Dancing to Keep Warm and For Plain ‘Ol Fun

It’s officially Autumn here in Maine! Those warm Summer days are long gone, evidenced by the 63-degree temperature inside the house (I’m not turning on the heat until I can vacuum out at least the ends of the ducts). The trees are also changing, which is beautiful. Batches of trees turned this brilliant red early on along the main route that I drive for groceries, PT, etc. You have this large swath of summer-y green and then bam! a batch of red in the middle. So gorgeous. I understand why tourists flock to this area at this time of year.

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Embassy Memories

Embassy Ball, home of the World Championships under the NDCA and WDC, took place in Orange County, CA this past week. Seeing so many social media posts with photos and videos from the event had me waxing nostalgic over my own Embassy memories. I’ve competed at Embassy Ball three times – 2017, 2018 and 2019. Embassy Ball has been a place of highs and lows for me, each triggering a significant turning point in my dance journey.

I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane, if you’ll indulge me!

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Dead Mice, Zumba and Dance Goals

They say time moves more slowly in the country, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Caring for this house alone could be a full-time gig. There are about 50 acres of forest waiting to be explored and that’s without leaving our property. Inspiration for art, whether it’s dance, photography, painting, etc., is abundant in these natural surroundings. Country living is anything but boring.

The difference I notice as I sit at the kitchen table and listen to the wind in the trees through the open window isn’t that I’ve slowed down since moving here. The difference is that Life around me moves at a less-rushed pace. The manic mood of the city is absent here. The bumblebees and hummingbirds show up every day in the overgrown garden next to the kitchen to collect their pollen and nectar. They aren’t lazy about it; they are consistent and persistent. What they aren’t is frantic. Their work is steady, not hectic. Amazing how they still complete their tasks without buzzing around like their boss is going to set their hair on fire if they don’t appear entirely stressed out.

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It’s Ok to Stumble. Just Keep Dancing.

Before I jump into today’s topic, I want to say Happy New Year, dancers! I hope your New Year’s celebrations were fun and safe.

My first lesson after the first pandemic lockdown started with a solo dance. I hadn’t danced in a studio for 3.5 months and the first thing Teacher and I did was dance Open Waltz apart. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see how much of the routine I remembered.

For the last couple years, Teacher has made me dance a solo dance or even an entire solo round at the beginning of almost every lesson, especially when we were getting close to a competition. I hated it. I got so embarrassed when I would lose my balance or forget my steps. It fed into my self-doubt and anxiety around my abilities as a dancer. But over time, it was also incredibly effective at improving my dancing.

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Turkey in the Morning, Turkey in the Evening

Happy post-Thanksgiving, dancers! Are your refrigerators as full of leftover turkey as mine?

Before I jump into today’s blog, I want to invite you to check out the sales happening at Practice Ballroom Dance! All book/journal bundles are discounted, so grab one for yourself and a friend to start the 2021 chapter of your dance journey off right. This year has straight up sucked, but we dancers know how to make our falls a part of our dance.

Now onto today’s story…

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Studio Solo Practice

I solo practiced at the studio yesterday! First time in 7 months. With talk of competing again in early 2021, 2021 being only three months away, AND only one lesson a week on the books for the foreseeable future, I thought it was time to get back into the solo practice habit.

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Dancing With Just Me

Week 7 of staying home has passed, and we’ve entered a new month. Some areas of the country have given up the quarantine life and made attempts to resume some sort of “normal.” The state I live in maintains its stay-at-home order with no specific expiration date. A ballroom competition just a couple states over announced it will proceed as planned in June. At the same time, a week-long dance camp scheduled for the same month in a neighboring state announced it was cancelling its in-person events and pivoting to an online platform.

Our current reality is full of discontinuity. For every argument, there is another to counter it and a third to counter both. It can be difficult to know who or what to believe or trust. Not to mention there is still a virus spreading and mutating around the world with widely varying effects and side effects.

What’s a ballroom dancer to do?

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The Times, They Are a-Changin’ (or Are They?)

Does anyone else feel like the last week took a month to pass? It was my first full week of adapting to the new reality we find ourselves in. Two Fridays ago, my company ordered everyone who could work from home to do so until further notice. On Monday, the county I live in issued an order (and then a revised order) restricting private and public gatherings, and then the state of California issued a “stay at home” order effective beginning Thursday until further notice.

It’s been stressful and surreal to experience so many changes in such a short time. No surprise that my anxiety was high and focusing on work became more difficult every day. Finally, on Friday, a mindset shift and a trip to my dad’s apartment helped me release some of the tension.

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The Solo Practice Guide and DanceVision

Coming to you midweek to share something exciting! Back in the beginning of November, I had the chance to sit down with Wayne Eng and chat about The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing. If you don’t recognize the name, Wayne is the owner of DanceVision, the largest producer of ballroom dance educational materials including the DVIDA syllabus and a huge library of training videos. He’s also the owner of Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships and one of the organizers of the United States Dance Championships. Needless to say, Wayne’s a busy man, so just the fact that we could find a date and time when we were both available was exciting!

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