“Dancing with the Stars” from the instructors view…

Welcome to Social Dancing for Adults!

This weekend is the 3rd annual Dancing in the Clover fund raiser benefiting the Union County 4H Foundation.  I have been blogging about this event for several months, so you may be glad to hear that the event will be over this Saturday.  J  If you haven’t voted, please do so soon.  Voting online will be cut off this Saturday.  There are still plenty of tickets available if you want to attend the event.  It will be a very enjoyable evening with dinner, entertainment and dancing until midnight.  To vote or see who is currently in first place, check out this website:

http://union4hfoundation.com/Spring_Gala.html

This week I wanted to talk a little about my experiences in preparing for this event.  It has certainly not been all fun and games, but I would rather do this than practical anything else.  The last time I was personally involved in any form of competition was 2005.  In the six years between now and then, I have focused primarily on teaching a more social dance style to my students.  Having a chance to work on the competitive side again seemed like a nice challenge.  I had forgotten the work it takes to get back to competitive form and I can tell you two months is not nearly enough time.  There is so much to consider that it can be overwhelming.  Let me break down some of those things for you.

1)      Dance material.  Social dancing focuses on easier patterns, because your reason for dancing is different.  You want to be a good partner, someone who can lead or follow and it does not matter as much that the patterns that you learn are hard, but that they are fun to do.

Getting back into the competitive side, I had to go back and start refreshing myself with more advanced material.  This was a good thing for me personally, because I had to practice these patterns and relearn them.  I found that this also helped me find a renewed passion for my work.  I plan on introducing this material to my students in the form of higher level classes.  This should also help the students have something to look forward to as well.

2)      Dance technique.  This is an area that really does not change that much between social and performance dancing.  Good technique is required in both styles, so this is one item that I felt would not cause a major change in my approach.

In reality things did change.  Having a shorter time to prepare made me place a higher expectation on my partners.  My usual laid back style changed and I found myself driving my partners to practice longer and on one faithful evening, I realized that I had pushed a little to far and caused one of my ladies to the point of exhaustion.  So I did become a little over zealous in my quest to get us into competition shape.

3)      Personal fitness.  Let us not pull punches here… my personal fitness level had become quite soft over the last several years.  To soft for someone in my line of work.  I needed motivation, I needed to push myself, but I was aware that this was not something I would be able to do initially on my own.

I took this opportunity to invest some time with a personal trainer.  Realizing that you need help is the first step.  Knowing how to get that help is the second.  Walking in the door and looking at programs was the third step.  The last step, going into the first session with the personal trainer was exciting.  I had no clue what he would have me do and the exercises that I would perform, but I knew that what ever it was I would do it.  I am not lazy, you see, but being unmotivated and not being able to motivate yourself cause the same results as being lazy.  I have one complete month under my belt and I am feeling great and very glad to say that my energy levels are higher than they have been in years.

4)      Theater and entertaining the masses.  Dancing is a visual art for a reason.  The really good dancers can tell you a story with just to movement of their bodies.  I think most people understand their own bodies and how to use them to convey emotion, but it can be much harder to get someone else to convey that same emotion.

This is where having a professional partner comes into play, you handle your emotion, they handle their emotion and you meet in the middle.  This is not as effective with someone who is new to dancing.  Having to consider what you look like and what your partner looks like and what you look like together… does that sound easy?   I am lucky that one of my partners is a trained actress.  I could just say look demure here, I want you to be assertive at this point and she took care of it.  How nice!   Still, our tango required that our emotional repartee look convincing and correct.  I think we still need a little work, but I consider that my fault.  Probably should have worked on that piece just as much as the technical side, like drops and dips. These are things you take away for future reference.

These are the things I have learned.  These are the things I will take away from this experience.  I have rediscovered myself in this process and that discovery has helped me grow as a dancer and person.  I believe that this is the natural process of life, to learn something new and to grow as a person.  I certainly have done that!  I look forward to this experience again and the all the new experiences that come from it.  Hope that you will also have a similar experience so that you too may grow and learn.

Remember to keep dancing!

Ryan

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