Big Changes Coming

I mentioned in my last post that there are some big changes coming to how I dance.

  1. I will no longer be working with Boss.
  2. I will be specializing in Latin only.

The first is occurring because Boss has made the decision to stop competing, the second as a result of no viable pro/am 10-dance option available in either my immediate area or even within reasonable commuting distance.

I was not surprised with Boss’s decision. Its been coming for a long time and if I am honest, I really have just been waiting for him to finalize it and tell me. I had a very strong suspicion before the competition that it would be my last with Boss.

Because I subconsciously knew what was coming, I think I also began to subconsciously figure out a plan for what to do after. Once Boss told me the news, I realized I had already laid a little bit of the groundwork, I just needed to gather details and make a final decision myself.

One thing that really stood out to me at Emerald was how much my latin styling needs a lot of work, and how much it detracts from the rest of my dancing. I also noticed that when it comes to standard, I was also missing styling there as well. That led me to the decision after we finished dancing to reach out to the dancer who designed my dresses (who was also at the competition with her husband who was competing with his students) to ask about pricing and if she could do regular lessons with me in styling.

When Boss told me his decision, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the best option for now would be to specialize in latin and see if I could work with the gentleman of the couple as a pro/am student. I discussed this idea briefly with Boss, and while I think he was surprised he too agreed it did make sense as the best option.

I reached out to the couple to see if they would take me on as a pro/am student and they agreed. I say ‘they’ because they train their students as a couple, so I will be working with each of them as they feel necessary.

Unfortunately, everything is not quite as easy as it might sound.

As I mentioned before, I live on an Island off the west coast of North America. The couple, live and work on the mainland. Its a 90 minute ride on a ferry that can be extremely busy and is expensive for a vehicle. It also doesn’t run every hour or sometimes even every other hour, and it is a 45 minute drive from my apartment to the terminal. I can walk on the ferry and take public transport to the studio where they work, but it is a 45 min to 1 hour trip.

Needless to say, going over to the mainland and back on a weekday evening when I have to work the next day is not going to be possible. I am going to be limited to mainly working with them on the weekends, and I know from doing dress fittings that it can be almost a full day trip if I don’t stay overnight. Going over every weekend would quickly burn me out, so I have proposed going over an average of every other weekend and doing 4 lessons, ideally over two days.

The couple, who I will call New Boss and Lady Boss until I come up with something more creative, are currently away in Britain training for Blackpool later this month. I won’t be able to start with them until June, and I will be away when they return from the training before the competition. There is a small window we may be able to figure out details, but we will have to see. Until we can work out details, I really don’t know when I will restart dancing and training, or what that training will look like exactly.

I am optimistic we will be able to work out a system that works for all 3 of us and the commute.

Already, I have discussed some preliminary things with them, such as cost and level. They are more expensive to work with than Boss, but that is expected. This couple are Blackpool Rising Star Pro Latin Champions, and regularly place in the top 48 in major World competitions. Because I am specializing in latin though, I don’t need to take 3 lessons a week, so to stay in budget I will cut back to an average of 2.

For level, they are recommending I go back to doing closed routines to build a stronger technical foundation. I have already agreed, although I know we will discuss it further when we meet. I am well aware that there are some major gaps in my latin, styling aside, and I have no issues with working to fill those gaps and strengthen my dancing overall. I know already that this couple have different focuses for dance than Boss and I am looking forward to seeing where they want to start.

I am going to miss standard. It is one of the biggest hesitations I have with this plan, but I am looking at Boss’s decision as an opportunity to do focused work in latin, and that I will be able to return to standard at a later date to resume 10-dance. I intend to dance for a long time yet and there is certainly time to go back to standard when the time is right.

For now, my plan it to trial working on the mainland and see how it works. There is a strong possibility that this time next year I might receive word that work is moving me to a new location, and if that happens, hopefully there will be an option for a 10-dance pro or even a partner there. If the decision is made that I will stay here, I can evaluate where I am at and see if there is a viable option to resume both styles.

