Category Archives: competition

Another post about solo dancing.

I’ve signed up for a riffing contest, which brings my focus back around to solo dancing. For a long time I was extremely uncomfortable with solo dancing. I was actually extremely uncomfortable with a lot of the space I was given to improvise and express. Dancing is such a physical thing that I am blatantly moving my body in a way that demands attention. Especially expression in following, I feel that the lead must be put upon to accommodate to my body. A part of it probably relates to me mentally understanding that there are some people who might find me attractive, but my body is not anywhere near the standard attractive mold. I do not look around in the media and find reflections of what I have. I do not look at the national level blues dancers and see reflections of what I have. Then it loops back around; because I know that someone to find me attractive must reject the rest of the world, I fail to find myself attractive. It’s an uneasy truce in accepting my general awesomeness and not liking how I look.

Yesterday I danced by myself (in a room with practice partner), and I stared at myself in the mirror. And for the most part it was incredibly difficult. I didn’t want to look at myself. I have to, in order to learn how to feel my lines and what not, but I didn’t want to.
I didn’t want to see my face all flushed. I got sick of my hair flopping about and collecting sweat. I hated most of all the way my clothes clung to different parts of me. I danced and I figured out movements and I learned, but it was a difficult process.
I am particularly concerned that with my distaste toward myself that others will look at me in the same way. The thought of getting up in front of people who will be looking at me, and judging me, and while it will be on my dancing it may also be a bit on my body. There’s always the argument that the lines just don’t work as well for me as for a standardly pretty person. I feel like there’s plenty of things that I’m not technically proficient at, but I’m afraid I could fudge them more if I were not me.
At the end of all this I consider all the people that I look at dance. I never think,” if his ass were just a little firmer this would work”. I think things like” wow!” or “I want to be that ballsy”. I know that the people I’m drawn to, that I find beautiful are not the standard mold of beauty, and that it’s ok. That it’s better than ok, it’s one of the wonderful things that makes them interesting and enriching to my life.
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Filed under blues dance, competition, performance, socialization

Those things that are difficult

I have occasionally worked on my solo dancing. I don’t like it. I become really self conscious which causes me to tense up, which changes how I’m dancing which makes me judge my movement, which tenses me up, and it becomes a terrible spiral of judgement and anxiety. The last time I worked on solo dancing was a little less than a year ago. I decided it was important to have the jazz vocabulary that others expect me to have. I’d been covering my lack of knowledge by trying to mimic visually. This is only so useful since I’m not well coordinated. I tended to bop around and generally stumble around until partners upped direction. So I choose some of the jazz movements most commonly used by blues dancers and go comfortable with them. Comfortable being a relative term.

Now I’ve given myself a new challenge. I’ve signed up for a riffing contest. I have no expectations of winning, or even being a finalist. I do feel that I need to spend some time getting comfortable with my movements. I’ve asked my practice partner to spend some time working on vocabulary with me. I’m hoping to come up with a couple of comfortable variations. I also want to work on solid transitioning.

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Filed under competition, exchanges, learning

Choreography

With my distaste for choreography applied to social dance it surprised me when I began to consider competing at Bambloozled. I had a few goals and ideas. It seemed like the best forum for them, so I began to start my work. I wanted to make something that was awesome, but entirely leadable. I wanted to have a dance that switched lead and follow roles. I wanted to stretch myself and try out something new. The first big task was to propose the idea to the person I wanted to perform with me. When I thought of doing this she was the first person I thought of. She’s fun to dance with and we already dance pretty well together. She’s a performer, so stronger than me in this area. She also likes to switch dance roles. She accepted the idea fairly soon after I proposed it.

I had already found a song that I loved. My weird hobby is finding legally free music.  She and I threw ideas at each other and got to where we had a full song of dancing pulled together. Some of the best parts came together the weekend after we started talking about it. We were at a park in New Haven blaring our song and just freely associating ideas. We then practiced anywhere we could find some space. We started off practicing on her roof. It’s not an ideal place to work on dancing, since it is a very grippy surface and somewhat uneven. We moved into her tiny living room once the weather turned. A few times we used a hallway at my university.

After our second performance someone came up to us and asked where we got the routine. It was a weird moment where my dance partner and I looked at each other . Umm, we sort of just tried things out?

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Filed under blues dance, community, competition, following, leading, performance

Choreography

This weekend I’ll be heading up to Albany for the Albany Lindy and Blues Exchange. I love the Albany scene. Individuals have been willing to house me for a clinical rotation. I’ve gotten a majority of my teaching experience at workshops hosted at RTI. I’ve been to every ALBX since I’ve lived in New York. This year I’m going to be performing a choreography at the late night. It was originally entered in the bambloozled showcase competition.

Creating and performing a choreography was a really conflicting thing for me. I am primarily a social dancer. I do this dancing thing so that I can create ideas with other people. I take lessons so that I can express a wider range of ideas. I practice to understand and work with a range of different leading styles. I feel that lots of times choreography is a cheat. One can skip much of the lead/follow dynamic in the name of doing the moves correctly. I’m not suggesting that choreography doesn’t make for amazing dancing, but that I’m not sure how well it relates to social dancing, and that because of that uncertainty, I was very conflicted.

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Filed under blues dance, community, competition, following, leading, performance