Ballroom Dance > how are your lessons going? thread II

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by fascination, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Hi, Mell, nice to have you back in the ballroom!

    Lesson yesterday with alternate-alternate am partner, in which we worked some more on our showcase tango that we are trying to choreograph ourselves. Lots of comments on technique from the instructor, which can be summarized as: "You need more tango in your tango."
    Mell likes this.
  2. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member


    *rant warning*

    Conversation with pro about Nationals... not happy about the decision I reached over the weekend that 10-dance is not happening because working on my weaker style has been put off for too long (working it on my own doesn't really count), because a certain someone kept putting it off, and I (stupidly) not wanting to rock the boat kept reluctantly agreeing... I expressed that I wasn't happy about the decision, and he's all 'I feel like you are blaming me' and 'you should have been more clear' and 'I thought you didn't budget for it (it's 5 dances more than I had planned, because they're running separate 10-dance comps, so I'd have to dance standard twice) so assumed you wouldn't want to' and 'maybe next year'... on my side, I'm thinking (inside voice only) 'how was me repeatedly asking about 10-dance, contacting the organizers to find out about it when you didn't and telling you I want to do it for the last 8 MONTHS not clear? If we'd started when I wanted to, I'd be ready. And you've been talking about it as much as me... totally thought we were on the same page on this.' My outside voice simply said: 'Sure. I should have been more clear. I will be more forceful in making my points in the future.'

    Then 3 seconds later, he's all 'what if we add extra dances at nationals? Do a 3-dance as well as scholarship? (My inside voice: F no. I'm so bummed I'm not even sure I want to go at all.) And want to do Standard at Ohio this year? I think it's really important you do a US comp this year. Think about it.' (My inside voice: Hell no. I planned on Michigan, and you made the executive decision that we were not going - which took me MONTHS to get over and involved a huge depression and much crying. And I have zero desire to do any work at all right now - like practiced once last week - so let me worry about maybe getting psyched for nationals and thinking a little less about quitting entirely.)

    Decision on my part: Latin classes/lessons are going to happen somewhere else for the next little while, because I'm tired of having the decisions on my dancing being made by someone else and it's become pretty clear to me that pro will always prioritize standard with me... so I'm going to do this on my own if need be. If need be, I'll skip periodic standard lessons to find the $$ - because I miss the fun that latin brings. I've reached out to 2 places about technique classes already - which I don't consider cheating, because I've been very clear it's latin only that I am interested in.

    Now I'm going to ingest wine... and order a pizza. Because, comfort food.
  3. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I've found that most pros have that one or two styles of dance that they really like, and they may do the other ones...but it's usually pushed on the back burner. So best to do the style you love with a teacher who also loves it too, or it will always be on the back burner. Nothing wrong with having different teachers for different styles. I see it all the time.
  4. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    He is a 10-dancer, though more standard inclined... really finding that since his partner has been on a break, all he wants to do is dance standard, usually full-out. Which is usually good with me, but I am still paying for his time and need to be learning. For example, we may have had words today about not throwing certain brand-new-to-me things at speed yet, because I'm still working on them and they are not ready to be danced at tempo, because I'm faking footwork when they are learning bad habits.

    In sum: He's been crabby for a few months. And been using me to practice (which is usually good for my dancing) while temporarily sans partner. And today I'm crabby. And then we were crabby at each other.
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  5. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

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  6. rels77

    rels77 Active Member

    Have you ever walked into your lesson with your Latin shoes on and just said "were doing Latin today?" Is be doing that every lesson for a bit just to get the point across
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  7. FancyFeet, That sounds so frustrating! I understand not knowing if pro is making suggestions based on his own personal preference (also has competed 10 dance or, at various times, Standard only or Latin only, but with a strong preference for Standard), or if it's really based on where I need to be spending my time to improve. I know it can feel a little passive-aggressive, so it's not for everyone, but I do what rels77 suggested - I put on the shoes for what I want to do that day. My pro has agreed to that. Generally, we do one lesson one style, next lesson the other style. But I might do something different depending on whether I am struggling with something in practice that I want to continue from the last lesson or (especially for standard) if the floor is very crowded. Once in a while, he has asked to do standard anyway because he "really needs a standard day", and I will change shoes. :)