I will also miss working and dancing with Boss, but in many ways the time has come for me to move on, even if he was going to continue competing with his students. I have spent the past 6.5 years working with Boss and just absorbing and taking in all he had to teach me. It was an extremely rough time, considering my illness, and when I started with him, I never would have guessed that my journey would take me to where I am now. I am extremely grateful to Boss for all he has taught me and put into my dancing and the opportunities he has given throughout our time working together. I truly wish him well in the future.

Change is scary and hard, but I don’t find myself feeling as I expected I might. I am sad to be leaving behind Boss and standard, but I am generally happy with my decision to specialize in Latin and work with New Boss and Lady Boss. I don’t feel anxious going into the future, but optimistic that my dancing will continue to develop leading me to reach a new level. If I were to feel anxious about anything, its managing the commute between my schedule and my new coaches. For now, until I am able to sit down and discuss my training with them I can only wait and see what the plan will be. At this point, I have sent them only some background on my dancing and me, as well as some information about my goals and some information on how I have worked previously. From here, it is up to them.

Change is hard, but it often brings us to places we didn’t expect to go.

And so, off I go…

 

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Closer and Closer

Just a quick one tonight.

The comp is getting closer and the pieces are falling into place.

The dress arrived today as expected and it fits much better! There is one small bit of excess fabric I have to fix by hand, but pretty much it is good to go.

My shoe is at the cobbler’s and will be ready tomorrow. I will double check it when I pick it up to make sure it will work.

I have massage therapy at the end of the day tomorrow and that will help to make sure my body is ready to go. Even after the rounds yesterday, my hip feels good and aches are to a minimum.

I saw the program for the comp today and its not a bad field of competition overall. I am completely uncontested only in my 5 open silver standard dances, but have 1-3 competitors in my other single dances. All of my multidances have a good field, except for the 10-dance which is only 2 of us.

I can feel my excitement rising!

Slowly I am checking things off as I get ready. Boss told me today he is going to look at our heat times and plan out when we will wait in the ballroom, leave, eat, etc. We both agreed that we would eat breakfast after the first dance as we have a 90-120 minute break before the rest of the singles each day. That will give us a little more time to sleep before preparing to head to the comp.

Two more sleeps to go!

A Solid Run-through

Finally!

The last week and a half have been about working to get the routines to the point where we can go through them all without stopping and almost mistake free.

Today we had a rounds practice where we mainly focused on standard and it went extremely well. Not perfect of course, but solid enough to alleviate some of the anxiety around the open routines.

It also helps that we received our heat lists and the most number of dances we have in a row is 5. We don’t always have a big break between, sometimes only 5 or 10 minutes, but it is enough time to recollect ourselves and reset for the next round.

I will also compete in 4 events with semi-finals and 2 with quarter finals. The two with quarter finals are both open scholarships, so I don’t really expect to make it to the semi in those, but I am optimistic to make the finals from the 4 semis because they are closed silver events.

That said, in the end it is all about doing my best – that’s all I can really control. I expect there to be some tough competition in many of the events, and much more seasoned competitors than myself.

We start fairly early both days, 730 on Friday and 8 am on Saturday, both to dance one random single dance I needed to qualify for the scholarships. After each we have about a 2 hour wait for our next group of dances. It means pretty early days to have my hair and make-up all together. We also have a good gap of about 3 hours between our last silver events and our open ones.

With the rounds practice behind me, I am slowly starting to feel myself getting excited for the competition. I have been checking off my ‘to do’ list and am counting the days.

I do have two small ‘hiccups’ to finish working out.

First, a month ago at our first rounds practice I snapped the post on the buckle of one of my standard competition shoes. I took it to the cobbler’s and they fixed it. Last weekend they worked well, but today when I went to put them on, the post was too short to hold the strap. I am not quite sure what caused that, but I have to go back to the cobbler’s tomorrow to ask them to replace it again with a longer post.

Second, I ran into some issues with my new standard dress (but my latin one works great!), in that the body suit was too loose and long which led it to shift as we moved. In addition, the floats were too long, especially on the left to the point where there was risk of stepping on them. I had to go over to the mainland on Thursday to meet the dressmaker so she could make the adjustments while I waited.

