Action, Reaction

Boy am I glad to be back dancing.  It makes my entire world seem better.

Ivan and I had a lesson today at Dance Starz.  It was odd for two reasons: 1) it was on a Monday and 2) we ended up dancing most of the lesson during a Zumba class

Usually I dance with Ivan Tuesdays, Thursdays, and maybe Saturday but because of President’s Day I guess he figured most people would be off work today and so he planned to help out his father-in-law on Tuesday with a contracting job.

So anyways, a little variety is a good thing.  And it is an opportunity to be seen.

Seen dancing.

Seen emoting.

Seen doing all sorts of crazy things with my instructor.  Like going up on one foot with my left knee in posse’ position, arms up above my head, trying to balance by pressing my forehead against the wall.

Um, Ivan, this is a dance class, not yoga!

This particular contortion was created by Ivan to try and get me to not lead with my belly but rather my chest and upper body on a particular move we are doing for the showcase.

He may have me try weirdo things on my lessons, but I love his enthusiasm, passion, and desire to improve my dancing.  Plus, he’s really not letting me get away with hiding out.  He continues to pull out my inner fabulous diva, even though she tries desperately to hide.

He made me do a cross-over about 15 times right in front of the mirror.  I mean, right in front of it. So close my breath fogged it up and I had to be careful I didn’t smash my wedding ring into the mirror and crack it.

Why?

Ah, the familiar refrain, “Don’t be scary!”  (Which, if you’ve been reading my posts translates to “Don’t be scared,” in Ivan-ese).

He wants me to be all cheesy and say, “Pah!” as I do the cross-over.  Well, maybe the cheesy part is my own judgement.  It is just so uncomfortable, dang it, to do all this facial expression stuff.  That, combined with breathing, well, it is a double whammy.  Throw in a class full of Zumba fanatics watching this exchange and it becomes an intimidation trifecta.

So I try to push all these insecurities out of my mind and focus on the task at hand.  I get that just like in Tai Chi, a dancer could channel the breath to aid movements, modulating their quality from slinky, slow, to sharp, fast, or powerful, but it just seems like cheese-factor overkill.  But truthfully, Ivan is pretty quick to call me out the moment I am not being real.  If I do movement without conviction, without authenticity behind them, he knows it and he lets me know he knows it.  So, I actually don’t think he wants me to be cheesy.  I think that is how I fear others will perceive me if I go full-out in this way.

You see, I still struggle with connecting with people who are watching me dance.  Part of me wants to show off all my hard work and dedication.  The other part of me wants to hide and not be noticed.  But guess what?  I get noticed.

I always have.

Ever since I started dancing with my first instructor in the gym, people have watched and noticed.  I don’t think it’s every day you see a 300 pound woman shaking all her goodies, and doing it pretty well.

Anyways, people would comment at the gym.  Then with my next instructor, when we would dance on the weekend, people would pass by and watch through the window, sometimes even venturing inside to see more and learn more.

With Ivan, I usually have the luxury of being the only person in the studio.  Except of course when we go to Dance Starz.

And, yes, I got noticed.  People watched.

But this time, something magical happened.  I actually made eye contact with one of the women.  When I did, she smiled.

“Gee, that wasn’t so bad or scary,” I thought to myself.  “Actually, it was pretty cool! Actually, it was easy.”

It just sorta happened.  I wasn’t really thinking of connecting with anyone watching me.  I mean, I was aware on some level that I had a bit of an audience, but usually I just pretend I’m an ostrich and metaphorically put my head in the sand.  However, today, I must have noticed her energy or something and responded to it.  I actually, authentically, spontaneously did what I always say I want to do with my dancing….I moved someone.  I moved her to smile, in this case, just by making eye contact!

Well, being fair and all, Ivan was there too.  He might have made her smile.  He at least contributed to it!

But it seemed like, to me, a concept we talk about a lot in dancing.  Among the “tiki tiki booms,” and admonitions for “more hips,” we also have discussed a concept called action-reaction.  In my own body, my leg moves because my body moves and then causes my hips to move.  It’s all connected.  I can’t move one part of my body without affecting other parts.  In partnership, the leader acts, and then the follower naturally reacts to that action.  And I discovered a third dimension to this concept today.  I connected with someone watching me (action) and she smiled (reaction).  I’m just counting my lucky stars that it was a grin, not a grimace, ha ha!

I can actually see this principle in an even wider context in my life.  I truly believe that we have no control if we affect one another, but we do control how we affect one another.  Even the simplest action causes a reaction and can affect others in ways we often don’t realize.

But this I know; Ivan is affecting me in a positive way.  I count that as a major blessing.

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4 thoughts on “Action, Reaction

  1. Hi Stephanie! I hope you don’t mind all the comments–it’s so fun and exciting to read your reflections as I experience some similar challenges and revelations with my own teacher 🙂

    First, I laughed out loud at the “Don’t be scary!” translation. I have had some similar moments with my teacher recently.

    Second, about connecting with the audience. What a great moment you had! Do you think being able to reflexively smile at the women who was watching has to do with being more confident with your movement? When Ivan and Marieta performed at the California Open, their connection with the audience was one of the things that made them seem so likable and appealing. There were a couple moments when it felt like each of them looked me right in the eye and smiled. As an audience member, it’s exciting to be acknowledged in that way. It’s human nature, I suppose, but that acknowledgement draws you in to the performance… makes you feel more invested in the dancers’ success in a way.

    Congratulations on the breakthrough!

    • loveablestef says:

      Are you kidding?! I LOVE all the comments! Thanks so much for participating. Keep ’em coming. Also, thanks for the encouragement. I have the best teacher for creating that connection, with him, with the audience. I don’t know where else I’d learn it, and as you saw, Ivan and Marieta are great at it. I’m glad you enjoy my description of Ivan…he just makes me laugh sometimes. He is so stubborn about not correcting himself. I’m certain he knows that the word is scared! Ha ha. It’s endearing. Whenever I describe one of our interactions I make his accent. Anyways, thanks for the interesting insights about connecting with the audience and thanks again for commenting!

  2. Swan Lake says:

    You grow, you grow, you grow each day. And each day you have with you not just a woman in Dance Starz, or a zumba class but the whole world. This is what happens when you put yourself on a piece of paper or a computer screen; you affect others on a larger scale. Keep at it, you fan club will just grow and grow and grow!!!

    • loveablestef says:

      It’s a process! That’s for sure. But I think that what I’m really discovering through sharing my inner world is that I’m not alone. There are a lot of us out there struggling with the same issues and experiencing the same triumphs. I am so grateful we are connecting as a community. We are all capable, and special, and wonderful in our own ways. Thanks for participating is such an amazing way. I appreciate your encouragment and support more than you realize. It has been stalwart from the very beginning. -Stef

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