The Icon Coach
That was the focus point of today’s — and previous — coaching.
It’s hard to accept that only one word is the key to dancing (or basically any artistic endeavor).
That’s all you need to know. How to be clear. Clear, precise, readable basics set the groundwork for everything. You can’t build a skyscraper on a faulty foundation.
Now I’m dancing rhythm in Manhattan Dancesport in three weeks—the usual five core dances, Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero and Mambo, and, thanks to some bizarre reasoning that escapes me now (a perverse streak, perhaps?), I’ve decided to resurrect Hustle, Merengue and Samba and re-introduce them to my competitive roster.
But there’s just one small hitch (isn’t there always ?? LOL). I haven’t danced those dances in competition for over three years. I’m OK with them at the studio socials, but I’m not sure that’s going to cut it out there on the floor.
(Heads up, here’s where we start running the **** rant)
Anyway, got to the studio this morning and started off with the “what are we working on” conversation. The Icon wanted to go over “what we already have (meaning probably review Rumba AGAIN, maybe a little Cha, or just something to do with the core dances).
My suggestion was that, in light of the comp being a few heartbeats away, and seeing as we haven’t even touched on Samba (we did go over some Hustle and Merengue patterns last week), that maybe Samba would be a good choice.
The Icon counters with “we can warm up with RUMBA (again), then maybe move to Merengue and finish up with Samba”.
My mind starts screaming, “no, No, NO, NO, NO” …. I don’t know—I understand that if you can get all of the elements of your Rumba to look good, you’re going to be able to carry those elements to any of the other rhythm dances. But I’m just SO SICK of focusing on THAT ONE DANCE !!!! Just like when we’re working on smooth, and I hear The Icon say “let’s just warm up with BRONZE”. I GO BATSHIT. For real.
So it’s decided that we’re going to warm up with Rumba (see how far my hissy fits get me?!?!) Right from the start, I don’t know why, but I was way off my game today, unable to do a simple rumba walk, sliding my feet, losing my balance, my spins weaving and wobbling like a drunken top. A sluggish body and muddy, confused mind don’t really lend themselves to a stellar presentation. I forgot my rumba routine, backslid into the old “social dancer” habits and instead of crisp and precise, the harder I tried get into the flow, the more things went off the tracks. It seemed I couldn’t do anything right.
The oddest thing though—Coach didn’t let that distract her from the main issue: CLARITY. Not rushing through the steps, taking the time to get on the foot, fully completing one step before moving on to the next. You’re doing a back rock? Fine. Take your weight ALL the way back, THEN bring it forward. There’s a start and a finish to each movement. Don’t rush right into the next step. Take the time–you have more than enough time (more than you think). Use the feet, the legs, the body. There’s no such thing as LAZY in ballroom!
I understand this because it’s one of Coach’s basic tenets, something that moves with us from session to session. I understand it in my head, but as I explained to her today, just because the head understands it, doesn’t mean that the body does. I can’t seem to figure out how to make the brain communicate the information to the body!!
But anyway, I was getting frustrated and stressing out and when that happens, I move into this “dead zone” – I get disoriented and my mind just turns off. And this just doesn’t happen in the studio. There have been times when “zombie brain” comes crashing down on me right in the middle of a competition. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, a healthy dose of The Icon’s sarcasm wasn’t helping matters either. He has this way of making me feel so bad and stupid and discouraged (not to mention embarrassing me in front of Coach). I may have mentioned before that ours is a “hate/love” relationship…there are times when I hate him and would absolutely love to give him two black eyes. That being said, I was on the verge of bursting into tears.
It was, of course, right at that point when we (he) decided to try a run through on the Rumba routine (RUMBA. AGAIN). Did things magically turn themselves around you ask? And did I get it all together and turn out a breathtaking routine? You’ve got to be kidding. This is reality. You know, the reality where things went so far South that they’re now floundering in the Atlantic somewhere off the coast of Brazil.
And here’s where I did something that took me by surprise. I looked at Coach and I looked at The Icon and I just said “I’m sorry, I’m just not with it this morning. I seem to be having a bad day.”
The Icon mumbled something along the lines of “business as usual”, but it was Coach who said, “no, not bad. Just a little difficult.”
From there we moved on to spend the remaining few minutes on Merengue (couldn’t remember the patterns here either, but what the hell).
On the way out, Coach was in the reception area. I thanked her for her patience and told her how much I appreciated being able to work with her.
She’s the most amazing woman. She answered with how much she appreciates working with me and told me that yes, things are a bit difficult, but that’s because I’m now dancing at a level where every little element matters, and she’s been gradually introducing me to . the more intricate concepts of dance technique. And that at this level there is just so much more to keep track of when you’re on the floor. And that every session we have, she sees that I’ve absorbed that much more and I’m remembering to implement and make use of that much more. Talk about a positive ending!
(But we never did get to Samba!!!!)