Stroking The Ego Or Simply Acknowledging My Greatness???

Tomorrow is the showcase.

I’m currently on a hunt for some nude extra-large adult fishnet stockings.  I realized that I needed them after remembering last night that I threw out my last pair after competing at Galaxy.  I have a lesson with Ivan scheduled in 2 hours and I’m hoping to have them in hand by then to do a “full dress rehearsal.”

Maybe it’s the old training from Glenda Folk, but I want to see how it feels to dance in my outfit with the nylons and all.  I don’t want any wardrobe malfunctions and usually I wear things that cover the booty completely.  Now I have to figure out if I’m going to be okay with the stockings alone since I am wearing a skirt or if I’m going to need to find some bike shorts too.  I don’t think I have a black leotard in my closet anymore but that would probably be the best thing to wear underneath.  I mean, I am doing a high leg kick and there are some dips.

The last time I danced was Tuesday.  I had a lesson with Ivan during which we pretty much warmed up and then ran the Rumba 4 times or so.  Some run-throughs were better than others.  I’m a little concerned about how it will go tomorrow evening after a full day of work and no time to warm up before we perform.  It will be in a different space than we’ve been practicing and with different elements in the space such as an audience, perhaps low lighting, and who knows how well the music will work out.  I don’t know when I perform, what order things will happen.  All I can say is, pretty good thing for me that I am a “go with the flow” type of gal in this instance.  Don’t get me wrong, I have my control issues, but in this case I’m happy enough just to let things unfold as they will.  Worrying won’t change it so I’m not going to waste one precious moment putting panic energy into the situation.

It’s not that I’m worried, per se, it’s more that I want to do an amazing job.  It’s my first time doing an actual ballroom routine in a showcase with just me and my instructor on the floor.  It’s not Dancing With The Stars, that’s for sure!  I’ll only have maybe 20 pairs of eyes on me, not 20 million!

It will be what it will be.  I’m excited but not nervous.  I usually don’t get nervous until the moment before!  Then I’m practically shaking.  But once we start moving, I’m sure it will all be okay.

Woudln’t you know it? The showcase was originally planned on a day when my husband was out-of-town and got rescheduled to another date that he is out-of-town. He left for San Francisco this morning. But that is why video cameras exist.

So anyways, after dancing with Ivan in the morning last Tuesday, I also went to class with Inna in the evening.  It was my 8 year wedding anniversary so Ty and I had some sushi and then I was off.  We made a point to watch a movie together the previous night and last night, the day after our anniversary, we also spent some quality time together.  But that class is so good, and my husband understands how important it is to me, that he gladly let me go.

Surprise, surprise, it was a night of Paso Doble!

Besides the Jive, Paso Doble is the dance in the Latin category that I’ve practiced the least.  I’m not all that familiar with the basic steps nor do I know how to count it.  But Inna gave us a few moves and made up some combinations and I did my best to follow along.

I have no idea what the figure is called, but we started with a movement pushing our hips forward, raising up on our “tippy toes,” (as Inna calls it), pushing our chest upward and outward, and pulling our arms behind our back to create a bow shape through the front of our bodies, all over a full count of eight.

It was tiring!  I kept losing my balance, bobbling on my toes.  I’m used to balancing up there with my legs straight, as in a ballet releve’ but with this awkward bow position with my chest not directly above my hips, I had a hard time finding my new center.  I got a bit better over the evening, but it was quite a challenge!  Plus, we were using back and hip muscles not normally activated in Rumba or Cha Cha.  Inna advised us that if we felt discomfort in our lower backs, then we were doing it right!  “And,” she said, “the good news is there are no hips!”

Yes, no hips, but there is stomping, and balancing, and portraying the fiery nature of the dance, being as serious as a bullfighter, holding your arms taut, doing steps you are not comfortable with….well, it’s quite a trade-off.

