When I was looking back, I realized that Mr. P and I have had a sort of three-year cycle going: one good dance year, followed by two in which we didn't do much of anything. Our last good dance year was 2013, so we are due for another one.
But what is a good dance year going to look like for us now? We are far behind where we were in 2013, in terms of fitness and also in our basic dance vocabulary: in all of 2015, we went out social dancing maybe four times. No shows, no competition, no nothing. We are making an effort to increase our social-dance frequency, but we really are at a point where we have to practice at home to remind ourselves of stuff we know how to do socially.
This is a prime example of "use it or lose it."
On the plus side, we do recover stuff pretty fast. Fitness recovery is going to take longer than proficiency recovery.
We had a bit of a powwow to discuss what we want to do with our dancing. It's been Our Thing from the very start, and having developed few other leisure activities, losing the dancing meant we did next to nothing besides watch TV and read. It's no wonder we got unfit. I want to get back to it, in a fairly serious way.
And I don't want to perpetuate a three-year cycle. We don't have time for that any more - I mean time in which dancing is going to be available as a regular social/leisure activity. If we are in L.A. for another 15 years - max - a three-year cycle would mean a maximum of five good dance years.
That's not enough. We need to find a balance that keeps us actively dancing every year.
We discussed whether we want to go back into training for competition. I do; Mr. P isn't averse to it. But we need to be strategic about our approach. Did we want to try one of the single-dance circuits, like West Coast Swing or Argentine Tango? Either would be a good way to get better at social dancing in those styles. But we decided that we want to stay in our style - American ballroom.
We'd already discussed that trying to do American style 9-dance was pretty much out of our reach: we don't have the time, or the budget, to do coaching for nine dances; and we can't rehearse American Smooth at home, which means even doing rounds would require renting studio space.
Not to mention that a competition ballgown is mighty expensive, but I already have several decent options for rhythm costumes. Our first time going back out, at least, wouldn't involve costume expense.
So it looks like it will be Rhythm, with occasional forays into showcase numbers where we can work in other styles.
Another of the reasons for choosing Rhythm is that I can put the routines together myself, for the most part, and only pay for coaching to polish them. When you are dancing on a budget, you have to think of these things.
I started looking over the last choreography I'd written - back in 2014! - and found I now mostly don't like it.
We've watched some recent professional competition footage, and I could try to make our stuff look like that. Once we're fit again, we could execute it. But I realized that I don't really want to do that, either. Our last time out, I was focused on doing stuff that was kind of on-trend. It didn't really suit us, and it wasn't all that much fun to dance.
What would be most fun, I think, is to make routines that are as close to social dancing as possible: routines that look and feel like lead-and-follow dancing, where our technique and our connection are going to be the things that stand out.
As fiftysomething amateurs we are never going to look like thirty-year-old professionals: the moves that look good on them simply won't look good on us. And we've heard enough times that our connection is what makes people want to watch us, that I am finally going to take that as my starting point in making the routines.
I've already written a new cha-cha routine that I really like. We can practice it at home, and dance it socially, and I think it will be fun.
Now I need to take those ideas and apply them to the other four dances.
Our technique will need some work - you get sloppy when that's not your focus - and we'll need coaching to make our styling the best it can be. But at least we have a plan.