Ballroom Dance > Regress

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by open_mind, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. open_mind

    open_mind Member

    Is it common to go through what may feel like a regress (as in opposite to progress) in your ballroom dancing? I've been taking more lessons, exercising more (yoga and general gym classes), yet I feel I am dancing worse than 6 months ago. I specifically feel lack of balance recently and overall feel less confident. I am not injured, so it's not that. Honestly, I think I am getting old and it frustrates me a lot.
    Any suggestions how to get through this phase gracefully? Is it really a phase, or just natural regression due to my age (50+)? Maybe I need to slow down? Try harder? How to tell the difference? I don't want to stop dancing, but how do I progress when my body wants to slow down?
  2. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    IMO it's common. Not sure about tying it to 50+ although we all do age and the majority of people do slow down to some extent. I sure can't bounce out of bed in the morning like I used to, for example.

    Do you have some vids you can compare? You said "feel" not "am". Perhaps it's more perception than reality - you know more today than yesterday so maybe you're more critical/aware? Or maybe it's a just a phase.

    Aside from that, Senior II-III isn't all that bad a place to be.
    open_mind, middy and Dr Dance like this.
  3. Could you just be fatiguing your muscles by doing too much? If I increase exercise too quickly or just consistently push myself without a break, I can experience what you are describing - a general decline in my performance. For me, this has been true since at least my 20s. I need at least one full day of rest each week - at least one. Also, have you changed your diet (or even meal times) in a way that's not giving you enough calories to burn during exercise? I'm sure otherwise may have ideas too.
    open_mind likes this.
  4. davedove

    davedove Well-Known Member

    We do all start slowing down as we age. Although, I tell people I can still do anything I could do when I was 25 - just not as long, as quickly, as often, etc. ...... :rolleyes:
    open_mind likes this.
  5. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    Take a week off. Then be sure to incorporate at least one rest day a week, while getting enough sleep. See how that feels.

    The mental and physical breaks can really help.
    open_mind and Larinda McRaven like this.
  6. dncergrl2

    dncergrl2 Member

    I would suggest going to a doctor and ruling out anything that might account for your low energy and poorer balance. Then when you are sure you are A-OK, you can look for other solutions or adjust your expectations.
    open_mind likes this.
  7. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    Open mind. I went through that and just continued to condition my body and passes thru that dip. Confidence returned when dancing rebounded. Now I'm dancing better than before the dip. Mental toughness helps. Read a lot on the topic when the dip first hit me I'm 55 plus btw
    open_mind likes this.
  8. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    I agree with Loki. It could be awareness increasing.

    My partner went thru a phase where is awareness of his dancing increased faster than his skill progressed. So, to him, it felt like he was regressing. But actually his dancing was improving remarkably. Just now he can feel the mistakes, things like lowering the heel without control, or losing foot contact with the floor, or pulling back with his arm instead of holding frame. He got discouraged when he watched video and is now able to see mistakes he would not have noticed 6 months ago.

    Can you ask an objective third party observer? Perhaps a coach you have not seen in the past few months?
    bia, open_mind and raindance like this.
  9. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I've noticed a big difference as I've gotten older. On the one hand, I have more confidence and technique to bring to the dance floor. On the other hand, I physically don't feel as strong as I used to and I've got more knee issues. I try to find a balance between deliberate practice and tiring myself, dancing competitively but not doing too many heats and focusing on gentler but more effective workouts.
    Loki, raindance and open_mind like this.
  10. open_mind

    open_mind Member

    Thanks everyone, it helps to know I am not alone. My instructor of course is supportive and insists I am progressing. We shall see. I hear everyone who suggested to take a rest at times. And yeah, mental toughness, I am proud to say I am tough!
    Side note: just today I revealed my age to one of my much younger co-workers and his eyes opened wide, he thought I was kidding. Sometimes this kind of things is what needed to give extra motivation to keep going.
    cornutt and 3wishes like this.
  11. rels77

    rels77 Active Member

    I think as we move up and become more aware of what we're doing it can feel like we're dancing worse. I used to tell my pro that my bronze self would kick my silver selfs knat. It just felt like I knew what I was doing more and danced stronger then. The more complicated patterns and greater understanding made me feel like a worse dancer. He was adamant this wasn't the case, but it sure felt like it. I had to keep pushing through it.
    bia, Loki and cornutt like this.
  12. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Sometimes as your skills and strength improve, it actually throws you off for a bit. Some years ago, I played in a softball league one summer. I spent a bunch of time in a batting cage at the start of the season, and I worked out my swing and timing and got to where I was making decent contact. By the third or fourth game, I was hitting pretty well. But mid-season, I went into a slump. I finally figured out that the problem was that my body had gotten stronger and consequently my bat had gotten quicker, but that threw my timing off. I tried and tried to re-work my timing, but I finally resorted to the expedient of getting a heavier bat.

    I've had the same experience at times in dancing, where as my strength or skill improves, I actually wind up throwing myself off because I learned to compensate for things that don't need to be compensated for anymore, but the compensation was wired into my muscle memory. And in dancing, you don't have the option of getting a heavier bat. :D
  13. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi open_mind, now at 50+ it's time to change your aims, your attitude, your expectations.
    What about teaching musicality, what about organizing a regularly social dance event, what about creating your own costumes brand? There is so much left to do for an advanced dancer!
  14. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    All. The. Time.

