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Author Topic: Hitting the wall  (Read 5590 times)
dream a little dream
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« on: July 06, 2009, 12:05:16 PM »

I've been talking with a few folks here and both of them have told me that their lessons have become frustrating.  I had this experience earlier this year when I felt as though nothing I did was the way my instructor taught me.  I expect this is "normal" and we are all on schedule, but how do you "work through it" and get to the other side where you feel you are progressing again?

It got so that when I had a month's worth of lessons where I felt I was wasting my instructor's time, I didn't even want to go to my lessons anymore. 
I'm interested to hear how others have dealt with this.
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emeralddancer
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Nottingham, MD (by way of NJ)


« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2009, 01:57:32 PM »

Since I am one of the ones you've talked to ... Wink

right now it is a "glass wall" likr the birds I keep flying into it a full damn speed. Think I'd have knocked some sense into my head ... Roll Eyes
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Some guy
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2009, 02:16:50 PM »

I've been there, and I've actually probably set a record for the longest time anyone's been there: 3.5-years in Standard, 2-years in Latin!

The biggest issues that caused it was:
1) I didn't ask myself, "is there a better way?".   
2) I believed that just because my local coaches were good dancers, they were also good "teachers".  I took too long to realize that they were not good teachers; they were only good explainers (I invented a word!).  I trusted them to spoon feed me all the way to their level! 

Here's how I got around each of the above obstacles:
1) Asking myself, "is there a better way?" got me to question the status quo instead of accepting it.  Everyone else around me accepted it, which is what made the years go by so easily.  Everyone was doing it, everyone told me it's normal, so it MUST be okay.  After the countless lessons and hard work with no change in results I became determined to find a better way.  The path I was on was obviously not getting me anywhere, so I had nothing to lose by trying to find other ways out of my rut.  I realized that if something didn't change I couldn't expect the situation to get any better.  Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result?  Well, I was "insane" for those 3.5 years expecting my dancing to suddenly take flight.  That insanity cost my LOTS of money on lessons, floor fees, and competition travel expenses... not to mention the most precious and irrecoverable expense: time. 

2) I realized no matter how well my coaches danced, they didn't understand it well enough to teach me how to move like that.  They understood it enough to where they could "explain" to me what they were doing on any given beat but they couldn't "teach" it.  I had to take on the responsibility of getting them to keep the explanations to themselves and teach me how to dance.  I had to get them to stop blabbering 1,000 words explaining to me what they were doing (I compress, my knee is now X-degrees bent, I have 90% body weight on my right foot, my ankle is bent X-degrees, then on the first beat I start to lift my heal up 2-inches and transfer my body weight to the ball of my foot while my other leg begins to swing forward...).  I had to then get them to use around 15 words (preferably less) to instruct me on how to dance.  One of the most effective ways was to start repeating their lengthy explanations in the form of instructions, usually using less then 15-words.  I would repeat to them, "so you want me step *here* with my body like *this*".   Even if I was way off base, I would usually get the response, "no, step here, turn here like this, and you're done!".  BAM!  I was just taught how to do the step in less than 15 words. 

Number 2 above can be replaced by just realizing that you need to change the way your lessons go.  If you're in a rut, the current format of the lessons are obviously not helping any.  Also, the way you think you learn is obviously not correct if you're in a rut.  I used to LOVE lengthy explanations.  I would fork out hundred dollar bills each time to hear a coach explain how to do a Waltz natural turn.  5 years of Standard dancing went by before I realized that the explanation, as wonderfully fulfulling as it was each time I heard it, didn't get me anywhere near performing the natural turn correctly.  To me it was akin to either reading the instruction manual to operating the VCR (short and concise, not very fulfilling reading material) or reading the engineering manifest explaining how everything in the VCR works (fascinating!).  At the end of the day, only the instruction manual would teach me the quickest way to operate the VCR.  Explanations, however fascinating, is the long scenic route to figuring out how to operate the VCR. 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 02:28:50 PM by Some guy » Logged
cornutt
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2009, 02:20:42 PM »

I experienced this a couple of years ago.  It got to the point where I hated to go to lessons, had no feel for the dances, and I was thinking seriously about quitting.  I thought to myself, "Before I quit, I have to try doing something different."

