How Is A Champion Created?

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011


Private Lesson with Ivan at Allegre Studio

Ivan will call me if I am even a few minutes late to my lesson. Actually, I wasn’t even late…it was exactly 10am when he called and I was 2 minutes away. After our phone conversation yesterday I decided to apply some lipstick today and it set me behind schedule. Plus, its the last time I’ll see him before Christmas so I have to grab his presents, and those for his wife and mom too.

I arrive and we exchange gifts. Ivan gives me wine and some fancy European chocolates….which I will be sharing with my family. It is a nice gesture, but I’m on this mission to slim down! Willpower, be with me today.

Anyways, we enter the studio and begin to talk about our coaching session with Linda Dean. As with any coaching, I think it is important to take what I have been given and find what works best for me personally. Ivan agrees with some things and not with others. This is fine. We will figure out the best thing for us as a partnership incorporating the feedback we get from others, or not.

But I was fascinated with two items that I want to revisit. The first was how to do the Alemana. I’d been stepping in a very different direction than the step calls for. I want to practice making a 3 point triangle, stepping to Ivan’s side, to the kitty-corner away from him, and then back to face him while also holding myself up straight and making the movement on balance.

We work on the Rumba for a good 30 minutes without music just doing the movements over and over. We also work on the connection once again. It seems like I can understand, or that I “know” what I am supposed to do and want to do, but it all flies out the window when dancing to music. There is just so much to be aware of! Straighten the legs, dance the body, look up, keep connection in the frame but don’t use the arms to pull, stay upright, listen to the music, emphasize the counts 1 and 3, but not 2 and 4…..the list goes on and on. Thank God my heart beats on its own! I’d forget to keep it going with my mind occupied like this.

And my arms. The fisted-octopus-tentacle-extremtities that they are, are in desperate need of help. They are the first thing to go wonky when I’m concentrating.

Today was a practice session like so many others. Repeating, repeating, repeating. Hearing the same corrections over, and over, and over. Knowing that I’m not doing what I mean to do a second after I’ve done it.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is some nice movement in the mix here, too. I’m not bagging on myself so much as being in the process of becomming. And trust me, I’m 1000 times more compassionate with myself than I used to be! That, in and of itself, is a huge victory.

I suppose there is always room to be a little kinder to myself and others but I have this overriding drive to improve. Sometimes I just need to relax.

Also, the stuff we are beginning to work on takes years to congeal, from what I’m told. Based on what I’ve experienced in my own body so far, I believe there to be some truth in this. We’re talking here about having that tuned in, direct, plugged in connection that still allows each person to dance themselves. We’re even talking about appropriately using the breath to fuel the movments. And one day, to even create unity. It is possible, Ivan says, to even be breathing at the same time while dancing. That sounds like it will probably be a few years off, especially with the shape I am in, but it’s nice to know it’s possible.

So I figure I have thousands of hours of practice ahead of me, with and without Ivan. I have thousands of hours of pondering how to do things, and messing up, and learning new things.

To some this may sound boring or daunting. To me, I’m so thankful to be in the process of becoming. It makes me think of a quote I saw today on Facebook:

“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, years they spend preparing for it.” T. Alan Armstrong

I am preparing for my success. I am preparing to be a champion in every minute I dance, practice, show up at competitions.

Ivan looked me straight in the eyes today and said that I could be a champion (we’re talking Pro/Am here, I think) and he’s actually said it before. I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying it because to achieve that would be beyond my wildest dreams.

I could choose to listen to the rational, dogmatic, practical self that whispers in my ear saying, “You are too old, to fat, and you started too late.”

Or, I can choose to focus my attention differently. I can listen to the part of me connected to The Universe, or God, Higher Self, or Source, or whatever you like to call it which, in an even softer whisper says:

“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.” I’m gonna amend that last one….Expect more than even I think is possible, THINK being the operational word here.

I say this because today Ivan and I did the Samba. How does this relate to thinking? Well, we agreed that to work on my stamina, we’d dance our routine multiple times in a row. We agreed we’d start with two times and lately I’ve been handling that pretty well so today he said we’d do it 3 times through. Ok I agreed, I thought I could probably make it through and then be spent.

But after the third go around, Ivan says, “And one more time for Merry Christmas!”

It was unexpected, but I did it! We danced for 3.5 minutes total and I was worried about making it through 2 minutes. Now, my goal is to get through 10 minutes straight without looking or feeling like I’m going to die, but this is a nice little start! I realized I could actually probably have gone another time through the Samba even. I might have pushed my heart rate to faster than a hummingbird on caffeine, but I probably could have made it.

The moral of the story, even I don’t know my limitations.

Its possible you don’t either. How great is that!

So, as you go through your activities today, ask yourself, “Is it possible that I actually don’t know my limits?” And, “What kind of champion am I practicing to be?”