Can You Be More Exotic?

Well folks, I’m chugging along and although my hip is mostly recovered, and I’m going to regular dance lessons for the past week, I guess I haven’t felt an urgent need to post about my adventures.  It’s not like I don’t have fun on my lessons, that I absolutely do, I guess I’ve simply felt somewhat drained and haven’t created the space and time to sit down and write.  I am beginning to think that sitting for 8 hours straight in front of a computer at work typing all day long may have something to do with it….insightful, I know.  It’s kind of like when I worked retail and the phone was always ringing, when I got home the last thing I wanted to do was to talk on the phone.  It’s something like that with sitting in front of a computer.  In fact, today after work I got so stir-crazy that I took my dogs for a walk around the neighborhood.  It was nice, but my hip felt sore and fatigued afterwards.  Alas!  Ibuprofen is my friend and I will be using her extensively tomorrow to make it through Inna’s class.

So well, hmmmmm.  The dilemma that comes after not writing regularly is where to begin.  What, of the events that have happened are interesting enough to share?  I guess the biggest thing going on in my dance-life is that Ivan and I are working on an open Cha Cha routine and I really, really like it.  Well, almost every part except for the splits that he’s planned smack dab in the middle of the dance.  It’s not that I can’t do the splits….weirdly, I am quite flexible in that area (not so much in my Achilles tendon which is why I sucked at plie and jumps in ballet), and so even though I haven’t intentionally stretched in a long time, I can still get down into the splits.   No, it’s not the actual splits that freak me out.   It’s the moment after I am on the ground.  It’s the getting back up.  Gracefully.  Um, yeah.  I’m skeptical that this can actually happen.  If I were smaller, that would help.  But Ivan is crazy and he’s going to have me doing this, I just know, way before I think I’m ready to tackle it.  He threatened me today….”The day is coming!!”  AHHHHH!

But besides this serious error in judgement on the part of the choreographer (Ahem, Ivan) I love this sassy little routine.  We have a little bit of everything including syncopation, slowing down, stopping, fast batucadas, and fun playful moves.  We both really enjoy the routine and are excited about it.  When and where it will be first performed, I have no idea.  I do know that it needs a LOT of practicing and polish, but the good thing is, I am again growing up as a ballroom dancer.  I am learning all the counts, and will be able to dance this entire routine by myself.  It feels awesome to know what I am (supposed to be) doing and to not have to rely on my leader to get me through.  In any case, it is starting to come together, and dancing it feels very good.

In the near future we will also start work on a samba routine.  We already have a rumba routine.  And that will be enough for a while on the open routines.  I will spend my time knowing the dances forwards and backwards by myself and improving the quality of my movements.  After all, I spent an entire year with Ivan doing Bronze and this was after a year or so of experience with other previous teachers.  I’m up for it especially after my experience at Galaxy.  Being so comfortable with the moves and dances that I didn’t have to think about them really helped me perform and I intend to free up that amount of mental energy with these dances as well.

Other than that, we have been working on the feedback received from the latest coaching we had with Debbie Avalos Kusumi.  That has been really wonderful as well.  I am liking the fan so much better and practicing my new way of doing it to get it into my muscle memory.  I’m also more aware of where I step on the Alemana, and focusing on bringing my knees together, rather than my feet.  In addition we are working on moving as a unit in connection.  Of course we always work on that, but this is in regards specific parts of the Latin Rumba where my arms go like spaghetti noodles for a fraction of a second and connection is lost.  And, this was quite exciting to me, Ivan actually helped me with a fix on a hip twist.  The man knows what to do, most of the time, but it was like being coached by Ron Montez or Debbie Avalos Kusumi.  He knew exactly what to say to get the right movement.  We both actually jumped up and down exclaiming, “Ivan!  You fixed it!” because it was so great.

In other news, Inna’s class was SO hard last week.  I mean, I knew it would be tough, because it always is, and especially since I had not gone for 3 weeks in a row while my hip was mending, but damn, it sucked so hard.  I feel like I was back in the first class I ever attended.  It’s going to take a bit to get back into even the little shape I was in.  But, oh well.  I will persevere.

And now for the title of this post.  While working on our cha cha, Ivan wanted to make the dance more interesting.  I was half marking the routine and half dancing it just because I am still unsure about the sequence of events sometimes, so I know my face was blank but Ivan wasn’t going to let it slide.  “Can’t you do this……be more……exotic?”

I immediately thought of a Bird of Paradise Flower and Mai Tais.

Exotic Flowers in Balcony

By Swaminathan [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“Where this word come from?”  Ivan asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“Well, maybe this not the word.  What this mean, exotic?  Like more how a person is looking?”

“Well, Ivan, there is exotic dancing….which is basically stripping.”

“Oh my God!”  Ivan covered his mouth as he giggled.

Thankfully, Ivan doesn’t want me to do exotic dancing in the routine (no just the damn splits), though he does often tell me I am to demure and virginal and that, (not in so many words) I need to channel my inner whore.  I’m not really sure I have one of those, but there’s no telling Ivan that.  And so the saga continues.

Up next, Inna’s class tomorrow night for more torture.

Until next time, Stef

7 thoughts on “Can You Be More Exotic?

  1. Miss you when you’re quiet but understand completely- hope you are healing. Hugz.

  2. bgballroom says:

    Stefanie – this may have no bearing on your injury. but I am having a ton of physio on my calves right now and it is actually freeing up my hips quite a bit. My physio and I (both Iyengar teachers and we take classes together) are a little stunned that someone who can put her hands flat on the floor in a forward bend can have tight calves, but the scary “zings” behind my knee were telling me something was wrong. It wouldn’t hurt to do a bunch of Downward Facing Dog poses and/or find a kind/mean physio or massage therapist to work on them for you.

    And here’s something I didn’t know about Pro-am – you can go straight from bronze to open? That sounds like a massive challenge! Very exciting!

    • loveablestef says:

      well bg, I think I tend to have an abnormal experience since my instructor is independent and not associated with a studio system. I don’t progress through a syllabus with a notebook that marks my progress. I guess it is just what felt like the next thing to do organically. To be sure I will be dancing mixed bronze and silver level, depending on my level of comfort and experience with the dances, and still would only consider doing closed scholarship at this point, but for growth and variety it’s a nice idea to me to have some open single dances.

  3. bgballroom says:

    Ah – we have a similar experience that way. We have never belonged to one studio or teacher, either and have done things more or less the way we wanted to. We started competing right from Silver because I wanted to wear a gown:-) We figured it was worth a couple of years of being at or near the bottom of the pack and I think we were right. Enjoy your new, “exotic” challenge!

  4. Alaina says:

    “Embrace ze sexy! Embrace it!” (imagined in a Russian accent)

    Heh, that’s essentially what I say to myself as I dance the Rumba, and that’s pretty much the only dance I feel like I have to be pretty sexy. Cha-cha, and the like are more sassy dances to me, but I don’t feel like I have to channel my inner tigress.

    Best wishes on your progress!

  5. pk says:

    Thanx for the visit. re: Hail, McKayla.

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