At the time, my DW and I took all of our lessons together.  So I decided that what I would try different would be to start taking lessons by myself.  It was kind of a random choice at first, but I quickly realized that I needed some more intensive focus on various aspects of leading and my own technique, and the way to get it was to take lessons by myself.  The other thing that I changed was that, for a while, I was making some pretty specific requests for music during our lessons, and at times bringing in my own music.  One of the things that I had lost was my emotional involvement in the dances -- I was just going through the motions.  In order to get the emotional involvement back, I needed to do some dancing to music that was meaningful to me.  Because some of my music choices were rather unconventional, for a while I was having to take my lunch hours from work so I could have lessons during the day, when there were no other students in the studio.  And finally, I had to ask my instructor to go back to basics on some things with me, reviewing some of my early learning, and doing more practice rounds during our lessons.  I realized that I had developed some bad habits that were interfering with my progress, and those had to get straightened out before I could go further.  My muscle memory was all messed up and basically wasn't functioning, and that was leaving me having to use brain bandwidth on basics, leaving no room for higher-level thinking during the dance.

It took about six months of that before I reached the point where I had some feel for the dances again.  Once the muscle memory started working again, the feel and the emotional involvement started to come back.  That was where I started to enjoy it again.
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dream a little dream
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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2009, 02:46:13 PM »

Interesting, C and SG.  I hit the wall with the former instructor; with the new one (when I can dance again!) I feel some progression.  A change in teaching styles, maybe?
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Some guy
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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2009, 03:08:40 PM »

You said the magic word: "change" (hopefully for the better).  Cheesy
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cornutt
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2009, 03:33:56 PM »

Interesting, C and SG.  I hit the wall with the former instructor; with the new one (when I can dance again!) I feel some progression.  A change in teaching styles, maybe?

Yes, that's one approach to the problem.  In my case, it was a change in the way my lessons were structured.  I didn't want to change instructors, and still don't.  However, I do take more additional lessons and coachings with other instructors than I used to.
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dream a little dream
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2009, 03:52:04 PM »

When I hit the wall earlier this year, I didn't want to change instructors.  That instructor had, at my request, given me chapter and verse on how things were supposed to work, much like SG described.  I hadn't done much in learning that way, so I was keeping my mouth shut and trying to take in everything the former instructor was saying.  He switched his tactics and was telling me to stop thinking and just do. 
But,  for some reason, I could not or did not execute the way that instructor wanted.  I had whole lessons on natural spin turns and months doing nothing but waltz.
For some reason, the switch in instructors' styles seems to have done the trick.

I don't think I am as advanced as SG to have thought "is there a better way?".  I'd tried my way, it hadn't worked.  We were trying my instructor's way; it was working better, but not well. 
So, who knows?
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Don't forget to listen to the nightengale.
malakawa
Open Bronze
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Posts: 830



« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2009, 04:21:31 PM »

i can't say that it happened to me. i had a lot of lessons and a lot of teachers.
i got frustrated with some steps, but eventually i got it.

i kept my practice different. either i had lessons with another coach, either i will change my practice clothes, either i will change the way i practice.

now, i was a Pro, so i practiced with my partner, not with my teacher. don't be afraid to say to your teacher that you want a change. technique can be very boring. so when things like "hitting the wall" happened, ask your teacher if he/she can just "spin you a round". forget about a control, balance, technique ....... ask him/her if he/she can put your favorite music and just dance.  Wink 

 
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Some guy
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2009, 04:34:03 PM »

I don't think I am as advanced as SG to have thought "is there a better way?".  I'd tried my way, it hadn't worked.  We were trying my instructor's way; it was working better, but not well. 
So, who knows?