First, the ferry was booked full for cars (odd for a Thursday afternoon), so I had to walk on the ferry with my dress to make the timing, which was the only time available to get the dress fixed. I then had to take a taxi from the terminal to the studio. She was able to see the dress on me to figure out where the adjustments needed to be make and started to sew, but her needle hit a stone and broke shortly after. Therefore, she wasn’t able to finish the dress while I was there.

She finished it that night and sent it by UPS Friday morning. I should receive it tomorrow before my dance lesson, which should give us a chance to run some of the routines in the dress.

Needless to say, the next 3 days are going to by busy and bit non-stop, followed by flying to the competition and competing. The week after the competition will be a crazy one at work and then I fly out for 2 weeks of training in Germany. I won’t really get a break until the last week of May.

I really can’t wait to get on the floor again and see how I do.

Hopefully the comp will be as solid as today’s run-through.

2.5 weeks

That’s it until we leave for Emerald Ball!

I honestly can’t believe it is coming so close. It still seems like there is so much work to do, and we haven’t really done any run-throughs due to my injury.

So far so good though. The hip is behaving with only a little bit of tweaking here and there – mainly in paso. Thankfully, that is the dance I do the least overall at the comp so hopefully that will bode well.

Today we reviewed a couple of places in foxtrot and waltz to look at some of the line figures and make some small adjustments. Following that, we looked at some spots in the Paso where I have a habit of over-compensating to shape and break my left side.

We ran through it a couple times and on the very last run-through at the very end I got the smallest tweak going into the twists that end the routine. It was fleeting, but enough to put me on edge.

We finished with jive, which honestly is the routine that is concerning me the most. For some reason, I can’t seem to keep the routine in my head and I have yet to get through it without forgetting one major part or another. The biggest issue is I get into my own head getting worried I will miss a part coming up and then end up skipping over the previous section.

I need to mainly get out of my head in jive.

I also keep missing the first turn and ending up facing the wrong way by confusing it with a later turn. There is just a bunch of little pieces in jive that aren’t quite coming together leading me to panic some and then forget what I am doing.

We did try it at full speed today and up until the very end it went well. It then became really obvious that we haven’t really done the end of the routine at full speed as all of a sudden everything both of us were doing got behind. We really just need to go through the entire routine about 10 times without stopping to nail it down.

I have one more lesson this week, and then this weekend Boss and I will run through the routines in the other hall on our own (as most of the others at the practice will be competing at the Canadian Closed Comp in Calgary).

Monday I pick up my new dresses. I haven’t seen them since the last fitting so I am really curious to see what the final result will be – especially since slowing down on activity I have lost almost 10 lbs without trying. I am hoping it won’t have too much of an impact on the fit overall.

Next weekend we should have a full rounds practice with the other competitors so that should set us up nicely for the comp!

A busy 2 weeks ahead!

It looks good…

Today was almost hip pain free.

I started to feel a dull ache during the last 5 minutes of my lesson, with things feeling tight and tired about 20 minutes before that.

Compared to Monday, its like night and day.

Today in my lesson I didn’t hold much back. I had moments where I could feel myself being tentative because I was expecting what I was doing to cause pain and I was really surprised when it didn’t. Once I got through that first hurdle, doing it the next time was easier.

We even started with open jive and did 2 fairly good run-throughs- one slow and one more medium. We then switched to standard and ran through the silver routines, followed by the silver latin. We ended with the Quickstep and Foxtrot pieces we worked on at the end of Monday’s lesson.

Overall, a much more productive lesson than I have had in quite some time, but I am still being diligent and about icing and heating, physio and massage therapy. There is still 3.5 weeks until the comp and I don’t want to temp fate. I am also not going to be returning to the gym until after, just in case.

Small interesting fact: since I got injured and stopped going to the gym and reduced dance, I have actually lost more than 5 lbs out of the blue, putting me at the lowest I have been since chemo. Interesting that…

I have one more lesson this week on Friday and the weekend will be dance free as the rounds practice is cancelled due to a concert in the hall where it takes place. The weekend off will likely be good in the long run.

