Bitter days

I am miserable.

That’s the only way I can think to describe how I feel right now.

I made a decision, but I haven’t figured out yet how to live with it. It’s a compromise and truly the best decision for Me, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

I am very angry. I am grieving. I am depressed. I feel betrayed by the universe and like I am being punished.  I want to find a way out of this black hole and figure out a way to move forward.

But I am stuck.

The information for the next comp I was aiming for came out today…and it feels like a punch in the gut. Like the universe is laughing at me.

I don’t even know where to direct all this emotion, except at myself. There is no where else to send it. Things are what they are and I have no power to change them.

I want to be happy with my decision, but I am not there yet. I am afraid I may never get there.

I am supposed to have a lesson tomorrow, but I am afraid to go. I am afraid I won’t be able to be as strong as I need to be to get through the lesson without breaking down and everything I am holding back and trying to keep to myself coming pouring out.

I don’t know that I have the strength to continue dancing without competing.

Because that is what I had to choose.

I can’t relocate, and commuting would quickly leave me bitter and frustrated. I know myself well enough to know that.

Dancing on a regular and consistent basis spread out through the week is so important to almost all of my health and fitness goals. Trying to cram lessons into alternating weekends plus commute costs would break me mentally and physically, and make it almost impossible to afford to compete.

So that leaves continuing to work with Boss, without competing and trying to convince myself to be ok with that.

I am not. Yet. I haven’t figured out how to make it work or where to focus.

I feel like a large part of me has been ripped away and all I can do is watch it fester and rot. I don’t know how to heal it. Yet.

I feel manipulated, even though i know I wasn’t. Somehow it seems like everyone else has gotten what they wanted and I am left still trying to figure out where I fit.

My goal is to figure out a way to get back to competing without Boss or extreme commuting. Thats my impossible dream right now. I don’t even know where to begin.

My soul is aching like it’s been slapped and I am trying to tell it that everything will be ok.

I have felt like this before. I survived then, I will survive now.

Just have to figure out how.

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Competitive Instructor wanted

No, unfortunately it is not a joke.

I haven’t posted much lately because I have been trying to work through a difficult situation, that is outside my control.

About a week ago, for a number of reasons personal to him, Boss told me he is no longer able to support my competitive goals.

We can still work together and I can still do lessons, but he does not know when or if he will be able to compete again, but it definitely won’t be for quite a long time.

So I am stuck. I have a fabulous instructor I work and progress well with, but with whom I can’t compete.

So what can I do?

My biggest motivation for dance is competing. It gives me something to work for. The routines I learn, I learn so I can compete. I focus on technique so my dancing can be stronger on the floor. I am so goal oriented, I don’t know how to adjust with competitions of the table.

And there aren’t any 10-dance pro/am teachers in the town where I live. My options seem to be commuting to the mainland or the US. That has financial implications, not to mention trying to cram a week’s or two week’s worth of lessons into a weekend–something my body won’t tolerate for long, especially working full-time between those weekend. Flying or having an instructor commute here would have similar difficulties.

I just don’t even know where to begin to adjust to this. Do I work with Boss and compete with another pro? That seems like another nightmare for me.

An amateur partner still remains an impossible dream.

I obviously need to switch gears, but I don’t know where to start. I either need to fix my goals, hope work decides to relocate me (not likely), or try to find a remote instructor.

I think the worst thing about commuting is that is would frustrate me very quickly and that would lead me to stop dancing in itself.

The worse thing about this is that after the biopsy was clear I felt I had finally got all my ducks in a row and could focus on dance the way I had been hoping since I got sick. I really should have known better. Nothing is ever that simple for me. I have to fight for everything.

So, if you know a possible instructor who does 10-dance and can handle a commute or commuting student, let me know. Will also welcome any alternative suggestions for goals besides competing.

I’ll just be here spinning my wheels trying to figure out if I am done dancing until I can relocate.

Post Comp Coaching

As mentioned in a previous post, following returning home from the competition, I had three coaching lessons with a standard coach.

This was my first time working with this coach although I have previously worked with his wife and partner. He is a former Blackpool semi-finalist, and actually trained with Boss when they were both youth back in Russia. That made for an interesting dynamic.

The other thing that was different about these lessons is that two of them were without Boss. I had actually requested that for something different and it was an interesting experiment. It meant that I did have to try and keep track of what we covered in earlier lessons for summarizing later for Boss.