    With respect to the competition planning, I don't really compete much (maybe this year?), but I have another team leader at work that seems like your pro - he means well, but goes off on tangents and is not much of a long term planner. Then he gets upset when stuff doesn't work out well, or I get upset because I am rushing and not happy to have to blow my budget, or timeline, or quality because he got so off track. We have a written plan at the beginning of the year and meet every 2 months to review and update where we are against plan/tweak plan - in writing - every 2 months. (We used to do quarterly; but we could get pretty far off track in 3 months). I don't know if your pro would be open to something that formal/standardized or if you want to "have to" treat something that should be fun that much like a job, but it could help your stress level a lot.

    Finally, yes - do Latin elsewhere some for now. You'll know you get to do Latin for sure, and it'll help you have a breather from the stress of trying to manage your pro quite so much.
    FancyFeet likes this.
  8. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    In the past I have been all 'here's what we're doing today'... either style or dance, but I try to use it sparingly, because it does not go over all that well :rolleyes:

    We do plan as a team - I set my plan a year in advance. I think the conflict comes from the different ways we see a plan. For me, it's a 'barring extraordinary circumstances (injury, illness, major financial crisis), this is what I am doing'. For pro, I think a plan is more of a loose guideline.

    We started talking about maybe doing 10-dance at nationals in October/November... in January, I said I wanted to do it and starting working latin in earnest again in practices, dropping in to the occasional group technique session as my schedule allowed.

    The agreed plan was to pick it up in lessons after our end-Feb competition, keeping my existing 3 routines and adding paso and jive. Then there was a comp in late-March that was planned... see notes in my post above about the depression that ensued after that fiasco. Then there was an end May comp, and pro wanted to concentrate on standard going in to that - at this point, he was still talking about picking latin up after it and telling me that there would be enough time (to which I expressed doubt, but was reassured it would be fine). At each lesson after that comp, I asked about latin, always getting put off to the next lesson, finally pinning him to the wall about it on Wed. To be clear, my standard has come a long way in those 6 months, so it's not like we were doing nothing.

    I do realize, now that I've calmed down a bit, that he was just doing his thing where he realizes he's made a whoops and fronts with anger... he hates when I logic him into a corner. He is likely just as disappointed as I am, since he's been telling people for months that we were looking at 10-dance, and talking about our chances, etc. (which I have asked him not to do). Despite that, at my first lesson next week, I'll likely have to endure the spiel about how I was not fair with expressing disappointment, etc. (I get the spiel when he's hurt because he's taking a conversation about dance personally. I mostly tune it out at this point, and have ceased reacting to it, because I refuse to be drawn into an argument when I have clearly (and without blame or accusation) expressed my needs or feelings about something dance-related. I've learned he needs to rant it out in order to move on.) If he'd like to blame me for "not being clear" I can take that... doesn't mean I agree though ;)

    (What can I say, we have a complicated relationship.)

    I have a latin lesson booked with another pro at a different studio on Sunday. I'm going to be clear through my actions.
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  9. BrokeForBallroom

    BrokeForBallroom New Member

    Is that a common thing in pro-am? Your pro always deciding what you are going to work on? When I go to lessons, I'd say 90% of the time they start with pro asking what we want to work on, but I also dance am-am. So I'm not sure if the difference depends on the pro or what style of dancing you're doing.
  10. FancyFeet - Oh my. So I have nothing else to suggest. It does sound like your relationship is complicated though, and I do hope it all works out.

    BrokeForBallroom - I have taken lessons for a few years but somehow have been though a number of pros (either because I've moved, they've moved, or they've stopped teaching). Except for my current pro, we've decided together in detail what to work on- so what I'm interested in and what they recommend or gently suggest I should focus on based on where I'm at currently. (With the obvious exception of one pro who only did Rhythm, a known fact going in.)

