Only a month until I return to the competition floor!
Are you ready?
This question can have very simple implications or very deep ones. If I asked you one morning if you were ready for work, you’d run a simple checklist through your head and be able to quickly respond yes or no. But if I asked you if you were ready for the big presentation at work that took you months of preparation, you might hesitate as you processed last minute jitters and considered more than just a checklist to determine your readiness.
Same can be applied to ballroom (and really, what can’t?). Are you ready for your lesson? Simple yes or no. Are you ready for your last lesson before your competition? You might need a little more time to consider.
I love a good lazy day as much as the next person. But when I’m told I need to rest or take it easy, suddenly my rebellious, stubborn side comes out and wants to do nothing of the sort. I don’t need rest! I just need to push through and make myself stronger. Ironically, rest is exactly what will help restore and build strength.
I went to the studio for solo practice on Sunday; it was the first time in weeks. After surviving my dance lesson last Tuesday with just a bit of swelling beneath the knee caps and hardly any aching the next day, I was optimistic. Plus, I needed to practice! My competition goal has now shifted to an event in July, but I’m still only taking one lesson a week. Solo practice is more important than ever.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day dancers!
Anyone have any special St. Patty’s Day traditions (aside from drinking too much)? Traditional meals? Good old fashioned folk dancing? Please share in the comments!
My day was busy, which is why this blog post is coming a little late. It started with solo practice, of course.
Is anyone else really feeling the time change this time around? I’ve been enjoying sunrise occurring before I walk the dogs in the morning before work, but when I woke up at 6:30am this morning, it was DARK. Ugh, I guess it’s back to walking the dogs in the pitch black again. Yay.
Anyhoo, another week of ice packs and heating pads has gone by. I wrote in my last blog post about the difficulties I was having adjusting to my new reality in which I can’t go full out in a Zumba class or I’ll have to limp home with crying knees. It was also disturbing and frustrating how achy my knees felt after a 45-minute dance lesson. I had a lot of questions swirling around in my head (still do) about what my apparent limitations meant for me and my dancing future.
I was talking to another student at my book signing at SM Dance Fashion yesterday. In about a year, she’s taken on learning three different styles of ballroom and has competed in two of them. She’s been able to do so much in so little time because she takes about eight lessons a day, five days a week! The one thing she hasn’t really done is practice on her own.
Then there’s me. Over my six-plus years of dancing ballroom, I’ve also learned three different styles and competed in two. I usually take two lessons a week, and I practice at least once a week for at least one hour.
The extreme differences in our dance training journeys got me thinking. I’ve said before that lessons with your teacher and your solo practice are like two sides of the same coin. But is one side more important than the other? If you’re struggling in your dancing, do you need more lessons or more practice on your own?
Dancing is literally defined as moving rhythmically to music. Many of our lessons and practice time in ballroom, however, happen without music. Even when we do get to dance to music in our training, it’s not going to be the same music that we’ll dance to at competition. It seems to be a challenge unique to ballroom. I remember explaining this to people who had experience with the more mainstream dance competitions, where dancers compete with routines choreographed to specific songs, and being looked at like I was crazy.
You don’t know what music you’ll be dancing to??
Nope. And if you enter a Jack and Jill event, you won’t even know who your partner is going to be!
How do you prepare for that??
If you’ve been dancing ballroom for awhile and especially if you’re a competitor, then you have a decent-sized library of routines and drills that you can use in your solo practice. Your content is plentiful; you just have to decide what your focus will be based on your next event or longer term goals.
But what if you’re just getting started in ballroom? You’re on your first or second lesson package at your studio, you’re still breaking in your first pair of real dance shoes, and not in a million years can you imagine yourself wearing a costume covered with rhinestones. You don’t have any choreographed routines. Heck, you’re still trying to remember the difference between “cross body lead” and “crossover break.”
Have no fear, young grasshoppers! You too can reap the benefits of solo practice. You just need a slightly different approach while you build up your ballroom dance knowledge base. And don’t worry, I mixed up the names of the “cross” steps too.