Friday, August 21, 2015

Learning to Dance: Solving for X

A friend said to me once: Every day is solving for x.

It certainly is the case in my quest to learn how to dance in South Louisiana.

My experience of dance (and other patterns of movement such as t'ai chi) is that it is a form of geometry.

The definition of geometry is: "from the Ancient Greek:  geo- "earth", -metron "measurement") [and] is a branch of mathematics concerned with questions of shape, size, relative position of figures, and the properties of space."

There's a blank space in my brain in regard to geometry. I don't have a good sense of direction. Line graphs are a head-scratcher. Distance and length estimations - wild-ass guesses. 

When dance partners sometimes say, "no worries! just go with the beat! don't count the steps!" this is well-meaning, but it's not actionable information. For people like me, we've got to break it down, see how it's built, and then see if we can replicate it with our spatially-challenged limbs and joints. Eventually, we'll get it, given enough practice, but we are remedial students. 

There are several line dances currently popular that involve a lot of turning AND heel-toe, chacha, or rock step action, plus some hopping bits that paralyze my brain cells. Helpful people - and they really are! - call out the steps while we're doing it, point their arms in the direction I need to go, and so on, but sadly, this only adds more stimuli to a brain that is already in cascade-fail mode. These sainted South Louisianans, who only want me to succeed, have no idea that below is how my neurons interpret their information:

Credit: Amplify

So between you and me, sometimes I have to just tune them out. Please don't say anything.

Having said all of the above, things have gotten better in the year and a half I've now been here. Some steps I can do with confidence, others middling so, and others remain (for now) an algorithmic teaser that I hope to some day master.

It's all worth it, though.  With dance comes joy.

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