Monday, May 12, 2008

A good practica

Sunday was Mother's Day, and after visiting with my lovely mother, I went for the last 2 hours of practica. I had not danced in a few days due to various and sundry reasons, and it was beautiful out, and I really wanted to dance. I am glad I went, it was a day of pleasant surprises.

When I got there, I was treated to dancing with a beginner whom I can no longer call a beginner, despite the fact that he has been dancing less than a year. It has been awhile since we danced, and the progress he has made was really amazing to feel. He was more confident, he was clear, he had some new movements that he used really well with the music, and it was a lovely set of songs that we danced.

I also danced with two beginning leaders in our community, and I was very impressed with how good they were for how short a time they had been dancing. One leader already has down the tiny, nuanced, musical steps that I just adore. I think I giggled my way through the first song once he did that. The other leader was pointed out to me by a lovely friend, and although he has only been dancing a few months, he was on the beat, he was clear, and he did not try to do too much, he just went with what he knew.
I am looking forward to seeing these two progress! It really is so exciting to see fresh new faces get bit by the tango bug and grow within the dance. Really a wonderful thing!

I was also lucky to dance with above mentioned friend and leader-pimp :-) and we had a blast just kind of goofing around while dancing. Seeing what happened when different things were explored. I remember about a year ago in a workshop with Jennifer Brat and Ney Melo, where Jennifer was encouraging us ladies to embellish during pauses in the dance. I remember being horrified and resistant - how would I know when he was going to move again? What if I screwed up the dance because I wanted to tap my toe? What if? What if? So I didn't do it. It was too much for me. Now, I embellish when the music moves me. And in practica with my friend, I did all sorts of things to see what happened. Some worked without notice. Some make him laugh and give me a little squeeze of appreciation. And some absolutely screwed things up - but when that happened, we both giggled and moved on to the next phrase. It was no big deal. Granted, it was practica, and most of that stuff I would never do in a milonga. But still..... I no longer fear messing up. It's rather a good feeling.

There was one stiletto in mouth moment though.... I was asked by what I thought was a beginner to dance, and I accepted, and I regretted almost immediately. He shoved with his left hand, he pushed my ribs with his right, his chest was a battering ram, he looked down which pulled his energy and me down, and he paid no attention whatsoever to the music. Oi vey! I thought I knew which local teacher he was taking lessons with, and I decided to ask if he was open to feedback. He looked at me with surprise and said ok, so I mentioned his looking down, and how it pulls his attention and me down, which made it difficult for me. Would he mind trying to keep his posture upright for a song? He made mention that he had heard that before, so sure, he would try. He did it, and it helped, although all the other issues were more pronounced now. Afterwards he mentioned it seemed to help. Wondering whether to mention another of the uncomfortable issues I felt, I asked him how long he had been dancing. He said 5 years.

really? 5 years?
ok. hmmmm...

That is my verbatim response. There is a reason I don't play poker! I then thanked him and went to the ladies' room to see if I could re-hinge my jaw which had fallen open. I have no doubt my incredulity was apparent on my face. But really, five years, I can't find a way to offer feedback that would not be taken poorly

I only follows that after having a great time with both beginner and advanced and those in between, I found myself in an uncomfortable moment. It's the way my life goes. Oh well, it just drives home that years does not equal ability or level.

This upcoming weekend we are heading to Montreal for the festival up there. I am looking forward to seeing my friends in Montreal again, it has been so long since I have been up there, but the weather is warming, so despite the hideous gas prices, its Canada bound!


La Nuit Blanche said...

you go!!

i am glad that you offered the 5-year man some feedback, and that he was open to accepting it. maybe he went by for five years without improving much, because no one would give him feedback! you rock -- i am not brave enough to offer feedback, unless someone expressly asks for my opinion.

nice to see that the asthma is gone, and you're back out dancing! :-D

Debbi said...

Thanks Nuit! The asthma is controlled now. Thanks to drugs and new breathing techniques.
Honestly, if I had known that he was dancing for 5 years, I would have been less inclined to ask if he was receptive to feedback. Although there was so much that was uncomfortable, I think I would have anyway.
What a thought though, that after 5 years perhaps he never received feedback that things we off.....
I am now going to pester leaders for feedback on the next practica!

Alex said...

Scary. You may have read my posts about the 5 or 6 year dancer who has a pelvic thrusting lead and no one will tell him - the ladies continue to dance with him - it's a very small community though.

I think it's great that your inadvertent feedback slipped out. I know it feels bad (I would feel bad), but ultimately, perhaps it was the best and most delicate way for him to get the message that he needs more work.

Plus, it was honest feedback on your part, and from the heart and soul, pure and unfiltered.

It might smart a bit for him (and you), but it's a good thing for this gentleman and his tango.

No worries.

These handsy leaders...what to do? Ms. Hedgehog coined a good one..."the lawnmower lead"...

tangobaby said...

Alex, for the record, I think if you read that comment closely (on Ms. Hedgehog), you'll see it was *moi* who explained the lawnmower concept. Because my poor friend was the lawnmower in the hands of a very poor lead. God, that was horrible (and horribly funny) to watch.



Good for you for giving that feedback. That was very brave of you. I hope he really listened to what you had to say and took it to heart with your best intentions. Have fun on your trip!

Alex said...

Oops! Sorry least I got the blog right! Lemme go re-read and re-fresh my memory...

Baby, the lawnmower analogy is a classic - for those of us who have mowed a lawn or two. Mowed? Or mown? Hardee har har...

Sorry for giving improper credit. I will be more careful in the future.