So Funny And Completely Inappropriate

So this morning I went in to practice the piece for the showcase at 7:45am. The practice was uneventful, which is good, except for the fact that Ivan was super tired because yesterday he did all sorts of work and intense manual labor on his farm which is up for an inspection from the county. That, and he strained his back from carrying 80 pound bags of cement all over the place, so he was like, “Please no splits today.” And I was like, “No problem!” I didn’t mind skipping that part at all….just as long as he is recovered by Saturday, which he seems to think he will be.

So the practice went well enough and at the end Ivan had another morning lesson scheduled. In came a new student who is friends with one of Ivan’s other students who I know. They asked to see what we were working on so we showed them the dance and they were kind and said it looked good, and the new gal said she had heard a lot about me from her friend, and somehow the conversation became about the blog. I didn’t mention it…I think Ivan did, but the lady I know said she didn’t know I had a blog so I fished a card for her out of my purse.

“It’s about my experiences on dance lessons, and all the funny stuff Ivan does, and sometimes helpful information about ballroom dancing, and a little bit of me complaining about trying to lose weight.”

And we’re talking about the blog and Ivan chimes in. “Ah yes. Everything that happens goes on the blog. This why I no have sex with her. because if I do, then it would be on the blog.”


By see below. (see below.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

SAY WHAT!?! Who says something like that? And who can say that and still be likeable, especially in front of a new potential student? Only my cuckoo instructor. Good thing he is an independent agent because I can’t imagine a comment like that would ever be tolerated at a studio, and good thing that I know him and how ridiculous he is, as does his other student, who I am certain has shared about Ivan to her pal.  All I can say is that he must have been deliriously tired to randomly say something like that!

So anyways, without missing a beat, as I’m walking out the door, I simply reply, “Oh, that’s the only thing holding you back, Ivan? That it would be written about on the blog?” And Ivan’s student cracks up in a guffaw while I think her friend is sitting next to her silently in shock over what just transpired.

Ha ha ha! So here it is, I’m writing about it on the blog. Lolololol.

Why You No Pick The Phone?

I love the way Ivan says things. It’s just so funny sometimes. For instance, he never says, “Why didn’t you pick up the phone?” but rather, “Why you no pick the phone?”

Dialog gr 1972

By Holger.Ellgaard (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“Well, Ivan, I no pick the phone because I was at the gym.”

“Oh?! What?! You at the gym. You never doing this. Goooood.”

“Well, I did go for a while there but couldn’t make it work. This time I’m making it work.”

“Are you sweat?”

“Yes, I am sweat a lot.”

“I know. I can smelling it through the phone. Go take a shower. What did you do?”

“45 minutes on the stair-stepper. I got my heart rate up to 160 for most of it and pushed it to 180 for 5 minutes toward the end.”

“Goooood. And how you feeling?”

“Pretty good. I didn’t want to go today but I couldn’t bring myself not to go. So I went. I was really tired all day.”

“See. But you going then you feeling good. Ah! The stair-stepper is the worst. But I love it!”

“Yeah, it hurts my butt! But it gets my heart rate up and I need the cardio. Third time this week to make it to the gym. So can we have a lesson tomorrow morning?”

“Yes madam. See you six-thirty, krasiva.”

*krasiva = beautiful in Bulgarian.

I Feel Good

I just got off my lesson this morning and I have to say, I feel good.

I’m fat, and my feet are slow, and there is still so much to learn and work on and grow into, and so what… I’m satisfied.

I’m satisfied because I’m in there working on it. I’m dancing! And dancing makes me love life, and even love myself. Even when I’m flawed. Even when I mess up.

I almost don’t even know what to do with this good feeling. Isn’t that weird? It, like sadness or anger, also needs an outlet. It too, needs to be expressed.

Like today, after my lesson (well, it was a double) I still had energy. I wanted to dance even more! I wasn’t ready to be done with dancing today.

