Tuesday, October 3, 2006: What really matters.

(Migrated from Myspace.)

I went out dancing last night for the first time in 2 weeks, since I’d been way too overwhelmed with exams to actually get out and dance. Usually when I’ve been away from dancing for a little while like that, I feel a bit weird or out of my comfort zone when I try to start dancing again, and yesterday was no exception. I felt off, my solo jazz was really whacked out, improv and variations weren’t coming as easily to me, it was a characteristic I-haven’t-been-dancing night.

But it was making me think strangely, too. Maybe the combination of feeling off like that plus having just come from ULHS before my hiatus left me overly pensive. Some things I was doing felt artificial to me, or contrived, rather than flowing organically from the dance I was having. And I realized that a lot of those things were movements I’d picked up from other dancers.

Now, I always think it’s good to have a big vocabulary of things to pick & choose from and mess with, and adopting moves from other dancers is a great way of doing this. But I’m wondering right now if there’s someplace else I could go in my own dance if I stopped thinking so much about what varation I can do where and started concentrating more on feeling the music and paying attention to my partner. Who says I can’t just do walk-walk-triple-step on the end of all my swingouts? As one of the teachers and advanced dancers in my scene, I feel pressured to always be doing something cool and creative, but who says vanilla swingouts aren’t cool? Same goes for balboa (although I hardly dance it at home). Why do I feel the need to work on some fancy new styling for lollies? It feels good just to do kick-touch-kick-touch, so what’s wrong with that?

I think a lot of these feelings come back around to the larger land of who’s who and what path you’re on in the dance world. If you want to be out there winning competitions, you probably won’t get far just doing vanilla, even if it does feel good. If you want to teach, people are going to want to know what fancy stuff you’ve got to offer. If you want those cheers and yells in the jam circle, you’re going to have to do more than feel-good swingouts. If you want to be able to do whatever you please, vanilla or not, first you’ve got to “be” somebody, then you get cheers just for shaking your booty. (It’s true! Go watch some video clips!)

So ultimately I guess I have to ask myself how much I’m going to let those outside demands filter into my own dance. I’d like to say “oh, I don’t care at all about what anyone else thinks,” but nobody can say that. Everyone cares, whoever you are. But it can’t hurt, and probably could help, if I get myself to focus more on how good it feels to be swinging out, how nice it feels to have a great balboa connection, how much I just love to dance this dance to music that makes me want to move, and let the other stuff go.

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