It was a lot of fun, especially right after a competition. The interesting thing I was able to do, since he had never seen me dance or danced with me was show him videos ‘hot off the presses’ from the competition the weekend before. That turned out to be a valuable tool as it gave him some immediate ideas where to focus.

The main thing from the first lesson was working on the moving of my feet and preparing the leg. Because I wasn’t anticipating and preparing to move my leg, I had a tendency to get a little behind the beat. We did some exercises to get into the habit of moving my leg ahead of the beat and not having it ‘rest’ without passing the other leg.

It took some trial, but once it clicked, it made a lot of sense. It showed me that I do have a habit of not extending my leg right away as I travel. We also talked about how to work with knee pain and the idea of releasing the knee vs lowering and bending.

Other topics we focused on were position, including keeping myself ‘spiraling’ up from my hips clockwise around my partner, and moving in CBMP. We also talked about the difference in movement between the swing dances and tango, which was a very interesting topic.

Essentially, it took many of the topics I had been working on and extended it further. We also talked about the difficulties I have in sensing the position of my shoulders and back and especially in noticing when I have moved them out of position. His solution for this was to work on developing references for me. As we worked through exercises, he would randomly stop and ask me to check my position. As annoying as it was to frequently stop, the practice was actually very helpful.

In the lesson with Boss, we reviewed quickly what we had done previously, and then focused more on tango. In particular, we looked at promenade position and thinking of moving my knees forward with Boss. The biggest challenge for me there is to step with my right foot without allowing it to turn out away from my partner (which is my challenge for almost everything standard).

The plan is to take advantage of this coach coming semi-regularly to this region to begin some consistent work with him. We already discussed possibilities for his return, and he has promised to send a bit of an ‘action plan’ for me to work on until his return–something I expect to include work on moving the legs and tango.

It was different from how I have worked with coaches before, mainly because this coach had a bit of an unique style. He was very hands on and recognized my aptitude for more tactile learning. When showing different ways he wanted me to move, he would often have me place my hands on his muscles (like his knees, thighs, and upper back) and move with him to feel how he was using them. It was incredibly useful for me and helped me catch on to the concepts quickly.

I am looking forward to implementing the lessons learned in future dancing!

Competing strong

Sorry for the delay in writing!

I have been busy beyond competing (more on that later) and this is the first opportunity I have had to write about the comp.  I did post some pics on facebook if you follow me there (www.facebook.com/bcballroomdancer).

Overall, this was my strongest competition since before I got sick. Hands down. That’s not to say it was my best dancing, but I felt prepared, my endurance (for the most part was there), I didn’t feel like I was dying after only a couple dances. I felt like I belonged on the floor and that I was competitive, not just dancing as something to do.

I won my closed gold multidance in Ballroom although it was a rule 10 and 11 win (meaning they had to split the tie twice more or less), and I am very proud of that–my first ‘win’ in closed gold! I was also 5th in both open scholarships of 6 couples and even stole a few points from those that placed above me in ballroom.

Ballroom was definitely the stronger of the two styles for me at this competition. Considering the amount of work I have been putting into it, it should have been, and it has paid off. I felt quite strong and confident in the ballroom heats, even though endurance was a challenge. I was surprised to see I received a 1 place mark in VW from one judge in a 5-dance championship that finished with the VW.

There were a lot of positives for me in standard. It took a round to settle down a little and adjust to things like my dress. At the start I was almost too relaxed in trying to keep myself calm and from trying too hard, but hit a good balance for the other rounds. Boss was really happy with how it all went, and I really have no complaints about standard. Yes, there are always little things, and lots to improve, but I was more consistent and solid in standard than I have been in any previous competition. That was a big win for me!

Latin was a much different story, and I am less impressed with my performance there. I had some very high points, and I had some lower ones. In one of my 4-dance gold multi-dances, I didn’t win the event, but I did sweep the rumba. Looking at the videos though, my styling still leaves much to be desired, and I just didn’t seem to be ‘finishing’ all my lines as I danced. My energy level was not where it needed to be for latin and I was having a hard time keeping focused.

So I own the less than stellar latin performance. It was good, but not my best. Among other things, I was having trouble feeling settled in my shoes, and I think the fatigue from standard the day before also played a role and upset my hormones a little bit (I was a hot flash queen that day).