You see, last night I went to go support my friend and watch her dance in a showcase (more on this experience later). I was surrounded by all these people who love dancing and by the end of the night I just couldn’t wait to get to my lesson this morning. Seriously, it just made me want to get on the dance floor and work.

And even better was I brought some new music and that was awesome inspiration. We began with a Rumba, and I just love the way it feels. Perhaps my technique isn’t perfect, and I still miss connections or whatever, but ever since the running blindly episode, I’ve been feeling more secure than before, more confident. More able to enjoy the dance and be in the moment. More able to just feel and move and there is nothing like it in this world.  Yep, you figured it out.  Ballroom is my heroin.  But as addictions go, I think it’s a pretty good one to have!

Ivan and I had said that today would be all about creating a Samba routine, but we got a little distracted by the great new music which infused a new energy into our dancing. And I just feel so good when I’m dancing, really dancing (not thinking or analyzing or critiquing) with Ivan. It is so wonderful to have a partner that will match my energy, that I can interact with. I mean, I’m starting to feel like I’m coming into my own in some ways. Like yesterday on an impromptu lesson, I actually corrected Ivan for once! Ha! There is no thrill like reversing the tables, you know! All lesson long I hear about my shortcomings, what I should be doing, and all of it is true and right, but you know what, Ivan isn’t perfect either! His shoulder was getting out of line and I didn’t even think about it – I just saw it, didn’t say a word and started touching it, patting it like “Hey! Pay attention here buddy!” And he was all, “Yes. Thank you. You is right.” Bam!

So today when I saw my huge ass and my fat flappy arms jiggling all over the place, I wasn’t happy about it, but for once I didn’t let it get me down.  I was feeling too good.  I was feeling too strong about how awesome it felt to go “Kah! Wha! Two and three, four and one!” I was feeling the part, living the part, body be damned….and, oh boy I can’t wait until I’m thinner!

So the rest of my weekend is going to be awesome.  The Arthur Murray studios in town have gotten together for a competition and showcase thing – last night I saw the showcase part and today is a mini competition and then professional show, including dinner and a performance by Jason and Sveta Daly.  So I’m going to get myself all gussied up and go to that tonight which will be very fun, and then tomorrow morning another double with Ivan, then off to Ballet, then off to another lesson with my friend Lady Gaga – ballet and yoga stretching she said.  Then in the evening supporting another dear friend, this one a singer, who will be performing her new original works at a fundraising event.

In any case, all this is getting the bug in me.  Though I am only slightly smaller than the last time I competed, I want to show up with an even more dramatic difference, but I also want to perform or compete soon.  I mean, my routines are still in progress, and I’m not necessarily “ready,” but I still want to do it!  The last time I danced publically was back in September.  And the performer in me who has awoken and is feeling good today wants to get out there and start being seen on a more regular basis.  Life is too short, you know?

I’m thinking about San Francisco, Emerald, People’s Choice.  I kind of wish I could do Vegas in two weeks but the mandatory overtime is still in place at work.  I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to step back into the Scholarship arena just yet, but I’d love to do some open heats.  Ah well, it’s in the works.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

I guess that’s about it for now.  I just feel good and wanted to document it!  LOL.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Whoa. I remember writing a post last Valentine’s Day! I’ve been blogging for over a year! I have to say, it flew by fast. Blogging, and dancing, have truly been enterprises fueled by love, which is fitting, since it’s Valentine’s Day and all.

So, like last year, I’m going to write about the topic of love, in the context of dancing and blogging. Here’s what I’m loving in my dance and blogging life right now:

1) I love getting my ass kicked in Inna’s Latin class on Tuesdays.

