The month leading up to the US Open is always fraught with emotions. The intense preparation causes us to reflect on why we are putting ourselves through this. It is almost impossible to explain to outsiders who genuinely just want to wish us well. How can they possibly understand? This can be a very lonely time for competitors. We want to reach out and tell you: You are understood. You are not alone.
Routines are a formidable challenge.
You have taken on an immense project. Routines are not only alot of work, but they are also kinda scary! Being in the spotlight under pressure, wanting to do your coach proud, do your brand justice…you are going above and beyond expectations. Working on your social dancing is a totally different ball game from working on a routine. You took on a bigger game than the average social dancer. You made a new game for yourself, stepped out of your comfort zone (some of you WAY out of your comfort zone) and didn’t give up. This alone deserves a trophy!
Your work and effort is acknowledged.
Work is all relative. You can’t compare how many hours you spent in studio to anyone else. What you can do is look at how much space you made for this project in your life. It takes time, attention, focus, and effort to learn something new. You committed these elements to this project and you did what needed to be done. Your work ethic strengthens with the importance of the project. It’s hard to explain to other dancers or non-dancers how much work you put in – they say they understand, but no one can really understand. You need to be the one to give yourself credit for it.
We see and respect your struggles.
It’s hard! Doing your own choreography is a beast in itself – having to make decisions based on literally dozens of factors. And it doesn’t get easier with experience – like a video game, you up the ante each year – as you evolve and grow as dancers, your expectations increase and your audience expects more from you.
Practicing already-set choreography seems like it should be easier, but the struggles don’t disappear – they just morph from creating mode into editing/refining mode. Editing takes seemingly endless repetitions as you search for the consistency, the sweet spot, the predictability of all those new movements. Trials are bound to fail, and even though these fails are part of the editing process, which can play with your mind. You start to question whether it’s worth it, or whether to push through the awkward phase and force it till your body automates it. No one will see these struggles. They are an essential part of the learning process but you will never get credit for it. But fellow competitors know they exist and respect you for pushing through them.
We feel your pain.
LOL if anyone knows pain, it’s Showcase dancers! But you don’t need to be airborne to sustain injuries. All those trials and repetitions of tricks that weren’t perfect take a toll on your muscles and joints. I can’t remember a single US Open we didn’t walk into feeling broken. That cool trick that gets the big applause? No one will ever know how much that hurt. Part of being an athlete is performing despite the pain. Part of being an artist is never letting the audience see your pain. You will never get a trophy for pain – it’s what you do in spite of it that gets rewarded.
We know what’s going on behind the scenes.
Competitors are not exempt from life. They still have to deal with life stuff outside the studio. Each of us has our own set of challenges: physical fatigue, cold/flu, long term conditions like diabetes, family illness or loss of a loved one, relationship stress, family management such as juggling kids or dependent parents, pros’ work/travel schedules, work stress from our “moonlighting” jobs, school work/university exams, financial stress, car/house breakdowns, moving houses, wedding. How amazing is it that you are managing to pull your s**t together to get a routine ready to compete! Kudos to you! Yes, do really do deserve a trophy just for this alone.
You are winning!
No matter how the placements fall, you are living life fully, playing a bigger game, taking risks others would avoid. You have earned the respect and admiration of all who dare not. You are role models. You are an inspiration. Mario Robau is known to say on the microphone during competitors’ bows: “Give them a round of applause! Because they danced – and you didn’t.” Might sound sarcastic, but the notion is correct – you deserve everyone’s respect in the room because you took on a bigger challenge than the average social dancer. You stepped into the spotlight, put yourself in a vulnerable position, expressed what was in your heart, exposed your body’s potential and limitations, and allowed yourself to be judged for it. This takes HUGE cahones. We applaud your huge cahones.
Best of luck to all competitors this weekend. You got this. You inspire us. We get you. We applaud you.