I think I’ve pretty much established that I’ve never really thought of myself as a rhythm dancer, in spite of the insistence of The Icon and Madame that I most definitely have the talent and capability to be one of the really great contenders.
To be honest, way down deep I really, REALLY want to be a rhythm star, especially when I look at photos or check out the DVDs (yes, I’ve gone back to getting videos of myself competing) and actually see just how good I’ve gotten. Sure, there’s a lot of “little” things that need addressing (said with tongue firmly in cheek …. consistent timing, spotting, maintaining energy and focus are definitely NOT “little” things); but WOW … when I catch that unexpected flash of beautiful feet, a great turn, or just looking alive and engaged …. In spite of all my arguing to the contrary, I have to admit that I’m doing myself a serious injustice when I run myself down so viciously.
Although I’m pleased as punch when I place well, I don’t take it seriously, thinking it’s nothing more than a fluke, whereas when I don’t place well, I just roll with a big sigh and feeling sad and frustrated, figuring it just underscores the fact that I’m really out of my element no matter how much work I put in.
Yes, there are times I do well. And then there are times when I don’t. Why is that? What is it that I’m doing (or not doing) ?
In order to fix things, one needs to know what things need fixing. To find out what things need fixing means squelching the knee-jerk reaction of hiding one’s head in the sand at the thought of actually looking at and assessing yourself. Squeamishness has to go, and emotions need to be banished to their room. You need to forget that you’re watching yourself and basically adopt the Mr. Spock mindset: Unbiased, dispassionate and analytical.
Which brings us to my last two competitions (Smooth at New York Dance Festival back in February and Rhythm at Manhattan Dance Championships just last week), and my decision to bite the bullet and invest in a DVD and which, in turn, lead to today’s most amazing lesson.
I walked into the studio this morning for my first session since last Wednesday’s comp, and I was loaded for bear. Had my state-of-the-art laptop and the two competition DVDs with me, headed right into the ballroom, put my gear down, gave The Icon a good morning hug and announced that we were going to do something a little different … Show and Tell. I’d be doing the showing, he’d be doing the telling.
The Icon’s initial (and very comical) reaction was a somewhat puzzled (apprehensive?) “what are you showing me?” But the expression on his face when he heard me asking him to critique my last two comp performances was something wonderful to behold. Not only was he surprised that I had put myself out there and gotten my dancing on DVD, but my showing that I valued him enough to ask for his help in targeting specific issues that have been keeping me from closing in on my full potential.
After watching the rhythm, we agreed the DVD not only was extremely helpful in shedding light on a number of issues and pinpointing areas that need attention, but it gave us a different and much clearer perspective on the overall performances.
End result being we’re going to focus down on and implement some changes in the rhythm over the next few weeks and actually go out again for rhythm at the Empire on August 5th.
The icing on the cake, though, was just when I thought we were done and ready to spend at least some of the lesson on actual dancing, The Icon (being who he is and not doing things in half-measures), insisted on seeing the Smooth from February’s NYDF.
“That’s got to be the best smooth you’ve ever done.”