Please, no pictures.
I feel the need to make a huge disclaimer here. The very bad voice that takes over at one point of this blog is only a very small part of a very rational mind. Part of the reason why it has taken me so long to get to a point where I am out on the floor competing is because for all it’s itty-bitty, wow, can the bad voice project. It’s like a fog horn that won’t stop and what it is saying is impossible to ignore. Prolonged exposure to a performance experience activates this extreme visceral reaction. My brain becomes twisted and chooses to forget reality. The voice does eventually go away, until the next time I put myself out there to perform.
April Follies – Part Two – The Aftermath
I’ve said in the past I’d rather be in a car crash then perform. That same fight or flight horribly out of control, Jesus take the wheel, everything applies in either scenario for me. I prefer the car crash because there are no expectations. No one ever expects you to crash good or look good while crashing. They are only grateful to see you alive. I had made a very conscious decision to not watch my video on the day I danced. I knew it was going to be damaging to my happy no matter what and considering how much I knew I messed up, I just wanted to enjoy the day.
When I did finally sit down for a viewing, my first impressions while watching went something like this…
Immediately I couldn’t believe I walked onto the floor that way. My heart stopped. I’d forgotten to learn to walk in the dance shoes. I was like a lost Clydesdale horse that someone prettied up and was stomping around the mud in satin shoes and a dress. Where was my stage presence? Where was my sense of where I was? Then something that I truly wasn’t prepared for. As I let Tina bring me into frame, instead of admiring the stoning work I had done on my dress, I watched as my back turn to camera and all I saw was back fat. I paused the movie there. I sat in the chair at my computer silent with my finger above the delete button. About 30 seconds later I was a member of weight watchers on-line.
I started to feel sick. I wanted to cry. People saw me like that. Then, feelings of utter betrayal. There were people who could have stopped me from doing that, they didn’t and they call themselves my friends. They told me I looked good. They told me I looked amazing. They let me go out there and no one thought to mention back fat. It was devastating. I hated everyone. I wanted to give up and close myself off to the world. It would be so much better that way.
Ring, ring. Sanity calling. I picked up to find at the other end a friend who was also at the April Follies calling to ask how I was doing. As the words, “I’m watching my video-” came out of my mouth, she stopped me before I could finish. “You can not objectively look at your own video until you watch it six or seven times.” Sanity, you weren’t gone for more than twenty minutes and yet it feels like we never met.
The shame that I could do this to myself, again, soon followed.
It took me a few days but I went back and forced myself to look at the video six or seven times. The next day I stepped it up to eighty times, yeah eighty. It must have been the eighty-first view when I started to see past my body issues and actually see my dancing objectively. Yes, I still cringe when I watch a stumble or when we stop in the corner to readjust and get on the same footing but at times I could see it come together in the dance, a spark of potential comes out and I now know it’s there.
A lot of what I was experiencing at April Follies was just sheer uncomfortable-ness, inexperience and nerves. There is a moment right before “The Amazing Viennese Waltz”, in the Fox Trot, which I now call the “Move of Redemption” where we do a slow explosion and in that moment, my body stretches out and my head follows my hand into a sly genuine smile. In an instant I can see it ripple its way through my entire body. I don’t know why that happened there, at that moment, at that point, but it did.
I made it to the part where I saw a spark in me. ME. I got there, I faced my demons and I was able to think, “OK, first of all you’re not crazy. You didn’t dream yourself into a fantasy where you had that amazing dance. It happened and with a lot more of this practice thing, you are going to get better still. You get to choose your new goal because the money, the pain and the effort, it does have a result and it’s rewards.”
Every moment of this experience was worth it. It has made me grow as a dancer and a person. I can not thank Tina enough for her unflappable support and “Can do, so let’s do it!!!” attitude. If it hadn’t been for her, I would have bailed on the experience and then I would have missed all of it and all of it included some really ridiculously good times.
I chose my goal: Emerald Ball 2013, American Smooth.