Dancing Back Into Society: One Step at a Time

My second in-person lesson post-shutdown is in the books! As I danced my Open Waltz solo and felt sweat dripping off my nose underneath my mask, I told myself I was getting extra stamina training for when we return to the competition floor. No sarcasm intended. I love making the most of a moment.

Adding an extra challenge to the workout that is ballroom dance just means more benefits reaped on the other side. It’s like when I was on the high school swim team and we would wear old, stretched out suits over our regular suit to create extra drag in the water. The body has to work harder, which means it gets stronger. I’m learning how to better control my breath as I dance with a mask on, and hopefully my lungs are getting stronger too.

The lesson was productive on the actual dance side of things too. We continued working on the use of my core to drive and control my movement. I’ll admit, sometimes I was glad to have the mask so Teacher couldn’t see my mouth hanging half open as my brain tried to process what he was telling me.

Unfortunately, it may be my last lesson for awhile. Due to rising COVID-19 case numbers, a new order came out from the state on Monday that shuts down indoor activities of a variety of businesses, and dance studios in my area are affected.

With the future still full of so much uncertainty, I’m sticking with my focus on fitness and mindset at home, as opposed to a more traditional solo practice or jumping into more online dance classes.

The country is a mess any way you look at it. Just witnessing the wide range of reactions and opinions on topics that shouldn’t warrant such divisiveness makes my chest tight with anxiety. It seems like people are losing it, and the truth is a lot of them probably are. It’s been four months since we first shut down here, and we only had about two to three weeks of things mostly being reopened before the governor rolled back on the reopening plan. I can’t imagine the stress some must be feeling as they attempt to deal with the pandemic, lost jobs, the uncertain future of their children’s education, and who knows what else. Like I said, we’re a mess.

Practicing my arm styling feels out of place in that kind of reality.

You might think it would give me a much needed escape, which could ease my anxiety. The problem is the dance bubble is gone. Life is too intense right now for me to be able to pretend, even for a short time, that it isn’t happening.

So I’ve been working on integrating my “dance life” and “real life” into simply my life. I should note that it is still a work in progress. Just like we’re in the middle of the science experiment that’s studying the COVID-19 virus and therefore we don’t have all of the answers yet and the answers we thought we had need to keep being revised, I’m in the middle of this redefining of who I am as a dancer. So please pardon me if it doesn’t entirely make sense or I contradict myself in a different post.

In the time I’ve spent not doing traditional solo practice or attending classes, I find that I’m connecting to my dance in new and everyday, common ways. Whether it’s just enjoying the feeling of flexing and pointing my feet while I write or playing tag with my dogs as we chase each other around the apartment, I’m tuning into the energy and rhythm in my body and around me.

I question myself, of course. Shouldn’t I be doing more to keep up my traditional training? Shouldn’t I be taking advantage of all of the online classes? You don’t win championships by playing with your dogs.

But winning championships was an old reality goal. This is a different reality where the World Championships (Embassy Ball) have already been cancelled. Nationals to be determined. In any case, I don’t intend to compete for a long while.

A different reality calls for different or revised goals. I wrote before about shifting my perspective on the future from “what” to “who,” as in who do I want to be in whatever future I end up in. That requires setting goals or intentions that aren’t strictly dance-related, but still include dance because it’s a big part of who I am.

Of course, it’s difficult to set goals past this week, or even tomorrow. So I keep it simple: take care of my mind and body. Tune out the external noise and listen to what my mind and body are saying they need. What I’ve heard is “go slow”, “don’t push” and “one step at a time.”

I’m listening, and I hope you’re doing the same for yourself. Taking care of ourselves both mentally and physically is critical in this reality.

Stay safe, dancers!

2 thoughts on “Dancing Back Into Society: One Step at a Time

  1. everydaybeautyinlife says:

    My heart just breaks with frustration (if that makes any sense!) knowing that for many countries, partner dancing is still not a possibility. I count my blessings every day that I am in a location where we are virtually free of Covid-19 and able to go about ‘normal’ life. I count my blessings not only because I have more freedom than others, but also because I know that freedom can be gone in an instant if circumstances change and I must enjoy every moment handed to me.

    On a completely different note, do you dance any American Smooth at all? I have just been introduced to it and my partner and I are preparing a show dance of Tango for a small party in two weeks’ time. If you do, I would love to know your thoughts on this style compared to standard ballroom.

    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      I count my blessings too that I am still working full time and bringing in a paycheck when millions of others are out of work. Such strange times we live in!

      American Smooth is my main style! I love it. ❤ I’ve heard it be described as the child of Standard and Latin, but it actually pulls inspiration from so many other dance styles like ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, even hip hop. Standard is definitely its technique parent and obviously the foundation for the individual dances. Smooth is constantly evolving, which is exciting because of the opportunities to stretch yourself creatively.

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