Showing posts with label dance class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dance class. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Reflections: Unfamiliarity breeds consternation

While I should be embracing new faces for a dance scene that is expanding quickly, namely West Coast Swing, I found myself quite terrified of the exploded class size due to the upcoming Swingvitation event happening in April this year. I know I should be embracing change, but this is still quite a shock from the previous familiar faces that I'm used to seeing every Wednesday for my WCS dance class.

There's the phrase that goes like this, "familiarity breeds contempt." This is true only to a certain extent. It's actually comforting to be around familiar faces and doing familiar patterns. The contemptuous feeling comes from repeating the same stuff over and over, but I trust my teachers and classmates enough to know that this is a suitable speed of progression for their and my dance ability. For one, I still have many bad habits to get rid of, and one of the major ones are the way I walk, and another is the way I anchor: it still feels too heavy for the lead, but I managed to find the root in which this bad habit stems. It's mainly because I fear losing the connection that I feel the need to pull tightly on the lead's hand. Hence my teacher subtly teases and said that people like me anchor to make a statement like, "I'm here, I'm anchoring goddamnit!"

Anyways, having new people in the classroom threw me off guard, and the range of skill between classmates varied greatly, perhaps they had different schools of thought and thus their lead felt really different from normal. I'm also talking about people I don't see on the social dance floor too. I only recognised one out of the strangers whom I have danced on socials, and the rest were completely unfamiliar to me. It is also in dancing with people that I find out a few traits that I get particularly pedantic about with a partner: respect for proximity, and sense of tempo. These two things I look out for is mainly because of how I was nurtured dance wise and lifestyle wise. I am thankful of the presence of the regular goers that I've formed great friendships with, and knowing how we grew together eased my anxiety in the classroom.

I feel that my shyness is creeping in face of the strangers I see in class, but I hope that I can resolve my fears soon so that I can enjoy my west coast swing classes again.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Reflections: The Pressure to Look Good

It's inevitable that dancers constantly face the pressure of having to look good all the time, especially when they have an audience. They'll feel constantly watched, and have to be vigilant with every move that they do. Any misplaced finger or shaky ankle can break the lines and render their photo-moment imperfect, and they'll beat themselves up for it.

I'm beginning to get this sensation too every time in dance class. At the choreography sections of each class, we are often divided to smaller groups to perform the steps. I feel watched. Although the audience is a small one, I still feel the need to go full out and ensure that every move is done correctly and with pinpoint precision. What contributes to this pressure further is when you know that there are seasoned dancers in the same class as you. It could be really demotivating when your style, lines, technique and expression aren't as good as theirs, as they set the bar really high.

Knowing that you probably won't be able to do justice to the choreography is probably what hurts more. In the more advanced classes I take such as lyrical jazz, I find that my dance vocabulary is still very limited. My body isn't strong enough to carry axis turns properly, I can't do barrel roll turns, illusion turns, fouettes, back attitudes, arabesques etc etc.

There are also times where you feel that you're lost in your head in your dance comfort zone. This is the time when your instructor will probably call you out, "Amanda, turn out more," "Squeeze your inner thighs," "Don't sickle your feet", "Collect your Passe", "Your toes are slightly clawed", "Louder heel sounds", "Sharper movements." These comments abruptly snap you out of the clouds and ground you back to Earth, where you realise your imperfections and have to adjust accordingly. But when overdone and hyper-vigilance switches on, your train of thought catches every imperfection your doing, that sometimes you feel like you want to stop whatever you're doing. But when you're going across the floor, you're not allowed to stop. Sometimes, it's better to let subtle details like your derailing ankles, misaligned tailbone, and stiff fingers slip away, only to come back on work on them at a later time.

The only times when I feel that my comfort zone can exceed my expectation to look good is during my tap classes. Then again, I've been in tap for about 13 years now, so it's like an extended limb to me. That way I can always put on that sprezzatura look whenever I'm in class.

I can only hope that I'm diligent enough to strengthen my core, work the inner thighs, and maintain a correct posture through the holidays. I should probably do some ballet poses and exercises to work on the lines too.