Happy May dancers! I am feeling mentally rejuvenated after a full day of American Smooth workshops at Emerald Ball. Physically…that’s another story, but first I wanted to share my insights and takeaways from the day.
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.
So I finally saw a physical therapist this past week. A second orthopedist said I’m not doomed or anywhere near a place where I should be concerned about arthritis. Thank goodness for second opinions. There are solutions! I don’t have to dance in pain!
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??
Do you ever feel like you’re going nowhere fast? Like you’re stuck in a hamster wheel or walking the wrong way on one of those moving walkways in the airport?
That’s how I feel on the tougher days. Those days when I feel like it doesn’t matter how hard I work, I just can’t seem to make any progress. My to-do pile at the day job is growing faster than my done pile. I practiced over and over, but I still can’t seem to get that move right in my dance lesson. I’m doing “all the things” to grow my business, but the return still feels small.
When you learn ballroom, you learn that there are rules. There are specific guidelines on how to execute a crossover break or a twinkle step. There are a million little details to remember to ensure your dancing is “right.” Different styles have different rules. You have to remain in closed frame when dancing Standard. You’re supposed to arrive on a straight leg in Latin. The follower’s left hand hooks under the lead’s arm in Tango and rests on top in Waltz.
So many rules to learn and abide by. I don’t mind actually. For the most part, I am a rule follower. I like the structure that the rules of ballroom dancing provide because I like to have a way to know if I’m “right” or “wrong.” Call it a leftover impulse from being a good student in school or a symptom of my need for external validation.