The Body Doesn’t Lie

Well I had a really wonderful experience today. First off, I had a double lesson with Ivan. We worked on some Rumba and reviewed the Swing and Mambo routines and my American Rhythm repertoire is coming along. Now there is still a lot of clarifying and cleaning up and getting definite on the order of steps but at least we are making progress and I should have a little something more to show at my next competition.

But the more we work on things, the more we repeat the steps, the more Ivan implores me to show myself in the styling. For instance, we were doing the fan for the upteenth time and Ivan was like, “Do your arm how you feel.” Because “feeling,” this is my “special power” you know? I feel things when I dance and so people watching see that I authentically feel. So it is my job to let go of my hang-ups and self-editing, and to let my inner light shine. Right then on the lesson I was relaxed and I did the fan with my arm how I felt (as if I were a thin, beautiful vixen) ignoring the reality in the mirror, and it was wonderful – effortless, in a way, because it was just what naturally bubbled up. And Ivan loved it. It almost gave him goosebumps and he was like, “Why don’t you always do this? Every single move?” Because this is the thing that sets me apart and the thing we have to show.

Because the truth is there is always someone to compare myself to. There will always be somebody with a better figure, better feet, fitness, flexibilty, strength, and speed. There will always be someone with better choreography or more experience or whatever. But no one can be me like I can and that is my challenge. In fact, Ivan is doing the local “Dancing With The Stars” fundraiser for the Kidney Foundation and his new partner for this year is apparently really, really good. The way he talks about her, she is already better than I am, because she danced hip hop so she knows how to dance and move and also how to perform in front of people. Plus she has a great physique. Anyways, she sounds pretty awesome and if she continues with Ivan beyond the fundraiser, she might even dance in a higher category than Ivan and me! Pretty impressive. I don’t know if she is interested in that, but the fact of the matter is, that there are people who are “better” than me out there, and Ivan might even dance with one in the near future if she chooses to pursue ballroom. So it becomes my opportunity not to feel inferior, envious, or disappointed but rather to be grateful for where I am and to work even harder for what I want to become. Because at my core, when I just let myself really dance and really feel, I give people goosebumps! And that is pretty special, indeed. And I think this mental framework will serve me well as I continue to compete at more and more larger competitions with a higher levels of dancers.

And speaking of my next competition, I decided to go ahead and put in to get the dates off work for the Holiday Classic in Vegas in the middle of December. I’m going to leave the choice to go or not up to fate. If I can get the Saturday off, then I will most likely go. If I can’t, I will just wait until next year. I figured I have the vacation time so might as well see if it is possible to go. Now it is just a matter of getting the approval to take off the one Saturday of the month I’m scheduled to work!

So anyways, the lesson was pretty sane today. No weird “Bulgarian” explanations, just reminders that I suck at being ready to move any direction at any time with the slightest of leads and that I need to focus and count – basically all the regular stuff Ivan tries to impress upon me. In fact, I was kind of surprised at how physically un-taxing it was. Mostly I attributed this to working out all the steps in the routines. It just wasn’t that cardio-intensive. So at the very end I requested that we do our Cha Cha since I knew it would get my heart rate up….but it didn’t. I don’t know if that was because I just wasn’t working as hard, or if I lost more weight and that made it easier or if Ivan wasn’t dancing as intensely as usual so that made things easier. I mean, working out with my trainer continues to be a cardiovascular nightmare and I’ve only done bona fide cardio on my own once this week so I don’t think I suddenly improved my capacity. But it was weird. Tomorrow I will be with the trainer and do cardio afterwards so I will be sure to get my heart rate up really high! I figure it can only help to train like this outside of the dancing to make the dancing that much easier. Maybe it is working.

After my lesson with Ivan I wanted to stop by a local studio near my house called EuroRhythm. I met the gal who is the receptionist there at Galaxy. She was dancing for the first time back competing in ten years and did an excellent job, winning her scholarship. She is so cute and extremely passionate and we connected immediately. Well, she told me she reads the blog, so that was a point in her favor right off the bat! At Galaxy I also met the owner of the studio. In any case, they are having a showcase this Friday so I thought I would go be an audience member. In addition, I noticed on their website calendar that they have a Latin Skills and Drills class on Saturdays at 11am so I wanted to check that out, see if anybody (like me) could come even if I wasn’t a student of the studio. So I went in to get a ticket for Friday’s event and to find out more information about what sounded like a potentially-great group class geared toward competitive students.

