Today has been an incredibly relaxing and wonderful day. After a weekend of being on call and some stress at the workplace, I decided to splurge on a double lesson this morning. I can’t be financially responsible and do that very often these days, but I have to say, it was just what I needed. Though honestly, I don’t know why I bothered to shower. After an hour and half of dancing I was beet red, dripping sweat, my hair completely sopping. Ivan had the barest pink glow in the very center of his cheeks.
It was an interesting lesson. I, for whatever reason, took charge of the music selection. When I showed up, Ivan had a Samba playing. I was like, “Really, Ivan? Why always the Samba?” He like, always wants to begin with the Samba. Maybe it’s just his routine, I don’t know. I know he likes the Samba best and all, but I’m a Taurus, a bull. It takes my body a little while to warm up. So Ivan was like, (I’ve decided to go ‘Valley Girl’ for this post, kay?) “What do you want to do, Stefanie? Tell me what you want to do. Whatever you like.”
What I liked was to do the Foxtrot. Oh my gosh, we haven’t done it in ages. But it just felt so good. I put on “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble’ and off we went. I felt like I was floating along. So pretty. Graceful. I just really liked the feel and look of it. It was a start-with-the-Foxtrot kind of day, I guess.
I have to give Ivan some props. Last night when I called to schedule my appointment, he sounded kinda funny on the phone. He was being unusually positive, like telling me, “Okay, you gonna be champion. Maybe not 2012, but 2013. And me too.” Like, where did that come from Ivan? I was just trying to schedule my lesson with you tomorrow. But then it all made sense. He told me he was enjoying some vodka with his father-in-law after they had completed a demanding day of physical labor cutting down a tree – a job that took 5 hours. He was three shots deep when I called.
So, when I arrived, I asked him how he was feeling. He said he was fine but that he and his drinking companion had downed half of a handle of vodka together. Yikes! But Ivan was “with it.” He was spot on with the feedback he gave me on corrections, noticed things I was doing that could be better, and he had no trouble keeping up with me…nope. I was still the one struggling for breath and I didn’t have a hangover. Well, it didn’t seem like Ivan did either. But after our lesson he wanted to skip doing “Insanity” with his friend and go rest.
So after joking with me that he was still a little drunk, which I really don’t think he was, we went on to the Waltz, Viennese Waltz, and Tango. I still hate that one stupid move in the Waltz, but overall, it was pretty fun. He did a shaping move with me that I’ve never done before and re-introduced a develope’ that I’ve only been taught once. Viennese went surprisingly well. I felt strong and elegant and like I wasn’t rushing so much. The only problem was the floor. It was super slippery. I slipped multiple times, especially as we danced around the periphery of the room. Tango went the worst. It was still lots of fun today, though. I love the snap into Promenade when it goes correctly. In any case, it was a good first 45 minutes. I was feeling warmed up, energized, and my heart was pumping.
Then we moved onto the American Rhythm dances. Everything seems so much easier and more fun now that I’ve been working on Latin. We did Rumba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Samba, but forgot Swing. The Bolero felt particularly nice. For like the first time ever I felt strong on my legs and loved the way I moved.
Then Ivan pulled a surprise move on me. We we doing a spot turn in Cha Cha or Rumba and all the sudden he pulled away, wasn’t where he usually is. We were still in frame, but I was off balance, almost falling forward. What had happened?
What had happened was that he finally stopped enabling me! I had no idea I was doing it so wrong, using his arm so much, supporting myself using his body. Why? Because he never let me feel what it was like if he didn’t let me do this to him.
It was awesome!
I say this because it was instant feedback. I instantly knew what I was doing was incorrect. I then had the opportunity to hold myself up, be responsible for my own body and movement, and be an actual partner, not a hanger-on.
I was like, “Ivan! You’ve been enabling me! Stop it!”
It was the first time he’s done that – pulling back, letting me feel how much I’m using him instead of holding myself. I don’t think I do it all the time, but maybe more than I realize. Some steps go easier than others and usually when there is some sort of resistance or hang up I am pretty sure it is me not being in the right position, or blocking him, or not getting around him or something.
But that action, whether he is consciously thinking it or not, communicates to me that he holds me capable of moving my own damn self! That he can start to not baby me so much. That I can handle not being literally held up on the dance floor. And that, to me, is exciting!
