Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
Imperial Ballroom Dance Center
Group International Standard and Latin classes for competitive ballroom students
Sometimes in life when we try something new, we fall flat on our face. Such was the case for me when I showed up for International Standard class last night and the instructor chose to work on the Quickstep.
Now luckily, I didn’t literally fall flat on my face. But metaphorically, wow, big fail. I have to give myself a break here because I only learned the basic steps in the Quickstep over about a two week period and the last time I danced it was in June. Also, I don’t know the basic figures by myself. In ballroom dancing, it is one thing to dance with a partner in front of you who knows what they are doing and guides you to the proper location. It is another to know what you are supposed to be doing on your own without that frame of reference. It is simply one of my least practiced dances and last night, boy, it was apparent!
So Inna explains that we are going to do a basic, traditional warm-up for the Quickstep. Okay, I think, I know the basic. I should be able to muddle my way through this. Not so. I kept getting completely lost. The other girls in the class were gliding past me, and all I could do at one point was stand still, watch, and count: slow, slow, quick, quick, quick, quick, slow, slow, quick quick…. My new Native American name is “Deer in headlights.”
I seriously wanted to cry. I was so completely out of my league, out of my depth, unknowledgable. It was quite uncomfortable and part of me wanted to run screaming from the studio in embarrassment.
But the stronger part of me stuck with it. I stayed in the class. Although not with proper form or technique, at one point I was able to get it together enough to make it around the circle once with the “right” steps. Then the wheels fell off the wagon once again.
Blessedly, the class finally moved on to something else…oh, wait….jumping! Yeah, that is awesome to do in a 270 pound body. Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle. Not to mention being out of breath, burning calves, oh, and why am I doing this again?
Gasping for air like a pearl diver returned from the deeps, I am grateful that the class finally ends….only to begin torture anew with the Latin class.
At least I am more comfortable with the Rumba warm-up we do after a few weeks of practice and working on the dance with my instructor on private lessons. And, I do detect some slight improvement in my stamina in that I was able to make it through the warm up mostly without stopping. But endurance and cardiovascular capacity are severely limiting me at this time. I want to dance more than I can physically can tolerate and it is an awful feeling.
I thought I was smart. Now I bring a big jug of water and a Gatorade, as well as my inhaler and proper practice shoes instead of heels in preparation for the onslaught of physical demands before me. I place them near to the edge of the ballroom so I can quickly grab them between exercises across the floor. Though this may help with decreasing the amount of muscle cramping I experience (I still have some), it can do nothing to improve my stamina. I am literally doubled over, leaning against the wall at times, beet red in the face, dripping sweat in thick droplets, and my peers are barely glistening. I am in a prison in my body, and one of my own creation, no less!
Inna even asks me at one point if I am okay. “Yeah,” I reply, “I’m just horribly out of shape.”
My mental problem kicks in once again…hey, wasn’t I going to dance in “paz” tonight?
But in a moment of weakness, the negative thoughts surface. I’m certain others in the class are thinking I shouldn’t be there. Inna is purposely making the exercises hard to prove the point that I’m not up to the challenge. I’m positive they are all thinking I am not at the right level expertise, and clearly my physical condition is limiting me.
But are they really thinking this? I have no friggin’ clue. Is it possible that this is simply a projection of my own negative thoughts about myself onto others? In truth, it is really none of my business what anyone else thinks of me. And probably, I’m not that important – all the students are busy in their own experience during class, they don’t have time to be worrying about what others in the class are doing…I certainly don’t…unless we are in danger of colliding head-on.
And, isn’t it possible that maybe someone thinks it’s great that I’m there, chug-chug-chugging along, even in my decrepit state just like the Little Engine That Could? Maybe it is even inspiring. Hey, maybe a part of me is projecting that thought too. In fact, I can choose which one I want to believe. I think it is clear which one will serve me better. I’ve spent enough time in my life deprecating myself.
So, I’ve decided that if I get to choose which thought I believe since I’m making it all up anyways, that I’m going to believe that it is awesome that I keep showing up. It is wonderful that I stick with it, even when I am at my physical limits. I am proud of myself for going after something I want with all that I am in this moment. And I’m believing that I’m going to transform before my very eyes because of it.
So, this brings me full circle. Have I really failed? I think I will only fail if I stop showing up for my own life. And, my Quickstep needs some work! Ha!