This is a real pleasure. Actually, not so much while I’m gasping for breath and leaning on the wall for support like I was last night after Jive and Paso Doble, but there is great pleasure in making it through a class, and in seeing improvement, however slowly it may seem to be happening. There is also a great rush of serious endorphins that hit my blood stream on the ride home after the grueling work-out that is Tuesday night at Imperial Ballroom Dance Center.  More than that, I love seeing my friends in class and learning from such an amazing professional.  The studio is gorgeous, it my favorite space and floor in town by far, and their Holiday Showcase is first-class as well.  Hmmm, I guess this is turning into a love-fest for the entire studio.  Well, so be it.  I love Imperial, and the people who inhabit it, and the work I am lucky enough to get to do there.

2) Getting a positive reaction out of my teacher.

Seriously, if you dance, you will know….it is like, the best, when your teacher is pleased with something you do.  It’s those moments that are really motivating to me and I have to say, I love when they happen, especially since they are far and few between! I’ve been fortunate that in the last couple of lessons, however, I’ve actually managed to get a “Wow!” and some goosebumps out of Mr. Ivan.

The “Wow!” was just this morning on a lesson when we were preparing to begin a Rumba.  I was actually listening to the music (for once) and relaxed and letting myself do whatever I wanted without editing or holding back, which is a win, and it worked just like it’s supposed to!  Gosh, I should do that more often!

The goosebumps occurred on a previous lesson. As always, Ivan was encouraging me to perform, and told me to really “sell it!” in my movement. Basically, dance with confidence and conviction. Easy to say….not so easy to execute sometimes for those of us who struggle with self-doubt. But this was after my fearless blind running (see my last post if you don’t know what I’m talking about) and so I was up for the challenge.  It was a fan, I think in Cha Cha, and I sold it baby!  At first Ivan told me I was copping out, and in his crazy mind/explanation I was accepting $90 when being offered $100.

“Excuse me!”  I replied, “$100 is cheap! I would only accept $1000.”

“Ah, yes, well this like you accepting $3000 for $5000.  Sell it for the $5000.”

I took a deep breath and went for it.  And it worked.

“Ah, you no sell $5000.  You sell $20,000!”  And the proof was the goosebumps.

Yeah, it was awesome, even if it doesn’t really make any sense, but I don’t care – I love me some goosebumps.

3) I love taking ballet class.

I also love people who follow that inner instinct and do things in this world, even when they don’t necessarily make sense to others.  One such person is this lady and it’s because of her that I have a place, as an adult, to go and feel comfortable and reconnect with one of my first dance loves – ballet.  Trust me, it’s not so easy to find a class that would work for me….I’m out of shape but a dancer inside.  I needed a class that was challenging, taught by someone who knows ballet and could coach and correct, but a class that wasn’t too challenging, if you know what I mean.  Nor did I want to dance alongside tweeners.   In a leotard.  That was definitely not gonna work for me.  Well, Anyways, that amazing lady, Teresa, created a dance studio just for people like me and it’s because of her I can go to another dance studio that I love, Abby Bella, (named after her two darling doggies!), and dance my heart out in a joyful way, in a space full of support and camaraderie, and connect with ballet and dancing like I never could as a kid.

I love how just even the few weeks of ballet classes I’ve been taking regularly have seemed to help with balance and maybe even some strength and flexibility.  I’m finding my center again and determined to tackle a double pirouette soon – they were my nemesis as a teenager, but I eventually did successfully harness them.  In any case, I love going, I love stretching and pushing myself, and I love being in the class and in the studio.  I know it’s going to help me with my ballroom dancing too!

4)  I love connecting with others (read you!) through the blog.

