A Dance Lesson Sans Dancing

Howdy folks. It’s long time I clued you in to my latest ballroom exploits so here goes.

I guess first I’ll do a “progress report.” I’m waiting until after the cleanse to get back on the scale again, but I’ve managed the first two days fairly well. The first day was a piece of cake. Today was more of a challenge. Definitely hungrier today. But I coped and I am still in integrity with the plan.

Also, under the “good news” heading is that Inna actually asked me if I’d lost some weight when I saw her after class Tuesday night. So that made class cool for two reasons. Besides noticing that I looked a little different, she also called me out to demonstrate a little Cha Cha combo in front of the class, noting how sharp I was making my movements after the time steps. It feels good to be recognized as one of the stronger dancers in the class.

It was kind of an interesting night for a third reason as well. I didn’t get a chance to meet her, but there was a girl in class that kind of reminded me of me a few years ago. She came to the advanced classes and hung in until about 2/3rds of the way through the Latin class. I totally give her props for staying past the Standard class. She was bigger, like me, and she wore jean shorts and sneakers. This suggested to me that she wasn’t an experienced ballroomer. But Inna kept encouraging her and I did overhear that she had done some previous dancing, though what style I have no idea. I really want to introduce myself if I see her again. And maybe I’m projecting here, but she reminds me of me, daring to step into the ballroom arena, being bigger, and doing it. I felt kind of like, and this is totally just my egotistical brain maybe, but maybe, just maybe, she could see me dance, since Inna called me out and all, and see that I was bigger, and see that I was dancing well, and maybe be inspired to keep on coming to the class, keep working at it, that there is the possibility of getting better at the dancing, and being in better health.

I mean, I sweat like crazy and I still get super out of breath in the class. But I do notice a difference. I can tolerate it better than the first night I walked in the door. Keeping with it does create results. Maybe not as fast as I’d like, but they are there. And I swear I have learned so much from Inna and Igor and Artem on these group lessons. They have, I feel, contributed greatly to my evolution as a dancer.

Anyways, that was Tuesday. So Wednesday I worked out with my gym buddy, completed my day at the pharmacy, and called Ivan to schedule an early morning lesson for Thursday.

I was just expecting a brief convo, setting the time and location for our lesson. But the call got deeper than that. I wasn’t like Ivan was all serious or something, and now, days later, I don’t recall exactly how the flow of the conversation went. But it really affected me.

I’ve already shared here that I’ve been undecided about participating in the local upcoming ballroom competition but I hadn’t really broached the subject with Ivan. I’d mentioned that if we weren’t going to do Galaxy that I wanted to figure out another goal to aim for and Ivan, since I guess he has seen progress, and for other reasons which I’ll share later in the post, said that we could do Galaxy, but I hadn’t made any commitment.

Anyways, the subject came up in the call. And basically at one point Ivan was like, “Don’t tell me you don’t want to do Galaxy just because you’re fat!”

And I didn’t say so, but in my brain, I was kind of like, “Well, yeah. I kind of don’t.”

We said our goodbyes and I felt drained. I went to bed early and got up early for our lesson. It was a rough morning. Not in any serious or important way, just in ways that aggravate the locust nest in your brain that’s already been agitated. Like running late, and the blender not working, and the seatbelt getting stuck…things like that.

Anyways, I made it to my lesson and it just all came out. I thought I’d just gripe for a minute or two and then we’d dance, but it didn’t go like that. Not at all. It was probably my first dance lesson in which I didn’t take one step.

“Ivan our phone call last night really affected me.”

“Why? I didn’t say anything bad?”

“No you didn’t. But it was a reminder of everything going on and honestly I don’t know if I want to do Galaxy now.”

There were tears and explanations. There were moments of laughter and a hug. We re-hashed some things we’d already talked about, and we broached new ones. Here are the messages I got:

1) Ivan was super-intense at Desert Classic from my perspective, much more so than on our usual lessons. I interpreted this as him being unsatisfied with my performance and getting angry with me. I discovered that the more Ivan wants something, the more intense he is likely to be. This actually means Ivan believes in me, believes in the quality of dancing that I’m capable of, and yeah, he gets a bit frustrated when he doesn’t see it. He wants to coach in the moment to pull it out. But the way it was happening didn’t help me. It shut me down. We discussed more effective communication strategies on his part and the fact that it’s not that I’m unable or unwilling to receive feedback during a competition between heats, but rather the way in which it was communicated was completely unexpected and I was unprepared for it.

2) Ivan wanted to push me toward doing Galaxy. He explained this wasn’t because of money or whatever, but because he believes that we need to dance and dance a lot. We need to face another wall and get over it. We get motivated by going to competitions and they are opportunities to grow. Just because I’m not where I want to be looking physically doesn’t mean I shouldn’t dance. It’s part of the process. He understands if I’m not financially able to do it, and the choice is mine, but he feels that if we don’t do this it will make it more difficult later, and we’d have to find something smaller to do, like a showcase, which would only be like a minute or two of dance and wouldn’t give us the opportunity to really work on that communication issue I mentioned.

