Several different ideas are wanting attention right now and I couldn’t decide which to focus on, so this post will likely wander down multiple paths. Ready to go?
First, some exciting news that I became aware of just 5 minutes before I started writing – Dance Diaries is #9 in its category on Amazon! You can see the screenshot on my Instagram page (on the side bar). I believe that means I sold some copies overnight because yesterday it was in the 50s. But I still don’t have a sales report from Amazon, so time will tell. The rankings are updated every hour, so by the time you read this, it might have dropped. Heck, by the time I finish writing this, it will probably have dropped! But for now, I’m feeling special (and a little undeserving of feeling special).
In other news, I think I’m down to one lesson a week again for a few weeks. Teacher has a comp almost every weekend and that usually means a travel day on Friday, so that standing lesson gets cancelled. We’ll see, he always tries to fit me in on another day and sometimes he’s successful (he’s a busy man)! At the beginning of May, I considered cutting back to one lesson a week on purpose (as usual, because of finances) but Teacher was actually going to be in town, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to have a month of regular lessons. I’m glad I kept our normal schedule because now I’m going through a little withdrawal.
Even though it’s only been 4 months, it feels like forever since I competed. I was talking to someone the other day about ballroom dancing and they asked “do you compete?” I almost said “I used to” before answering “yes.” I think they call that a Freudian slip.
Thinking about how I almost declared competition only a part of my past reminded me of a blog post I wrote last year: At What Point Can You Call Yourself a Dancer? That post was born out of dance withdrawal and I think I’m going through the same thing again. What do you call a person who takes a dance lesson once a week? A dancer? I don’t think so.
More like a person who likes to dance once a week. Although I’m still fuzzy on where the line is that divides “dancer” from “person who likes to dance,” I’m pretty sure frequency is an important variable. You become identifiable by your activity when you do it a lot. I’m comfortable calling myself a writer because I write a lot! But if I’m only training 45 minutes a week, and not doing anything larger like a performance or a competition, I’m not sure I qualify as a dancer anymore. I can’t get full-time benefits if I’m only working part time, right?
I know the present is temporary. And I shouldn’t discount the mostly-once-a-week lesson/practice time with Teacher’s friend. Social media doesn’t help because I see others having so much fun at competition. I would be posting similar things if I was at a comp, but it sucks when you’re not there.
I am trying to focus on other things. The second Dance Diaries book will be released in the next few weeks. There are a few ballroom books written by other dancers that I want to read and write reviews on. Yes, I’m confident I can call myself a writer.
But I really want to call myself a dancer.
I know, I know, if I want to be a dancer, then I’m a dancer. It doesn’t need to be defined by how much I perform or compete or even how often I have lessons. But I’ll be honest, I want to be the kind of dancer that the rest of the world recognizes. I know you’re supposed to find satisfaction and validation from within, but I’m human so I want some external acknowledgement and recognition too. I always felt immense satisfaction when a stranger would ask if I was a dancer. When I would confirm that I was, they would say “I figured, you look like a dancer.” Best ego boost ever! It’s been awhile since someone asked though.
Part of this is in my control. If I believe I’m a dancer, I’ll hold myself like a dancer and exude a dancer vibe. Right now, that’s a little hard to do. Minimal lesson time and no competitions make me feel like I fall in the hobby category. I’m a “person who likes dance.” If I was a dancer, I would be doing more of it. The activity would take up more of my time, instead of just the thought constantly occupying my brain. I’m a person who wishes she was a dancer.
I’m not giving up the dancer dream though. This past week I’ve been trying to fit in some practice by reminding myself to walk the dogs with my chest and head up. I never thought it would be so hard to just keep my head up for a 15-minute walk! People might think I’m crazy or stuck up, but whatever. A dancer finds ways to connect with her passion any time and any place, right?
So maybe I am still a dancer.
4 thoughts on “Conflicted”
I have been ballroom dancing for 6 years. I dance with an Arthur Murray studio. I am a school teacher, and so my finances are quite limited. I have never done a MAJOR comp, because I can’t afford to. Once a year (they are offered twice) I do a Showcase with the 4 Arthur Murray studios in my geographical area. For most of the year, I only take one lesson a week, and when I started, I took them every other week. I have never won any of the All Arounds at the Showcases that I have done. However, I practice as often as I can. I take classes as often as I can. I began to call myself a dancer when I began to feel competent in my dancing ability. In my job as a school teacher, I incorporate dance when it’s appropriate (I teach music, so it often intersects….) I don’t think it’s the number of lessons, or competitions that defines a dancer. A dancer is someone who can’t live without dancing.
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Well said Marla!
I rode horses professionally for over a decade. I now am down to one horse, I’ve lost the burning desire to compete, but I still ride, though with less frequency and urgency, and enjoy it. It IS a hobby…but I still consider myself a rider.
I also consider my dancing a hobby, though I am far more serious about it than I am my riding at this point in life. I would consider myself a dancer (and have had the nice compliment of “yeah, you look like a dancer” too). You can be a dancer, a rider, a painter, whatever, even if that thing you choose to do is on a hobby type level. And, really, hobby can mean anything from “I occasionally enjoy a hike in the woods” to “I spend thousands of dollars on a very expensive sport.”
I lost my train of thought, but, anyway, just because you’re only doing one lesson a week and not competing (at the moment…like you said, the present is temporary), does not negate the fact that you ARE a dancer.
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I know my ego is playing a big part in this – I want to be recognized as a dancer. I feel like people don’t take me as seriously when they think my dancing is “just a hobby.” I’ve actually started changing how I introduce myself. You know people usually identify themselves by their occupation? I’ve started telling people I’m a ballroom dancer and writer. And oh yeah, I have this editor day job that pays the bills. 🙂