No new questions this week, but I did ask myself a big one while watching videos from my last lesson. So we’ll set “Ask the Girl” aside for now and just explore the deep dark forest that is my brain!
After dancing them with another student at the Holiday Dance Classic, Teacher decided to change some of the choreography for our silver waltz and foxtrot routines. I wrote before about the odd feeling I got at seeing Teacher dance “my” routines with another student at the Hollywood Dancesport Championships. While I fell into a comparison trap and started to feel unjustifiably awful about my own dancing, Teacher was happy to be “test driving” our routines.
Of course, I’d rather be the one out there on the competition floor getting to test drive the routines and work out the bugs than waiting back at the studio for the latest results. But at least when I finally do get to compete again, I know I’ll have awesome routines to work with that will be competition-tried and ready. Not that we ever dance the routine exactly as practiced, but I always like to go out with a strong foundation.
Which brings me to the videos. Once choreography changes are sorted out, I like to get a video of me and Teacher dancing the entire routine so I can review it later and reference it when I practice on my own. During my last lesson, we had another student record us “dancing” the new waltz and foxtrot routines. I put dancing in quotation marks because when I reviewed the videos later, it was hard not to cringe. My steps in waltz weren’t too bad because we had run through the steps a bunch of times already. Foxtrot was pathetic, but that’s been the norm. Silver foxtrot and I do not get along! Plus Teacher had only finished working out the changes during that lesson and danced it with me only once or twice before recording. My frame left MUCH to be desired, but the routines were mostly danced in practice hold. The goal was just to get the steps on video. Then there was my facial expression. Enter the big question echoing through my head: what the hell is wrong with my face?
Everyone has their “thinking” or “focus” face, which is that expression their face settles into while they are concentrating. My focus face is worried. Teacher has commented to me on multiple occasions after we danced: “That was really good! Now can you try it without looking so scared?” or “You need to try looking like you actually enjoy dancing!”
I could see what he meant when I would watch my lesson videos. But I didn’t think it was that bad. I could tell I was just concentrating.
These last videos though…ugh. I look so sad and lost! Not to mention I barely take my eyes off the floor. Anyone else have the problem where you think you’re keeping your eyes up, but your teacher insists you keep looking down? And then video proves them right? It’s incredibly frustrating.
I’m not sure why I was so taken aback this time, but it horrified me to think that I have been looking that sad and pathetic dancing with Teacher and I’m just now seeing it. Even in the video of our last performance, Teacher said I look like I almost don’t want to be there.
To be fair, I’m dealing with a lot right now. Life’s latest challenge has been a tough one and I’m sure that’s affecting my outward expression. So maybe I’m only more recently looking so sad and pathetic.
It’s got me thinking though. I don’t easily produce big outward expressions due to my introverted nature. I love every minute of my lessons, even the frustrating foxtrot work, but I know my face doesn’t necessarily show that. Some people still see it. While Teacher thought I looked like I didn’t want to be there during our waltz demo, a friend who was in the audience commented that I looked like I was in heaven.
Any woman who’s been told she has a “resting bitch face” can understand the frustration of being expected to share inner emotion through outer facial expression. Normally, I wouldn’t care what people thought of my facial expression. No, I’m not sad or worried, I’m just thinking. Yes, I’m extremely happy right now, even though I am only wearing a small smile. Go worry about your own face.
Dance is a different arena though. I’ve pondered who you really dance for, and your audience is one answer. I want to be able to achieve that special connection with the audience and be able to bring them into the story I’m dancing through. But unfortunately, the audience cannot read my mind or see past my resting sad face and recognize the joy and care behind it.
That damn emotional expression is going to have to be dealt with. As much anxiety as it gives me to think about forcing my face to look happy or in love or whatever other emotions the dances require, I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I am miserable! Especially to Teacher. Can you imagine dancing with someone and they look like they’re having a terrible time? I almost feel guilty for not paying more attention to my face. Luckily, Teacher is aware of my non-ballroom challenges and is understanding.
Nevertheless, at my next lesson, I plan on getting new videos of the waltz and foxtrot routines recorded! I will try to not think so much and maybe even smile!