Mermaid Shish Kebab?

I finally had another lesson yesterday. Last week we were bombarded with snow and there was no way I was going out in that. In NYC things don’t stop, but up here in the boonies we don’t have subways to take us where we need to go. Safety wins this one.

With Lady J I went over Rumba movement. She would like me to be more 3 dimensional with my hips. Hello Cuban Motion, we meet again you ugly thing. I need to just get over my shy/introverted/embarrassed/stubborn self and just do it already. I know I can, it just takes more work than I want to show out in public. I sweat and get all out of breath and my muscles are so sore the next day. That much work is no fun in front of the well put together teachers. Obviously, I need to stop whining, too. Something needs to give and it’s me. I’m bored dancing Rhythm the way I have been and they won’t move me on unless I get certain techniques down. Otherwise known as a vicious circle that’s all my fault.

My current dancing brain/body standoff reminds me of the intermediate rut. Not that I’m implying that I’m an intermediate dancer yet, but the thought still counts. My mom used to talk about it in relation to skiing, and I have since applied it to playing piano and other activities that take practice. Progress requires vulnerability. You may fail. You may fall down. You may suck when you first try but at least then they can fix what’s wrong. If you never get out there and try, they can’t fix it. Isn’t that why I’m there, to get better? Once you’ve been vulnerable and just tried you can then take all the things learned and practice, practice, practice.

Back to my lesson with Lady J. When I settle my hip, I tend to settle too much. Like “I’m taking a rest now” too much. So she reminded me to be a Shish Kebab (the title is now making sense, huh). All the meat or veggies twist on the same skewer. I need to be like that. It was like an epiphany. I did so well that she decided to play with me and choreographed a little introduction for an open Rumba routine. (I assume that’s a good thing that indicated progress? Let me know, because I’m a bit shell-shocked and clueless.) Two slow in place cucarachas then two quicks, closing feet at the end. Then two slow closed feet cucarachas and two quick steps to my partner. Arms are over head, down body and ending over partners shoulders. You can imagine the shock. Lady J is some bad-ass Eastern European type, so she won that battle. Those closed feet cucarachas are a beast, though. That is as unnatural a movement as any I’ve tried. Heels together, thighs zipped, transfer weight, don’t forget the Cuban Motion! Yes, be a mermaid. (See title again) This move needs work because I think I may look like I have a bug crawling up my leg.

I thought that this Rumba intro was just for fun, but no. Clyde saw it and now it’s officially my beginning. His change was that he wants me to grab is face when I walk toward him. This Rumba is going places I never wanted/expected to go. I think I’ve crossed a line that I can’t go back over because it was FUN. Clyde was smiling and having so much fun and so was I. We danced the Rumba for Manager Lady and for every person who walked through the door. (This was excessive for me but he seemed to proud, so I gave in.) I’ve officially reached the level of dancing where people watch me, even those people who are at higher levels. It’s a heady feeling, but don’t worry, I want to scurry into my hidey-hole when I notice they’re looking. No cockiness here.

Clyde and I worked on Cha Cha a bit, too. As I expected the routine is changing again. And they wonder why I never bother to remember them in the first place? The best moment was when Clyde told me that he had underestimated me. I like throwing people off. It’s no fun when people think you can do things. Or is it? 😀

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Last Thoughts

I have to say, my final pre comp lessons went well. The waltz routine he wants to do doesn’t contain anything that I didn’t already know, so that’s nice. Then we just danced rounds. He was pleased with all dances but Mambo, my newest. There’s one figure that I still stumble over. I wish I knew its name or could describe it to you, but alas, I’m not that talented.

Now my cynical self is going to come out. Teach made no comments about my technique or hips in Rhythm. Neither of these aspects are in my body except as sloth pace. I know he was hoping I would be better by now, but it’s just not happening. I really appreciate Teach building me up now, because it’s just too late to make something go into my body that’s not there yet. I wish my cynical side could just take that lesson as the calming, back rub that it was (with me being prone to freak out and perfectionism). But I know too well that it’s too late for anything but minor touch ups at this point. Don’t worry, I’m not in a bad place. It was good to be able to just get through the rounds without straining my ankle or dropping of heat exhaustion. My cynical brain just does an eye roll because I see through these tactics.

There is also a level of attention for this comp that is new for me and a bit unsettling. First Team Match was a show up and go on the floor deal. In November, I just showed my dress to Teach and did my thing. This time, Manager Lady, Lady R, Teach’s Wife, and seemingly, everyone in the studio is keenly interested in my body grooming, costuming, routines, etc. I thought a new pair of shoes and a Rhythm dress would be the end. (I’ve always gone with the professional hair and makeup – I’m clueless with hair.) That is not the case. Who knew I would need a wax, fish nets, and additional tanning. As if I’m not tan enough! And fishnets? Yuck!!! It’s so HOT. Why would anyone wear all that?! But guess who went out and bought fishnets and some dancer body bronze crap that makes me sparkle like a fairy. This sucker, that’s who. This leads to the question: Why now? Why this dance event? Teach’s wife commented on a Facebook post I put up with the comment that I just upgraded myself from beginner to competitor. I guess that makes a little sense, but (here comes Mr. Cynical) could it be that I’m spending enough money on this comp to be noticed?

