Knock Down Seven Times Get Up Eight

I’ve probably mentioned this Samurai saying (from the title) before.  And I’ll probably use it again, too.  It’s something that helps me keep going when I fall down.  Well, the point of this post is simply to give a little update because my life is a freaking roller coaster emotionally sometimes.

Iwasa Katsushige 001

Iwasa Katsushige [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I already put an addendum as my most recent post that I did go to the gym after I was feeling down in the mouth about my lack of progress towards becoming healthier and stronger and a better dancer and that it helped.

Well, here’s what’s happened since then (since I know that my life is like, the most exciting thing evarrrrr to hear about….)

1) I worked myself out silly!  I was so sore (more-so in my upper body) that I’ve been taking ibuprofen, icing, and using heating pads on my shoulders and upper arms.

2) It’s uncomfortable to a certain extent, but I like that by body feels worked.  I realized that I miss it when I don’t do this for myself.  I just need to remember this when I want to hit the snooze button again or skip my evening workout.

3)  Ivan came back from Ohio Star Ball.  I haven’t danced with him in a week.  One lesson a week is not enough!  But, what are you going to do?  I have to supplement our lessons with other physical activity because I miss it when it is not present.  But I’m super proud of him and Marieta for being pros and getting out there and competing.  I support them.  I want to get myself into better shape so that I can maybe go and participate in a few more comps that they will be at instead of watching via streaming.

4)  The Cha Cha routine is getting better and better.  This makes me happy.

5)  I’ve weirdly found a new confidence in my dancing.  I am really at a place of believing that I am a strong dancer with some amazing potential.  The biggest thing holding me back that I can see is my physical shape and lack of stamina.  I’ve received some unsolicited feedback recently and also not-so-recently from people I really respect in the ballroom dancing world, that makes me feel validated as a dancer (regardless of how I am packaged currently, others can see who I am and what I am all about too) and helps me give credence to what my heart whispers but I, until recently, haven’t been able to deeply accept.  Now I do.

6) I made it to Inna’s class tonight and it totally kicked my butt.  It was awesome.  Getting enough sleep, staying active, eating reasonably, helped me.  I want to keep this healthy behavior up so I can take the best advantage of the amazing opportunity that is Inna’s Latin class.  I especially enjoyed the fact that she played with the timing tonight.  I found that super-fun and also love the concept of seeing the music in a dancer’s body.  We did a time step with a pause  – so regular timing 1 and 2, 3 and 4, then 1, hold 2, step on “and” step on 3, and then cha cha 1.  It adds pizzaz.  I like it a lot.

7)  I’m really getting into counting.  I love it.  Weird!  I now want to know the counts of all my movements.  I’m counting in class.  I remember this one time early on where Inna was counting and then suddenly went silent – I think because she is a master teacher and knew we were all relying on her.  The thing is, we have to know what we are doing as dancers ourselves.  When she stopped counting, a lot of us fell apart and got lost in the choreography.  Now, I undertand how important it is.  I love being responsible for my timing.  It is empowering.  I originally found it tedious, now, I am into it.

8)  I’m bummed Kelly got into the DWTS final over Apollo.  But, I’m glad Melissa and Shawn are in.

9)  Happy Thanksgiving!

10) I think surviving Inna’s class tonight with extremely sore arms and hamstrings makes it official – I’ve officially “gotten back up.”

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has liked the Facebook page for the blog.  After months of hovering at 99 likes, I suddenly jetted to 101 likes.  May not seem like a big deal, but to me, it means a lot.

Alright – until I have something more substantial to share……keep dancing!

Musicality With Master Teacher Inna

Seriously.  Every time I make it to Inna’s Latin class on Tuesdays I gain so much.

Tonight when I got there I saw Igor was teaching the International Ballroom group class instead of Artem and I had a little hope that maybe he would teach the Latin tonight as well, that maybe Inna and Artem were out of town or something.  Why?  Well, he kicks my butt…but Inna kicks it more.  I thought it might be a little bit of a reprieve.  But then Inna came out from the back and I whispered to Igor behind my hand, “I kinda wished you were teaching tonight because Inna kicks my butt.”  He laughed.  “No, tonight Inna’s going to kick your butt.”  Then louder I replied,  “I mean, I’m so glad Inna’s teaching tonight because she’s gonna kick my butt!”