That said, when it came to the 5-dance scholarship, I just went out and had some fun and worried less about trying to be perfect.

One of the biggest ‘wins’ I experienced overall was random strangers making an effort to tell me how much they enjoyed my dancing–seeking me out specifically in the crowd of competitors I was just on the floor with. For me, that is better than a thousand trophies and it happened after events in both standard and latin.

The biggest challenge I faced over the weekend was blisters. My shoes started out feeling wonderful, but then in the last afternoon event in standard I suddenly felt some pain. The result was 2 blisters on each foot, one on the heel, the other in the arch (which seemed a strange place). I put some blister pads on them for the scholarship and covered those with tap, but they didn’t stay in place. By the time I got to the latin scholarship, I had 11 blisters, all of which had popped, some of which were bleeding. I knew that breaking in new shoes would cause some problems (even old shoes can) and had taken some measures and preparations, but my feet seemed to just ‘give up’ in trying to keep skin. Even duct tape didn’t help. I am doing a lot of feet soaking these days.

My shoes are pretty much broken in now, but I won’t be able to tell until all the blisters heel if adjustments need to be made and where. Despite the blisters, they were more comfortable at the end of the comp. I also had issues with my feet swelling and that didn’t help either.

My latin shoes were the strangest to deal with. I had worked with them before I left and they felt fine. But at the comp the heel of my foot kept sliding out and I had a hard time getting the strap tight enough to hold it in place.  I am going to have to revisit them. I am wondering if they are too short in the end even though they are the same size as my last ones–but with a lower heel.

Hopefully in about 2 weeks I can do a good assessment with fresh feet.

The final ‘snag’ in the competition happened at the end of the standard rounds (and thankfully the end!). My dress is stretch velvet and when I am sweaty can be difficult to get the sleeves off.  I friend was helping me and when she pulled the arm I heard a ripping sound! Unfortunately, the dress tore just under the right arm, in the fabric just adjacent to the seam. Because the tear is in the fabric, I don’t know if it can be repairable without being too visible. It may be the end for that dress….an expensive tear!

In all, I am very proud of myself and how I danced this weekend–even latin. I wanted to be able to get through all my dances strongly, which I did, do well in standard (because of the focus we have been giving it), and enjoy dancing in latin. I achieved that. I know Boss is especially happy with the standard and we haven’t had a chance to discuss latin although we know there were challenges there.

The biggest achievement from the competition was being able to feel myself staying strong, and it has given us lots of feedback for the future 🙂

We should be sitting down to discuss the plan for the future over the next couple days, but mainly I am taking it easy right now. The exception, of course was that I had 3 coaching lessons with a standard coach yesterday that were a lot of fun and able to build on the competition. I will write about that shortly.

I will also write a review of the competition for those who might be interested in competing there some day. I would definitely recommend it and I think we are already making plans to return!

Achievement unlocked: Compete strong during recovery!

Almost There

I can’t believe we fly for the competition tomorrow night.

For some reason it seems a little surreal. I feel really good heading into this competition. No, nothing will be ‘perfect’ (nothing ever is), but I know that I am as prepared as I am going to be and that I am stronger going into this competition than I have been since 2014.

That said, tomorrow night also still feels a million hours away.

I have been giving some thought as to what my own personal goals are for this competition. Basically, it is to do my best, complete every dance, and have fun. I deserve this and it is going to be great.

I have some legitimate concerns about endurance. All of my multi-dance events are scheduled in a row with no breaks between. That means I will do almost 20 dances in a row each day, pretty daunting considering I start struggling to get through 5 dances!

In the end, it is just a deep breath, visualizing my routines and keeping calm. I don’t need to over-do it, I need to stay relaxed and calm.

Easier said than done, right?

At least my heats are not at 7 am, they don’t start until 11 and noon each day which I definitely appreciate.

My new shoes should arrive today and I am going to pop home from work at lunch to see if they are they. I don’t have much time to break them in, but since they were ordered long-distance, I just hope they fit! 2 pairs are almost identical to shoes I already own, so it should be good. I have never worn standard shoes from this brand, but do have practice shoes from them. I will take both the new and old shoes with me, so I can adjust if needed.