The plan is to review some of the latin styling on Friday and then do as much of a run-through as we can in the smaller hall on Monday to see how things feel. Hopefully my hip will continue to recover.

Looks like the competition is on! Words cannot express the relief I felt today throughout my lesson as I realized that I wasn’t getting pain like I was. I am feeling much more optimistic even though I am a little more sore tonight than I was after my lesson. I’ll do another round of ice and heat before bed and continue on with my routine.

Fingers still crossed.

A hope and a prayer

That is what I have right now.

The doctor wanted me to get an ultrasound guided injection, but unfortunately I won’t be able to get in until mid-June. At this point, she is going to try a blind injection tomorrow in the office.

It could work, it might not.

Doing it blindly, she might miss the bursa which won’t help reduce the inflammation and runs the risk of not being effective.

Unfortunately, based on the past week alone, if I am unable to get this hip pain managed soon there is no way I will be able to finish training to compete, let alone compete itself. Its less than 30 days until the competition and their policy is that they will only provide credit towards next year’s event and only with a doctor’s note for a cancellation.

So, competing is down to a hope and a prayer that the blind injection tomorrow has strong positive effects.

There is also still the possibility that its not bursitis at all, but a tendon injury in the area, but given the symptoms, bursitis is still the most likely culprit.

Other than the injection, my biggest ‘help’ is rest and ice – not great options and certainly not ones that feel very productive.

Yesterday, to rest my hip we looked gently at a small section of the quickstep followed by styling in latin. It was productive, but really limiting. We had already decided not to do the rounds practice this weekend, but with the injection tomorrow I have to cancel my lesson as I have to rest for 48 hours to give the shot time to work.

With a hope and a prayer, hopefully I will be back to being at least a little functional by Monday and can breathe a sigh of relief, but in all honesty my anxiety levels until then is going to remain pretty high.

At least I have the option of having my doctor try a blind injection, rather than being left with no option at all until June.

The other thing I have to try to do is not lay on my right side. As I have a habit of sleeping on that side, its a bit of a challenge but even after not doing so last night and a lot of ice there does seem to be a little bit of progress.

Here goes nothing…

Its Definitely the Hip

Bursitis is the likely culprit.

I saw physio yesterday and since I didn’t get much relief after my appointment last week he looked into my hip a bit more. After examining it and seeing how tender I am to touch he is leaning towards bursitis, with tendon issues being the back-up.

At least it isn’t my back, which is a relief since the back exercises I was doing weren’t having much effect.

The way forward is for me to get a cortizone injection tomorrow morning into my hip. From how I react to it, that will determine whether it is bursitis or bigger tendon issues. Basically, if the injection results in things getting better overall, it is bursitis. If the injection has minimal effect, its the tendons. If it is bursitis, the injection could potentially solve the issue or at least minimize it enough to settle it down.

Its hard to know what is causing the issue, but from what I have read once bursitis gets triggered (usually from an injury) it can be hard to settle down. This could be related to the strange pulling I experienced a few times doing standard and other movements back in February.

I am really trying to stay optimistic, but its difficult to do when I have had to really modify and baby my hip during my lesson. Last night we even ended early as working on the rumba I inadvertently leaned back too far into my hip and caused a huge twang that made it difficult for me to even walk after. Any time I rotate my hip causes pain and I am still experiencing a need to limp a bit today.

I am currently sitting with an ice pack on my hip (bursitis like cold, not heat) and really hoping that tomorrow brings some relief for me that allows me to get back to preparing for the competition. So many pieces are coming together so well in all the routines that we are even able to look back at some details again instead of focusing on full routines.

So my fingers are crossed (and toes too!) trying not to expect too much and being ready for bad news that the rest of my prep will be focused on resting and caring for the tendons as best I can.

Here goes nothing…

It’s been one of THOSE weeks…

Ever feel like the universe is telling you stay in bed?

Even refuse to listen and then regret it later?

That was what my week was like. Just one comedy of errors after the other.

