I’m having the worst time deciding how I want to start this blog post, so I’m writing this sentence just so there is something written. Maybe it will start flowing from here.
Or we can skip to the end – I had a simply wonderful time at Desert Classic this past week! It was the perfect mix of work and pleasure and left me feeling relaxed and fulfilled. I had a couple moments watching the competition when I felt that bittersweet wish to be the one on the dance floor, not in the audience, but actually those moments were far fewer than I expected. I was too busy enjoying myself, cheering others on, and connecting with dance friends, both new and old.
I haven’t written here in two weeks and so much has happened! So be forewarned, this may be a long post. I’m going to start with the latest exciting news first.
The first shipment of printed Solo Practice Guides is on its way! There were some errors in the print file that caused a delay, but we finally got them sorted out this past Thursday night and I couldn’t go to bed without submitting the official order. I can’t wait to get the first one in my hands! Preorders and the fast-action bonuses are still available at practiceballroomdance.com.
It’s surreal to think that an idea I had last year is about to become a real, physical object. And one that’s making a difference for dancers! So cool and crazy.
Ok, now on to the competition. The personal theme of this comp turned out to be connections, beginning when I got on the plane!
I was flying out Wednesday, but I took Tuesday off too. I had a dogsitter coming to stay at my place with my boys, so not only did I need to pack, I needed to clean and prep the apartment for her. I knew there was no way I’d get everything done in the evening after work. I ended up finishing about 6pm on Tuesday and spent the rest of the evening trying to remember what I must have forgotten because how could I be done with time to relax??
My dad and I were flying together. I have cheesy-level supportive parents, which is awesome, and so my dad has made it to almost all of my competitions. After we found our seats on the plane, another woman sat down in the third seat in our row. She started talking to another guy who was passing by and made a comment about dancing. Turns out she was also flying to Millennium! We spent most of the flight trading stories and talking about how much we love ballroom.
The first thing I did when I arrived at the hotel was connect with the host of Ballroom Backstage. We were doing an interview that evening. Check it below.
That was just the beginning. The next morning, while I was waiting to have my makeup done, one of the other girls asked if I was the Girl with the Tree Tattoo. Turned out she follows me on Instagram and had just seen the pre-makeup selfie I had just posted!
The ballroom was decorated with a comic book/superhero theme, complete with huge statues of characters like Captain America, Batman, Superman and Spiderman. Wonder Woman greeted you at the ballroom entrance. While I enjoy a good modern-day, action-packed superhero movie, I have a fond appreciation for the old-school “kapow!” and “splat!” So it was fun to see those quirky words scattered on the walls of the ballroom in lights.
Motivational wall in the practice room
Each event is assigned a heat number, and normally the heat numbers go in order. Not so much at this comp. Teacher and I were lined up for our first round of single dances, and right as we thought we were going out on the floor, we were told to wait. My dad was sitting on the opposite side of the ballroom from the on-deck area, ready to go live on Facebook. After I walked over to let him know they had switched things around, I ran into another connection! Another follower had come to support her friend and saw me as I was passing by.
As if that didn’t fill my heart enough, back in the on-deck area, another dancer smiled as she walked by me and said she loved reading my blog. These moments are why I put myself out there and tell my stories! Each person I meet who tells me I’ve touched their life in some small and positive way makes me want to reach ten more!
The dancing felt great. In my first round, we kept dancing by this one couple watching while in shadow and so we kept making eye contact. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, which made me want to dance even more for them. I was able to say hi to them off the floor later and thank them for being there for me to dance for.
During the second round of single dances and the scholarship round, we ended up in shadow every time we passed the judges. Quite possibly by Teacher’s design, it’s one of those times that is the perfect opportunity to show them what you’ve got and is nerve-wracking at the same time. I definitely stumbled a little out of one of my turns right in front of a judge, and I saw that he saw me. Oh well, I still ended up with all first places in all of my single dances!
I just missed getting a clean sweep. They jumped around again with heat numbers, and as I sat at a table thinking I had at least 20 to 30 minutes before I danced my scholarship round, I heard Teacher call my name and gesture to come over to the on-deck area. We were dancing next!
So my waltz probably could have been better if I had been warmed up and mentally ready to perform, instead of feeling a little caught off-guard. Each dance was better than the one before though, and overall I felt good about it. Awards time came, and I ended up with second place. Certainly nothing to scoff at, especially in a 7-couple final! But after we were all done and I went back to my hotel room to change, I felt unsettled. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was bothering me. I was curious what my individual marks were, so I checked the scoresheets online. Turns out I had actually tied for first place, but ended up with second by Rule 11.
