• “Go big or don’t go”

    Driving back from our lesson with Eddie this afternoon, I passed a minivan whose back window was dominated by a huge decal from a dance studio. Below the studio name was the slogan “Go big or don’t go!” I had to smile because I’d been having the same conversation with Eddie just a couple of hours earlier.

    After struggling a lot at our last competition, and then taking a few weeks off with no lessons, I was feeling discouraged and unmotivated. Neither Daniel nor I was sure where we’d start or what we’d be working on in our lesson today. We started by explaining to Eddie as best we could what had happened at the competition: we had trouble with floorcraft when the dancefloor was crowded, and we both tended to forget our steps when we got nervous.

    We worked on some strategies for what to do if we get boxed in:

    • hold a pose if we happen to be in one.
    • stop, close our feet, and restart the step we were in the middle of.
    • do basics to get around the traffic jam.

    But we also worked on posture and movement to make our dancing appear more aggressive.  Eddie didn’t quite come out and say this, although he agreed with me when I said it: part of floorcraft is psychological.  If we look like we’re big, aggressive, and moving confidently across the floor, other dancers will yield to us more often than if we look tentative and small.  It reminded me of marching band when I was in high school: the very first step and the very first note of the show have to be assertive, our director would tell us.  If you’re going to make a mistake, make a BIG mistake.  Go big or don’t go.

    Sharing the floor with us this afternoon was a family–Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son-In-Law-To-Be, and Daughter’s Fabulous All-Rhinestone Wedding Shoes–getting lessons for the bride & groom’s first dance and the father-daughter dance at their wedding reception.  Watching SILTB dance with Daughter, I remembered how important posture and movement are, even for beginning dancers.  If you are a beginner, you are concentrating on remembering the steps.  You’re looking at your feet, your elbows have collapsed, your shoulders are rounded, and you’re taking little, tentative steps for fear of messing up.  Even if you get all the steps right, you don’t look as polished and accomplished as you could.  And let’s face it: if you’re paying for professional instruction for your wedding dance, you want to look polished and accomplished because you know 120 guests will be watching you!

    Same goes for just about any social dance situation.  Those same basic steps plus upright posture, a solid dance frame, and a big smile will set you well apart from everyone else on the floor doing the clutch-and-sway.  It’s the ultimate in “fake it till you make it.”

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