It started with waking up on Monday and not feeling the greatest due to sinuses and an upset stomach. Despite that and my bed calling me strongly, I still resolved to go to work and to do my regular workout. That ended in a black eye (mentioned in my last post) followed by returning to my office and spilling m

y water bottle all over the office floor.

My team sent me home after that. Good people, my team.

At dance, things were going good, although I had a bit of a headache and my eye was bothering me a little when suddenly first my hip flexor started feeling tight, then later during my practice I was getting a full on pulling sensation while doing latin. I had to end my practice early when it started to get really painful and impact really bothered it.

Tuesday I woke up with a killer headache and decided to give in and went back to bed. I was surprised I slept until 1030 (really late for me!) and almost missed my physio appointment at 11. I made it and told my physio about my hip issues. He had 2 minds about it and decided to treat my back in case it was referred pain, and told me if it didn’t get better, next time he would treat my hip more.

It only got marginally better.

Wednesday and Thursday at work was quite literally one bizarre happening after the other that had to be dealt with. The kind of stuff you just can’t really make up.

Wednesday night at dance, my hip was doing a little bit better until we switched to paso and again it flared up tight and painful. We had to stop what we were doing for a while so it could calm down and Boss recommended I consider doing weekly massage therapy appointments till the comp to try and help my body recover from the volume of work we are doing right now. I was reluctant because I have to pay for it completely out of pocket, but in the end I did decide it was a good idea.

Friday was my first appointment and honestly before it I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do my lesson that night. It was a good appointment though and he was able to release a lot of the tight muscles in my hip which felt 100% better, so I did my lesson. It went well until almost the end when it flared up during Paso again. It seems to be in my hip flexors and flares some when I move my pelvis forward in Paso.

Saturday (was it only yesterday??!!) I had another dress fitting on the mainland. I had completely forgotten that it is the end of spring break, so I wasn’t able to reserve a spot on the ferry meaning I had to sail stand-by. In order to make sure I made my appointment, I had to leave home 90 minutes earlier than I would with a reservation, and I still came close to not being on the boat.

My appointment went really well though and I can see the dresses really coming together now. I will pick them up over Easter and can’t wait!

On the way home, thankfully some one was smiling and I was the second-last car to make the sailing I wanted without having to wait another hour.

Today was our first run through practice with the other couples.

My hip felt tight but not sore, so I was only minimally worries about it, but for some reason I just couldn’t get my core to engage or to lock my frame together for standard. It took a couple rounds before I was able to pull things together and I am not really sure why it was such an issue.

We are definitely not used to sharing the floor, so the practices are good to do. It took a little bit for me to get back into following when we had to adjust and the only dance that was a real problem was the silver quickstep because once we deviated from the routine I couldn’t seem to pick it back up again.

That said, the practice went better than I expected. The open latin went really well and finally I started to see them all come together.

Except for one issue. We were doing the jive and it was going well until I went to engage my core to pull myself out of a leaned back position to upright and I got a shooting pain through my hip. That pretty much sidelined us for a bit and when we went to the final round I had to take it a little easier and skipped some of the steps that had a lot of turns or twisting.

I am still not quite sure what is going on with my hip – whether its my back or the hip or both. I am off work tomorrow (I took a vacation day knowing I would be in Vancouver again) and have physio so hopefully that will help. I am going to take a week off the gym to try and rest some. After this week I will also have physio twice a week instead of once to try and get ahead of things before the competition.

So that was my crazy week – truly a week where you just have to laugh at the craziness, take it with a grain of salt and know that it can only get better next week.

Onward and upwards.

And then there were 2

2 routines that we still haven’t been able to get through top to bottom at speed with the music without a major disaster.

Not surprisingly, they are jive and quickstep.

That’s not to say the others are perfect by any means, but they are well on their way to being respectable on the floor.

That said, jive and quickstep are coming. Jive was the focus of today’s lesson and already it is going better than it was. We did get through it today once with slightly slower music.

