Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm Afraid of This Dance! ...Balboa

Here's a great blog on the history of Balboa by the ever-entertaining Bobby White.

“What’s Balboa?” you say. Ok, according to Bobby:

“we classify Bal-Swing as a swing dance that mainly uses the ‘out and in’ [and] rotational torque... to accomplish its moves and figures” (edited to prevent confusion. The original reference is funny.)

It’s a social (partnered) swing dance danced chest-to-chest. Enough of my inadequate explanations! Watch these clips.

Awesome, yes?

I’m extremely intimidated by Balboa. Really, I am. As “small” as the dance looks to my eyes (maybe “concentrated” would be a better word), there’s so much room for flashiness and creativity; creativity that’s only possible through solid, subtle connection. It’s overwhelming!

I know the basic and I have enough of a vocabulary to get by, but I’m far from fluent enough to get creative and really have fun with the dance. Basically, I know enough to be dangerous. The prospect of attending a Balboa focused event like All Balboa Weekend or the Eastern Balboa Championships scares the pants off of me.

When I get asked to Bal, I usually give this excuse: “Yeah, I can Bal, but I warn you that I’ve only taken a couple basic classes.” *weak, awkward smile* This is clearly a defense mechanism designed to protect my fragile ego from judgment.

I’m finally in a place where I’m slightly comfortable with my Lindy. Dancing Lindy is a joy and I often feel free enough to play around and express myself. It doesn’t always look good, but it usually feels good. My Bal, though, is a couple years behind.

I have several friends who love the dance *cough Annabel&John cough* and I’m always slack-jawed after watching great dancers & videos, so I really do want to learn. It looks like so much fun and I know that it will make me a better dancer overall. Well, I don’t just want to learn; I want to be good!

I’m intimidated by the journey it will take to get there. Well, that’s not quite accurate.

OK, truth time: I’m intimidated about being a beginner again. Being a beginner/intermediate dancer is a lot like being an awkward pre-teen/teenager. You look awkward, you feel awkward, and it takes a few years (and private therapy) to get past it. Worse, sometimes you think you’re past it, but that’s when you’re just too immature to notice.

I’m just glad I’ve gone through the process before. (Ha! almost caught me. I’m still in the midst of it). I know that time and dedication pay off; I just have to take baby steps and celebrate the little accomplishments.


  1. My advice re: feeling like a beginner...those who are "true" beginners have NO dance experience,and then yes, it can be taxing. But, YOU are a dancer already, it's just a different dance, not a different hobby. There's a lot of cross over in the feel and the ease at which you can accommodate to a new dance. Trust yourself in your talent:) You'll be awesome. (This coming from a balfanatic!)

  2. Provided I've got skilled instruction, I love being a beginner, building a dance from the ground up and geeking out on the details and differences from other dances. But maybe the experience is different for leaders and followers.
    Hey Michael, I love bal, and I'll take a good-feeling basic over a bunch of flashy moves any day - ask me to dance next time I see you! ABW, perhaps? :)

  3. @Nelle You're right, it's not as if I'm relearning to use my body. What a realization: I am a dancer! haha, I forget that sometimes, believe it or not.

    And awww, thanks. I hope I can be awesome. It'll take a lot of work, but I'm definitely willing to put in the time and effort.

    @fg That's a good point too. Talented dancers and instructors make the learning process much more enjoyable. It is different for leads though. We have to bring the vocabulary to the conversation of the dance. If we don't know much, we don't have much to "say" and worry that our follows will get bored. It's nerve-racking. I'll definitely ask you to dance. ABW? I wish! I'm still deployed!

  4. should definitely come to EBC and drink the Kool-Aid there if you can't make it to ABW this year. Plus, Atomic and the Boilermakers are playing! I'll second what Nelle and FG said and add that you may want to take a couple of private lessons, which may be more beneficial given your dance experience and would focus on your weak spots (as opposed to a not as focused on you group class). Frankie bought me 4 private lessons with Chris one year for my birthday and it got me from doing really bad social Bal in the fall to competing with Frankie at ABW and making finals in the Am the following summer. :)

  5. LS, EBC is already on my list of events I'm considering upon my return!

    I better start saving for private lessons. Who do y'all recommend?

  6. The rule of thumb is to take a private with whoever scores you the lowest in a comp. You also can't go wrong with the masters, Nick and/or Sylvia. :)