If You Lose My Little Finger You Die!

Howdy pardners! It’s high time I write a blog post. So here you go.

Well, I’ve been dancing, and going to the gym, and my weight is pretty much staying the same but I’m not quite as negative about it, so that’s good. My trainer got a promotion so after I think maybe 4 or 5 sessions he’s gonzo and I’m now paired up with a female trainer for the first time (I’ve always had males before). I’ve had two sessions with her so far and though she is young, and she doesn’t have any experience helping someone successfully shed 100 pounds like I need to, and I have my reservations about if she really “gets it,” at this point I’m like, well, whatever. I’m still doing more than I was, and my legs are quite sore. Now I just need to up my cardio and stick to the diet and hopefully things will change.

I was struck by what was purported to be a Buddhist saying on Facebook and I think it will be my new motto for the time being. If you are heading in the right direction, all you have to do is keep walking. Well, that’s how it is for the weight loss. And let’s face it – sometimes I run, sometimes I crawl, sometimes I just stand there staring slack-jawed without moving forward, but I am facing the right direction so I guess that’s a good thing.

And at least now I have an interim goal. I was able to get the dates off work to participate in the People’s Choice Dancesport competition here in Phoenix over Memorial Day weekend. We have some new choreography, which I totally don’t feel comfortable with yet, but hey, I think it is still good to just get out there, be seen, perform, get all gussied up, and revel in the beautiful crazy sport that is ballroom dancing. I don’t know if I will do any scholarships, but I do think we will do some open heats, and I’m just going to focus on really emoting, dancing my heart out, and enjoying my time there. I’m going to focus on confidence and better health until then, along with all the usual attempts to improve the quality of my dancing. I’m also thinking of doing Desert Classic and Galaxy competitions this year as well. I just don’t feel ready to do any really big competitions, but then, I also feel like I’m never really “ready” for any competition – that I’m just going to present the latest, greatest, version of me wherever I am at the moment in my journey when I hit the floor. It takes the pressure off and helps me focus on something other than results, which though important, are not the end all, be all of who I am, or my dancing.

Actually, I have been giving this a bit of thought. What this ballroom dancing thing is really about for me is self-expression. It is about trusting myself. It is about finding confidence in myself, believing in myself and what is possible, growing, and revealing myself. It is about embracing vulnerability and finding strength in that surrender. It is about becoming healthier and learning to love myself. And while it is also important to me to honor the technique and work to improve it, it is also about letting go, and becoming the person I want to be.

And right now, I’m pretty far from that ideal. It can get depressing. Being so much larger than most other dancers makes me feel insecure about myself. It makes me feel judged and “less than.” It pisses me off when, at group classes, people feel the need to make a point to tell me that I’m “actually pretty good,” because guess what, yes, I am, and you wouldn’t have felt compelled to tell me this tidbit if I didn’t look the way I do. It’s asinine. And it makes me withdraw internally. It makes me feel less like I want to put myself out there for people to judge.

Oh well. I will get over it.

So anyways, lessons with Ivan have continued to be entertaining as usual. On a recent lesson we were working on connection (again…because, well, we will never be done working on it, you know?) and we are working on me being on my own feet, moving myself, and not pushing on Ivan or him feeling the need to push and pull me because I’m a beat late (which is just as big a problem as me being late), and he comes up with this idea to lead me with his little pinky finger to my little pinky finger. He tells me, “If you lose my finger, you die!” so I’m having to be sensitive and fully present, and I’m having to run energy all the way through the tips of my fingers, and I’m having to move myself quickly, and it is a great exercise. We should do it more often.

Little finger

Michiel1972 from nl [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

And then there was this funny gaffe he said because of, you know, his Bulgarian language barrier thing. He tells me he has to go downtown to do “fingering” for his green card. Um yeah, he meant getting his fingerprints taken. lol.

And I’ve been going to Inna’s class but I missed one week and the other weeks she wasn’t there. We had Igor and Alla came. She danced on DWTS as one of those up and coming couples that was coached by one of the pros on the show and she and her partner won. So that was cool to have another pro teach that class for a change. And this week I ended up having to leave early because my asthma is hella bad and I had a full on attack and was audibly wheezing doing the Samba and I didn’t want to pass out on the floor. So I headed home to my nebulizer and the asthma is still bothering me.

And I’ve been going to ballet on Monday nights and it is so great and I love it because it is challenging but fun and I don’t feel the need to be great in it. I just do the best I can and don’t feel bad about it. And I see that my body is just not suited for ballet and it never was and that’s totally okay with me, when at age 16 it so totally wasn’t. And I can’t do a double turn yet but I’m getting closer. And soon my legs will get higher on developes and I think I’m getting better at balancing.

