Repetition, Connection, and Inna’s Gonna Be Back

Well sheesh.

Hello there neglected blog and readers.  It’s me, Stefanie.  Your reprobate blogger.

Do I have an excuse for the paucity of my blog posts?  Not really.  I just kind of lost some momentum after Desert Classic and getting injured.  I was off dancing for about 3 weeks, and now I’m back, but its a struggle.  I expected as much, knowing how hard the first class back after being off just even one week when I was at my peak as a dancer.  And now off three, up 5 pounds, and with lingering hip issues.  Happily the weird dizzy thing finally faded away but I’m still not feeling at my best.  Plus, I only had like two lessons last week and Ivan and Marieta were away competing this weekend, so I missed my double lesson for the week.

I did go back to Inna’s class but she was with Artem in England.  I don’t know if they were taking coachings or competing, but honestly it was a mixed blessing she was gone.  They recently lowered the price for the advanced Latin class which means there are more people in the class which is kind of exciting.  Last week Igor took over.  He’s a great instructor and knows his technique, but there is just something about the way Inna conducts a class.  She really pours herself into it and basically demands only the very best for all students.  She will cajole you into working your arms, hanging on and pushing through for an extra 10 seconds, and brings focus and intensity to your performance.  So anyways, it was Igor teaching class and I’ll admit it, I wasn’t at my best.  I wasn’t pushing it as hard as I could, but then again, it sure felt like it.  I was so winded, and I just didn’t have any energy through my muscles.  It was brutal.  So anyways, everyone in class seemed a little pooped and at one point Igor even said, “He you guys, next week Inna will be back!  She will not like to see your arms like that!  You have to push yourselves 100%, 100% of the time.”  I knew he was exactly on target, and I was also glad that my first week back I was able to slack off a little bit just because my physical conditioning has deteriorated with all the time off.

One highlight of the past week was that I had a coaching with Debbie Avalos-Kusumi.  First off, she is absolutely darling, probably as tall as my mom, about 5 foot nothing, and has this vibrant, kind, lovely personality.  We worked on Latin Rumba.  Always a good place to start.  I feel so blessed to get to interact with people like Debbie and Ron Montez.  Both just know what it is I need to do to change the picture I am creating with my dancing.  It is absolutely amazing and I generally walk away with an improved understanding of certain steps.

Probably the biggest point she mentioned was that I was allowing my energy to “go out the back door” like on the fan where I would sit into my hip and get a little stuck rather than using the fan to set me up to move forward, keeping my energy moving ahead.  Basically using every step to set up the next.

Another realization was that legs are straight on the count and bent on the and.  This should have been already in my knowledge database but you know, I am really just now, after about 2 years of doing bronze level, really coming to know the proper counts for steps.  It honestly was just a little too much information in the past, but now, I’m ready for it, hungry for the details.  I know fully knowing these points will set my dancing apart.

I also realized on a new level how I am so concerned with what I am thinking, getting so lost in my own experience of what I think I need to do, that I am unavailable in the connection.  It is a point in my dancing I’ve mentioned about a million times before, and I probably will mention a million times again.

I basically have a thought about this dancing thing which is I am willing to repeat, repeat, repeat the same movements and routines over and over and over because in doing so, I discover them more deeply.  I discover nuances within them.  I come to greater understanding of the mechanics involved, and more importantly, the relationship in the step.  Indeed, in the Latin Rumba, the steps only really make sense when my body is in a certain relationship to my partner’s.

In any case, it is going to take many more hours of practice and repetition to translate what I learned and understand in my head into my body muscle memory.  It’s gonna feel weird for a while, but ultimately, so much better, so much more on balance and connected, which is the reason I love ballroom dancing in particular.

So I need to get my butt in gear.  Get back to the gym in the mornings, get back on the eating plan, and get in more lessons with my instructor.  But I have to admit, I feel a little drag pulling on me.  You see, in my other life, my work life, it’s been a tough ride the past few years.  Basically right now I have an awesome position as a temp doing a job I enjoy pretty well with sane and regular hours which I really appreciate, and at a pay rate for which I am eternally grateful.  Without this position there is no way I would have been able to dance as much as I have, afford coachings, participate in the Desert Classic competition, and have a new dress to wear during it.  The only problem is, it is not a permanent position with the company.  The contract did get renewed for another 6 months so thank you and Hallelujah…and, what will I do once the time runs out?  Well, I’m being proactive.  I applied for a full-time position but didn’t get it, and I’m applying for some other job opportunities as well.  But the uncertainty, I find it uncomfortable and a bit stressful.  I really value security, especially when having a stable job is what allows me to afford to do what I love.  In any case, I feel that my energy is a bit scattered.  I’m expending some energies performing the job I currently do, which requires an enormous amount of mental concentration as well as 70 miles of driving 5 days of the week.  I’m also expending another portion of energy to explore other job opportunities.  This means my reserves feel a little depleted when it comes to creating time for physical activity, dancing, diet.  Wah boo.  I have just as many hours in a day as everyone else, I know, I know.  I’m just acknowledging that it feels a bit like I’m pulling a heavy load behind me.  Yes, if this is my biggest complaint, I am living a charmed and blessed life.  I acknowledge that.  I also acknowledge the part of me that is tired, and feeling a bit down.  I’m missing some my normal spark and passion.  It will be good for me to go get my butt kicked by Inna tomorrow night and I will need to schedule a lesson with Ivan soon.  Honestly, I’m just looking forward to making it through to tomorrow night at this point.  That, and a trip to Disneyland in the near future for a much-needed fun get-away, and taking my 3-and-a-half-year-old niece to The Nutcracker, just me and her which will be so special.

