I had this whole thing written about my second rhythm lesson this past week, but as sometimes happens, I realized after writing it that I actually wanted to focus on something else. So I started over.
If you recall, after Wednesday’s lesson, I was feeling like my body and brain weren’t communicating. To top it off, Teacher had introduced expression and arm styling, my least favorite topics. I went home frustrated, but mostly just disappointed in myself.
I know I’m not the only one who has this experience. I feel like I’m stuck on this rollercoaster of improvement and regression. I have a great lesson or two, then a disappointing lesson or two. There is that saying that keeps making its way around the internet about taking steps back after taking steps forward isn’t failure, it’s cha cha. It’s also apparently rumba and waltz and foxtrot…
I realize this is probably how it’s always going to be. The path toward succeeding at anything is never a straight line. It is full of twists and turns, ups and downs. But when the demons stir so easily at minor disappointments, I need to find a way to navigate so the drops aren’t so nauseating. I really don’t like rollercoasters.
I did make noticeable forward progress in one aspect on Friday’s lesson. As I requested, we spent some time on rhythm expression. Teacher had me working on arm styling in rumba. My typical arm styling usually consists of my arms starting to move but then, because I’m focused on something else like hips or foot pressure, they freeze halfway through the movement. Not very pretty. Teacher wanted full and continuous arms. He also wanted eye contact.
Normally, arm styling plus eye contact would wake the demons and start some major anxiety. These more “intimate” aspects of ballroom are very challenging for me. They make me feel vulnerable, they directly challenge my issues with trust, and I just don’t feel like the confident or sexy character that the moves are supposed to convey. I feel awkward, clumsy and unsure of myself. So I feel like a pathetic fool trying to pretend that I am confident or sexy. I keep expecting the fraud police to show up and drag me out of the studio for being an imposter. Or maybe that’s the demons talking.
The surprising thing was I did not feel anxiety on Friday! I felt stupid and awkward, and I laughed uncomfortably a lot. But no tightness in my chest and no urge to run and hide in a dark corner.
I had been thinking about just needing to suck it up, accept that I’m going to look like an idiot for awhile, but then after I get used to it, I might be able to produce some genuinely good-looking arm styling and expression. Apparently, the active thinking helped alter my mindset enough to make a difference. I remembered how awkward I felt when I first learned the move in my silver tango routine where I had to lay my head on Teacher’s chest. But we practiced it over and over and eventually I got used to it. So this is just another awkward thing I need to suffer through until I get used to it. I need to maintain this mindset too because we finished the lesson by going through the steps of the bolero routine for the first time. And once again, Teacher and I have a moment where I lay my head on his chest.
I see lots of awkwardness in my future, but I think (hope) there is also a stronger dancer on the other side of it. Maybe even a dancer who will be competing in rhythm soon!
Wish me luck!