Time sure seems to be flying. I remember back when I started working on preparing for this competition, and I kept thinking “man, it’s like four months away, so there is tons of time to get everything ready!” Now here we are, with only a little more than a week to go, and there seems like there is not enough time. I feel like I am so close to having everything down, but there are just some things that elude me a bit yet. The second Cha-Cha routine that I know all the steps for, but I don’t always put them in the right order. The Foxtrot that I can step through so easily in my head, but always seems to hit a wall (literally and figuratively) when I practice it with someone. When I think about it, I think it feels like I am just on the precipice of mastering these things, so maybe ten days will be enough to push me over that edge.
On the other hand, sometimes I think that my routines are at the point that there won’t be much that will change between the way I dance each routine today and the way I dance each routine during the competition. With so little time left, and the butterflies starting to creep into my stomach when I think about getting out on that floor, there is really no way I can do anything different during the dance without quitting my job and focusing on running the routine full time to change the muscle memory I have developed for said routine. Little things might change, but then only if my brain thinks about them in time for me to stop my reflexes from doing it differently. Bolero is a good example – there is a part where we do these crazy shadow walks, and when we stop and turn to go back in the opposite direction somehow I always end up with my hand underneath hers, even though it should be clamped on the side. I know in my head the correct way to do it, and the last couple of lessons I have taken Sir Steven has told me to “do it better,” but it’s one of those things I never really noticed I was doing until a couple of weeks ago, so now it is going to be a hard habit to break. With time to practice dwindling, the ROI from running the same step over and over to fix that little thing is low, and it takes a lot of the fun out of dance practice. Over time, I will naturally fix it the more I think about it, but I don’t want to kill my enjoyment trying to make it happen forcefully right now. Competing is supposed to be about fun, not necessarily about winning anything. As I have discussed with Sparkledancer, going into this competition, we have no illusions about winning anything, we just want to do better than we did last time we were competing while still having fun.
So that’s where it stands right now. I know everything mentally at this point, and the body is feeling pretty good about doing what the brain knows. Sometimes I do get routines mixed up if I have more than one for the same dance style, but that doesn’t happen too often. It’s just a performance thing – you never really feel like you are fully prepared to go out and perform until after you walk off the stage when the performance is over. Right now it seems like everything that I am working on fixing are all little things that are cleaning up limb placement, or putting more energy into certain steps (while taking energy out of others). Nothing earth shattering. It feels like a lot of things though, even though it isn’t. And even when I mess up, I am at the point that I will just keep going and work my way to getting back on step or on time without making it obvious that anything went wrong.
I do need to make a point of working with Sir Steven on what to do for the smooth dances if I have to start on the short wall. My main Waltz and Foxtrot routines are really designed with a specific starter step that doesn’t work so well when you start on the short wall. Good thing I just made myself a note here to ask about it…
As it turned out, the rumor circulating that Young Dave was going to start training to be an instructor were true. I’m happy for him – for a young man who has no idea what he wants to do with his life after graduation, this could give him a direction to go towards, or at least a source of income as he tries to figure out what he wants to do as a career if this turns out not to be it. It’s kind of weird to see him wandering about the studio now, clad all in black, following Lord Fabulous around shadowing his lessons and the group classes he is giving, demonstrating things to people, or standing off against the wall practicing the female variation of the steps he has to learn. Some of the ladies have told me that there has been a noticeable change in his demeanor since taking on this role, and the superiority complex that he exuded before has been pulled back. That’s really made the difference, I think. Really, none of this has affected me so far, considering he is male and I never dance with him, so I am just seeing this from the outside as an observer. But as I’m sure many of you know, when the ladies at the studio are happy, the whole tone of dancing is happier.
This Saturday there is actually another dance field trip planned. Bony found a ballroom in the city that is having an event Saturday night, and was asking a bunch of us if we would attend the event with her. I’m always game for things, so I’ll be there. Sparkledancer and I will be using the opportunity to get together on a real dance floor and run through our routines for extra practice. We’ll see if we do better running through things when complete strangers are watching what we do. Friday night I will have to pull her aside and talk about what I should wear to something like this – I don’t think she would wear her performance outfit to an event like this, but I don’t want to skip wearing mine if she wants to treat it more like a dress rehearsal than a night out with dance friends. The dress code says “semi-formal” but that term has never meant too much to me. I basically take that to mean I don’t have to wear a tie. If it’s not going to be a dress rehearsal, I’m thinking it might just be gray slacks and a black dress shirt, but that might change depending on how fancy the people I’m going with will be dressing. So it should be a fun way to practice for the upcoming competition without actually getting judged. All the extra practice I can log helps.
The King and Princess are hard at work putting the finishing touches on the competition stage, and all the competitors are putting the finishing touches on before they will brush off their dance shoes and take to the floor. Only 10 days left until the big day. Soon we will taste either the sweetness of dance glory, or the tartness of dance disappointment. Are you as hungry now as I am?