One more lesson tonight to clean a couple of transitions, and then it is packing, one more day of work, and all focused on the competition.

The competition will include a pro showdance competition with 6 couples registered and more than anything I can’t wait to see that!

Almost there!

Refinding my strength

I had an interesting revelation 2 weeks ago.

I was practicing and I noticed something was feeling different. Or rather, I was noticing something I hadn’t realized had been missing.

I could feel strength in my body.

For the first time in almost 3 years I could feel the strength moving through my body from my feet to my head and back down into the floor. It was like my muscles just suddenly woke up and realized they have a job to do.

It’s a hard feeling to describe and since I am a very tactile person it is probably more obvious to me than those who are less so, but in many ways this is where I draw my power from. I use this feeling through my body to push down into the floor and move my entire body.

For me, that is what ‘feeling grounded’ means.

It took me a while to figure out what I was feeling, but it also took a bit of time to realize I have to use it properly and exercise some control.  Some speed came back with it that I didn’t expect, and I have spent the last 2 weeks fighting a tendency to get ahead of the music–especially in cha cha and quickstep–something I don’t think was possible even a month ago. Paying attention to that, I think my movement have also gotten a bit sharper.

I don’t know why this sensation came back all of a sudden, it could be a number of things–the ‘magic’ 2 years post radiation milestone, 2 years post major surgery, adjusting to the hormonal changes from my last surgery, general recovery. Likely it’s a combination of things, but I am not going to dwell on it.

It’s a good time to have it though as I am competing on Friday (this FRIDAY!) and Saturday. I had a good run-through of standard at the rounds practice yesterday and it was easy to see where the work on my endurance is starting to pay off.  I was not tiring and ‘dying’ so soon yesterday and when I was, there were times I was able to recover and finish strong.

We did a latin run-through on Friday which was a little bit disastrous a I kept blanking on routines, and styling, but our second time through was smoother. We will do another latin run-through tonight I hope will be better.

After tonight, I have one more lesson before the competition, so right now it is mainly things that can be fixed short-term, cleaning, and run throughs.  I am excited to get out on the floor again but I can’t say I have much as far as expectations.  I just want to go and enjoy myself and see how it goes. If I can keep myself ‘calm’ and from ‘trying too hard’ there is potential for some good dancing.

As I continue on this journey, it does amaze me as I recover things I didn’t know I had lost. This feeling of strength is one of them and I can’t wait to keep building on it after this competition to prepare for the next one.

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.

Latin reset

Sometimes you don’t know you are missing something until you discover it.

It’s been a busy week for me. I was traveling for work, and after returning Friday I went to visit with a friend for the long weekend.

One of the things I did while I was traveling for work was to take advantage of being somewhere new and to take coaching lessons.  I managed to fit 3 lessons into the short time I was there, but the exciting thing was that the couple I was working with are one of my favourite latin couples–and people I have wanted to work with for a long time.

I did one lesson with the lead and 2 with the follow and all 3 were absolutely amazing!

I have only once worked with a coach other than Boss on latin, and that was for one lesson while the others were focused on smooth. I have never worked in latin with another male dancer. In three lessons I was able to put together more than 3 pages of notes and felt like a sponge soaking up information.

Before I left, I had discussed with Boss some topics to focus on during my lessons and we sent 3 videos of cha cha, samba and paso for them to review ahead of time.  We decided to focus on connection and styling–both of which turned out to be exactly what I needed.

I feel like it has been quite a while since I have worked on more than just sequence of steps in latin as most of my lessons with Boss recently have been focused on standard and taking advantage of the progress I am making there.

In all honesty, I have felt a little bit like I was ‘spinning my wheels’ in latin and lacking some specific points to focus on. One week I would challenge myself with one thing, but then I would switch to something else and mainly I just kept working through my routines to get the choreography down.

The lessons with the coaches help to give me a new focus for latin and several new points to focus on which I really needed. Styling has been a big issue for a long time, but I felt I was lacking some specifics to focus on. Now I have a lot of specifics and I can’t wait to spend some time working through the things we talked about.

Eye contact, especially with my partner, was one of the really big things brought up in the lessons. I have always had problems with this, as when I work alone I tend to retreat into myself and look down when I think. It’s not that I haven’t been told to keep my eyes up before, part of it is just not being ready to commit to it. I can’t say for sure that I am really ready to commit to it, but it has become enough of a problem that it is officially annoying me.

