I’ve been busy.  Since I last wrote, I found employment as an administrative staff member at a local marketing company.  On top of that, I went to visit my family down near Columbus one weekend, we had a group of friends in town another weekend, and David and I took a joint private dance lesson from Mike “the Girl” Legett and Dan Rosenthal.  Also, this coming weekend we are attending Mile High Blues in Denver.

The job is going well.  The people I work with are really fun and the office is very open and surrounded by windows, so there’s lots of sunlight.  I feel pretty comfortable with my work; it’s similar to my last job in a lot of ways, and I’m getting a fair hand on the parts that are new and different.

Visiting my family was really nice.  I went down to volunteer for Rick and Rose’s Destination Imagination competition. DI is a creative problem-solving competition that helps kids develop skills in creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, time management, and project management.  Rick’s team placed first in their division, and will be going on to the state tournament next month.

Elizabeth also volunteered for the tournament (every team had to bring a volunteer).  She and I got to spend that evening back at her place where we curled up with some cups of tea and pretended for a couple of hours like we still get to live near each other.  It was so wonderful to see her; it makes me sad that we don’t see each other as often now that I’m in Cleveland.

And we celebrated Rose’s ninth birthday at Coco Key – the local indoor water park.  Elizabeth joined us for the party as well. The party was on Sunday night, so the girls were able to have the place mostly to themselves.  (It is so incredibly weird to realize that Rose is nine.  And Rick is nearly eleven!  When did they get to be so old?!) 

The weekend David and I hosted a group of friends who are also local-ish dancers was bucket-loads of fun. We hung out at our apartment and talked, drank, and watched movies (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Despicable Me), which is something we don’t often get to do since we are typically too busy dancing. We also went to Wooster’s new monthly dance, which was particularly neat for me because I went to school there (when there was no swing club and definitely no blues dancing).  Fenna also attended the dance and took some incredible pictures.

And she took photos at a dance that David and I attended in February.  

 Which brings us to David and I taking a lesson together.  It may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to our dancing as a couple.  Something about the way we danced was fighting each other, and Mike and Dan worked with us both separately and together. We started out with David and I working with both Mike and Dan, and then I went with Mike and David worked with Dan.  Then we switched instructor/student pairs so that I was working with Dan and David with Mike. At the end, we came back together and worked as four again. The result is a clearer connection that is more comfortable for both of us.

I have a theory, of which I am rapidly growing more and more fond, that the key to improving your dancing is direct feedback and an open mind.  Because I am about to slam large group workshops, I want to be very clear that I am NOT saying that private lessons are necessary.  All you need is someone or someones to work with, with an open, stated understanding that constructive criticism will be given and received.  There are a lot of ways to achieve this, but I am very certain that workshop classes don’t cut it.  Instructors cannot (or will not) say to a specific person that they are or are not doing something, and group criticism generally won’t do the trick.  More often than not the result of a mass correction is that people who needed the criticism think they’re doing it right and don’t correct it and people who were doing fine start to over-correct.

BUT – if you take what you learned in said workshop and bring it to your friends with a “let’s see if we’re doing this right” approach, you can work through it and make sure that the move/ connection exercise/ stylization/ alignment/ whatever is turning out correctly (or at least in a way that is not uncomfortable for anyone involved).

This, then, is why David and I had such an incredible lesson.  We gave each other feedback, Mike and Dan gave us feedback (both from watching us dance and from dancing with us), and between the four of us we worked through several major issues in our dance. 

On that fabulous note, David and I are going to head out this weekend to Denver for the Mile High Blues exchange.  More words when I return.

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