Hot Like A Mocha

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Allegre Studio

Private Lesson With Ivan and bonus, Marieta comes too!

My coffee machine is messed up. My husband, bless his little heart, decalcified it as it had been begging us to do for a week, but when I made my cup of joe this morning to caffeinate myself for my 9am lesson, it was frothy, chunky, and oily.

“Oh, It’s fine.” He says.

“No, I’m not going to drink motor oil this morning. It looks disgusting. I’ve got to get going so I can pick up something at Starbucks.”

“You were right, Stef. Just dump it out and make another cup.”

“No, I gotta go.”

I get a text a few minutes later advising me to not drink any more coffee until the issue had been resolved. The second cup was just as toxic as the first it seems.

So I call Ivan, since I’m making a special stop, and ask if he wants a coffee, but I get his voicemail.

“Call me back immediately, Ivan, if you want coffee.”

A minute or two later the phone buzzes.

“What’s up, girl?”

I bust out laughing. I can’t do it justice, the way he said it. It was like a Russian Bugs Bunny or something. He emphasized the “p” sound on “up” and “girl” sounded like, “gurrrrl.”

What’s more, he then told me that he was cool because he was saying this. “See, I cool. What’s up girl?”

“Nothing, Ivan. I’m stopping at Starbucks, want something?”

“No, I’m okay, but maybe Marieta. Ya, get a white chocolate mocha.”

“Hot or Iced?”

“Hot. Like you.”

OMG! I almost spit on my steering wheel. It’s like I’m hearing this from my brother. What a freakazoid.

“Ivan, you are ridiculous!”

He is a source of never-ending entertainment, I tell you. Laughing heartily, I agree to get him a hot mocha and hang up.

I fear the coffee will be cool by the time I arrive to the lesson – it is a good 35 to 40 minutes away using freeways – but it stays warm enough that when I see Marieta and hand it to her, she says it is a good temperature.

“What’s this?” she asks.

“Your coffee. I stopped at Starbucks. Ivan said you would share.”

Apparently he hadn’t consulted his wife. But she took one sip and knew right away, it was a white chocolate mocha. I guess it’s not the first time he’s gotten it.

We start straight away on Latin Rumba because I now know the date for the showcase at Dance Starz is February 24th. We have little time to prepare.

Ivan’s process is pretty interesting, I have to admit. He hasn’t really choreographed any cohesive chunks just yet. So far we are trying little tricks, then maybe dancing syllabus moves, and then talking about how to start and end the dance. So I have no idea what this thing will look like in the end.

What I do know is that I love the Latin Rumba. I know that I love the song I got to pick. And even though the Rumba is an over-the-top romantic dance, it feels comfortable to do the moves with Ivan. It is so great to feel that safe to express myself in this way.

I also know that I am going to pour every ounce of emotion I can muster into the number come showtime. I love it when dance moves me and my goal is to be able to be expressive enough that my dancing will move others.

The story of this Rumba is based on the song and is one of sadness, yearning, and denial. The woman singing it keeps telling her ex-lover he will come back, that he’s going to repent, that nobody could ever love him like she did. But as the song progresses, she realizes that she needs to know if the love isn’t for forever, and even so, she can’t let go. She is saying “you’ll be back” while at the same time she is coming to the realization that this love is over and her lover is truly leaving.

Where do I come up with this stuff? I have no idea. I haven’t personally experienced a situation like this so I don’t really know why it resonates with me at this time. But I can imagine how painful it could be to go through something like this, and for whatever reason I can’t wait to put all this longing, and sadness, and beauty, and fading away of love into the dance. I only hope my hips and face will be able to convey the story and that my body will hold up…it is not used to doing all this leaning, and hanging, and otherwise, dangling from another person and then dancing on top of that.

But Ivan seems excited about it too. He says that once we get the routine down, we can remove all the tricks and perform it in open competition heats. I’m beginning to feel like I’m growing up a little bit in the ballroom.

He told me, “We gonna have the best Rumba in the world.”

A scene from the Champ Latin Finals of 2005 USA Dance Nationals. Pictured: Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Valeriya Kozharinova by Tendancer

I love his enthusiasm! And it is even more exciting because after the lesson, I talked with Marieta about making me a practice outfit that will be nice enough to wear for the showcase…something flowy and lovely to accentuate the movement. Ivan felt obligated to share his opinion of what I should wear as well. He told us both what he did and didn’t like very plainly. Luckily, we all seemed to be on the same page and he liked the same skirt that I did.

New, practice shoes, new heels, and now a new practice outfit! I’m feeling like a “professional” ballroom student!

The thing that makes me feel most like I’m stepping into being a woman, rather than a cutesy-woo girl, on the dance floor, is the opportunity for creative expression. Not that you can’t have that shine through in competition heats, but there you pretty much stick to syllabus moves and you never get to pick your music. But now, I have a piece of work that I can pour myself into…physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn’t realize how long I’d been waiting to do this.

Now, let’s be honest. This Rumba, once it finally gets created, probably won’t be the best Rumba in the world (though whatever would qualify as the best Rumba in the world I’ll never know since it is so subjective). And I’ve seen his Rumba with Marieta…it is pretty dang amazing.

But you know what?

It will be the best Rumba in my world.

No longer will I be a spectator, watching others on television or even at competitions playing this part.

I get to be it! It’s my turn!

And that, my friends, however it ends up looking

(probably about as hot as a mocha)

is enough.

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