Would you believe I had dance four days this past week? Two private lessons, a studio party (!), and a group class this morning. I could have taken advantage of a group class discount on Friday as well, but I needed a night at home. It was the closest I’ve come to my pre-pandemic life in over a year.
The studio party felt particularly significant for me because the last in-person dance event I attended wasn’t exactly a dance through the park. My anxiety was extremely high except for the few minutes I was performing on stage. This time, the event was a social dance. I didn’t have the pressure of performing, but also no escape out and above the crowd. I did have one thing this time that I didn’t have before – I was fully vaccinated.
Spoiler alert: I had fun at the party! A couple margaritas helped. Being vaccinated and knowing a lot of the other people at the party were also vaccinated helped. Being in a familiar place where I knew they had taken safety seriously through the entire pandemic helped a lot. I ate, I drank, I danced, and I didn’t have to battle the constant threat of a panic attack. Yay!
Even though the pandemic isn’t over, more and more aspects of Life feel like they’re becoming regular (refusing to say “back to normal”). Ballroom competitions are carrying on with hardly a mask in sight except on judges and staff. Even Teacher and I resumed choreography review with the (mostly fantasy) idea of competing in a few months. People are moving on whether Covid-19 is ready to take its final bow or not.
I love that people are getting back to dance and back on the competition floor. I see the joy in their faces, even behind a mask, at being able to do what they love full out. There is relief in being vaccinated and being able to break free of the fear and uncertainty that the pandemic brought with it. How can you not dance those feelings?
As for me, I continue to take steps toward my next chapter. I’ve shared before how my relationship with dance shifted during the peak times of the pandemic. I sat still with my dance and listened because honestly, it hurt my knees too much to keep practicing on the carpet at home. I realized that simply preparing for yet another competition wasn’t going to fulfill my purpose in dance anymore. Something greater beckoned. I’m still not entirely clear on what that is, and I am fantasizing about being able to compete again (the usual money issues are the main roadblock). Ballroom competitions always appealed to me because of the challenge. I love testing myself in an “all in” format. It’s not just about knowing your routine; it’s about knowing how to adapt those steps in the moment. It’s not just about entertaining an audience with fancy styling; it’s about using your technique as a foundation to create an elevated experience for yourself, your partner, and your audience. Everything comes into play in a competition.
I still want to test myself, but it’s not just about going all in at a competition. It’s trying to keep my body aligned while dancing with Teacher during a private lesson in order to avoid putting pressure on that trouble spot in my lower back. It’s about tuning into my follow skills to dance an advanced Salsa with another teacher at the studio party (I passed that test!). Testing myself is part of the fun of learning dance. It’s like a game – let’s see what happens when I try this!
I can feel there is more outside of personal improvement that dance and I can do together. Something that can impact the bigger world. I’ve gotten some possible inklings, but I still have no idea what that might be! Which I’m kinda excited about! It’s an unknown, but unlike the pandemic, this unknown promises a better future, instead of sickness and death.
I’m rediscovering my dance through this pandemic because I was forced to pause, slow down, sit still and listen, instead of rushing off to my next lesson or practice session. I stopped moving, but dance never left me.
That’s been a comfort, as I also work to rediscover a solo practice routine that best fits my pandemic-era life. Pre-pandemic, my signature solo practice schedule was 1-2 hours at my old studio on a Sunday to support 1-2 private lessons and just before the pandemic, 1-2 practice sessions with my amateur partner. I haven’t practiced on my own at the new studio like that in months. I think I only went once actually for a true solo practice session. The rest has been done in bits and pieces at home.
Now’s the part where I toot my own horn – pandemic or not, I designed the framework of The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing to be as adaptable as anyone needs it to be. You can use the framework and practice for 4 hours or 15 minutes. Having that tool in my back pocket has a calming effect. Instead of thinking “can I really prep for a competition when I have so much else going on?!”, I simply know I can make it work if I want to. I know how. I’ve done it before, and oh by the way, it helped me win a World Championship. I’ve got this.
I’d love to know how you’re rediscovering your dance in this season. Are you jumping right back into your regular schedule as soon as you’re vaccinated, or looking at things from a new perspective and making some changes? Please share in the comments!
If you could use some peace of mind as you resume a more regular dance routine, please check out RediscoverYourDance.com for a special message from yours truly and to order your own Solo Practice Guide.