What a delight the entire experience was! First off, Michelle saw me and gave me a huge, excited hug when I walked in the door! Then, the class was just starting so she invited me to try it out. It was excellent. Again, not so cardio-intensive today but I really appreciated the information the instructor shared. He broke down forward and backward Rumba walks, as well as side steps and New Yorkers. He talked about how to use the foot, work the entire foot all the way to the point of the toe, and how to use the floor as well as using the standing leg to propel movement. It was an excellent reminder of proper alignment of the legs and knees, especially on backwards walks, plus he pointed out some common mistakes that I often make (ahem, like stepping too big, not being over my feet, etc). Really, it was excellent information, clearly communicated, and I felt like I got a lot out of the class. I haven’t worked my feet that specifically or as hard for a while so that was great too.

I am of the opinion that I want to learn as much as I can from as many reputable sources as possible. Of course Ivan is my primary teacher and coach and I will ultimately look to him for the final word on what we present as a competitive team. However, the goal is to become more aware of my body, to gain more control over it, to improve my balance, and to of course be more fit. The more I can practice, dance, and be in my body, the more information I can absorb and incorporate, the better dancer I will become. I feel so excited to have found yet another local gem!

So I will probably become a regular at this group class (on the Saturdays I don’t work) and I also found out that once a month they hold workshops as well. They are a few hours long but led by the studio owner or his wife and I am excited to go the one next week and see what it is all about.

So far it was turning out to be a great Saturday and it just got even better. After the Skills and Drills class I chatted with Damir, the owner. He commented on how well I danced at Galaxy, saying that Ivan and I looked like partners and that we had great chemistry. He even got goosebumps when talking about it! Not once, but three times! In fact, on the third time, he was like, “What the F*#@!?” and then immediately mortified at his exclamation because his little 9 year old daughter was standing right there! LOL! Anyways, it was soooooooooo cool! Because the body doesn’t lie – you can’t fake goosebumps! And doubly awesome because I respect this guy as a dancer and that makes it mean even more – it feels so validating. He was asking about what my next competition will be (everyone seems to want to know if I’m going to Ohio. Next year, people! Next year!) and even discussing possible topics for the workshop on Saturday. I mentioned that arm styling and connecting arm movements throughout the body, from my feet to my sternum to my fingertips continues to be a challenge. He got excited and said he’d talk about that, which would be awesome.

I feel like perhaps I have found another “studio” family to belong to or at least be semi-associated with…kind of like Starz and Imperial. I went in expecting to get a ticket for the showcase and left with more knowledge and practice, feeling completely welcomed and encouraged, and discovering another place to dance and belong. Truly, it was a wonderful day because after all this I came home and took a huge nap! It felt great! And tonight we are off to see “Gravity” with Sandra Bullock in 3-D. Definitely my kind of day: dancing, sleeping, meeting friends, evoking goosebumps, and spending time with the hubs. What could be better? Not much, except maybe being at a competition. Other than that, best day EVAR! Just call me blessed and grateful.


3 thoughts on “The Body Doesn’t Lie

  1. rocco0724 says:

    You are going to continue to be pleasantly surprised at how much more you’ll be able to do. The weight loss will work with the cardio so you improve endurance but also have less work to do. Keep it up. You sound like an amazing dancer now and it will only get better.

  2. candyhodgkins says:

    I absolutely love your blog because you express what I feel and think!! I am thrilled that you are seeking out other venues for learning because it really does help your dancing! i have done this, always with the blessing of my instructor, so I can hear and feel and see what he is teaching in a different way. And I then get to be more involved in our community dance world! We just finished FCCDC and we danced our best ever in smooth…we got good scores, finished well in all championship and scholarships but not in the open smooth…dead ;last after a day of firsts and seconds. But it was OK because of how it felt on the dance floor and all the complements we received for our dancing touching peoples hearts! That is the best…better then scores!!! Can’t wait to see you on the dance floor!

  3. Oh Stefanie, you are so wonderful! I was so excited to see you last week because you inspire me so much! Your passion and dedication for dance motivates me, so to share a class with you is such a great experience. Damir was totally right: at Galaxy, you and Ivan looked like true partners; your presentation was dynamic and you just shine so much. It feels so authentic…like you are your best self when you dance. I could not see any fear or insecurities when you were performing–you just looked so sexy and free! I look forward to seeing you again soon! 🙂 ::big hug:: -Michelle (from Euro)

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