A Lesson With No Music

So, you see, on my last lesson, Ivan mentioned that I had revealed a little bit more of myself during our time together, that he had discovered a deeper experience of me while dancing. Now this is an aspect I deeply wish to pull forth and bring to the forefront. You see, to me dancing means so very much. I am moved by it when expressed by others, and I wish to be that expression as well. I have a rich, deep, emotional core and this wants to be shared, and yet, at the same time, it feels incredibly vulnerable to be this open, to share this much, to reveal myself in such a way. So I want to dance as expressively as Anna Melnikova, and, at the same time, I reign myself in after years of conditioning, and because I feel unworthy as a dancer, that I am not good enough, especially, most especially, because I am a clinically obese woman (but working to change this! And back down to my competition weight at Galaxy), the antithesis of a sleek, sexy Latin dancer, and because I stick out like a sore thumb in the ballroom world. In essence, the walls I constructed meaning to keep the judgemental, harsh world out are now hemming my soul.

So I’m at war against this wall (that I created, ha ha) and I want to bust through it. I want to say, “This is me. Here I am, world. I claim my space. I am a dancer. I was born to dance.” And the light is boxed inside, afraid to leak out, so I am determined to smash the wall and set the world on fire.

So, with this on my mind, I decided to psych myself up for my next lesson, which was today. I mentally prepped myself to really let go and show more of myself to Ivan.

But I didn’t plan on not having any music.

All my plans and scheming. All my preparation. Useless! I was trumped. I was asked to generate it from within. I was asked to count. To count and to dance and to express. And it was way scarier. I was naked without the music. At least with the music I can tune into the story of the song. But in this case, all I had was me. Just me. I had to create the story.

And we didn’t start with anything easy. No. We started with Rumba. My favorite, and yet most intimidating dance. I love it so very much. I wish to be everything that a Latin Rumba dancer is. And it is terrifying. It’s in me, I’ve no doubt. And, I’m afraid of it, of not getting to be it, of being it wrong, of being it inappropriately as a fat girl. It is an emotional dance for me because I long to dance it so. And that made it all the more difficult. Because to count, to really be present, to be in my body and to embody the dance and its emotion, how do I explain it? All I know is that part of me wanted Ivan not to watch, part of me wanted to run away, part of me wanted to cry, part of me wanted to do it full-out with all that I am.

And so, I stopped and I stared. I hemmed and hawed. I counted, and for brief, fleeting moments, I allowed Ivan to see me, really see me. It was excellent in that I was able to get very clear on each count and to understand what I was doing in each moment. It may sound tedious, but I love it. It makes me feel so much more secure to know each beat because in knowing it, I feel confident about it, I trust myself to be able to do it, and I am freed to express and perform. I want to know every dance I do in this detailed manner, honestly I do.

But it was pretty rough with the Rumba. It hasn’t been feeling good of late and I told Ivan we maybe needed to re-work it. But the truth is, I think now, that I don’t feel confident in it on so many levels and that is the real issue, not the choreography. If I loved myself dancing it, it wouldn’t matter whatever the choreography, because that would be message behind it.

So in any case, I teared up at a few points, but no matter. The thing is, that Ivan said I gave like maybe 30% with the Rumba but that he has faith that after a few more lesson going over it in this level of detail that I will get it to 100%. At least this is the possibility he put forth.

And I have faith that this is possible. I have a belief that I can come to love myself and to embody the dance. Why? Well, when I first began ballroom just moving my hips made me weep. Now, I love my hips and their movement (for the most part) – in effect, I love them and the movement they can generate. I feel good about my hips, in fact, I think they are one of my strongest assets. So, if I can come from mourning to delight about my hips, I can do the same with other aspects of myself as well.

The good news is that in the last 15 minutes of the lesson Ivan asked me to count and do the same level of performance and expression and dancing but in the Cha Cha.

I rocked it!

However, I am so much more comfortable with the expression of the Cha Cha. I can so much more easily embody the sassy, cheeky, playful persona. It matches my personality and comfort zone. Also, we have been practicing it more and have already gone through breaking down each count. So I did it. I switched the energy, I danced it, I loved it, I rocked it! I only screwed up the very last part! Ivan said it was great, 100% if I had not messed up the end, and even with that, like 99.5%! “I luuuv de Cha Cha!” He said.

Well, me too! That’s probably why I danced it so very well.

So thank you and hallelujah. I’m due for a big breakthrough here in the future. I am feeling thankful and blessed to get to dance, and that Ivan is my instructor. I know that I know that I know that I could not do this work with just anyone. It is a special soul that is walking beside me as I do this and I cannot express my appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to do so with a friend at my side. Thank you, Ivan!

Oh, and if you read my last post, zelto does indeed mean gold, and the expression means something to the effect of “I can’t wait to see my expensive, precious gem.”

Damn skippy!

-Stef

its all about the butt

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3 thoughts on “A Lesson With No Music

  1. Marian Condon says:

    I envy your having gotten to the point where you can feel the dances. I’m still trying to get the motion and technique down. At least I can now tell whether someone else is conveying emotion – that’s a start. There is a point of view that holds that you and Ivan are not together accidently; that you may have encountered each other before, perhaps many times. The literature on reincarnation is very interesting and compelling, and I would love to believe in it, but am still a bit skeptical. Still, there is no denying that certain people resonate powerfully with us, for whatever reason. Here’s a tidbit re my own personal growth that may interest you. There is a young woman at our studio who is very large. Yet, she seems totally unashamed of her body – she wears very revealing clothing and is quite kittenish and flirtatious. At first, my inability to accept my own (former) obesity made me judge her – HOW CAN SHE REVEAL ALL THAT FLESH!? WHAT IS SHE THINKING? But, she has won me over. I now see her as sexy and attractive-and so does one of the young men at the studio. She has healed one of my most grevious wounds, and for that, I am grateful.

  2. Vikki Liles says:

    It is a funny thing – sometimes in my lessons I never get to dance to music or to music for the dance we are working on. I take lessons at a franchised studio and frequently am not the only student on the floor. Wedding couples, only there for a few lessons, take some precedence, as do kids, new couples and sometimes the group classes (another topic and do NOT get me started on those). Not complaining, just explaining. But here’s that funny thing. Those have been some of the most valuable lessons I’ve taken. It then is not about the music, which you think is the whole point of dance, but about the connection with my partner/teacher, which IS the whole point of dance. I have to pay closer attention to his body and leads. (Sometimes he counts, more often he makes these noises he says are releases of energy and which I thought were stupid and refused to even attempt until Yulia and Ricardo practically did a samba lapdance in front of me at a comp, and she was making the same sorts of noises, Changed my mind instantly. You know, if Yulia does it…..) Anyway, not only do we dance without music, but sometimes dance a foxtrot to a rumba, or vice versa. Those are the times the dance feels the most real, not expected because we think to only trot the fox to “Witchcraft” or rumba to “Quando, Quando” or cha-cha to “Sway.” It really isn’t the music from the sound system, Steff. It’s the music from inside of us. You and I share the added burden of forcing the dance through a size that society frowns upon. We aren’t supposed to feel sexy, let alone be sexy or (horrors!) dance sexy. And I am a woman of a “certain age.” Invisible. Outside the desired advertising demographic. Despite that, I am a Dancer. And so are you. WIth or without the music.

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