Dance Coaches’ Dilemma

Dance Coaches’ Dilemma

 

I recently had a fabulous discussion with my ballroom dance coach about working with amateur students who have different goals for their dancing. I was reminded that as a student, I really do need to share my goals, concerns, etc. with him so that he can best customize his approach to our lessons.

Thinking back to the discussion, I realized that my coach has to discern his approach to teaching based not only on specific conversations about the students’ goals, but also other non-verbal cues or observations.

 

For example, when a coach works with folks who only want to focus on social dancing or wedding couples with fixed goals/budgets for their wedding dance, there are clear parameters that help the coach discern how to teach and what to focus on.

 

When a coach works with amateur dancers who are serious about competing as a path to becoming a better dancer or performer and/or have specific goals about either learning or improving, again the coach has clear indications about how to overall structure the approach.

 

I believe that the most difficult students (in terms of knowing how to teach) for coaches are the folks whose goals and/or desires are ambiguous.   For example, some students participate in competitions but their primary goal for competing isn’t to improve as a dancer/performer. They may like the camaraderie with their studio or the opportunities to dress up, etc. but these students aren’t necessarily focused on or want to spend the effort to improve technically, etc.   In short, these students may be sending mixed messages about their goals or they haven’t clarified for themselves what they really want from dance. So how could a coach know how to work with them – especially if the behavior is different from what’s stated in conversations?

 

What are the skills beyond teaching technical dance patterns does a coach need to be able to foster a mutually trusting and sharing relationship with a student? And what responsibility does a student have for fostering said relationship?

 

More in the next post.

 

 

 

Emotional Safety

Emotional Safety

 

I recently attended an Argentine Tango festival – which was a bit of stretch for me as I generally don’t allow myself to be vulnerable with complete strangers. Overall, the day was fabulous for me – wonderfully affirming and informative instructors who offered specific tips and hints. Most of my practice partners were incredibly generous, meeting me where I was skill-wise, ensuring that I felt comfortable and providing insights mixed with a bit of coaching – thus encouraging me to be a bit more vulnerable and enjoy the dance.

 

Unfortunately, I did have one partner who was not so generous – frankly he was a bit of an ass – not only was he unable to hide his frustration and lack of patience with my skill level, he also lectured me continuously during our short time together. Needless to say, the more he kvetched, the more I tensed up, increasing my inability to follow his lead.

 

Thankfully, this encounter was at the end of the day and I already had had a great experience. That being said, the juxtapositioning of generous and cranky partners led to some deep reflection and learning about emotional safety, vulnerability, and risk-taking.   What if “cranky pants” had been my first partner?   Would I have been able to risk being vulnerable with other partners or would I have entered each dance already tense?

 

I don’t know.   What I do know is that I am so grateful for my professional partner/instructors who provide that confidence-building emotional safety that allows me to stretch and grow.

 

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Presence

Presence

 

When I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance. (Hans Bos)

 

Dance requires that we be present to the moment – that our mind, body and spirit are focused on the movement.     I know that when I have been able to put aside distractions and been fully present during a dance lesson, wonderful things manifest both during and when the lesson is over.

 

During the lesson, when I am fully present, my body starts to relish and revel in the movement. My heart sings with joy. I feel a multi-layered connection with my partner/instructor when we are dancing a routine. Even learning new or difficult patterns becomes fun.

 

After a such great lesson, I have been moved to tears and feelings of ecstasy. I realize that my body feels younger, I feel more alive and my troubles don’t seem as deep. My joy is great, my heart is lifted — and my soul is nourished.   All is right with the world – at least temporarily.

Energy Vampires – Gratitude?

Energy Vampires – Gratitude?

 

Some days we have it, some days we don’t.

 

For the past couple of weeks, mostly I don’t.   It’s been a roller coaster ride observing my energy – or lack there of.   I am not used to being “under the weather” so the past month has been a real lesson in patience as I recover from multiple minor health issues.

 

I did manage to squeeze in a fabulous coaching session (more on that in another post) with one of our external dance coaches, but I’ve canceled more lessons in this past month than I can ever remember – and I’ve been dancing almost 12 years.

 

And just the thought of practicing made me curl up in my bed.   Wow – just taking a shower was an effort.

 

So now that my health has drastically improved, I realize how fortunate I am.   I am filled with gratitude that my body is healing, that I have the luxury of full movement, that I can get back to practicing, that I can look forward to dance lessons.

 

I am filled with gratitude that I have the opportunity to learn from expert coaches, that I have an instructor who sees no limits and pushes me to do my best. And I am most grateful for a spouse who supports me in all my dreams – and who dances with me.

 

I am ready to dance!!!