3) Ivan cares. He cares about me. He cares about how I dance. He sees my potential and he wants for me to achieve it. However, the moment I let up, the moment I show him that it’s not important to me, that’s the moment he stops caring too. This was probably the most difficult thing for me to hear. I mean, I get it. If I’m not in it 100%, why should he be? He can’t lose the weight for me. He already has a professional partner and other things to work on. I’m lucky, I feel, he’s as invested as he is. He’s holding my feet to the fire like no kidding which is great and also scary. As a habitual self-sabateur, someone who’s let herself off the hook too many times to count, what’s to say this time I won’t also screw up? The second I’m not honest, however, Ivan will call me on it and things will change. The results will be there or not, on the scale, in how my clothes fit, on whether I’m getting smaller or not. Talk is cheap. No more talking. Only action will do. And if the results aren’t there, well, the part of Ivan that’s pushing me and holding me accountable will shrink away, and that would totally suck.

4) I’m realizing why this is so important to me. For so long it didn’t even seem possible that I could really do something with dancing in my life. It’s all I’ve ever wanted as a little girl. I wished and wished and wished I could be a ballerina. It was not to be. Now, I wish with all my might to be a sexy, slinky, fantastic ballroom dancer. But here’s the thing….it now seems like an actual possibility. It actually feels like something that could be real. Where before, what was the point? Why be disciplined or work hard to maintain my body when I couldn’t do what I really wanted with it? Better to fade away, stuff it down, forget that it was what I wanted to be, completely hide any remnant of the dancer inside. And now, somehow, despite my size, despite my asthma and fitness struggles, the dancer inside me has been seen and acknowledged by other dancers. My dream is possible.

5) Ivan reminded me of something he said to me early on when we first began dancing together. He has always seen the dancer girl inside me. He told me then that she was the one he was dancing with. There was the big girl who was killing the other girl, squashing her, but that wasn’t the one he was dancing with, not the one he usually saw. I think at Desert Classic, he got a better view of the big girl – the one everyone else saw. They didn’t see his vision, and his vision of me changed. He, like me, got sobered up. And now we’ve realized there is a third girl. The emotional one. The mental one. The one that has to get stronger in herself.

It’s a lot to process. But at the end of the day (well, actually a few days to marinate on this), I come to the conclusion that Ivan’s supporting me like no one else in this world has or could. He says he doesn’t care if it takes a year or even two years to get where I/we want me to get. He says we should still dance, right now. He still finds things about my dancing that he loves, which is very encouraging. Like on our second lesson of the day, one in which we actually danced, some good things happened. I sent him a text from work saying “So, you want to actually dance today?” and he was amenable, even after all that verbal diarrhea, and emotion, and mess. The second lesson went much better and we had some fun. Plus, I think Ivan saw more of that original dancer girl inside me, the one he saw from the beginning. For instance, while playing around before dancing cha cha I did a little move, which he expounded upon, then I did that, and then he made me do it like 15 times because he liked it and told me I “looked like a professional.” Yeah – maybe in that one move in the way I was moving. But no one is going to mistake me for the professional in the partnership. Like in one of the photos of a crossover from Desert Classic I have a great body position but Ivan’s shoulder is dropped. He told me I looked like the professional in the partnership and maybe in body alignment, I did, but again, it’s no mystery who is the actual professional just because of my body size. And bottom line, I’m never going to be seen, I don’t think, unless either people have the eyes already to see past the fat, or, option two, until the fat is no longer an issue. Like I’ve said before, the first thing people will notice about me is my size…until it isn’t. And yeah, I’m working on it.

Alright, I’m super tired. Enough of the drama-o-rama. Next post I promise to have some more fun stuff to talk about. And please know that it’s all good, really it is. Even if I want to kill people after my workouts because they are so hard, or if I cry, or struggle, I’m still showing up, I’m still in it. I’m still determined and I still hold a strong vision of where I’m going. I’m willing to pay the price. There are no shortcuts in this. And today, well, today I’m farther ahead than I was yesterday, and that is a good thing.

Finally, I want to sincerly thank one of my readers who shared with me a little of her story. She once told me, when we first met, that “I express her” in the blog, meaning that she can really relate to a lot of what I write about, a lot of my experiences. She herself has lost 60 pounds, which is an amazing accomplishment and I’m so proud of her. Anyways, she read my post “You Lie Me” and shared that she sobbed while reading it because once again, she could totally understand it. It reminded me that what I’m doing matters. Actually, what we all do matters. And it’s important. And that we all affect one another, and sometimes in ways we don’t even realize. I want to thank her for her support, and her encouragement. It means a lot to me and helps me to keep going. In fact, I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten from everyone, here on the blog and in my life, too. I need it! It matters! You are helping to hold me accountable and I need that so much! Just having this blog and knowing that somebody is going to read it keeps me on track and honest. Thank you!!!

So that’s the latest deal-i-o. Tomorrow, lesson with Ivan, day 3 of the cleanse, mom’s bday. Plus, I really need some new ballroom shoes, so there will be shopping, and I’ve written down many other ways to distract myself over the next 48 hours. I will do this!

Thanks again for everything. I mean it.

-Stef

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One thought on “A Dance Lesson Sans Dancing

  1. Paragon2Pieces says:

    Glad that your asthma is better and you’ve been able to return to the gym! Setting weight and size aside, having you been feeling better since you added your gym workouts to your routine? Have you tried any group exercise classes? Zumba?

    Looking forward to hearing what you decide about Galaxy, which type of shoes you pick for your new pair, etc.

    You wrote: “what’s to say this time I won’t also screw up?” If by screw up you mean quit… I think you won’t quit this time because the facts and circumstances have changed. There are different incentives. There’s your teacher holding you accountable. There’s your decision to be honest and open about your process here. Things are different. The results will be different too 🙂

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