I don't consider myself advanced at all.  I'm only now learning to "walk" in Standard (one of the first things I should have been taught to do).    Cheesy  It was 3.5-years of sitting in the same rut and finally getting bored.  It's like watching the umpteenth re-run of an old TV show, reaching for the clicker wondering, "is there anything else on TV?". 
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MusicChica
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2009, 05:54:56 PM »

I've never been one of those people that feels like she makes huge amounts of progress.  In fact, I'm not sure I feel any big changes between now and a year ago.  That said, I think my biggest problem is that I've got this event (competition) looming over my head in 2 1/2 weeks, and it's stressing me out.  I just feel like I don't measure up at all to the people I'll be competing against, and am wondering why I'm even bothering.  I guess we'll see if that changes after the comp...I don't know what I'll do if it doesn't. Undecided
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skipper
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2009, 07:02:50 PM »

I've never been one of those people that feels like she makes huge amounts of progress.  In fact, I'm not sure I feel any big changes between now and a year ago.  That said, I think my biggest problem is that I've got this event (competition) looming over my head in 2 1/2 weeks, and it's stressing me out.  I just feel like I don't measure up at all to the people I'll be competing against, and am wondering why I'm even bothering.  I guess we'll see if that changes after the comp...I don't know what I'll do if it doesn't. Undecided
MusicChica
All of the hard work you have done for this comp is just that---DONE.
Trust me when I tell you that your muscle memory is there. I skipped an Ohio Star Ball for just that reason. But I went and watched my competitors. And I learned a very valuable lesson. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES!!
One of my competitors never took a heel lead in tango.
One of my competitors looked at the floor all the time.
One of my competitors danced on a flat foot.
In other words, everyone makes mistakes--we just don't see them. Everyone has issues it comes down to great acting and "selling" everything yu do as just exactly what you wanted to do!
Enjoy the dancing (I know this is easier said than done)--just try.
And let us know how it went---pm me if you need to.
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ttd
Open Bronze
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Posts: 642


« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2009, 10:06:44 PM »

I've never been one of those people that feels like she makes huge amounts of progress.  In fact, I'm not sure I feel any big changes between now and a year ago.  That said, I think my biggest problem is that I've got this event (competition) looming over my head in 2 1/2 weeks, and it's stressing me out.  I just feel like I don't measure up at all to the people I'll be competing against, and am wondering why I'm even bothering.  I guess we'll see if that changes after the comp...I don't know what I'll do if it doesn't. Undecided
MusicChica
All of the hard work you have done for this comp is just that---DONE.
Trust me when I tell you that your muscle memory is there. I skipped an Ohio Star Ball for just that reason. But I went and watched my competitors. And I learned a very valuable lesson. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES!!
One of my competitors never took a heel lead in tango.
One of my competitors looked at the floor all the time.
One of my competitors danced on a flat foot.
In other words, everyone makes mistakes--we just don't see them. Everyone has issues it comes down to great acting and "selling" everything yu do as just exactly what you wanted to do!
Enjoy the dancing (I know this is easier said than done)--just try.
And let us know how it went---pm me if you need to.
That's a good point. I was supposed to compete once against a lady who used to beat me whenever she danced down into my age group. I watched her doing an event I wasn't in the night before and I saw quite a few things I didn't like in her dancing. I beat next day.
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elisedance
Administrator
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ee


« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2009, 01:54:07 AM »

don't be afraid to say to your teacher that you want a change. technique can be very boring. so when things like "hitting the wall" happened, ask your teacher if he/she can just "spin you a round". forget about a control, balance, technique ....... ask him/her if he/she can put your favorite music and just dance.  Wink 

I just saw this and thought its great advice and needs to be repeated.  Its also the bane of pro/am - you get lessons but too often you just don't get to dance - the time is too precious and I think that really affects how you look at a competition.

IMO all pro/am teachers should also make themselves available for social dancing once a week.  It should be a part of the lesson fee - but thats just me.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2009, 05:34:05 AM »

Asking myself, "is there a better way?" got me to question the status quo instead of accepting it. 

That is exactly the question that changed and changes my life forever in every aspect of life. Every time I hit any kind of wall that is the first question that comes to mind. Then after the question “is there a better way”, comes the statement “there must be a better way, now I just have to find it”.

DSV
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