Seriously, y’all!  I love getting direct messages and comments and friend requests/followers on the Facebook.  It’s been amazing to meet other dancers as passionate about dancing as I am, to hear stories from others about their struggles and triumphs, to receive support and to support others.  I’ve done some guest blogs, and invited others to write guest posts, not to mention participating in the Dance Advantage Dance Blog Contest which was ah-maz-ing!!! Not only did I get a ton of exposure, and gain some new readers, but I got 3rd place overall and Editor’s Choice.  I feel like my blog is bona fide now, if you know what I mean.  So anyways, not to be cheesy or anything, but you, dear reader, the one reading this right now, I love you!  Yes, I write for me, and to process my experiences and stuff, but I also write for you.  You guys help me stay motivated and accountable.  You send me kindness and friendship.  All of this, I feel, puts me on the better end of the deal!  I appreciate you and I want to say thank you.  I feel like we have something of a community here and I love that.  I’m glad you are here and please don’t be shy to speak up and say hello, digitally or in person!

Alrighty.  It’s late, I’m tired and have a loooooong day ahead of me tomorrow.  I’m gonna sign off.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, Stef

Just For Fun

Here is a short video of my silly instructor before I met him.  He’s the clown.  He’s dancing with his friend dressed as a cowboy who is also a pro.

If you enjoyed this Crazy Clown and Cowboy Waltz, you can see them dance a Sassy Samba together on The Facebook Page.  While there, like the page to it to add it to your Facebook feed for extra content beyond the blog, and go here to write a comment and help me get into the next round of the Dance Advantage Best Dance Blog competition.  Any comment with a date of January 22nd will count!

TTFN!  -Stef

Sometimes It Just Takes A Little Smell

Ah, the joys of learning another language!

Today Ivan and Marieta got back from the Hollywood Dancesport competition where they placed 3rd in the Open Professional Rhythm division.  It was super exciting to watch live online via streaming but even better to get to see them in person for my lesson today, to congratulate them, to work on the open Cha Cha routine, and to give Ivan a birthday card.

It wasn’t a very aerobic lesson but we were really pounding out the details of the dance.  I’m still working to simply remember the steps.  Beyond that are layers and layers of little details that must be addressed because these seeming little things are what make the routine really pop.  For instance, I noticed that on one part I was doing something slightly different than Ivan.  We need to look in unison, like we are dancing the same dance.  Just that one little bit, deciding if we would do a check hip hip or a swirly rounded hip hip took a minute to figure out.  In the end, it looks much better.

Also, we worked on how to do a variety of cross-overs.  We have 3 right in the beginning, each slightly different.  Then a turn into quick Cha Cha step.  I need help with balance, making the steps quick, clean, and sharp, putting my body weight on at the right place at the right time over the right foot, and then how to place my arms.  It’s a bit overwhelming.  Scratch that, it’s extremely overwhelming.

Strangely, one part I am feeling more secure about are the stupid splits.  Truly this is bizarre to me but it feels more strong, safe, and I even did a little jump to bring my feet together and worm my way up twisting my hips to the next step, something I really didn’t think I could do.  We have yet to execute this to speed or with music, but there is progress and this is encouraging.

I think the most difficult thing is the ronde’ we do after a cross-over.  Ivan wanted my arms to be different and since Marieta was there we took advantage of her presence.  She did the move, and it was completely different from what I was doing….like night and day, and I liked her way so very much better.  “Wow,” I uttered.  Even just a simple little step looks exciting and intense and tells a story when Marieta does it.  I, therefore, spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out how to emulate her, and to no avail.  I conceptually know what I’m going for, and I can tell when I do it incorrectly, but figuring out how to actually execute it proprerly,…how to compress my right side, to remember to place my feet together before the last step, where to place my head, how to attack the ronde’ and not make it so soft and balletic, how to change my weight after placing the feet together, to look up rather than down when I face Ivan as the step ends, well, it seriously made me want to cry.

Why?  Because I have this thought that I wish I had been studying this style of dance since I was a child.  It is overwhelming to realize all the knowledge I just don’t have, my lack of experience, my inability to place my body correctly.  I honestly don’t think there is ever a way to truly “catch up” and this thought makes me incredibly sad.  I know, I know.  I can’t change the past and it is pretty useless to dwell on it.  It is the anthesis of empowering.  And still, it makes me sad.  I mourn the loss of an imaginary reality where I could have been a professional dancer.  Irrational, I know.

