“You can ask me any question about technique that you want.”
Except I can’t.
Boss said this last night at my lesson. Two months ago he told me that I wasn’t allowed to ask any questions and that I should just do what he tells me, because he is the instructor and I am only the student.
(On a side note, he told me this at the same time he told me he is my instructor and not the Boss of my dancing. I don’t think he realizes I am not his only student to refer to him this way and neither was I the first–its a habit I picked up from another of is students)
I don’t know how to ask questions without making him feel like I am undermining him as an instructor, though lord knows I have tried.
While its an interesting olive branch, history has shown me that whenever I ask questions it inevitably leads to conflict between us because one of 3 things happen (or sometimes all 3):
- He dismisses my question and says it either doesn’t matter or is something I ‘don’t need to worry about’.
- He assumes I am asking because I am trying to rush progress.
- He assumes that by asking I am really saying ‘Forget everything you think I should focus on and focus on only this instead because I want to’.
Very rarely is it numbers 2 or 3, and number 1 just leads me to frustration. Whether a topic matters to him or not, I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important to me and frequently on my mind (and sometimes interfering with other things I am working on).
More often than not, the question comes because I have observed something and am curious about it. Sometimes its related to a small personal project I am working on and I just need a bit of direction to know where to start to begin to work it out for myself. Sometimes it is related to something else I am working on that my mind has latched on to and won’t let go.
An example–right now one of my exercises is rumba basic and focusing on making sure I step, then settle. The biggest issue with this is when I step back with my right foot–I have a tendency to step there already settled with no way else to move my hip. Its taken a lot of experimentation, but slowly I have found a way to step back on a straight leg without having my hip settled. This has led me to consider other steps where I step backwards, and to wonder about how to actually do rumba steps backwards, something I don’t recall working on in international rumba (I did it a lot in rhythm, but very different technique). Its drawn my attention to the issue to the point that when I do figures with multiple back steps (like aida or reverse top) I find myself distracted by noticing I am not stepping right and trying to figure out how to fix it. I have tried just walking backwards, but for whatever reason I can’t figure it out–there seems to be a big piece I am missing. In fact, it feels as though what I am doing might lead to injury of my hip as some of the movements I am trying to do are sometimes painful.
But if I ask Boss about that, he will likely think I am asking him to change my exercises or what he wants me to focus on (currently it seems to be forward steps), or he will tell me its something I don’t need to worry about right now.
But on the other hand, he has mentioned several times that my back steps in latin are not good, and while watching videos he has pointed out how others move backwards.
So I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place and mostly I just sort of wait and hope he will notice what is frustrating me and decide to address it. Because I am not allowed to know his plan, I also have no way to know if my questions will just get naturally addressed when we get to that topic (if we get to that topic).
The rumba back steps are just one of the things I find myself wondering about and wanting to work on by myself. I have time now since changing my practice schedule but I do feel like I don’t know where to start to work on them. I am unsure enough that I am concerned I will teach myself wrong and develop bad habits or worse injure myself with bad technique.
But despite what Boss said at my lesson yesterday, I have been ‘bitten’ enough by questions being misinterpreted that I don’t feel I can ‘ask anything’ about technique–or anything really. I just don’t want to risk opening a giant can of worms.
So I wait and hope things will resolve themselves, and try not to let myself get too impatient or frustrated.
I can either ask questions or I can’t.
I don’t see how it can be both ways.