Countdown to Millennium: 11 Days – What is “Ready”?

How do you know if you’re “ready”? It’s less than two weeks until I’m on a plane to New Orleans, and this question has been dancing around my brain. Sounds strange, right? Millennium will be my fourth competition of the year, and I’m wondering how you know if you’re ready.

Ready for what exactly? In this case, the question is focused around my intention to compete in Standard, along with Smooth. Once again, Teacher and I have spent a very limited amount of time working on this second style leading up to our competition. It’s not easy training in two styles when you only have two lessons max per week. I’ve been working on it in my solo practice, but you naturally reach a point when you need your dance partner.

It’s been interesting because Teacher and I are coming at this conundrum from different angles. With my #doitscared mantra, I’m of the attitude that we say yes to it and then work to make it happen. Teacher is of the attitude that we see if we can make it happen before we say yes. The different views can make it feel like my ambitions aren’t being supported or he doesn’t believe I can do what I’ve set out to do, even with his help.

I know better than to question Teacher’s belief in me. There have been plenty of times when I didn’t believe in myself and he still believed in me. I guess I’m getting a taste of what he deals with when I’m casting doubt on what he’s confident we can do. It kinda feels like if I want us to push forward, I have to carry a bit more of the weight in the partnership, at least for a little while. It’s eye-opening to think that our dance teachers have to do this constantly for us. Granted, they’re the professionals and they’re getting paid, so in that respect, you could argue that they should be carrying a greater share. But if there are any teachers out there who, like me, deal with their own large share of internal doubt, kudos to you for also taking on your students’ doubts.

Teacher’s main concern that he’s voiced is he doesn’t want me to spend all this money and feel unprepared and stressed out like I did at Ballroom Beach Bash. I truly appreciate how he works to get me the greatest value out of my hard-earned dollars and cents. He doesn’t want to see me waste it, even if it means he gets paid less.

So that brings up the question – at what point will I be “ready” so that I don’t waste my hard-earned cash?

The demons have gotten a little noisy because “ready” feels like “good enough” and I have a bad history with that phrase. Teacher and I agreed to assess our Standard preparations this week, and make a final decision as to whether we’ll compete in both styles or drop out of Standard at Millennium. I’ve been mentally coaching myself that if Teacher is of the opinion that we’re not “ready,” it does not mean that I’m not “good enough.” It just means he thinks we need more time to provide me with the best experience possible.

How much time is required though? Are we ever completely ready? I’ve been competing in Smooth for four years now, and there is always more that needs improvement. But that hasn’t stopped us from competing. Did I waste my money because my dancing wasn’t near perfect yet?

Absolutely not.

There is something to be said for feeling prepared. It’s good to give yourself enough time to train and practice, so that you feel confident in what you can do, even when you know it’s not perfect. I did not feel totally prepared competing in Standard at Beach Bash. I did the best I could though, given my circumstances. Going through that experience has actually given me more confidence, because I found out what I was capable of even when I wasn’t fully prepared. If I could do that well unprepared, imagine how much better I’ll be this next time after I’ve had more time to practice!

Speaking of which, I should do just that. I woke up with another headache this morning, so I didn’t get to the studio for my usual Sunday morning solo practice. Luckily, I know how to get my practice in at home.

Have you ever been ready to go all in on something that your teacher pumped the brakes on? How did you feel? Please share!


4 thoughts on “Countdown to Millennium: 11 Days – What is “Ready”?

  1. BCBallroomdancer says:

    Perhaps it might help to differentiate between ‘ready’ and ‘prepared’? To me, you are never ‘ready’ as there is always something to work on, but you can better assess your preparation level and what you are willing to accept as part of that. For example, I might feel prepared on new routines because I can get through them, but I accept that even with that there are aspects that probably won’t go that great under pressure–like perhaps some styling, or turns. If I know that going in, I find the experience better–especially when those pieces go better than expected!
    Boss and I have in our history similar experiences. One area we really had to work out was that just because I ‘suggest’ something does not mean I am saying ‘we must do this’. It caused a lot of conflict before we worked it out, but it often led to situations like what you described–he pushed forward to do something because he thought I was insisting on doing it, and I tried to embrace it because he seemed so sure we would/could do it. It usually ended with us having to give each other a reality check!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Thespian says:

    As someone who danced American Smooth for years but now competes solely in International Standard, and has since been coached by a large number of National and International champions in Standard, I can tell you that feeling good about how you dance in Smooth is not really a good way to gauge if you are prepared for Standard.

    To dance Standard correctly means that you have to be able to dance in closed dance frame, maintaining body contact the whole time. It was one of the five main points I was told to always think about while I’m on the dance floor in a competition (the other four being posture and frame, footwork, timing, alignment). You have to be able to judge your partner’s stride length and lead solely from the feeling you get through the body. If you come apart (‘gapping’ is what my coach calls it), you can be marked down by the judges.

    The hardest part of dancing Standard is learning how to take two people’s bodies and have them move together as one unit. I can tell you this from experience. After switching over from Smooth back in the day, my dance partner and I had to spend hours and hours just doing super basic Waltz boxes and Foxtrot Three Step and Feather combinations to learn how to move together and never lose body contact. That is something that you really don’t do too much while practicing Smooth. Or practicing by yourself. Or, frankly, even when practicing with another person, since different heights, weights and body shapes will make the movement and body contact points different.

    My advice, as someone who’s been in your position not that long ago, would be to spend a portion of your next lesson with your teacher just dancing through your Standard routines to music, and try to feel how you two are moving together. If you feel that you two gap a lot while dancing, you probably need more work before the routines are competition ready. If you can maintain contact the whole time and move smoothly, then you can feel good about signing up for the Standard rounds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      Thanks for the input. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing. 🙂 It’s just a matter of making the time in the limited lessons I have. And actually we spend a lot of time on those main points you mentioned in Smooth! I suspect people get a little lazy in training those things in Smooth because you don’t stay in closed. I’m all about upleveling the quality of that technique though, no matter which style I’m dancing.


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