Alrighty, I also pledge to get back to my topical series.  What burning questions do you have about ballroom dancing?  Is there anything you’d be interested to know?

That’s the scoop.  Hopefully I’ll have something exciting to write after class tomorrow.

XOXO, Stef

9 thoughts on “Repetition, Connection, and Inna’s Gonna Be Back

  1. Paragon2Pieces says:

    ah, stability. i’ve been chasing it ever since graduation. i think you’re spot on. there are a lot of switching costs when things are inconsistent. you lose energy, time, money, progress, connections, security… ugh, it’s so frustrating!

    hope things fall into place on the job front!

  2. Speaker in Heels says:

    You are doing great with all the challenges you’ve faced this year. Remember to be kind to yourself. Hugz.

  3. Marian Condon says:

    Stef – I can emphathize with your feeling a bit beaten down of late. Honest to God, it all just seems so HARD sometimes. Every little bit of progress in anything – dance, weightloss, building muscle – just takes SO much effort, and if we slack off for just a wee moment, we lose ground. I have, however, rallied from many such slumps, and you will, too. I finally got back to my blog… after people started inquiring about my health!

  4. mybelle940 says:

    My burning question about ballroom dancing (well one of many but my current question)… Are some shoes better than others? It seems like I’m the only one who has problems with their shoes at my studio. I wear capezio shoes now with a 2.5″ heel… And my feet are taking a sever beating. Do I just need to suck it up and deal with the constant pain in my feet or would I benefit from different shoes?

    • My 2 cents about shoes – -I wear court shoes for standard – but I only wear a 2 inch heel – and I actually take them to my cobbler and have him trim them down about a 1/4 inch because putting a heel guard on adds height – and anything more just messes with my balance. I also find thicker heels are better for me -flare or cuban rather than slim. As for brand – I would avoid cheapo shoes if you are serious about dancing. Other than that I think it is a personal choice. I like Supadance for court shoes- they have a lot of support. Hope it helps a little.

      • mybelle940 says:

        Thanks so much… Since I am young and don’t have a ton of money to spend I’m trying to get one good pair of Latin heels (probably 2″ so they’re more comfortable). I’m looking to get a pair of dance naturals because I’ve heard good things about them. I don’t have particularly wide feet so that’s not a problem but I’m looking for something that makes me not want to have to take my shoes off after a 45 minute lesson especially because Many days I dance a group lesson followed by a private lesson and I feel like my foot pain is hindering my ability to focus on dancing… So would a pair of dance naturals heels be good? I have to take a stab in the dark on the size (although I’m pretty confident about the sizing and since they are leather if they’re a bit small they’ll stretch) because where I live the ability to go to a store and try shoes on is veryyyyyy limited.

      • Maybelle – You absolutely should not have to endure chronic foot pain as a dancer. I was once where you are. I was miserable in every pair of shoes I bought. I have very sensitive, extra narrow feet and it took me a long time to find shoes I can dance in for an extended period of time. Even when I’ve found a shoe that is pretty comfortable, I usually wind up placing a drugstore insert (there are various types) in it, to cushion it. I encourage you to check out different brands of shoes – just keep returning pairs until you come across a keeper. You may then be able to get in touch with the vendor and find out what kind of a “last” the shoe was made from. Once you know that, you can flirt only with shoes made with that last. There are differences, for example, in the shape of the sole as it extends under the sole, and differences in the proportional length between the shank as it extends forward and backwards from the arch. Shoes made in England tend to fit differently than shoes made in the U.S., or so I’ve been told. I have learned that I cannot tolerate high heels of any type. Two inches is my max and I have some shoes that are 1.5″. Another possibility, once you find out what kind of a last works for you, is to have shoes custom made for you. That costs about $160, but from there on, you can have any style and color and trim you want. I’ve done well with Step One Dance Shoes ( Their on-line consultant, Rose Hildebrand, is very helpful. Good luck! Don’t give up!

    • loveablestef says:

      MyBelle940 – you can check out this post for my thoughts on shoes:

    • loveablestef says:

      Here’s the actual URL address – I know, not a title that would hint in any way it’s all about shoes…

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