You know when you’re talking to someone on the phone with a bad connection and they keep cutting in and out, or you’re trying to listen to the radio but you’re a bit out of range so there’s a lot of static? You have to strain to catch what the other person is saying or what song is playing. It gets so frustrating because no matter how hard you listen, the message still doesn’t come through clearly.
That’s how I felt during my last lesson.
We were working on Standard, as we have been for a few weeks now, specifically Foxtrot. Foxtrot is my most challenging dance in Smooth. Standard has taken that challenge to a whole new level. I think my brain was short-circuiting. Teacher was explaining some technique concepts and I thought they were making sense to me, but then when we danced together, the message wasn’t getting through to my body. There was static on the line, like there was a bad connection.
It’s enough to make me question if I’ll be ready to compete in the style anytime soon. I was planning on The Royal Ball in the middle of March, but that’s only a month away. We’ve done some work on Waltz, but have barely touched on Tango, Quickstep or Viennese because I’ve been playing the dunce in Foxtrot.
I started wondering today if part of my problem is I came into this new endeavor with misconceptions about what I already knew. Aside from some different patterns, I thought the main difference between Smooth and Standard was Standard was danced 100% in closed position. So I thought I just needed to learn some new steps. I was very very wrong. Foxtrot is not the same as Foxtrot, not even close.
I need to discuss this further with Teacher, but it seems that either the technique in International Foxtrot (International = Standard, by the way) is very different from the technique in American Foxtrot or I’ve been seriously slacking on my technique in the American style. My footwork, for example, seems to be a disaster. I posted a video on social media of me walking backwards around the studio during one of my solo practices. I spent a good 10-15 minutes just walking backwards, trying to get the right coordination of releasing the toe of one foot and lowering the heel of the other. I did the same thing today during my solo practice, this time spending about 45 minutes working on footwork while also trying to maintain my frame.
My frame is the other disaster. A few weeks ago, I thought I was getting better, even having a breakthrough in my ability to stay connected with my partner through the dance. A fluke, apparently.
There’s so much static now between my brain and my body. Teacher reminds me of helpful hints to correct what I’m doing wrong, all of which I’ve heard before and recall as soon as he mentions them. For some reason, I can’t get a clear message to my body and even its own muscle memory seems to be fuzzy. Like I said, extraordinarily frustrating.
It’s also unnerving. If I don’t know something or am not doing something well, but I understand what I need to do to improve or correct, I don’t worry. I just take the steps I know I need to take to get to where I want to go. Currently, I am fuzzy on what exactly I’m missing or why, so I’m not sure what I need to do to fix it. I’m finding that my technique sucks to the point that I can barely dance down a long wall with Teacher without major errors, but I’m confused as to why it’s sucking so bad when it seemed to be in such a good place a month ago. What happened?
I’m doing my best not to panic. I haven’t submitted any entry forms yet and I have another two weeks before they’re due. I requested a couple extra lessons in the meantime, so we can better assess whether I’ll be ready to compete in two styles in March. I’m sure I’m also being too hard on myself. I am learning a new style that I’ve never danced before. It took me more than a few weeks to learn how to dance a decent American Foxtrot. Why would I expect International to be any different? Well, I know why. Because I already know how to a decent Foxtrot, so I think I should be able to dance a decent Foxtrot. Even if it is a different Foxtrot.
Here’s hoping the connection within and with my partner improves soon!