    I usually go through a period of regression - or what feels like one - just before some new technical upgrades solidify. I apparently follow the step back, jump forward progression model :rolleyes:

    The only time the regression wasn't followed by a big improvement, I took a few weeks off... then the improvement materialized. I apparently just needed a break... so I incorporated that lesson and scheduled some more downtime into my week. Rest - both sleep and quiet, non-physical activity alone time - are critical for me. When I skimp, my performance suffers.
  15. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

  16. IngaSv

    IngaSv Member

    Yes but what is considered to be "healthy" people by a lot of studies is just "average with no significant health problems". Plus typically the average person with no significant health problems doesn't engage in regular activities which whould require very much vestibular function. It's like a lot of other things in the body - if you don't use it, it'll slowly deteriorate.

    I know plenty of older folks who dance regularly who have only continued improving in their dancing and have a better spatial awareness and body control than when they started. It's a lot of them are social dancers but a lot do also compete in the Senior categories. In terms of top level pro's, there are also people in their 40s, Katusha and Mirko for example. There are also plenty of pro athletes over 40 in different sports that continue being competitive, Bjorndalen in skiing for example.

    But what do I know, I'm not even close to 40...
  17. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    My pro tells me that even though I feel like I am regressing at times, I am actually building skills by taking risks that will take my dancing to a higher level. It is very frustrating to me, but he is quick to tell me to be patient with myself -- taking risks and trying to do familiar moves in an unfamiliar way will feel like taking steps backward. And it is, because I am not as good doing things the new way! But it will come, he assures me. And he is pretty much right on the money. This could be why you feel the way you do.

    On the other hand, being 60+ (I hate to admit that, but it's true), my body definitely gets tired and sore a lot faster than it did even 5 years ago. To compensate, I don't practice as long or as intensely as I did, and I don't do much of anything else that is physical on dance days.
    j_alexandra and FancyFeet like this.
  18. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    The use it or lose it paradigm assumes one knows/understands
    how to use it properly in the first place. Doing something poorly
    doesn't help slow the deterioration.

    One major limitation lots of dancers have is in their (continuity of,
    as well as extent of) range of motion. Within this arena is the
    inability to shift weight over the standing "inside" leg/hip such
    that the upper body weight is not "between" (but "outside") the
    two legs/hips. The general notion of this is lean/sway, but the
    dynamic nature of the movement is a lot more involved (than
    say in Yoga or Tai-chi).

    The above is akin to skiing using snow-plowing rather than
    "parallel" technique (many ski instructors don't believe beginners
    should ever be taught snow-plowing, since it often builds bad
    habits that are difficult to erase). One often learns to "lean"
    better doing other dynamic activities such as skiing, roller
    skating/blading/boarding, cycling, etc., than in doing partner
    dancing (especially with limited practice, as in a hour a week
    doing pro-am).

    As one ages, one's limited ability to achieve range only exacerbates
    because of the inherent aging process. IOW, if one didn't develop
    the skills to "lean" well while younger, one is apt to fear leaning
    when older.

    There are many other well-known age-related issues...

    The examples you offer are exceptions rather than the norm. Note
    that they all started doing the activities decades before their 40s,
    which means they "knew" what proper training entails. Even then,
    age will eventually catch up, overshadowing the experience they've
    compiled and the confidence they have. If it were true that age is
    not a major issue, then why does Ballroom have age categories?
    Pit the 70 yo's against the 20 yo's, especially in Latin/Rhythm.

    It's interesting that 35 is the age for Seniors in Ballroom. All washed
    up already. Most of the world considers seniors to be 65+, and
    perhaps 55+. In Ballroom, 45 should be the new 35 for Seniors.

    Probably too young to have compiled enough observation or
    personal experience. Dance a few decades with the same
    people and perhaps you'll be more keen about the deterioration
    that is pretty much inevitable.
    Loki likes this.
  19. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Interesting how the two aspects of this original question combine, both in discussion in this thread and in each of our dance lives: getting older while building skill. As far as application to my own dance development, I see the facts of what happens on average to aging bodies as a reminder to respect and take care of mine. But terms like "deterioration"... in the potential for ultimate achievement, sure: the best 30-year-old will always be better than the best 60-year-old, given an equivalent amount of quality training over, say, the previous 20 years. So it's important not to have unrealistic expectations. But from my perspective in my mid-40s, I'm not comparing my dancing to my might-have-been dancing if I had started earlier and taken it seriously sooner. I'm comparing my dancing today to my dancing last year and my hoped-for dancing next year to my dancing today. I know for a fact that I can still improve my strength and fitness and dance skill from where they are now. And I look at the top competing dancers in their 60s, plenty of whom started as empty-nesters, and see where I realistically can be if I keep working at it.
  20. IngaSv

    IngaSv Member

    My post was quoted but this response seems to refer to a perspective that I was not presenting. I wasn't claiming to be an expert on aging. Of course I understand that people age and their physical ability deteriorates. Just because I'm not "older" myself doesn't mean I don't know "older" people who have shared their experiences with me.

    Yes, in the statement that "if you don't use it, it deteriorates" I assumed that people use their body correctly, as opposed to just "use it up" via exertion or incorrect technique. Whether or not that applies to the OP is not my call to make.

    All I was trying to do is offer some encouraging words to the OP, and perhaps raise some examples that were overlooked by the article that was provided. I never claimed they were the norm.

    I am well aware of the existence of categories for competitions and I never suggested that age plays no part in the physical ability of dancers.

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