It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and I find it odd how I used to feel the need to blog so much more than I do these days. I think it is a result of the change in focus, mood, and tempo of my dance journey at this time.
In some ways, I feel like I’ve never danced before, like I’m just now learning how to dance. For certain, I’ve taken a step back to focus on my foundation. There is a huge emphasis on my feet and ankles, and although we’ve talked through hips and lats, it’s mainly my lower body that we’re working on.
I feel more balanced and controlled, which is a good thing. However, being such an emotional person, it feels quite odd to move almost robotically, going slower than music, really breaking down each movement in minute detail. Indeed, I often feel like my movement is quite restricted. Amazingly, I see in the mirror, however, my body is creating similar shapes as before, it just feels completely different dancing it from the inside, dancing it from the alignment in my bones, from an internal point of reference. I will feel like I’m not moving very much, taking smaller steps, and yet I’ll see in the mirror there is actually a lot going on, I am actually dancing my body more, I’m working to integrate all the parts like never before, the movement is more refined. There’s so much to remember, so much going on, I feel like a complete novice all over again.
I’m also missing some of the excitement I used to feel with Ivan. I miss being able to just dance a cha-cha routine all the way through as these days it’s just a few of the basic figures repeated over and over and over. But on the flip side, there are not so many emotional ups and downs, it’s not as dramatic, and I’m feeling more grounded and independent in my dancing. I’m also not as depressed about my body as I was with Ivan – he used to remind me of it so much more, and he’d emphasize that I needed to lose weight quickly, how it was really holding me back. Although Damir acknowledges the issue, there’s just not the same obsession about it. He totally believes in me to do it, if I want to. His entire philosophy is to empower others with support and information and then they can take it as far as they would like to. In other words, it’s all up to me. There’s less pressure and shame projected upon me, less attachment, and this has been freeing. I’ve been able to choose my speed about doing things, there is no making me feel bad about the choices I’m making. As Damir explains it, it’s a case of delayed gratification. By putting in the time and effort to achieve technical excellence, to really work through the process from the bottom up, including the transformation of my body, slow and steady, I’m going to own my dancing and have an unshakable confidence in it like never before. I’ll be “the real deal.”
And as much as I aspire to compete in the near future, the focus is more on the process itself. This has made it so I have more energy to devote to my diet and exercise regimen. It’s starting to come together as a regular routine and this consistency is something I’ve sorely needed. It’s the regularly scheduled lessons, knowing what to expect, knowing what to work on, that’s made it so I feel I’m more settled, calmer, and I have no doubt that when I do step on the dance floor the next time, it will be an entirely new experience as well as performance quality. I am evolving on many levels.
And another new thing, I’ve been getting in some practicing alone. It’s really simple stuff – rumba box, backward walks, rondes, basic turns. I have no arm styling whatsoever. In fact, going full speed with music at this point feels overwhelming. I wonder if I will ever get to the place where I can execute this level of excellence while moving full-speed. But I’m glad to be taking on a new level of responsibility for my dancing. Even when I danced as a kid I really didn’t ever practice outside of class. I think the fact that I’m willing to do it shows a new level of maturity and dedication to my goals.
Speaking of goals, I brought up the idea with Damir. I mean, the main reason I do this is because I want to compete on a high level. It was odd to miss Galaxy this year, but it was the right decision to sit out. I’m just not ready to perform yet. I wonder when I might be. But I can’t just dance with no purpose on the horizon. So I mentioned that I’d like to do Ohio before I die and said, “Maybe we can do Ohio next year,” to which Damir replied “Oh girl! You would rock Ohio next year!” I do appreciate that Damir holds a positive vision for me. He tells me it’s not as far off as I think even when I’m feeling like I’m never going to be ready.
I still completely believe my decision to move was the right call and I believe wholeheartedly that this is already moving me forward to the next level of dancing. However, there are also prices I’m paying. For one, I miss out on Inna’s class on Tuesdays. I miss the extra difficult cardio it provided and I miss seeing my friends. It’s a bummer, but at the same time, the deal is, it was Damir’s only stipulation. He has his reasons for this request and I completely understand them. I agreed and I am a person of my word so I’m going to be in integrity about it. I’m just acknowledging that I miss it.
So maybe that’s why I’m not so fired up about blogging – because there aren’t hilarious stories to share. It’s all so very ordinary. It’s just what I need right now, and it’s not as entertaining to read about as Ivan’s antics or Inna’s ball-busting classes.
What I can say is that I adore Damir. I’ve been so blessed to work with both Ivan and he, both of whom have wonderful hearts. They have different teaching styles and I’ve needed both. Ivan brought down some of my emotional walls and pulled expression out of me that I was afraid to share. Damir is helping me to get my feet and legs under my body, to feel solid, to focus on the details of technique, and he’s empowering me to diagnose myself when things go wrong. In other words, with his guidance, I’m learning why things work or don’t work and how to fix them. What a relief! He is truly a master at understanding how the body works and I’m always amazed at his laser-like ability to seen tiny imbalances or misalignments – I’m talking like millimeters off! It’s amazing.
And it’s so nice to have my lessons so close to home. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8am like clockwork I make my way to be Damir’s first student for the day. He welcomes me by opening the door to the studio wide and asking me, “How are you doing, girlfriend?” He gives me a huge kiss on the head or the cheek and a hug both when I arrive and when I leave. I’ve had one or two emotional lessons, just because I was bummed about stuff, and he’s been so awesome about that, letting me show up however I need to be, not needing me to be anything other than who and how I am. He celebrates when I mess up because it elucidates my weaknesses and limitations so I can properly address them – it also creates the space for it to be okay if I mess up, which is very helpful since I have perfectionist tendencies which can be quite unhealthy. And one day, when I was a complete emotional mess, he scheduled me for a second lesson that day because he could see that I needed it. I came back, in a better place after a hard work out at the gym, and we danced Cha Cha, and it was wonderful.
So there you go. It’s a new season. My dancing life is pretty boring, but it’s good boring. It’s meditative. It’s empowering. It’s helping me find my center and balance. It’s the Yin to the Yang cycle I was in. And even if progress is seemingly slow, plodding, methodical, I’m looking forward to what’s coming. I’m getting excited to compete again. And even more than that, I’m becoming who I’ve dreamed of being. I’m getting closer and closer to expressing all of who I am, and the best part is that as I evolve I will be able to sustain the change.
And you know what? I think Damir’s right. It’s not all that far off. It feels like it from here but I have a suspicion that things are really going to shift more quickly than I expect. I’ve already been surprised by how my body has soaked up certain new things, way faster than I would have thought. I’m not kidding that it’s a process of discovery of my own physique and more often than I’d have predicted I pleasantly surprise myself by doing things I didn’t think I could do. I’m so ready to absorb certain things, energetically, emotionally, spiritually, and physically and it’s reflected in the movement my body can execute with just a tiny bit of guidance. Ultimately, I’m hopeful. What a good place to be.
All great news Stephanie! This was a great post. Sounds like everything is moving in a positive direction! I kind of need to get more practice alone now that you mention it here too.
Lisa that would be amazing! I look forward to that day! Thanks for the encouragement 🙂