Yesterday I get a call from Manager Lady. To set the scene, I’m at work. I work as a nurse in a critical area, so my mind isn’t necessarily on this phone call as much as it should be. I saw the studio number and picked up in case there was a problem with something for Saturday. That wasn’t it. Manager Lady said that the higher up’s in the company decided that for those who sign up for 50 heats, they will get 5 free heats with instructors from other studios. She goes on to tell me that she thinks this would be a “great challenge” for me and since I’m already at 49 heats, would I like to buy one, get 5 free? I’m a sucker and at work, so I say “Sure!” I will now refer you to the questions at the end of the previous paragraph. And cue today’s freak out. What was I thinking? I don’t want to dance with random instructors! I’m neurotic enough without this particular “challenge”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s like gym classes gone by, What if none of them want to dance with me? This was a poor decision. One that I’m going to have to live with now. But it does beg the question: Is she only calling me because I’m spending that much money anyway? If you’re on the list of top students, you’re spending too much money. I’d better not be on there. I prefer under the radar.

The hotel is confirmed. I’ve made the decision that I’d rather lug a bazillion suitcases on the subway than worry about parking at the hotel. I will have two lovely nights alone in the hotel room – the family decided to stay home. There’s just no money to pay the giant fee they charge to spectate. Now I just need to get my husband to relax. He’s concerned for my safety, which I respect and admire – it’s part of his job. But he’s being overly concerned. He’s convinced that my hotel is in a bad part of town, but it’s not. Things can happen anytime, anywhere, and without reason. I’m always on guard, but I refuse to live my life in constant fear of what can happen. Now if I could just apply that to my dancing. I’ll be thinking of all those who are dancing this week and weekend and a big thank you to all those who are lending support. I just love this community!

I Got What I Wanted and I Liked It

Those who read yesterday know that I had a semi-sick lesson last Monday. This was my first lesson after Teach threw a GIANT April fools joke at everyone… and we all feel for it. So let’s back track to April 1 for a minute.

I wake up after a horrible night coughing up my lungs and decide to check Facebook before getting out of bed (never do this). The first post on my wall is from Teach. He’s not a big one for posing on social media, so any post he puts up I read. It was a post saying that he was moving to Japan (where his financee is from) and starting to work at his in law’s dance studio there. He had tagged his in-laws and included the appropriate hashtags and everything. I don’t funcion before I have my tea, and I had been up sick all night, so I burst into tears and ran to tell my mother and daughter. Five minutes later I had myself losing all kinds of weight in my grief, and many dollars richer from switching studios. (I move on quickly.) Then my mother noticed the date… He WOULDN’T. Yes, he would. It was an April Fool’s joke. Oh, yes. He got everyone. By everyone I include all the managers of the dance studio. He got in a bit of trouble for that one.

I took advantage of the fact that he made me cry because of a joke and shamed him into letting me choose what to work on. It kind of worked. I requested a run through of the Waltz choreography because I need a revew every once in a while so that I don’t forget the important bits. Next I demanded to learn Bolero. Yes, I demanded. Part of my goals was American 9 dance. Right now I have 7 dances, not 9. I needed something different. Sometimes it seems like you’re in a dance rut. That’s how I’ve felt. Logically, I know that practice, practice, practice is necessary for progress, but that rut is deep and it can do a number on your esteem and dance stamina. The April Fools joke gone awry gave me the ammunition to demand what I needed. So he taught me the Bolero basic in about 10 seconds and then went on to teach me Mambo. I called Teach out for this about 15 minutes in. (it could have been because I needed to breathe. Jeez that’s a fast dance!) He laughed and told me that American Rhythm is traditionally taught in this order: Rumba, Cha Cha, Swing, Mambo, Bolero. So I technically got what I wanted – to learn a bit of Bolero – but Teach got what he wanted – to teach me in the traditional order. But I still won because I just needed something new. It turned out to be Mambo and I love it! What a fun dance. The counting/timing is going to be an issue, but I’m up to the task and glad to have another dance in my arsenal. Now we can go back to our regularly scheduled dance technique.

Heels Are Tricky

My lessons were great this past week. Really great. I’m not sure what happened in my brain, but my lessons are better than ever!

I mentioned to Teach how hard it is for me to see progress in myself. I can’t see myself easily as I’m usually trying to dance, not gaze upon myself in the mirrors. We spent some time talking about and dancing some of the things I’ve learned the past year. It was encouraging to see how much improvement he’s seen in me, plus he showed me in my dances the things that I just do naturally now that I couldn’t do a year ago.

Then we spent a long time on my feet again. Specifically, the roll through in smooth dances. I do not like backward heel leads. Heels on shoes are skinny and unstable and I don’t like pushing off from them. I do it because I have to. Well, apparently I’ve been doing it wrong. Teach walked me through it by telling me to lift my toes up first. Guess what? It worked! I’m no longer as afraid. I’m not saying it’s perfect. It’s one of those concepts that takes a while/forever to do well, but it’s the start of a new relationship with my dance heels.

As for all the things going on with too many teachers, too many studios, too little funds –  I haven’t been to Studio #2 because my daughter hurt herself at a party and can’t dance for a few weeks. So, I’ve shoved it away for now.

I’m off to practice my roll through. It’s quite amusing to watch me use my feet in this manner while grocery shopping, at work, during meal prep… Anyone practice in strange places?