Onto Latin Rumba and practicing the piece for the showcase.
We put on “Voleveras” by Gloria Estefan and off I went…on the wrong starting foot. Ivan asked me before I began which foot I should step forward with first and I knew it was the left. (Insert annoying buzzer) Wrong! But I covered it up. I just added an extra step in at the end. I thought I did nicely to save it but Ivan just laughed at me. “See, wrong foot! Not good!” But he was smiling just the same.
So I started again, this time beginning with the left foot and made it to a slow swivel turn before I was stopped again.
“You do well but you can’t be showing any shaking. No wobbling. You reaching up too much. Better to not reach up so high but stay balanced. Feel the floor. Stay connected to the floor.” He also corrected this side step I take to add more drama, holding my arms out at first but then quickly, like a cat pawing at its prey, snag my arms back inward toward the body. It looks much improved, I must say.
Third time’s the charm. So I do the beginning sequence once again and concentrated on staying grounded into the floor.
It is amazing that small shift in focus can do. My movement is more solid, clearer. It felt different inside, too. I am feeling more and more confident, less shy on my lessons. I have to be careful not to get too caught up in all the “feeling” stuff, but before I was afraid to show it at all. Now it is just naturally oozing out of me and I love it.
So Ivan and I kind of go over the moves in the Rumba and he finally comes to a conclusion….one that I had thought from the beginning but never said anything about. I assumed we’d dance to the entire song I’d selected. I understand that usually pieces are 2 minutes or so, but the way this song is, it kinda doesn’t work if you cut it in the middle. Also, the Rumba is so slow, and I do a good 30 to 40 seconds alone in the beginning, I just didn’t feel like we had enough time to complete the dance. Ivan concluded that we should do the entire song but until today, he had wanted me to chop the song in half. I agree with his new insight. I think it will be very nice to complete the song.
However, Ivan needs to get his butt in gear and finish choreographing this thing! We have one month left and I still don’t know exactly what we are doing!
What I do know, is that I like the parts so far. We just have to put them together in the proper sequence and practice it as much as we can. Ah, even if it isn’t completely polished, I know it is going to be amazing. I am doing it just because I want to, not for any competitive reason so who cares, really? I mean, I’d like it to be gorgeous and all, and will do my best to make that happen, I just am not feeling any pressure or worry about it. There’s no reason to, since I’m just doing it for fun.
It makes me much more nervous to think about competing in larger competitions this year. Ivan asked me which ones I was thinking of doing and the good news is that he didn’t balk at any of my choices. I know that if he didn’t think I was ready, he would tell me.
But really, I’m a newbie to the competition thing. I’ve only done 3 total, only 1 with Ivan. The two larger ones were Galaxy here in Phoenix, and one is San Diego. Neither are as big, as say, Millennium. I will be a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond. I haven’t been tested against the competitors who will be at a competition like that. Again, competing is for fun, but I’m not gonna lie. I want to do well. I’m pretty competitive, it turns out, about ballroom.
The plan is to wait until May for a local competition here. The plan is to save enough money to do a good number of entries and to have enough to also go to Desert Classic and Millennium and possibly fund a new dress. But the desire is to compete more often. Ivan and Marieta will be going to the California Open next month, and I am sorely tempted to want to play too. Why does this hobby of mine have to be so dang expensive!?
Part of me just accepts this as the price to play. Another part of me knows I’d do way more if I could afford it financially.
But for today, I am satisfied and grateful that I was able to do a double lesson. Even on a day after drinking some vodka, Ivan is amazing. I am grateful for days like today when I sweat, and work hard, and learn something new, but that I also take the time to enjoy the process and the journey.
What a blessing. It must have been the music! Like, I should take charge of it more often. Okay, Valley Girl speak complete.
What a great day huh? You are doing great and making great progress. AND, having fun doing it. Ivan is a wonderful teacher. I can’t wait to go to the next competition. You always make me proud.
Like ya know – you are just totally awesome! 🙂
It sounds like everything is really falling into place for you! Yay Stef!
:Yipppee! A great day indeed. Taking a “break” from the world and taking dancing lessons is great for your souls (soles). Proud of the tremendous effort and progress you are making. Love the blog and the insights it offers. You have always had a dancer’s heart. Ernie Miller is probably looking down at you and smiling. .