And another pro in town, Radomir, just started teaching a class on technique on Thursdays. You might remember him from my posts about the dance camp where he taught. Anyways, tonight was the first one and it was excellent. We are working on Cha Cha all this month. Rado is really an amazing teacher and he is able to explain core concepts and break things down. In fact, with only about five minutes left in the class, I realized that I was actually doing this one step in the Cha Cha that I always struggle with in my routine with Ivan and there I was, doing it all class long, no problem! It was pretty cool.

He talked about the types of body motion: there are two. Emotive motion comes from the spine and is found in the Smooth dances or in conveying the emotionality of Latin dances. And Latin or Cuban motion which comes from the hips. Of course being Cha Cha, we were going to focus on the latter.

He told us about the 7 types of chasses in Cha Cha which I can’t remember. He told us about the difference between steps and walks in dancing – in steps weight is split between the feet and happen side to side whereas walks occur when 100% of body weight is committed entirely to one foot and happen when moving forwards and backwards. And that the reason we can only commit 100% of body weight to one foot when traveling forward or backward is because of how the foot is designed. In terms of body mechanics it is designed to absorb the entire body weight rolling lengthwise from heel to toe, but not so much going from the big toe to the little toe.

He talked about the fact that Latin movement should occur on the “and” count between steps or walks. He talked about the fact that it should happen before each and every movement. And that to create it the hip goes forward over the ball of the foot, then around over the outer edge of the foot, and finally settles down over the heel of the foot. As he was describing this for the first time I actually experienced the proper positioning and could feel my body weight over each part of my foot.

So this weekend Ivan and Marieta are in San Francisco for the Open and I will be watching them on streaming as they compete. It looks like on the schedule they will dance 10:15 PST on Saturday and you can watch free live streaming through Paradigm DVD here.

And to end this big, long run-on-of-a-sentence type blog post, I guess that’s about it for now. I decided to participate in a showcase next week on Saturday night so it should be an interesting week trying to get ready for that in like no time. I have to pick a song! (Any suggestions?) But it will be good just to perform, and I’m committed to making it a no-pressure type experience, even though there are supposed to be splits in the routine but we haven’t been practicing that at all. So anyways, this should make for an adventure. Wish me luck!

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9 thoughts on “If You Lose My Little Finger You Die!

  1. Paragon2Pieces says:

    So happy to read your update and envious of all the dancing you’re doing. On the point of being “ready” for the big comps, I’d just keep in mind that you’re holding yourself to a much higher standard than many people. If you really want to experience a big comp, go for it!

    • loveablestef says:

      Thanks P. Yeah, my life pretty much revolves around work and dancing these days, which is pretty darn wonderful if you ask me. You are right, of course, I could totally do a big competition. I just don’t have any drive to do one at the moment. I’m really focused on getting the gym/workout/diet situation into a habit that works for me and that’s taking a lot of energy right now. But the day will come. I will know when to do it because I will want to do it. It’s something I aspired to in the past, to go to like Ohio, and it is still an experience I’d like to have before I die, but I don’t feel the urgency right at this moment with my focus elsewhere. It almost seems enough right now just to have lessons and take classes. But I also have a feeling this will change as soon as I do People’s Choice and experience the rush of competition once again lol. Anyways, thanks for the insightful comment.

  2. trophos says:

    Nice to see you again 🙂
    Some of my particular sticking points are the same as yours, some are different, but I feel you – progress is slow, and often invisible. And *high five* from this internet fan: you impress me and inspire me. I look forward to reports of the upcoming showcase!

  3. seejendance says:

    Ooh what dance for Showcase? I have a whole list? But you only have a week???? Mine is next month and I’m no where near ready for either piece.

  4. Holly says:

    Hi Stefanie – I was Googling Linda Dean when I found your blog and it totally hit home for me. I too am bigger than my competitors (almost as heavy as my instructor and his pro partner wife). All of your postings really resonated with me – your struggles are my struggles, your demons my own. I compete quite a lot on the East Coast. I refuse to look at photos or comp DVDs because they plunge me into despair. But, much like you, I keep pointing myself in the right direction & hoping for the best. I’d love to correspond directly with you if you might be interested. At a minim I will continue to look for your posts!

    • loveablestef says:

      Hi Holly! Welcome to the blog. Of course I’m always interested to “correspond directly” with anyone who takes the time to read my writing and feels connected to it. You can like my page for the blog on Facebook and direct message me if you like (http://www.facebook.com/LoveableStef?ref=hl) or click the “like” button on the upper right hand side of the blog page. I’ll send you a hello via your email address since you used it to post your comment and I can see it, but I’d rather not put my personal email here so I don’t get bombed with spam, if you know what I mean! So glad you stopped by and look for that email soon.

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