Someone asked Inna what we were going to work on for the evening and she just smiled slyly saying, “Something fun.”

“Uh oh,” I muttered under my breath, imagining we’d be doing the Jive non-stop for the next hour.

After our usual welcome message and lining up in a row to bow and curtsey before the class is to begin, the blond powerhouse decided we should warm up with Samba.  Holy hell!  As I sit here writing this the muscles above my knees are aching and I know tomorrow my abs are gonna burn.  But it was good stuff.  We did the basic, front and back, working on bending our knees and thrusting our pelvis forward and back to get the bounce.  Then we added the whisk to the mix.  Then the arms.  Then she said, “And now we are gonna do this for 10 minutes.” Some people smirked, but I looked at my friend, Barb with a knowing look just as Inna said, “I’m serious.”  We were like, “We know” to one another.

But in reality I can seriously only do like three sets of the combination with the arms, they are so fast and my upper limbs are super heavy.  So, as per usual, I danced full-out doing as best I could, then resting doing the footwork sans arms, then adding them back in once more.  Next we did Samba walks across the floor.  I was warm and tingling, gasping for breath and red and wet with sweat.  Nice warm up Inna!

So then came the fun part.  And you know what….it really was.

Inna was going to teach us about musicality in the body.  The specific type of movement we were going to work on is called Impact, at least that is what I think she was saying.  To me it kind of sounded like “Em-pat” but the movement she demonstrated was to move and stop.  Sharp, staccato movements.

Pretty much we got to strike a pose.  She didn’t care if it was a dance movement.  It could be an arm, a foot, a shoulder, the head.  But we had to move on the count of three and stop.  She counted a Cha Cha rhythm.  So she called me and one other gal to stand in the front of the class after we had done it in a group for a while. I played around and even hit my behind just for fun!  And did the robot, you know, like from the 80’s?  It was super fun.

Then we got to be a clapping orchestra.  Inna separated us in to groups and we clapped parts of the Cha Cha rhythm…1,2,3, cha cha, 1,2,3, cha cha.  Then we stomped it.  Then we did it to music.  It took a while some time for people to hear the beat.  They were rushing sometimes, but eventually we all got in sync.

Next, Inna explained that we could all now hear the Cha Cha beat, and we understood Impact movement, but that there were other types of Musicality in the body.  There can be continuous movement, like in a Rumba.  And Pulsing movement, like in a Bolero, where you hit a pose but then continue extending the movement slowly.  And there is Swing, like in the Ballroom dances where the big movement is in the middle of the stride, but that is not used in Latin dances so much.  And there is Vibration, which was fun and she made us all do it….just wiggling small and fast all over the body.  She said we were all good at that one.  And then staccato movement, which is the Impact movement only faster.  We weren’t going to work on these types of movement, but it is good to know about them.  This kind of stuff is rarely discussed on lessons.

So then it was time to put the Impact body Musicality together with the Cha Cha rhythm.  I think this increased the difficulty by 150%.  We did our usual Cha Cha routine but this time extra sharp.  And, this made it extra hard.  In fact, she said, “If it is more difficult, then you are doing it right.”  I guess I was successful because man, that was a beast!  It takes so much energy to hit each pose with force and then stop myself so sharply.  I could barely do the combination two times in a row and normally, when I move softer and more continuously, I can make it across the floor.

Class ended, we bowed and curtsied, but afterwards I had to tell Inna my experience.  “Inna, every time I come to this class, I just gain so much.  I really feel like you are a master teacher.  It is so wonderful.  Thank you.”  She gave me a hug.

I mean it.  Very sincerely.  And I’m bummed I missed last week when they worked on facial expressions!  Again, invaluable stuff for the competitive dancer like me and I bet that class was a riot!  I’ve got to go as much as I possibly can.  I don’t want to miss a single minute, you know?

So at the end of the day, before I see who got the boot on DWTS tonight, I’m reflecting on my dance life.  I just feel so completely blessed to be learning not only from Ivan, but from Inna too.  I am so grateful for my teachers.  They are worth every penny and every minute.  I count myself extremely lucky to be able to learn from pros like these.