 

The spirit is willing, the body not so much

 

The spirit is willing, body not so much.  

 

I was reminded again the past couple of weeks of our mind body connection.     And how much we really do need to listen to our bodies.

 

Earlier this year, I re-committed to this blog, with the intent that I would post a minimum of 3-4 times a month.   As many bloggers know, we start off with a bang and then either life interferes or we get distracted…and the time between posts gets longer and longer.

 

And I was doing pretty well, making regular posts – even had a plan on the kinds of future posts I was going to do. That is, until Mother Nature threw me one of her curve balls in the form of a rapid onset of the flu. Fortunately, I managed to limp through a mild case, with the help of herbal teas, some whiskey and honey, and Vicks VapoRub.

 

What came as a real surprise, though, was how foggy my brain was for several days post symptoms. I wanted to write, felt like I had some ideas but the very thought of writing made my brain tired.   And perish the thought of any lessons or physical practice.

 

In years past, I might have pushed through and not listened to my body – I might have tried to take that lesson or forced myself to practice.   This time, my body said “No” and I listened.   I rested, I gave my brain a rest and I slept.

 

And while I’m not 100% yet (almost), I am actually re-energized, excited about writing, practicing and dancing.

 

Post Showcase – New Insights

 

 

Post Showcase – New Insights

Back to my word for the year, DANCE, as I play with acronyms.   Here’s the latest:

D Demanding

A Athletic

N Necessary

C Conditioning

E Enterprise

Dance is a demanding, athletic, necessary, conditioning enterprise.   How many times do we have to remind ourselves to practice?   As with any other skill set, improvement comes with consistent practice, yet like working out, how often do we make excuses?

Personally, I seem to go in spurts.   For several months leading up to my most recent showcase, was able to get myself to the studio a minimum of two times/week to practice before any lessons.   While I did concentrate mostly on the showcase routine, I also spent time practicing competition routines or even the minutia of certain techniques.

After the showcase, despite its success, for at least 3 weeks, I could hardly get moving.   I even have a small practice area at home (my living room which was obviously decorated during the holidays) and yet even at home, I have been hit or miss.   I can’t even use illness as an excuse as I’m perfectly healthy.

What I finally realized is that other areas of my life have been impinging on my mental focus.   For example, it’s hard to get motivated to practice when one is worried about the health of a loved one or how to generate more business.   I re-discovered the mind-body connection – in this case, my mental state was impacting my body – I wasn’t sleeping well and had no energy.

The good news is that once I recognized what was going on, I was able to motivate myself to do a short practice – which led to another practice – and so on. Again, re-discovering the irony is in the situation — that practice can also help positively alter one’s mental state.

And who thought that dance would lead to such introspection?

 

 

Another Showcase

Another Showcase

 

I might have mentioned that I was having a hard time getting my head into the game for our studio’s winter showcase (think adult recital where students learn a choreographed routine and then perform for an audience).

 

While I loved most of the routine, which also included some good challenges for developing additional skills, my heart just wasn’t totally engaged so I waivered between being excited and feeling obligated.   After almost 11 years of doing showcases, this place was new – I’d previously been terrified, excited, passionate but never blah about a showcase.   I couldn’t get enthused about costumes, hair, etc.

 

I finally figured out that, while learning new routines to perform is fun, I was stuck in thinking that said showcase practice and lessons was taking away from some other long term goals I have for my dance life.   What’s ironic is that we (my instructor and me) chose this showcase dance specifically to work on advanced technique, etc.

 

Thankfully, because I have a fabulous instructor with whom I can share thoughts and through some good dialogue with him (plus my last blog post), I was able to re-frame this showcase.   I was finally able to think about this showcase as contributing to my long-term goals.

 

And what a joy this performance turned out to be.   Not only did I nail it, but we probably executed the best lift (to date) of my dance career.   Needless to say, not only was I ecstatic after the performance, but those feelings lasted well into the next couple of days.   Yeah, I really do love performing.

 

More DANCE

More DANCE

 

D Delightful

A Artistically

N Nuanced

C Communication

E Experience

 

Since DANCE is my word for 2018, I’m having a bit of fun playing around with how I might use DANCE as an acronym (or backcronym, depending on your definition) to keep me focused on the word.

 

Must admit, even this bit of word play is bringing new and different insights into my dance journey.   For example, I’ve been struggling a bit with a lack of enthusiasm for my next showcase – which is surprising given that I love the music, love choreography and I’m working on technique aimed at long term goals.

 

Yet, when I started the above acronym, I was actually able to frame the upcoming showcase with a different focus – and regain some much-needed motivation.

 

Again, just another example of how the mental and physical can positively influence each other. So, in that spirit, I’m off to my last practice before the showcase.