Extremely corny play on words, I know…
Ugh. Last night I had another ballroom lesson with my private lesson teacher, with whom I’m working on a foxtrotish version of Tharp’s Sinatra Suites for the school’s next student showcase, coming up in April. I had a very stressful day at work, and I was so frazzled I completely forgot to eat, which, before a dance lesson, is just not conducive to success. At least not with me. About half an hour before I had to leave for the studio, I tried to scarf down some yogurt and granola, but ever since I developed my Globus a few years ago, scarfing is just not possible; I have to eat s-l-o-w-l-y. Anyway, I managed to ingest about 1/4 of the cup, while stretching and packing up some home-work for later in the evening (nothing like multi-tasking!). But, with only a bowl of cereal and small cup of coffee about nine hours earlier, that quarter cup of yogurt wasn’t enough to keep me focused.
I think. Or it could just be the increasingly weird dynamic I seem to be having lately with my teacher. He seemed to be yelling at me for everything. He kept telling me to look in the mirror at how bad I looked, how crooked and broken my lines were, and how horrible my posture was. And I couldn’t always understand what was bad. Maybe you just can’t see yourself properly in a mirror. (And, he told me to bring a camcorder to my next lesson, so I could videotape myself, which I think is a good idea, since I do seem to pick up on things I hadn’t seen in the mirror … as long as I don’t obsess too much over my flaws). But, in the mirror at least, I don’t always understand how what I’m doing is not right. For example, I’ve been told before — repeatedly actually — that, since I have hyperextended arms, they should be a bit softened (slightly bent at the elbow so as to look graceful and not harsh) — have been told that by both ballet teachers and Pasha, my erstwhile Latin teacher. But this teacher tells me hyperextended is good and I need to make maximum use of that and show it off by making sure my arms are completely straight out at all times, never the least bit bent. But sometimes I couldn’t extend my arms as long and straight out as he wanted me to — I was reaching and reaching and stretching, while he kept chanting “more more more” but they just wouldn’t go any farther out without pulling my blasted shoulder out of its socket! And, when he’d pull on an arm to try to help me make that line, that’s exactly what it felt like! Or, he’d twist my rib cage area if I wasn’t doing “cross body movement” properly, or slap my wrist down if it my hand was extended outward instead of down, or he’d twist my wrist if he wanted me to hold my hands palms facing up instead of down. And some of the ways he was handling me were a little scary. I know he was just trying to correct me, but I had to ask him, nicely of course, if he could be a little gentler, especially with my left wrist since I have a partially torn a ligament in that one, and could have to have surgery if it gets any worse, which I most definitely don’t want. He apologized and explained that he just didn’t want to have to keep repeating himself, and besides, if I didn’t learn how to give him my body weight properly and to maintain the proper push / pull connection with him, especially on a trick like a lunge or stretch, I could hurt myself very easily.
I know that’s true, and that if you don’t have proper technique, both partner-dancing and alone, you can incur serious injury. But on the other hand, I have a very hard time learning when I feel like I’m being yelled at. I just get all flustered and can’t do anything right. And, we were going to put this overhead lift into our routine, and I know myself, and if I’m the least bit scared of the guy I’m dancing with, I’m not going to trust him and I’m subconsciously going to be pulling myself down while he’s trying to get me up into the air, and we could both hurt each other. I need to feel very comfortable with the guy in order to trust him, and in order to do hard things properly. I actually don’t see how anyone can dance with a partner they don’t feel completely comfortable with. It makes me feel for professionals who have to partner someone they’re not comfortable with.
Anyway, I don’t know if it was the lack of food or the pressure but I just couldn’t do anything right, and I couldn’t even remember the rather simple choreography we’ve done so far. I really thought at one point he was going to kill me! I mean, I know he wants me to dance well, and of course I want to be the best I can be, and I appreciate that he is serious and not lazy. But, on the other hand, I am never going to be a professional dancer, and this is supposed to be fun. I think for the first time, after leaving a hard day at work behind to head to the studio, I did not feel my stress-level lessened. Maybe I should put this routine on hold for a while and save the showcase for next October when they have it at a Manhattan theater (as opposed to Long Island, where it is in the spring), when all of my friends can attend again. In the meantime, I can lighten up and maybe learn some standard ballroom from the standard teacher, reducing my private lesson to every other week instead of every week to decrease expenses…. I hate to abandon some of the pretty Tharp-esque choreography I was trying so hard to learn though … although what we’re doing doesn’t look much like what Baryshnikov and Elaine Kudo were doing on the tape anyway… I guess genuine foxtrot ballroom and balletish ballroom are two completely different things. I hadn’t realized that. I have a lot to learn about dance, apparently.
Anyway, I guess I will be thinking about this — where to go with my ballroom dancing from here — over the long weekend, since I don’t have my next lesson scheduled until next Friday…
But, the GREAT thing about last night was that I saw a very good ballroom friend: the always sugar-sweet, always full of motherly advice, the splendidly charmingly wonderful, Elaine, whom I haven’t seen since our October showcase! She was having a coaching with the studio owner. When, after my class, I practically fell right into her open arms crying, like a ridiculous baby, she insisted I accompany her to her favorite nearby diner for a glass of wine and some much-needed comfort food, and a pep talk. Funny thing about food though is that, when I haven’t eaten all day and I’m completely stressed, I seem to have no appetite. Well, I ordered some very greasy, very tasty fries, and a glass of the house red (just to cut cholesterol levels from ingestion of said fries, of course )
And here, Miss Elaine is being her silly self (Notice my ever so nutritious dinner in foreground):
Anyway, it ended up being a very good night after all, full of catching up on life, receiving sound motherly advice on managing work stress and dealing with dance teachers (!), and enjoying good, trashy comfy food. Thanks Elaine