is related to money, of course. First, my jealousy is getting the better of me again. I hate it when being jealous of others takes joy from my own dance journey. It’s not their fault, it’s mine. It seems that everyone can dance more than me. They take so many lessons. They progress quicker with all the coachings and lessons and competitions. I’m friends on Facebook with several and they’re always doing something. Travel, competing, etc. My green monster is in full swing. Second, I don’t think I’m going to have enough to compete this year. Several big bills have come my way and I’m not going to be able to save enough for dance. I’ll continue with my lessons, but no more. I have to let Teach know next lesson. I’m not too torn up about that, though. Team Match is in August. I will only have 12ish lessons under my belt in silver by that point. I’m not sure I’m going to feel comfortable enough to go out in front of people in that amount of time. Not if you include bumping up my Rhythm as well, which Teach says is a possibility. I’m not completely broken up about competing because of the lack of practice, but it is a bit upsetting because it’s good to have something to work toward. Well, it is if you have the time and money to make it happen.

Such is my life right now. Wishing everyone well.

Be Careful What You Ask For

I wish I had written this post in a more timely manner because I broke my finger yesterday and typing is difficult. This is the post taking a week to type.

I have managed to have several productive lessons this month. Productive as in I’m learning a TON, but the growing pains did come out a bit.

We took my new, beautiful Smooth frame and applied to my dances while in hold. It is terribly difficult to find and then maintain this position. It also required a bit more consistent body contact than I have been used to in the past. On the other hand, our heads are farther apart, which is very nice. Somehow I’m used to body touching, but I don’t like our heads to be close together. I know I’m weird. Sadly, the only dance we didn’t do was Viennese Waltz. I did ask for it after D_Wall wrote such a lovely post on how it feels to dance, but Teach was so caught up in excitement over Tango that we didn’t get to it. I was worth it to hear Teach screaming, “More head, more head! I need more head!!!” down the long wall.

Last week I started our double with a question that precipitated a whole lotta’ lesson. “I’m starting to understand how my posture and frame are supposed to be in hold, but what about out of hold, specifically in shadow position?” I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. I was taught all right, and I’m still reeling.

First, Teach brought in another lady teacher to adjust me as we went – so a coaching ended up happening. I need to come up with a name for her, maybe Lady J to keep it all simple. Imagine 15 minutes of shadow position adjustment, followed by 30 minutes of how to roll out into fan position.  Then imagine it with 4 hands readjusting you every time. It was feeling a bit hopeless, but, trying to think positively, Lady J had to readjust less and less each time. All this adjusting also meant that we had to talk about counter balance and that just makes me think about how I don’t want him to bear any of my weight. I’m heavy and it makes me nervous. He had me lean into fan until I was going to fall over to prove that he would never let me fall. Cue my near tears. I understand logically, but the emotion of all this doesn’t understand the logic.

Next, we were supposed to have an alone lesson, but Teach’s friend was transferred from another studio and he decided to hand around and help (for free) half THAT lesson. Until I cried. Then he left. Friend (I can’t think of a name right now) had MORE things to fix. I had MORE hands on me and it just proved to be too much for the sensitive side of me. I don’t even remember anything that happened on the rest of the lesson. I just know that Teach fixed things up and made pretty so that I left feeling OK and not a piece of crap. I know that this is what I pay for. This is how you get better. Yet, how do I change my brain waves to “they’re picking on me and nothing is right” to “I’m getting so much better over this lesson”?  No one would be blogging if we knew the answer.

This is all I’ve got in me to type. Hubby was appalled that I was going to go to my lesson with a purple, sausage-shaped broken finger – so I cancelled. I have to keep that man happy, too.

 

Dancing in February

I got more than I expected this month. Where do I even begin?

I started with an unexpected coaching lesson. Studio #1 was having a Team Match that weekend and they usually bring coaches to the studios for a bit of extra. Lady V happened to be free for the first of my two lessons so I snapped her up. Well, not really. Teach did that. I freaked out and danced an awful Rumba for her. What ended up happening was Lady V told me that I have talent and then gave me the book on dancing. You know, the “you dance a beautiful social rumba, now we have to fix everything for competing.” Seriously, it was a head to toe fix. I could work a lifetime on the things she taught me. But I’m going to break it down a bit so that I’m not overwhelmed. (Yeah, right.) Keep in mind, this was only for Rumba.

  1. Feet/legs/hips. I am to practice my box religiously using this: One-ball of foot/take step, Two – heel down, Three – push from other foot, Four – settle. Then repeat. Eventually I will be able to do this rhythmically.
  2. Take smaller steps. Side steps should not go larger than shoulders. Apparently I am tall and have now learned how difficult rhythm dances are for the tall, leggy people.
  3. Arms. I totally screwed up here. I told Lady V how I’m not a fan of touching myself. I forgot that someone needs to be touched, so now she made arm styling for me that has me all over Teach. (I exaggerate slightly, but it’s awkward nonetheless.) I can’t describe them here, but it involves grabbing Teach’s waist and having him turn me, etc.
  4. Oh yes, there’s more. Connection. This is something Teach hasn’t really enforced in Rhythm. I think it was going to come at some point, but he has different things he’s focusing on. No problem until the end of the lesson when Lady V said I was BACKLEADING!!!! Let me tell you I stewed on that for two weeks until my next lesson with Teach.

Continuation of the backleading comment. I couldn’t practice all week because my gut was burning about this. I do NOT want to back lead and I was a bit peeved that Teach hadn’t said something about it. I confronted him immediately about it and he put my mind at rest that he would never let me get away with that behavior. He said Lady V must have seen that I was a touch ahead of the music and assumed the backleading, but that it was really my nerves making me follow his lead quicker than should have. I guess this makes sense, but to tell you the truth, I’m still a bit upset.

The rest of the lesson consisted of a lot of awkward arm styling and violations of personal space.

Me: “Um, we’re really close, are you sure this is right?”

Teach: looking at me like I have seven heads “It’s a rumba.”

Okaaaay.

The heat in the studio was broken, so we danced a few Viennese Waltz rounds and a Swing and a Cha Cha to stay warm. It’s the first time I’ve danced in a sweater – that’s how cold it was. It seems like spring is coming now. Since that lesson we’ve even been up in the 60’s with no freezing nights in sight. All the snow that NYC got, we missed. We’ve had maybe an inch this whole winter. I’m a bit sad because there’s something almost warm about being insulated by snow, but I have to say it was nice not having to deal with the transit problems of getting to NYC for lessons during snow storms. Happy dancing all.