But after the lesson, I wasn’t able to dwell on this because I gave Ivan a card for his birthday.  It was a nice card that said something to the effect you make more of a difference in my life than you will probably ever even realize.  At one point (It was a wordy card) it said “Sometimes it just takes a little smile or a word of encouragement at the right time…”  Well, Ivan was practicing reading in English.  I have to give the man some serious props because I can’t even begin to fathom trying to read something in Bulgarian with that Cyrillic alphabet.  But anyways, it was pretty funny hearing him sound out all the words.  Instead of saying the word “smile” it came out as “smell.”  Ha!  Ah, yes, sometimes it just takes a little smell….. heh heh heh.

Lucky for us, Marieta was there today to translate the content of the card into Bulgarian for Ivan.  A lot of times he will say the words while reading but not truly understand what is being communicated.  For once he actually understood the message and was honestly touched.  He said, “Oh, so nice this card.  You touch my bottom.”


He meant that the card touched his heart, that he was moved deeply.  But, well, literally it translated into “bottom” which in English has a very different meaning!  He explained, “What is it you call the deepest part of the ocean?”

“Well, it’s the bottom of the ocean.”  I replied.

“See!  I right!”

We laughed hysterically but the fun didn’t end there.

I tried my hand at some Bulgarian, trying to impress Marieta with what I’ve been learning.  Now it was my turn to make a gauche faux pas.

I meant to say, “I’m sorry.  I don’t understand.  Please repeat that slower.”

But you see, the word for repeat and the word for fart both start with a “P” and get mixed up in my brain.  Why do I know the word in Bulgarian for fart, well, for that blame Ivan who thinks it is hysterical to teach me inappropriate things.

So, I ended up saying, “I’m sorry.  I don’t understand.  Please fart slower.”

Sheesh!  Marieta was so sweet about it.  Because I was serious when I told her this, she was trying to be encouraging and kind but ended up asking Ivan how a person could fart slower.  “I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that one!” She shared.

Yes, the difference between prog-na-li and pov-tor-ri-li is important!  Not a mistake I will make again.  I also said that I like green wine.  Actually, it’s red wine I like.

So, there you go.  I have a lot to learn both as a dancer and a speaker of the Bulgarian language.  Hopefully I will approach both with joy, humor, and humility rather than sadness and despair at my shortcomings…celebrate the wins, like feeling better about splits, and laughing at the mistakes, like the rest of my lesson, trusting myself to learn and grow from them and to continue this evolution.

Bad Dances? WTF?

This is actually just a short aside…

I get on the floor to dance with Mr. Ivan and he says “We have bad dances.”

“What?” I respond.

“We have bad dances.”

“Okay.  Well, I thought we were doing pretty well here so far.  I’ve felt good.”

“No!  We have BAT dances!”

“Um okay.  Cha cha is starting!”

“Shit!” I think.  It’s been such a fun and relaxed and good competition from my perspective.  Why is my instructor now telling me I did poorly?!  I feel like this is the best we have done so far.  GRRRR!  But guess what?  We have to dance.  Suck it up and make it work.  Go!

We have this conversation in the 20 seconds prior to a dance round.

“Oh, I sorry!  Bat (or as my American ears hear it “Bad”) means 5 in Bulgarian.”

My internal dialogue:  Shit?! Really?!  You stinking bastard?!?  Are you kidding me?!  Really?  You actually now just did this to me!  You knew “very well” – a phrase you utilize often with me – you knew “very well” what Bat or Bad or whatever sounds like in freakin’ English…you knew very well it means bad, poor, not good…  You suck!  Hardcore.  Bat?!  Bad?!  WTH?!?!?!

On the outside, however, I graciously say, “Oh!  Thanks for explaining that.  We have 5 dances in a row.  Great!  I am so happy that I get to dance them with you!



Can you relate?  Please share!!!