A Sunday Morning Waltz

It’s been two and a half weeks since my last dance lesson, which was also the last time I danced ballroom at all. Being busy with other things, like driving across country, Thanksgiving, blog- and book-related work, and the day job (yes, still working the day job!), has helped keep the withdrawal symptoms tolerable. The Zumba game has helped too; I think it’s going to be my ticket to avoiding too much holiday weight gain in the next month. But finally, this morning, I broke out my ballroom practice shoes.

I decided to use this first practice to get reacquainted with waltz. Teacher had recorded some videos for me with practice drills to work on while I was away, so I just picked the first one to see what my body remembered. The focus was using my core to support my top half so it can “grow” in the smooth dances.

Movement-wise, all I did was move from side to side, like a prep step. Practice-wise though, I was doing a lot more. I was using this practice to get reacquainted with my dance body as well. While I did this prep step drill, I tried to tune into the different body parts that were working together to move to the side, rise up, lower back down, move to the other side, and repeat. I moved as slowly as possible to give myself time to think about what I was doing with my core. Was it engaged? Was it supporting my top half so it could grow through all of the movements? Was I using it to keep my lower back straight or was I letting my back arch?

I then switched and focused on my chest and head. Often when I feel like I’m straining my neck to stretch my head out as far as Teacher wants it, it turns out the real issue is my chest dropping, which pulls my head forward. So I worked on keeping my chest up and forward to give my head as much room to stretch as possible.

Finally, I did a little work on foot pressure. Moving side to side, it’s easy to let the moving foot just slide across the floor without maintaining a connection with the floor. It’s also easy to forget about using pressure in the standing leg and foot to drive the movement. My balance always improves when I remember to maintain foot pressure, especially at the top of the rise.

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Practice, practice, practice!

I took video from different angles to see if what I felt like I was doing was also what I looked like I was doing. Honestly, it was hard for me to tell, but there were moments where I could see that I made an adjustment to fix something.

After my waltz practice, I did a mid-length Zumba class on the Wii. Between the two, I felt justified in eating some of the caramel-pecan cheesecake I made last night for lunch. It was delicious, by the way.

I decided not to go to the USA Dance social in the afternoon. I went Christmas shopping with my mom instead. I just wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about making the hour-long trek to the studio or spending the energy to meet new people (it requires a lot from me). My mom and I had a lovely afternoon shopping and then ate a delicious dinner, so I think I made the right decision. Between the foyer and the kitchen, I think I have enough space to practice, and if I feel the need to just dance off some stress, I have the Zumba game. Maybe I’m trying to justify not going to the social or finding another practice space, but I’m also looking ahead to the new year.

Once I get back to California, I plan on kicking my ballroom back into high gear. I’m already looking at possible comeback comps, so I can start budgeting and saving. I’m also going to continue the search for an amateur partner to work with (if you recall, Ballroom Viking already has a competitive partner, so while he and I may practice together, I still need to find a full-time partner).

I also want to work on another book in 2017. I have a couple ideas for the next Dance Diaries book (or books) and a third idea for a longer book. If you saw my first nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing Facebook livestream a couple weeks ago, you know I’m also doing this brand challenge that is teaching me how to grow the Girl with the Tree Tattoo beyond a simple blog, which is yet another goal of mine. I’m learning a lot and subsequently getting a lot of ideas for the website. Those ideas require time to organize, plan and execute.

Since I want to focus on my dancing once I’m back on the West Coast, I figure I should focus on my writing while I’m on the East Coast. Practicing at home will keep me from forgetting everything good Teacher has taught me, and I may even improve my stamina for future comps with Zumba.

It’s funny; sometimes I’m excellent at planning and executing. I see where I need to go, and the steps I need to take to get there just appear in front of me. I don’t waste any time to take those steps. Other times, the steps are scattered and fuzzy and keep appearing, disappearing and then reappearing in different places. The steps are harder to see when I’m not crystal clear on where I need or want to go. Planning for a comp, for example, is easy. I know exactly what I want to do, where I need to go, and when I need to get there. With that clarity, seeing the steps I need to take is natural for me.

This is where my dancing is easier for me than my writing. I know exactly where I want to take my dancing, at least in the next couple years. It also helps that I have Teacher to collaborate with. My goals for my writing and the Girl with the Tree Tattoo are a little fuzzier, and I’m working on them solo. If I’ve learned anything from the brand challenge, it’s that I need clarity. I know I want to grow beyond a blog and a couple eBooks, but I’m still figuring out exactly how. So while my dancing is more or less on hold, I may as well use this time to clear up those non-dancing goals, at least a little.

I anticipate more blog posts on the topic of goals as I search for clarity and the end of 2016 draws closer. Until then, happy dancing (or writing)!

 

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