Got My Butt Kicked


Imperial Dance Studio

Competition Student International Standard and Latin Classes

7:30pm to 9:30pm

There is one bright spot from tonight’s dance lesson. Well, actually there are many, but mostly I got my butt handed to me. Absolutely, completely, totally, utterly out of my league. But I hold to the idea that “jumping into the deep end” and “playing with the big boys” will improve my dancing. And I’m sure it will, once I can actually make it through the classes, that is.

Let me explain: these classes are not for the beginner. I have no idea how long most of the other students in the class have been taking ballroom lessons, but probably for longer than I have. They are probably at least silver but more likley gold level students (I compete in bronze and just like Olympic medals, gold is the highest). Heck, some of these students may even compete as amateur or rising star professionals. They are good. Really, really good.

And in good shape. I mean, you don’t get to that level without being conditioned. It just isn’t physically possible to move like these guys move unless you are fit…as I most certainly discovered during my first visit to the class.

It was tortuous! I was out of breath, like turning blue, puffing and panting and coughing. My limbs felt like they weighed two tons each. I could barely move my legs or arms. I literally thought to myself, “I must be crazy to pay for this pain!”

But I remember back to when I was taking jazz class in 7th grade and the only class available on weekends was an adult level lesson. I showed up and was completely out of my comfort zone, I couldn’t keep up with the class, and in basic terms, I sucked. But I kept going (like there was a choice with mom driving me) and over time I began to get better. In fact, I think this was the time of most growth and the biggest jump for me in my level of technique and ability.

So in any case, part of the appeal for me to return to the competitive level ballroom group classes is that I have the opportunity to really grow, espeically being surrounded by such great dancers. But right now, it is quite a challenge. So big a challenge this past Tuesday, that I had to sit out of a few exercises and got so dizzy I thought something was wrong. I sucked on hard candy to try and raise my blood sugar. I kept resting, then joining the class, then resting again. I didn’t give up so I’m proud of that. And honestly, it was the best I could do in the moment. I really left it all out on the dance floor. I had nothing left after class. So much so that on my way home I cried from sheer physical exhaustion. Digging down deep to just make it through the class shook something up inside me emotionally. And it has never been more apparent to me than after this particular class that being so big doesn’t work for me anymore. It is really holding me back.

So I wonder what my motivation is that keeps me going during times like this. There are two things I discovered. The first is that I am not able to put this level of committment or work into just anything in my life. I have a deep passion for dance and it fuels me even when the going gets tough. This is one area in my life where I am in true choice, 100% in and 100% dedicated. Try to train for a marathon like this and I’d probably fail miserably because deep down I wouldn’t really care about it or want it badly enough.

And secondly, there are moments where everything is perfect. The dance becomes effortless. I am a leaf floating on the wind. I am nobody, doing nothing. I am the energy flowing through my body, the movement, the music. These moments are indescribable simple peaceful perfection. I am connected to myself, my partner, and the universe in such moments. I know it sounds kind of esoterically spiritual, but for me, I guess it is. Dance is my practice. It is in my practice I find moments of feeling whole and complete. But these soap bubble moments are fragile and as soon as they form they pop out of existence once again.

I had one such moment in the International Standard class. And a moment of perfection is a rare and precious gem. Each one is brilliant and wonderful and just one little sparkle can motivate me for quite a while. In this case we were practicing a proper hold position. And after some minor corrections the instructor put up his frame to match mine and we fit like two puzzle pieces. We never moved one inch, but it was wonderful for me just the same. It is better than any food could taste, or any drug could make me feel. It is my Nirvana.

Who knew that getting my butt kicked would lead me to heaven? Life is funny like that.

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