Yowsa — so, I danced at the studio EVERY day this week! You heard me, every. single. day. That must be what those supa-rich ladies feel like who practice 25 hours a week with their personal instructor flown in from Europe or something. Just kidding! No seriously, can you imagine being able to practice that much with your teacher — talk about burning a hole in your pocket — oh wait, I mean majorly advancing in your dance skills.
All snark aside, I have no idea what it would be like to dance that much with an instructor. BUT, I do know what it’s like to go to the dance studio every day this week and dance. Four of the days I was learning and one day I was social dancing. I already chatted a bit about my waltz experience in my last post. However, to pick up my week, I met Teach 1 on Wednesday and we worked on rumba … well, actually technique. I’m a servant of technique these days (does that even make sense? It’s late at night — I’m not sure what I’m writing is good/necessary/appropriate … oh, whatever). Speaking of whatever — my teacher informed me that it is my new favorite word and he no longer wanted me to use it in lesson-time. I got a very sound teacher-student talking-to on Wednesday after my lesson. I will not bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, telling you all would be admitting to some problems I have — and whew, I’m not exactly sure how vulnerable I can be tonight. To be completely honest and fair — I totally deserved it. But that does NOT mean that I was happy about it — at least for about 24 hours. Nor did I, in the moment, acknowledge how right on he was being. Teach 1 was very measured and calm as he “corrected” me on a few issues — some with my dancing, some with my attitude about certain things, etc. He was not mean or accusatory, but seemed sincere and trying to be helpful. He did make one joke that irritated me, but other than that it was all fair.
However, after the talking to, he left to go back to the office and I changed my shoes, my mind whirling around trying to get around these things that I had just been admonished with. He was leaving to go to Vegas with another student for several days and I have this horrible fear of ever leaving people in my life with a bad last experience.** I don’t always follow thru with this, but I try to smooth things over. So, even though I was still sorting things in my mind, I stopped at the office door and told him I was sorry and hoped it was OK. He made a joke that it was fine. (He’s seen much worse from me before.) 🙂
I got in my car and started to drive home and can you believe those stupid tears just came from nowhere? Why do they do this? I was not prepared in my car for a deluge. Thank God it was dark and the people at the stoplight were not seeing me wipe my dripping face on my shirt. And I thought that I should just quit dancing. What did it matter? I’d never get any good at it? Why was I wasting all this time and money, etc.? For my 10-minute drive home I debated from the north to the south pole in my head on this issue. I was quick to come up with a bunch of excuses or reasons why or how I could refute what Teach said … and then a small voice in my head subtly reminded me that this is one of my issues. Argh.
So, my Teach said that I could do the things we were working on, but that I gave up too easily and didn’t try to push to my limits, let alone go beyond them — that I would have an excuse or throw out my favorite word: “whatever.” (ouch … that even hurt to type.)
When I got home, I just went to bed — well, actually, I took my iPad with me and played solitaire. I can’t even imagine how ridiculous this must sound, but it’s the truth. I probably played about 30 games of solitaire in my bed all warm and cozy. And I know why I do this. When there’s too much swirling around in my brain and I know that I do not have a good handle on the many sides of an issue, I devolve to this activity. It’s totally mindless. It’s completely free of emotion. It tires me out. It’s just flipping cards (well, swiping with my finger). There’s no expectations. There’s nothing hurtful. Solitaire is just that. My time to be solitary. I do not know why this works for me, but it does. And so I went to sleep.
Thursday morning. I slept a little longer, but it was needed. The sleep refreshed my brain and my emotions to take care of what happened. On my microwave door — which is a little higher than my eye level (just call me Shorty), I have a chart of things I’m trying to do. (when you live alone, you can do crazy things like that.) So, on the margins of my chart I wrote down three of the things that Teach said that especially cut to the core. I needed to see them written down. And I stood there for like 5 minutes just staring at the words. Then, of course, I made coffee. Sipping my coffee was my time to regurgitate the emotions and formulate my arguments back and so I just said them out loud. As I was saying them out loud I started to see what Teach was saying to me. He was right. He was so right. There were no tears, but I did feel some embarrassment … staring down into my coffee cup. But, after I felt the shame, I could come up with a plan. So, I have a plan of sorts. I still felt very weak and vulnerable all day and then some surprising things happened. I went that evening social dancing at the studio and had a few students say some very encouraging things about how I’ve been able to help them with dancing. I was also able to relate what my Teach did to me with a current situation I am going through with one of my students. My student responded to my correction of him in a very gracious, respectful and open/teachable manner. It is exactly how I needed to respond to the correction from my Teach. It feels good to have a plan of action.
So, that brings me to today. This afternoon, I had a lesson with Teach 2. I came to my lesson right after work and he says to me, “Let’s do smooth.” OK, let’s do it. I get on my shoes, we head to the floor and he says, “You had coaching with Valentina this week, what she say about your waltz? What you need to work on?” So, we started the lesson with me telling him about the weaknesses and he was so matter of fact. He took each thing we talked about and broke it down and we worked on it. I mean, we worked hard. He was very encouraging, but relentless in getting the technique right. I really enjoyed it. I wish so much I could dance 25 hours a week with my teachers — can’t imagine how amazing that must be. I learned some really great things today. He also gave me drills to do at home. He told me I needed to come early before each lesson or stay after and work on these things I’m learning. At the end of the lesson we sat down for notes and to schedule the next lesson. We talked about competition. (36 hours ago I would have been incredibly insecure about competing.) It was great. He gave me his take on why people do comps and why he thinks students should or shouldn’t and the attitude going in. I left feeling light.
So, this was a week at the studio. Some big ups and downs — all pretty much happened in my own head. But, I got some good truth about my dancing this week that I hope I will be open/teachable about responding to. I have a plan. I have two teachers who believe in me and push me to be my best. And if you made it this far, some fellow dance lovers who probably get some of my pain and anguish — which is what this community is all about. Thanks, friends.
“To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.” – Picabo Street
**True story: when I was a little girl about 7 years old, I was at church one Sunday. I was wearing my nice dress and my mom had told me not to mess it up. I grew up in Colorado. So after church, as children often do, I was outside hanging out with my friends. It was late spring and there was still snow on the ground — that gross, ugly, dirty leftover kind of snow. I was with one of my friends and there was a young boy about my age who was acting like he was going to throw a snowball at me. I warned him not to — especially because of my nice dress. Well, he, of course, threw it and it hit me. I was so mad at him. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was the meanest thing I could think of and I fled back inside to clean up. That night we learned that he and his family had gone up into the mountains for the afternoon. They had stopped at one of the viewing places along the way and got out. He ran out into the lot and a truck didn’t see him. He was struck and died on the scene. I was horrified when I found out and retreated to grieve. My mom found me and I told her what had happened. My mom was loving and sympathetic, but she also said that it was a good lesson for me — I can never escape from this experience.