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.

 

Regroup and Chill

Because sometimes I feel like I can write and sometimes I feel like I just can’t, I have a bunch of lessons to recap and thoughts to throw out there.

My first post comp lessons were as expected. We reviewed some video and the judges comments and talked briefly about them. I told Teach about how I just felt awful and he pointed out all the things I did correct. You know, the things I was actually working on as opposed to the things I was working on without Teach being aware (you know, like being perfect). The judges had some great comments, too. Yes, most of them were “great lead/follow” and the like, but there were some good things to work on, like my turnout in rhythm. It felt good in my brain that the “things to work on” were all things that I had felt I was doing wrong during the day. There was nothing there that I didn’t expect. I know that I’m my own worst critic and that I can go overboard on my faults, but it calms my brain to know that some of my criticisms are based on the truth, that I can read my dancing correct in some way. I’m not sure that made much sense, but maybe you can make something out of it.

We also regrouped in what the future holds. Hubby and I needed new car, as the previous one had reached its limit, so now I have a car payment in addition to my already tight funds. Getting to work trumps dance. Sucks, but what can you do. The end result is that Fall Classic is out. (more on that later) Teach wondered if I was still wanting to focus on 9-dance or if I just wanted to do Smooth. The Team Match was a trial to see how things went. I was honest with him. When I left after the Team Match, I was done with Rhythm dancing. I had a lot of fun dancing it, but I just felt that all the lessons that we had on cuban motion and arms didn’t make it into my body. I asked Teach if he thought I had the ability to improve. I would miss Rhythm if I never danced it again, but there’s not point working on those dances in a competitive way if I’m not going to “get it.” Of course, Teach looked at me like I had ten heads and told me that I could definitely get better. I knew he was going to say that (he’s my biggest cheerleader), but his words solidified my decision to continue to try to learn those pesky Rhythm dances. So 9-dance is still in my future!

As an aside, we worked on a few things, but most importantly – Smooth arms. Did you know there are only 8 arm styles for Smooth? 1st, 2nd, 5th, X, Y, S, W, and one that I can’t read my writing for. We had some fun spelling things down the long wall using arms. It’s the little things, right?

Now to yesterday’s double. I was remarkably calm yesterday. It’s quite unusual for me to be so zen. Maybe fall was in the air? (I love fall.) I ended up spilling my current list of favorite and least favorite dances. My least practiced are a list, too. But I’m not allowed to put a least practiced on my least favorite list without serious reason. It’s just not fair. (I know I’m weird, no need to tell me) This is always interesting information to give your teacher because they can then use it to torture you with. Thankfully, Teach wanted me to maintain my zen, so he upgraded my Smooth frame using Foxtrot. He calls it a more 3D frame. When I look in the mirror I think we look like that two-headed guy in Men in Black. My head is the stupid extra head. Apparently, I’m supposed to be seen and present on the dance floor, so this is now how it is. Of course it’s not at all comfortable or easy to get into this odd position, but we do fit together nicely now. (I know this sounds dirty. The whole lesson was just one dirty-sounding comment after another. It’s how dance is.) So I basically have to dance like I’m going over the high jump while playing a violin. Sounds easy, right?

Ok. He did feel like destroying the zen a bit. We worked on Tango. That evil sharpness that I just don’t get. I didn’t realize that it would be an easyish fix. My bottom half is good. “Your hips are communicating properly with mine and have excellent movement.” (Reeeeeally.) My top half just doesn’t match my bottom half. My head doesn’t snap like it should. So we took my new frame, let my hair down (I have a secret wish to be Edita Daniute), and worked that right out. I need to let my hair down more often. It was fun flipping it around and it really helped me feel when my frame was off. I think Teach was having a bit of fun with it, too. It was one of our odder lessons because we were both pretty zen and happy, which can be dangerous because we are very alike and keep getting each other going. Things can get loud and weird – like him making me dance holding a box of tissues between my shoulder and chin/neck area. definitely one of our funnier lessons.

After the lesson Manager Lady rushed up and told me that she can’t imagine Fall Classic without me. She wants to do everything in her power to get me there. Well except give me a discount, of course. (sarcasm, I didn’t ask her to) So the attention keeps coming. I have to say, I’m getting used to seeing the thousands on her calculator. She wants me to hit up my family. Little does she know that my family is small and poor. It’s looking like I’ll be sitting this one out. It stinks, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my sanity by working more to attend the comp. As always, happy dancing everyone.

 

Relax While Dancing, an Oxymoron

I admire all you bloggers out there who can write up about your dancing on the day you do it. I find I need to reflect for a week or more before I put fingers to keyboard. Maybe it’s just that writing doesn’t come naturally to me.

So my double lesson was on Leap Day. Yes, that long ago. Lesson one was with Teach. We went over the new Tango routine again at my request. There is only so much I can keep with me at a time; I find it good to review the end of the previous lesson at the beginning of the next weeks lesson. Does that make sense? While we were reviewing I made a comment about the frame of one of the pro ladies working with another student. Remember that one of my goals for the year was to have posture like Edita Daniute (nothing like reaching for the stars!). So guess what? I now have the keys to having that beautiful frame if I dare to work on it. This will also give us the body contact necessary for future Silver dancing. I’m thrilled!

My second lesson was with a new instructor for me. He’s been at the Land of the Endless Perky Bottoms (AKA Studio #1) for almost two years now but I’ve never had a lesson with him. My previous second teacher, Mr. R, took a new position opening a new studio in the chain in Texas. I’ll miss him. I need to think of a nickname for my new #2. He’s another “grueling Russian instructor” type. We worked on Rumba and Cha Cha. His biggest problem was that I was too tense on the top. You mean I have to relax while dancing? With someone I’m not used to dancing with? That is more difficult than learning technique. I’m so nervous that I’m going to miss a lead that I tense up and, you guessed it, miss the lead because I can’t feel it because I’m too tense. The more this happens, the more the nervous turns to panic. It’s a circle of awful that hits my sensitive side like Thor’s hammer, leaving me feeling like a hopeless, crappy dancer. And it’s all my fault. He’s doing nothing wrong.

How can I make this better? I took some calming breaths and plowed through ok. Perhaps going to more social dances would help, but my social anxiety really rears its ugly head in those situations. Alcohol? Really bad idea. Maybe taking more random lessons with the instructors there would be a good idea. Then I could get used to them all and I won’t be so nervous. The problem with that is that it takes me an extremely long time to get comfortable with people. *sigh* Maybe I’m just a lost cause with the whole relaxing thing, but I did get some great nuggets on info from #2 that I will use at my next lesson. Happy dancing all. Any tips for the socially anxious like me?