I worked on arm movement with both of them, but with the lady we were able to work through the beginning of my cha cha and samba to ‘clean’ my arm movements and strengthen what I am doing so it is less ‘flappy’ and busy. We worked through a couple different options and came up with some solid movements for me to work through on my own.

I was also given exercises, both for connection and styling, but are diverse enough to include other aspects of technique (like weight transfer).

One of the most significant topics I discussed with the lady was that of using my body in my styling. Not only moving it, but also touching it, and touching it with commitment and purpose. She even gave me some exercises to develop a habit of doing this to work it into my routines and so that it looks (and feels) more natural. We had a discussion about why strong solid touch is preferred to doing something like a ‘shadowed outline’ and she pointed out it displays a difference in confidence, emphasizes the body shape, and shows commitment to the styling. All very logical reasoning.

I could go on for hours about all the different things we covered in the lessons, but to keep this short, I want to go back to my title. After doing these lessons I feel very renewed and reset when it comes to latin. I have some very specific things to focus on and build on, I feel I have some new goals (eye contact being at the top of the list), and it has renewed my enthusiasm and invigorated me for the future.

I really hope to work with this couple again soon. Among other things, I just had a blast and had fun digging into latin in as much detail as I tend to work in standard.

It’s less than 2 weeks to my next competition, so I don’t expect to be able to incorporate everything I want to do, but I hope at least some of the work will be able to come through.

I can’t believe it is only 2 weeks until the competition though. I feel like I have so much to do before then! My nerves are settling in a little and I know that practice next weekend will certainly ‘set the stage’ for me. Because I was away, I didn’t do practice this weekend, but although I am a little nervous about that I am also glad as well.  It forced me to relax and take a step back before the final push to the competition.

The couple I worked with will also be at the competition I am going to and I can’t wait to see them dance in person. I have always watched them on video or live stream, so seeing them compete live is going to be an extra bonus to the competition I am going to.

I am really happy I was able to schedule the coaching lessons into my work trip. It was a tiring trip, but so so worth it!

An inconvenient truth

No one ever talks about specifics.

I am talking about the cost of doing competitive pro/am dance. A lot of people talk about generalizations–like it’s expensive and you have to include this, this, and this….

But expensive is a relative term. What is expensive for me might be cheap for you and vice versa.

So here are some ranges of dollars ( in Cdn$):

Private lessons: $65-$150 each. Coaching can be more.

Competitions:

Eentry fees: $25-50 for single dances. $60-80 for 3-dance events, $75-150 for 5-dance events, $200-300 for a 10-dance event. Most scholarships require a minimum of 5 additional single dances to qualify (4 for smooth).

Pro fees: $10-75 per dance, depending on the pro and how he prices (it could be per event or even day).

All these fees are based on my research and experience. Feel free to fact check, but I have tried to provide an average range.

The above fees are paid individually.

Additional fees that are usually split between students:

Pro incidentals and travel such as flights, hotel rooms, ticket fees, meals.

If you are the only student, you pay for it all, PLUS your own flights, hotel, meals and tickets.

For amateur couples, consider these fees (usually split by the couple):

Private lessons: $65-150 per hour

Comp fees: $25-75 per event (usually 2-5 dances, same fee regardless of number of dances)

Flights, hotels, meals and tickets.

I hope this illustrates the gap some.

Additional info:

Most scholarship prizes range from $200-50 depending on comp size and placing (there are a couple higher exceptions). BUT, consider most entries for these events are $100-150 each + 5 $35-50 single dances + pro fees.

I haven’t included other costs, like shoes, dresses, esthetics.

I don’t mean to be discouraging, but I want to provide some info for those considering competing in pro/am So you do so with eyes wide open.

The comps I have done have cost me between $2000-12000 each on their own without factoring in lessons, shoes, dresses and esthetics (like hair, make-up, mani, pedi, jewellery). That is just the total I pay organizers, Boss, and for my own travel and accommodations.

Coaching is another additional cost that may come up.

It takes me 3-6 months to save enough for a Comp, depending where it is. Often, it is more.

It’s not pretty, but those are some numbers. If you have questions please ask.

I am competing in 3 weeks in Canada doing more than 60 dances over 2 days and it cost me just over $3000 with another student sharing pro incidentals.