    My current pro would definitely prefer that I turn my training over 100% to him, but he understands that's not going to happen completely. Having said that, I respect him immensely, and I am generally going to listen to him on what I should be working on around technique, styling, steps, etc. In short, from his perspective, it's great because I do what he says. But, I would prefer to work on all 10 dances, and I know (at the moment), he is going to favor standard -- consciously or unconsciously. So we discuss, some, and we both compromise. His teaching style works very well for me (even if I do get frustrated at times and even though he can push my buttons like almost no one else in my life), so I give him a lot of leeway. But in my own experience, the norm has not been the pro deciding (especially unilaterally) what I am going to work on, but rather me deciding, or me actively seeking their input.
  11. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I "get" some input into what we work on, but Pro is the primary decision maker. He and I are both perfectly happy working on some small detail of technique for...oh...forever, and it definitely results in my being a better dancer, but as we get closer to a competition I do need to see that I can actually dance all of the dances for 90 seconds straight. o_O He has come to be reasonably accepting of that. :)
  12. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    I had a wake up call earlier this afternoon. My dance partner Sherri wanted me to take a private lesson with her from her teacher and coach Slava, a superb instructor! (He and his am partner Pinky danced wonderfully at Blackpool recently.) Sherri's goal for the two of us is to dance "showcase quality" when we dance socially. My thought was, "Be careful what you wish for!"

    The dance du jour was slowfox. Having not seen us dance together, Slava suggested that we dance around the studio for about a minute and a half while he assessed.

    He loved my top line, posture, and frame. He felt that my "poise" was a bit weak. To fix this, he had me dance a stronger left side. He did not care for what was happening with my legs and feet. Bottom line: Push and pull was "weak." He thought that I was being "too careful or tentative" with my much shorter partner Sherri. His literal translation: "I was moving like an old person." Well... I'm 63.

    "I think that you have the ability to move much better."

    He then worked with my legwork and footwork. To step forward, I stretched my free toe out as far as it could go until the toe became a heel. Then he had me "push even farther" before I left the back foot. Okay, now the push was working. But then I lost musicality because there was no controlled "pull." To improve this control, he talked about the first "quick" for the feather step being a "fast quick," and the second quick being a "lazy quick." This had the effect similar to the way that an ocean wave forms and swells when it approaches a shoreline.

    My own group instructor Ron had broached this more focused push and pull during his group fox trot classes. But he "dropped that subject" when the ladies in the class were completely bowled over by my efforts. Either the gals could not match my push and pull, or I was like a rampaging bull in a China shop with all strength and little grace.

    Since I had little fear that I would overrun my private instructor Mary, I've always been much bolder about push and pull when I danced with her. But Mary is taller than Sherri; and, Mary is more skilled. The point to today's lesson was to improve my partnership skills with Sherri.

    Sherri too was unprepared for my increased push and pull. So Slava worked with her to improve her own backwards push and pull to better accommodate my improvement. We then danced better together. But doing this consistently better will take MUCH practice.

    We changed to a feather finish and a wave to provide a venue for me moving backwards as she moved forward. Strangely enough, Sherri and I adapted to this much quicker than we did to my forward motion for the feather.

    Later that afternoon, Sherri and I put these principles to work by dancing some slowfox at a party. The results were mixed. But curiously, my increased push and pull seemed to "bleed over" into other standard dances such as waltz and quickstep.

    Sherri absolutely LOVED our paired lesson.

    Bottom line: It was a challenge to me to employ proper push and pull to dance slowfox with Sherri. But since she is much shorter, she has the greater challenge to match my efforts.
    j_alexandra likes this.
  13. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    First lesson with alternate pro happened yesterday... learned a ton. At my request, we worked rumba and chacha, and spent a fair amount of time talking about (then putting into practice) the difference between the 2, and on how little things (poise, timing of weight transfer, personal centre, etc.) are different from standard.

    (Alternate pro knows I'm primarily a standard dancer, and who I dance with - we worked my latin routines that I have from pro. It was very non-poachy, which was nice.)

    I'm not sure how long I'll be doing this, but I am going back next week.
    Sania, Purr, SwingingAlong and 3 others like this.
  14. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Huh. No spiel... colour me shocked. He was totally normal - even on the better side of normal.

