I haven’t written over the past few months, keeping everything inside and enabling myself to hide from reality. Putting my feelings into words forces me to lay everything out in the cold harsh light of reason, after which trying to back off and retreat into the closet of denial is no longer an option.
My dance life has had some serious ups and downs over the past few months, and I’ve had a lot (maybe too much?) time to chew a number of things over.
Bottom line is I’m telling myself that I’m desperately unhappy.
Yes, my Silver Medal checkout was successful. I actually nailed 64 syllabus figures in 8 dances (Waltz, Tango, FoxTrot, ChaCha, Rumba, Swing, Mambo and Hustle).
Yes, I’ll be dancing at the Golden Star Championship in January, but the focus will be on Rhythm: Full Silver Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero, Mambo, Merengue and Hustle, as well as debuting my brand new Open Silver Mambo routine. Yes, I’m dancing rhythm. Again.
Now some of this has to do with The Icon sustaining an ugly injury to his foot. He’s able to handle rhythm, but smooth is an entirely different story. The rise and fall and power that smooth requires keeps aggravating the break and has kept it from healing properly.
At my checkout, I had to dance the smooth figures on my own, and at last week’s lesson he was in a boot. So the option of doing any Smooth any time soon seems to have sunk beneath the waves, never to be seen again. And over the past few years, I’ve gotten so hung up on my goal of getting back to dancing gold level, that I’ve closed myself off from other paths; i.e., maybe focusing on rhythm for a while.
Sure, on the one hand, all well and good. But on the other hand, it looks like I might not be dancing Smooth out of this studio again. Bad enough that I feel like my heart’s been ripped out of my chest every time I remind myself that the last time I competed in smooth was last February. I can’t even begin to express the emotions that go along with the feeling of having wasted the past six years chasing after what has turned out to be merely a pipedream. My hopes and dreams of dancing Open Gold are in pieces on the floor.
Another factor at play here besides my hurt feelings — I have to admit that my nose is seriously out of joint, because I don’t think I’m being treated fairly.
I identify with a number of points made by fellow blogger D_Wall in his discussion on a dance studio’s primary raison d’etre — it needs to make $$$ in order to stay in business.
And in order to stay in business, a studio needs to offer whatever services they deem appropriate to draw in the most people. Theoretically, as long as you give the people what they want, they’ll show up.
The Icon and I have had several “energetic conversations” on this particular matter, but it pretty much boils down to I’m expected to accommodate the studio’s offerings without the studio attempting to accommodate me in any way.
The majority of dancers at my studio are social dancers. Some come for the group classes, some do take private lessons in order to develop a routine to present at our showcases, some participate in the formation teams that also perform at our showcases, and there are those that come to the weekly socials just to have a dance night out.
Then you have the handful of competitive dancers. Of the 12 or so students competing, I’d say 9 of us are The Icon’s students.
I’m a competitive dancer; specifically, a Full / Open Silver 9 Dance Pro-Am American style dancer. My routines for studio showcases qualify as Gold level. At present time, I’m probably the highest level dancer at the studio, and pretty much the only one who goes out for the full card of both smooth and rhythm. We have one veteran who used to do both styles, but she now keeps her focus on smooth. The rest have opted to pretty much stick to rhythm when they compete.
I pay good money for lessons, coaching and competitions. Definitely not as much, or anywhere close, to what many of the independently wealthy dance hobbyists spend, but money that comes from working both full part-time jobs.
I can only afford one double a week, but I’m a steady, reliable student. I make it my business to be at my lesson every week, on time, prepared, and ready to work.
I’ve willingly participated in the yearly checkouts, just achieving Silver Medal this year. Next and final level is Silver Trophy—which marks the official completion of Silver Level Syllabus.
Although I’ve done this for my own benefit, I can’t help but feel my efforts are unrecognized and checkouts mean nothing.
Dance of the Month Group classes usually feature one of the rhythm dances and are geared towards beginners and basic bronze level social dancers. The same is true with the weekly parties.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never had a problem practicing bronze, and it never hurts to take a refresher course in the basics. But when I get asked to dance, 9 times out of 10 it’s for a rhythm number.
I can’t remember the last time I danced smooth at a social, and I can definitely say there hasn’t been a single social in the past 5 years where I actually danced anything silver.
Showcases are another joke. Nobody wants to see anything other than lifts & drops & splits. There’s the usual glut of assorted Tangos (more Argentine than traditional), but a drop-dead gorgeous Waltz? Or a Sassy Fox Trot? A whirling dervish of a Viennese Waltz? You’ve got to be kidding.
I really don’t know what I’m going to do.
If continuing to dance with The Icon means embracing rhythm, do I suck it up and try to look at it as the Universe’s way of pushing me to see myself from a new perspective?
Do I accept this plot twist, trying to look at it not as the end, but as the beginning of an unexpected, exciting adventure? Do I surrender to the mysteries of the unknown and devote myself to becoming the best rhythm dancer I can possibly be?
I guess I’m just going to have to wait and see.