My dance instructor thinks I’m a complete idiot. I think he does, anyway. In fact, I’m so confident that he does that I would bet Bread and Butter on it.
I’m taking swing and two-step lessons right now. I started one month ago and have taken eight group classes and three private lessons. There’s a lot I can do now that I couldn’t do four weeks ago. I can do turns and spins. I can get into and out of what they call a “shadow” position. I can modify my three-step swing movements into a jitterbug. I’ve learned a lot of mechanics, but I’m not terribly smooth at them because I have no balance. I have no rhythm either, but my instructor tells me that I don’t have to have rhythm. I only have to worry about the lead’s rhythm. Balance, on the other hand, is my responsibility.
So tonight, we worked on balance, which meant we spent much of the hour doing “simple” pivot turns down the dance floor. My instructor is incredibly graceful at them. Me? Not so much. I can’t keep straight which foot my weight is supposed to be on and which direction I’m supposed to turn. I kept having to ask. Our conversations went much like this:
Taline: So which foot am I supposed to be on?
Instructor: The Left.
Taline: Which way am I winding up?
Instructor: To the Left.
Taline: So I’m turning to the right?
Instructor: Yes, to the right, over the right shoulder.
Taline: So what we’re doing now is the opposite of what we just did?
Instructor: No. It’s exactly what we just did. It’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the last half hour.
Oy. What am I doing? Why am I putting myself through this dance business? Why am I subjecting myself to the embarrassment and subjecting my instructor to the torture of dealing with a complete incompetent on the dance floor?
Because I have to. I have got to get more comfortable in my own skin and learning to dance is the only PG rated way I can think of to do that.
I remembering being a kid and taking tennis lessons from a coach who didn’t understand me one bit. One night, Jack and I were working on my serve, and he demonstrated what he wanted without tossing the ball and without actually striking anything. He just demonstrated the motion. Then he told me to show him the motion he’d just shown me. I stood there for at least a half hour refusing to pretend to serve, and he got more and more frustrated with me with each passing minute. What he was asking me to do was quite simple. But I couldn’t do it. What Jack didn’t understand was that I wasn’t comfortable enough in my own skin to mimic a motion with my body while he watched.
That’s what dance feels like to me. Sober, I don’t feel the music, and my movements feel artificial and forced. So it’s hard for me. Anytime there’s dance involved in a social setting, I spend much of my time sitting on the sidelines while the person I’m with gets more and more frustrated with each passing minute.
That needs to change. I want that to change. So I’m taking lessons, and I will get comfortable on a dance floor. I will get comfortable in my own skin. It might take me months or years. It will most certainly take a ridiculous amount of patience on my poor instructor’s part. But I will get it eventually. I know that because I’m an Ironman, which means that I don’t quit and that anything is possible. And maybe I’ll even manage to convince my instructor that I’m not the idiot I initially appeared to be.