I will say that spending almost entire lessons on either jive or quickstep can be pretty exhausting, especially when the majority of the lesson is spent running the routines or large sections of it. Its a good test of conditioning, which isn’t bad, but definitely still needs a lot of work.

I will say that I am not as concerned about either routine as I was even a week ago. I can see the progress and we are “this close” to having them together.

This week we switch from weekend lessons to weekend rounds practices with other dancers. They are the same practices we used to do way back when, so they will be really good for letting us know where we stand overall, especially in terms of endurance and conditioning.

I am looking forward to the rounds because they will give a consistent and steady run-through of all of my routines each week, which is what we really need right now. I am finding a little that as we move to focus on one routine the others suffer some. The rounds practice will help to keep them together.

Tonight’s lesson was pretty hard. We started with the open rumba which went really well then focused in on the open jive. It was already flowing better than last Friday, and I wasn’t mixing up the steps as much as I was then. It was just really obvious when my endurance starting lagging.

I should mention I have a black eye right now. I was at the gym working out and when I went to return some weight plates to the weight tree a person working at a pulley machine next to it let go of the handles without maintaining any control and it swung out and hit me hard on the corner of my left eye. I have a lovely blue goose egg I can see out of the corner of the eye and the swelling is irritating. It made it a little hard to concentrate tonight, but I am glad I got the lesson done.

We switched from open jive to silver jive to give a bit of a break (yep, that qualifies as a break!), before returning to the open jive for a couple more full run-throughs, first a little slower, then at regular speed. Some small mishaps, but we did get all the way to the end and learned the routine is 1:30.

We finished by running through the paso from top to bottom 4-5 times with only about a minute break between each one.

Unfortunately, that’s when a bit of trouble started with my body. I can’t really describe what it going on except to say I was experiencing a tight and sore feeling in my right hip. To me, that means either my back or my minor glute muscle is acting up again. Thankfully, I have physio tomorrow.

I finished my night by running through all the silver routines on my own with the music, and then some spot work in the open quickstep, jive and a change in the rumba I needed to just review for myself. My hip was pretty ok for the most part, but I did end up stopping 10 mins before I intended because my hip just got too sore.

I guess, truthfully, the jive is almost in the same place as the other open latin routines, perhaps about one lesson behind.

Which really leaves only one…

Over-thinking

I am getting in my own way.

I am at a point now where I am trying too hard to put everything together and capture all the little details in every thing I do. Beyond that, I am trying so hard that in some instances I am overdoing things – because my body is already what its been trained to do naturally.

Its slowing me down and making me heavy at times. I am thinking so much as I dance that my mind can’t keep up with the music. It is also making me tense through my upper body.

I just need to relax and trust that my body will do what it is trained to do.

It sounds easy, but truthfully, I am not very good at letting go. I can’t see what my body is doing and because I am so used to a lot of the movements I don’t necessarily feel my body doing them.

At my lesson tonight the problem first showed up in the open samba. Once Boss pointed out that I should just relax a little and focus on my feet instead of my body things seemed to get better. I also felt a bit faster and lighter overall. The trick was to shift my focus from my body to my legs.

Later in the lessons we reviewed the silver latin routines and the same issue seemed to be creeping up. Again, my focus was on my body and that was making me heavy, especially in my feet. Once I lightened up, it seemed to go smoother.

My body is also really starting to know the routines well – again if I would just trust it to move. I was running through all the silver routines on my own today and with the exception of Quickstep (which is still confounding me), they are really coming together on my own. I could really feel where I am getting in my own way. I ran through them all with the music except tango and foxtrot (I didn’t have any music for them with me), and once I stopped trying to think through every step they started running smoother.

What really surprised me was that once I let go of thinking too much, I suddenly found myself remembering small little details I didn’t have time to think of when I was trying to think of everything.

Funny how that works.

In general, my solo practice felt more like I was taking ownership of the routines tonight. They felt more solid and less like I was scrambling. I definitely felt more confident working through them (except the before mentioned quickstep). My next goal is to slowly start adding the open routines to my self-practice to get them also to the same level of confidence. I was there with them before and I can get there again.

If I just stay out of my own way.