    (I got props for how much I managed to improve natural fleckerl footwork and VW basics over the weekend. No one tell him I worked fleckerls for a grand total of about 20 minutes all week... VW basics, on the other hand, got hours of attention.)
  15. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    two good lessons this week on rhythm so far. 1.5 of the lessons were again on the side by side mambo part - it has tricky rhythms and i'm still working to get it solid AND not react to my partner. the rest was bolero and got very into how to create volume through extending my spine. Which sounds weird, but it made sense. I do like the super-deep stuff we get into right after comps.
    Sania likes this.
  16. RebeccaTuffin

    RebeccaTuffin New Member

    Hi guys so I have been out of dancing for 2 years now :( due to university which totally rewind my life massive regret and Im 20 I still have about 3/4 of my flexiblity but lost my middle split this is because about 3 years ago I was doing resist splits and I felt a massive tear like somone got a hot knife slashed on my leg but that held 2 mins after I did it bit odd. Then about 6 months later on the very inside of my leg in the middle I ripped and streched out the ripped park and as I did kicks and over splits I felt a clicking overlapping bone or musle feeling and here I am years later no matter how much I warm up that leg It keeps happerning when it happens its a ouch then my leg feels ok but sore and stiff but I can strech it no problem as son as I rip it and then a week later it sets inplace then I have the same problem again and I dont want to rip it of go back to dancing because of it what shall I do it feels so tight!!!! also behind my knees where my hamstring is my teacher would be like strech more im like I cant I have an agonising pain in the back of my knee feeling like somthings going to rip I have been dancing since I was 6 btw
  17. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    What kind of dancing are you doing now? We are mostly partner dancers here. We'll seduce you to the dark side. :D
  18. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    lovely lessons continue - smooth movement is becoming more fluid. still a part at the beginning of open waltz that i completely and utterly fail at. If it doesn't get better, it will have to be changed.
  19. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Holiday-afternoon lessons when the studio is "closed" are the best. Misc. thoughts:
    • I have decided that I really, really, really like my new waltz beginning that I got last week.
    • We have somehow gone from "making a few tweaks" to my tango to completely re-doing the routine. I am totally ok with this, as re-arranging things is much harder for me than just learning new. Also, I had huge input and veto power into this one, so it's full of things I like/find fun/do well, and nothing from the list of figures that I hate.
    • Signs you put in a good practice/lesson combo: your abs hurt the next day. Specifically, it's my obliques, from stretching up and using my head to express and enhance.
    • From student before me: my warm-up is tougher than most people's work-outs.
    Post-lesson, pro detailed his thoughts on how he wanted to structure his headed-to-nationals student's lessons for the next 8 weeks... I indicated that it sounded like a solid plan, but not for me... then laid out why, and what I felt I needed. I'm now on a different plan than everyone else.

    (He was in the mood to listen yesterday, so I took advantage.)
    Sania and raindance like this.
  20. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Managed to work 4 dances in a single lesson last night... fleckerls are coming along, and can finally be danced at speed without turning into an epic disaster (ok, not so finally - we've been working on them for less than a month), though pro's attempt to add some power and dynamics to them last night was NOT A GOOD IDEA. FF was having a fairly high anxiety day (stupid OCD that likes to be all 'hey, things have been good lately... I think I'll just show up for no reason today') and rocking her confidence by pushing the envelope on something so new was not a good call. Thankfully, we've both learned to recognize when that is happening, and just shut it down to move on to something else. While working another dance, I did get a minor think less, dance more speech... but as we are actively working on me not holding back, I was ok with that one.

    Have also been musing on the few latin lessons I've taken with alternate pro... realized that I haven't gotten a single correction about footwork (yay, me!), and that it is apparently really clear what figures I am dancing. It's all been how to make it more like latin - so initiating things with/using the body, and where to send my weight... both of which need more practice to become automatic. Last time we also did a little bit on how to make the arms more 'dancey', and on what I am trying to say with the movements. Kind of liking that alternate pro feels I'm at the point where we can be working on those types of things... though there were a few comments along the lines of what I sometimes get in standard (don't hold back, go for it, trust yourself, etc.).

    Central theme: I need to get comfortable with being a little more "Look at me. I'm awesome." and a little less humble. Le sigh.
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