Huh?

The Icon insists that his students keep a dance journal, taking notes during each lesson. I would do this even if he didn’t insist. It contains bits and pieces on footwork, timing, choreography, body movement, how much I’m going to spend on the next comp or showcase, what I need to bring with me for my next lesson or coaching … you name it, it’s probably in the journals — I start new ones every year and yes, I have built quite a library.

Next competition is Manhattan Dancesport, doing Rhythm on July 4th — 15 single dances and the Closed Silver Rhythm Scholarship. Whee whoooo …. so here’s a brief rundown (in no particular order) of what I’m supposed to not only keep in mind, but execute as well, in addition to staying on beat to the music, performing to the judges and the audience, and be focused and aware of my surroundings ….. OK, OK … here we go:

Technique — applies to all dances in general:

CONNECTION

SPOTTING

CLARITY and readability — quicks need to be quick, use all the space on the slows. Know your choreography so well that you could do it if you were unconscious

FOCUS on either your partner or the audience

Arm Styling

Fully committing to each and every step; making sure your weight is fully on your foot, drop deep into the hip

Really work the legs and use the feet. And MAKE SURE the feet turn out and heels are together

When I asked the Icon  about where I should be ending up in a particular pattern, he boiled it down to you are either facing your partner or facing front (the audience).  When I asked him how would I anticipate where the front was, we quickly reviewed Line of Dance, and various directions thereof. Believe it or not, Open Rhythm DOES follow the line of dance, just like in smooth.

Bolero: strong CBM on check and exit, making sure to push out from pelvis.

Good grief. I haven’t even started warming up yet.

OK, to be continued. I want to get into the habit of  being more specific in my posts in terms of what I’m doing in lessons and coaching rather than a general overall commentary.

 

Dilemma

I’m finding it as hard to put together a post as it is to make myself go to the weekly group and social at my studio. It’s been like pulling teeth. Ergo, I haven’t done either.

The Icon has been constantly on my case, trying to get me back to doing the Friday night dance parties or, at least, the group class offered beforehand.

I recognize the need to take advantage of any opportunity to practice my art, to put into play the wealth of knowledge I’m picking up from working with my teacher/partner, his wife (retired U.S. Champions) and the amazing world class coaches they trained with and now invite into the studio. I want to become comfortable on the floor, get back to where the mechanics of dance are second nature, allowing me to fully explore the performance aspect.

Back in the days when I was first bitten by the ballroom bug, my world revolved around the social arena. I took private lessons, religiously attended my studio’s weekly groups and socials, and danced at outside venues whenever an opportunity arose. Showcasing also played a huge part in my dance life, affording the chance to reach up out of the Bronze social level, into the rarified atmosphere of (gasp) SILVER.

Coming back to the point …. When I started competitive training with The Icon, I did the groups and stayed for the socials, and eagerly participated in the showcases. But somewhere along the line, I started feeling that the results were more detrimental than beneficial.

Because now, in today’s competitive arena, a ballroom dancer is no longer “just a dancer” … you have to revamp your vision and start seeing yourself as an athlete — and you have to train like one.

You’re thinking of timing and rhythm and alignment. Focus. Presence. Performing.

Not only do you have to have strength, stamina, endurance, quick thinking and even faster reflexes, but you need to develop a different kind of mindset and establish a game plan.

It’s physical, mental, and psychological.

And there’s the rub.

I’m not a dance snob. I have no problem working “lower level” — I love doing the weekly group classes which are taught by Mrs. Icon. If I could make my basic steps and simple patterns look anything like hers, I’d be able to die happy.

The problem is there are no other competitive dancers participating in either the classes or dancing at the socials. Good (and even great) social and/or club dancers, yes. They can dance a multitude of steps, but are missing some of the most important elements — connection, technique. And that puts a whole different slant on things.

Plus, people see you in an entirely different light when they find out you not only dance at a higher level, but are a competitive dancer to boot …. Most are afraid of asking you to dance? Intimidated? So, I find myself trying to put them at ease. Dumbing down my own dancing. Which only tends to re-enforce all the bad habits I’m trying to correct.

So when I think I’ve finally talked myself into giving the groups and socials another shot, have gotten myself dressed and it’s just about time to walk out the door, I realize I’d rather chew on broken glass than do either the group or the social. So I do the next best thing. I open my laptop, pop in my Janna Kunitz Latin Technique DVD and give it all I’ve got.

Anybody else dealing with these kind of issues? Comments? Suggestions?