Hey! It’s a surprise to me, too! I wasn’t expecting to be going there this year but an opportunity has come my way that I refuse to miss. It might be a stretch for me to make this happen but I’m determined to seize the day.
So what changed from a few days ago to now? As you may or may not know, I attended the Galaxy Dance Festival here in Scottsdale, Arizona over the last two days. I danced in the bronze Rhythm category with Ivan. We completed 2 rounds of closed dances and 1 round of open dances. We also competed in the scholarship for closed bronze which was a Best of the Best qualifier event.
Now before Thursday I did not know this Best thing even existed, much less what it was or what it meant.
But let me back up here for a moment. Before I get into all that, I want to share a bit about my experience over the past days. Because although the news I have to share is wonderful and exciting, it actually isn’t the biggest “win” I had. You see, I had many “wins” over the last few days that had absolutely nothing to do with how I placed or what my results were.
This was my first competition back in over a year. That in and of itself is a bit intimidating. When I left the scene I was doing reasonably well and I felt like people, certainly Ivan included, had expectations for me. This is wonderful in the sense that people believe in me and want to see what I can do, how I will grow and develop, what I can show, and that they are interested in me at all. On the flip side, this can easily turn into pressure, unhealthy, dysfunctional thinking, and misery through trying to strive to be something I think others want me to be, or trying to be perfect.
Okay, so during my break from the competition scene I’ve gotten myself to a much more grounded, healthy, stable place around how I think about myself and my dancing. Stepping back on to the competitive ballroom floor was testing this new way of being. I haven’t faced the nerves, the expectations, or being judged in a long time. So I’ll count it as win number one to have had the courage to brave the uncertainty of dancing in public for the purpose of being compared, judged, and ranked.
The second win was how Ivan and I danced and related to one another. We enjoyed ourselves. He gave me feedback but it didn’t descend into the negative pit of despair. We definitely had our hiccups out on the floor, we missed some areas in our open routines especially, but we never stopped dancing, we never lost connection, we made it work, and it was fun. He was pleased with how it went, even with the mis-steps, which was a relief. He told me flat-out before the competition that he had expectations for me about dancing in closed bronze, so I appreciate his honesty, but the thing is that we lucked out that our results matched his expectations. I had already resolved myself to be completely at peace with however the results panned out. I refuse to get myself in to that space of being disappointed by reality not going how I imagined it “should” go….instead I choose to accept it as it is. This made the most challenging part simply waiting to for the results! The waiting made me sick to my stomach. But a result is just a result. It is inherently meaningless. Any meaning I assign to it is created by me. I have no idea what the judges are looking at, and quite a few times results I saw in other heats and some of my own heats, I did not agree with. Oh well.
So we related well to each other, we danced well, especially for slapping together the open routines is such a short amount of time (truly they are not practiced enough which is why I screwed them up here and there), and we actually enjoyed ourselves. We went to lunch after our single dances and talked things over, noting that this is the way it can be each and every time we compete, whether there are 5 or 50 couples on the floor, because it is up to us the pressure we put on ourselves. We don’t need to go to that nasty, misery place ever again. In the end, for me, I think it is about confidence, believing in myself, doing my best, which is exactly what I did this time. I did the very best I could. I see that I have room to grow in confidence, and there are specific goals I have in regards to elevating weaker aspects of my overall game, and, with where I am right now, I left it all on the floor. Yes I did.
So that being said, sometimes the person on the floor with you is better prepared and has a better overall game. There were some confidence-boosting perks that occurred (which I will get to shortly), and there was also this situation. When I saw the girl dancing in the Latin scholarship with me (it was a 2 couple final) I knew I would be second. You know, sometimes it can be really a close call, and sometimes it’s really clear who is the superior dancer. In this case, it was clear. The cool thing was that I was cool with that, and this is no way demeaning my dancing. There is no shame in doing my best and placing second such a polished dancer. I’ll call this win number three. I mean, what a great feeling to be so happy after completely bombing my cha-cha, “losing” to this great dancer, and ripping my dress! I’m starting to be un-messable-with!
So yeah, that happened. During my closed silver Latin scholarship (um, yeah, why in Silver in Latin when I have more experience in Rhythm….that was intimidating, but how the teachers did it so I go with the flow) I got so into my cha-cha that I forgot where I was in the routine and did the second set of cross-overs before the first single one, lost connection with Kristijan, and we stood still on the floor for a moment not dancing at all. All I could do was laugh about it, and be like, meh, well, I’m still second place. So I screwed up that pretty royally and then during the Paso Doble my heel got caught in my dress and I had to do this weird kick to get it free. Well, I freed myself and then a dance later, during the Jive, I was spinning and a panel on my dress flew off across the floor! And get this – I didn’t miss a beat! For all I knew my butt was hanging out but I didn’t skip a step. How is that for irony? So as a cherry on top of the sundae, not only was I okay with my result, and okay with how I danced, but I got money for showing up! Yep, even through it was a 2 couple final they still gave me a payout, which was super nice, and combined with my Rhythm scholarship winnings, really helped a lot with the cost of things!
Yep, did you catch that? I earned first place in the closed bronze Rhythm scholarship. It was a 3 couple final. Then we danced a cha cha in the best of the best round, which was like a solo, and I won that as well….which got me an invite to compete in the Best of the Best at Ohio Star Ball….which is why I’m now going to Ohio Star Ball. Can you believe it?
I mean, granted, Galaxy was a smaller competition with a small final, but still, it’s an opportunity. Not everyone gets the chance to participate in this event and I even met Sam Soldano, the owner of Ohio, who is also a co-presenter of Galaxy, and he seemed keen to have me come.
Okay, so I won and I got my butt handed to me. I also made new friends and that was win number…well, I’ve lost count at this point. They are really adding up, aren’t they? I mean, I can’t see a single downside when it comes right down to it.
And you know what, even though all this has been beautiful and wonderful, it’s still emotional. I find myself tearing up today, for no particular reason. I’m happy. I’m satisfied. And yet dancing, especially when I put myself out there on public display, taps into something deep within. I sense that there has been a breakthrough, even if I can’t exactly put my finger on exactly what it is.
I don’t know what to name this breakthrough, all I know is that I feel clear – clearer than I’ve felt in a very long time. I know exactly what to do for the next two months. I know what to eat, how to work out, how much I want to dance. I know the consistency I want to foster. I love this time frame of 2 months – it’s enough time to make a significant difference, and yet still creates a sense of urgency, so that I show up even more alive, vibrant, strong, grounded, joyful, and grateful at Ohio, even as I rocked Galaxy exactly as I am right now.
There is something powerful about being willing to show up even when I know that I’m still in the process of developing. I acknowledge myself for being courageous. I acknowledge myself for being willing to be imperfect and to look the fool.
As you all know dance has been, and continues to be a healing experience for me. Another of the amazing gifts garnered from participating in this competition was seeing the progress I have made. I used to be 85 pounds heavier. I used to get winded after 1 samba. I used to be afraid to express myself. I used to be ashamed of my body and who I am. The evidence is clear, I am no longer who I used to be. I am no longer Biggest Girl In The Ballroom. No, I am Beautiful Girl In The Ballroom. And that’s the biggest win of all.
Gah! I am freaking sobbing writing and reading this! I couldn’t tell you why it’s all so emotional, but it is. I just feel like so much has happened, and there is so much more to come…starting with tonight! I’ve got to dry my eyes, get cleaned up, and get back for the final session. Then back to work on Sunday with a lesson with Ivan.
Stay tuned and I look forward to meeting those of you who will be at Ohio!