Rule 11 is the last of 11 rules used to determine competitors’ placements. The last handful direct how to handle ties. If you get to Rule 11, that means you applied all of the other ten rules and the tie was still unbroken. That means the tie was very close. Looking at my marks, it was extremely close. If just two more of my 28 marks over the four dances had been first places, I would have won.
I actually felt better after figuring all of this out. Ok ok, my ego felt better. Being a hair away from first place was better than being squarely in second. Sue me, I’m human.
One last unexpected connection to finish off the trip. On Friday night, I watched Teacher and his wife compete in the Open Professional Smooth competition, and another one of my readers was sitting at the same table I was! I learned after I got home that her teacher also follows me because he sent me a note saying she told him that she met me. I tell you, these connections are so cool! I know ideally you’re supposed to be able to find fulfillment within yourself, not need external validation, etc., but it really makes a difference to me and inspires me to keep putting myself out there every time I make a new connection. I know I’ve said this more than once before, but you guys really keep me going.
I think that’s enough rambling for now. Don’t forget to check out practiceballroomdance.com! Preorders for the Guide only go until July 9 and then I’m going to take some time to fulfill those orders and get the official Solo Practice Guide website launched before regular sales start up.
And if you’d like to see how that scholarship round went, here you go:
Oh, P.S., if you’re wondering what’s next, the answer is Embassy Ball! Last year’s Embassy was a huge catalyst for the Guide, and I’m looking forward to seeing how I fare this time after a year of perfecting my solo practice.
Tomorrow is the last day of my vacation! That exclamation point is not for excitement, mind you. More for exasperation. Does it really have to end?
I have been hampered by a stubborn headache since Thursday. Teacher even cancelled my lesson on Friday 5 minutes in because I couldn’t focus and he didn’t want me to waste a lesson if I wasn’t feeling well. I was mad at myself later for not insisting that we continue the lesson. I can be as stubborn as my headaches. I plan on feeling well enough to make it to the social dance tomorrow. Anyone else coming?
As I pondered the next nugget of my journey to share with you, I thought I’d open the floor up for questions or topics that you want me to discuss here.
So I’m starting a new series called Ask the Girl! You can ask me about ballroom, writing, dealing with demons, pursuing a passion…anything really, the floor is yours! If there is something that’s been bugging you, chances are it’s bugging someone else too. Let’s start a dialogue and help each other out!
Comment below or send me a message. Depending on the response, I’ll dedicate at least one post per week to addressing your questions, comments, concerns, etc.
You know those people who draw everyone’s attention when they walk into a room? Whether it’s their walk or their smile or their eyes or everything about their body language, people notice them. I am not one of those people. I am one of those people who slips in unnoticed and hangs around for 20 minutes before someone says “oh, when did you get here?!” I generally avoid the spotlight. I’ve pushed myself to let some inner light shine through in my dancing. But I still tend to retreat to the shadows as soon as I can. Unfortunately, I will not be able to go after a national title in the shadows. Shucks.
Just a quick post because I need to go to bed, but I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t share these things now.
One: I was having a “meh” Monday. What Monday isn’t “meh”? In any case, I went to the studio to take a cha cha group class. I was on the fence about going because I was really tired and kept getting stuck in my head about a bunch of things, not all dance-related. But I hadn’t been to a group class in awhile and I haven’t done cha cha in an even longer while, so off I went. It was exactly what I needed. Lucky me, it was just me and one guy, so we ended up with a semi-private lesson. Forty-five minutes later and I didn’t feel so tired and my troubles didn’t seem so bad. And as I drove home, I thought this is it! This is why I spend all this money on this ballroom nonsense. It makes me feel good! It makes me happy! All of my anxieties and fears over performance and wanting to be accepted and feel like I belong, those are born out of the “extra” stuff that surrounds the dance. And I like that extra stuff too. I like pushing myself to improve and challenging myself at competition. I want those anxieties and fears brought to the surface so I can finally see what they’re really made of and work on exorcising them! But it’s nice to be able to take a break and just do a little cha cha.
Two: I was so very honored to read a quote from my last post as the starting line to the latest post on Facing Diagonal Wall. Because this is why I blog. To connect with people, to inspire people, to encourage people. I feel so blessed to have connected with so many bloggers through the Ballroom Village in such a short time. Big thank you to the Biggest Girl in the Ballroom for inviting me to be a part of this awesome group!
This evening has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and even a little teary-eyed! I hope I can continue to connect with people, support them in their pursuit of their passion, guide them in battles against their demons, and inspire them to do whatever makes them want to dance!
I want you to know that you all rock. Every single one of you.