I am a Westie and I’m Human Too.


Since I got back from Wild Wild Westie (which hard to believe it’s been almost 2 months now), I’ve had a multitude of conversations with friends about how some dancers are progressing rapidly up the ranks, while we’re having difficulty where we currently reside in the WSDC tiers. Two amazing articles were published by two established professionals – Gary Jobst and Tessa Cunningham Munroe (Tessa’s article ; Gary’s article) growth in dancing. These write-ups inspired me to speak on about how I almost let competition dancing get the best of me.

I am Westie and I am Human… 

There are dancers out there who believe unless they are Champions, they’re mere mortals in the dance world, the pros fly around the globe wearing westie capes being awesome dance super-heroes. Oh,Wait… BenMo

Ok, Ben Mo isn’t helping my point. 😉 You have to remember pros are human too! They’ve had their fair share of hardships working to their standing today. They’ve experienced “bad competition dancing,” they’ve had their bad days too. It’s just a fact. How they handle it is what makes them professionals. Take two of my favorite guys on the scene, Diego Borges and Kris Swearigen.

They took to social media for some gentle comedy. 😉 However, if I know these guys.. they probably didn’t let not making finals ruin their weekend.

There’s so much more to a weekend than competing. There’s learning at workshops from the best teachers on the planet (which by the way how many creative fields do you see holding master classes every weekend taught by top-level pros in their craft?). There are hours of social dancing. Which if you play your cards right, you’ll leave the weekend with at least ONE memorable social dance that was special. Why ruin your escape from daily life — your vacation/break — by letting competition results affect your attitude? Like a past coach told me, you can’t let your competition dance define your dancing.

Understand….

There’s a huge umbrella of facts that go into why a dancer didn’t make into finals. I once had that very “come to Jesus” meeting with a coach, and he went into the several reasons why a person could not make finals. They could be S.O.L. because of the position on the floor, away from the view of judges. They could be at a competition where it could be a variety of judges with different schools of thought, or your division judges could all be from the same place with similar regional influences in their dancing. Could be your choice of footwear didn’t highlight your leg articulation. Could be a million things, but at the end of the day — there are a lot of elements, WE CAN’T CONTROL. Therefore, we should limit the blame on others. The more we progress, the more we have to learn to adapt to our partners, the different songs we could get (no matter how out there they are), and understanding what those particular judges are looking for. We as competitive West Coast Swing Dancers, have a responsibility to hold our own dancing accountable.

Don’t Let it Rain On Your Parade…

I almost let that happen to me this Wild Wild Westie. I was agitated about my situation in dance. Not having a credit card with an insane credit line to go travel every weekend. The ability to train with my coach EVERY week. The ability to get out novice ASAP.  If it wasn’t for a heart-to-heart I had with my roommate/friends, and a handful of incredible, breathtaking dances with my favorite people I don’t know what I would’ve done. It’s super easy to give into the temptation to quit, because you’re not hitting your goals in an instant rate, but why give up now? West Coast Swing isn’t like insta-rice where you’ll be a Champion in 3-5 minutes. If it was everyone would be a Champion.

In the words of Rihanna, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK…

After having these “real-talks” with my friends and mentors, I had to come to realization that all I was doing was bitching, griping, and making up excuses. Was I going to keep complaining or did I need to do something? It was time for me to quit – as the south would say  – my belly-achin’ and focus on putting in the sweat equity.

I’ve seen Hugo Miguez and Stacy’s #WestieWorkouts before, but I’ve never really had the courage to breakdown the choreo, learn the combo, and record myself dancing. That was until last week.

 

Thanks to Hugo and Stacy, I found motivation to hit the studio and begin work on finding my own movement outside of a partner. It definitely feels vulnerable at times. Seeing these huge buff guys pumping iron a mere 10 feet away from me outside the door with nothing but glass separating me and them. But having that drive to consistently improve myself is going to pay off in the long run. How do I know? Because any progress, small or large is progress. I look forward to working hard each week until I see my coach next. I’m already seeing it pay off, so I can only hope for the best in the future. Find the practice – solo or with a partner – methods that work for you!

Baby, please don’t go… 

We’re family, and I mean it. Each one of us has a role in this community. We don’t just have Champion dancers. We have amazing DJs, bloggers (ahem, ahem, 😉 ), teachers, or just enthusiastic social dancers who keep this Westie world spinning on its axis. Do you remember your first steps in this dance? Were you a Champion then? No. Were you excited about learning this dance? Did you love social dancing then and having a great time out on that floor? YES! Then why give up that up? Take advantage of the plethora of resources in front of you – teachers/mentors, online coaches’ blogs/videos, local classes/practice dances. Continue that journey, it’s only beginning.

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