In any case, I did the best I could, stomping and parading, and portraying.  Some interesting things happened as I explored the movement.

At first, I tried very hard to imitate Inna, exactly how she was moving.  I mean, I got the general idea and created mostly the same shapes.  But on this one part we were raising our arms in a large circle while stepping sideways and I could not figure out how Inna was creating a twist with her shoulders.  I tried making it happen for a few minutes and royally messed up the steps but then something kind of magical happened.  I watched how I was doing it in the mirror and I figured it looked pretty good.  The lines were different than those of Inna, maybe more straight up or something, but still aesthetically pleasing.  After all, the steps are set in stone via the syllabus but the arm styling, as far as I understand it, is up to artistic interpretation.

Perhaps I was doing it completely wrong.  And if you put me next to Inna on the dance floor she’s gonna kick my butt every time.  However, I decided in that moment to that I’d forget it.  I decided, “I’m not Inna.  I’m not able to make my arms look exactly like hers.  Mine look pretty good the way I’m doing it so I’m just going to go with that…fully commit to how I, Stefanie, am interpreting the steps, and let it be enough.”

I didn’t realize it in the class but as I reflected upon the experience later that night, I realized that I had actually stood in my own space as a dancer/artist.  It kind of came up on me as a surprise.  I mean, I’ve been trained from the get-go to always look to my teachers for guidance and feedback.  I’m conditioned to look outside of myself to see how I am doing.

For whatever reason this time I looked inward and found my own answer.

The other interesting thing that happened during the lesson was that Inna had me and Rose go across the floor alone doing the combination.

At first Inna just told Rose to do it but then she added my name and Rose was so happy she didn’t have to do it by herself.  She also asked Inna to go in front of us.  Neither of us was feeling particularly confident about knowing the combination.

My trepidation was well founded.  I screwed up multiple times but I just laughed every time I messed up!  I then recommitted to the next step, doing it the best I could.

When we reached the other side of the ballroom floor Rose was smiling widely.  She told me that I had been cracking her up and that even Inna had been smiling as we made our way across the studio because she could hear me giggling the entire way.

Later she told me, “You are an awesome dancer!”  Now coming from Rose, that means a lot.  You should she how this sassy gal moves her hips!  Actually, you can, because I’ve put links to her dancing on the Dancing With Stefanie Facebook Page.

Then later, either she or someone else in the class said, “You pick things up so quickly!”  I attribute this to all my dancing with Glenda Folk.  We were expected to pick things up rather quickly and I always thought I was pretty average to slow at it.  I’d see how quickly professionals are expected to remember a routine, like the pace on SYTYCD or as a kid watching the movie A Chorus Line, and I’d be flabbergasted, thinking I could never pick things up that quickly.

Then, as we were doing our usual Cha Cha combination across the floor, I got another unexpected, unsolicited comment.  One of the males in the class told me “I love the way you move!”

Now, why am I telling you all this?  I mean, why all the “bragging on myself?”  I guess it just is so interesting to me how I perceive myself versus how others perceive me.

Of course hearing things like this feels good.  It strokes the ego.  But it is a slippery slope, as they say.  It’s like walking along the razor edge of a sword….one step to the left or right and you are off the path, and ouch!  How to hold both realities that I am amazing, great, fantabulous, and also have SO much work to do, nowhere near perfection, and still making a ton of amateur mistakes.

You know what?  I am both.  I absolutely am.  I have these momentary lapses of amazing greatness, and also a lot of screw ups, many times on the very same lesson.  And guess what…that’s okay.  I’m human, after all, right?  Oh yeah…aren’t I a spiritual being having a human experience rather than the other way around?  Who knows.  It sure as hell isn’t me!  lol.

So here’s to the flawed, imperfect, messed up part of me and also to the amazing, flawless, perfect part of me.  Both exist in my world.  Both will probably come out to play tomorrow for the showcase.

And, because of that, it is gonna be awesome.

-Stef