It’s still worth it to me to do what I love.

The Myth of Pro/am closed gold

I have discovered an unexpected aspect of pro/am.

There is a self-perpetuating cycle where there are almost no closed gold pro/am events. One of the main reasons there are no events is that there is no demand for them; no competitors. The main reasons there are no competitors? Lack of other competitors and events.

And so it seems the circle goes.

I discovered this when I was doing research into some potential competitions. I was very surprised to discover that there were almost no closed gold multi-dance or scholarship events in most of the competitions I was looking at.

Intrigued, I asked one organizer and posed a question to a pro/am forum I participate in.

The organizer said he stopped offering the events because no one was registering for them. The pro/am students said they weren’t competing in them because no one else was and they were rarely offered.

Because of this, most students said they just ‘jumped’ from silver to open.

It was also pointed out that there isn’t really a syllabus for gold in American style. The NDCA only has a list of restrictions (such as no entrances, no separations for more than 4 bars).

The bottom line to this is that I have had to rethink my current competition goals. I was going to focus on closed gold now that I am able to get back to competing consistently, but if there are no events, and no competition, there is really no point.

The competition I was going to do in the spring not only doesn’t have anything except single dances for closed gold, but it also significantly raised the prices for 2018. The combination of the two together, led me to decide to take it off the table as an option.

I discussed the issue with Boss as I want to have an idea of what is next after the competition in 3 weeks, and he had an interesting suggestion which we have combined with one of mine.

My time spent in silver was completely during the time I was sick. I really only did one competition in silver, and my routines were more bronze at that time. It was right before I was diagnosed. When it comes down to it, I basically haven’t done any competing in full silver. If I was an amateur competitor who collected points to determine my competitive level, I would have almost none for silver.

So that was what Boss proposed: that I consider competing in closed silver for syllabus level at the next few competitions and see how I place. We have some closed silver routines, and they could be modified to be more like competitive routines and less test routines. The goal would be to keep them short so they could also be used as drills and practice for the future.

The real focus would be on developing and learning open routines and steps for competing in open competitions and to begin to work at the open level.

It’s an interesting idea. Since I haven’t had an opportunity to really compete in silver, I really have no idea how I would do. I can let the results speak for when to leave silver behind. The gold steps I like can be part of the open routines.

I will still do my gold test when Boss thinks I am ready and it is able to be scheduled. Like the silver test I just did, we can spend some concentrated time working on gold routines to prepare for the test.

The part of this that was combined with my own proposal was a suggestion that we consider doing a competition earlier in the new year that would be cheaper than the one in the US we were looking at. The information for that competition isn’t out yet, but once it is we will look at it closer and decide then. After that comp, would be about 6 months until the next comp I want to do–a nice long time to keep developing the open routines and strengthening my dancing overall.

The small wrench is that I will be away from dance for about 2 weeks at the end of November as I will finally have my surgery to complete my reconstruction. It’s almost all ‘surface work’ and no muscle involvement, but it will still require time to recover. I will talk about that closer to the date.

So this unexpected twist in pro/am competitions has meant rethinking my approach to competing in order to align with what happens in practice versus theory. That said, now that I am clear on the next steps, I have 3 weeks to focus on my next competition which will be with my full gold routines I have been working on.

The future will of course include continuing to focus on building my fitness and endurance, but I feel a bit better about that since taking the step back yesterday. I feel much better and less drained after my lesson yesterday, so I am hoping that will translate into a strong rounds practice tomorrow.

I feel almost like a mythical creature aiming to do full gold routines at my next competition.

Perhaps I will shine like a unicorn 🙂

The little things

I had my first ’rounds’ practice today in more than a year.

There were some small victories I want to celebrate.

I made it through the entire practice without completely dying and using my frame. I even had a little energy left over.

I missed the final quickstep because I had a blister pop quite badly during the foxtrot just before. That’s what happens when you don’t wear competition shoes for 9 months–you forget where the ‘rub’ spots are.

I made it through 2 Viennese Waltzes in the centre of 5 dances for 1:30 without having to stop, and still being able to move through the dance. Boss even commented on how it was better from Thursday. I thought I wouldn’t even get through the start of the second one as I felt I was exhausted after the waltz and tango, but I surprised myself by being able to muster my energy and dance the entire way through.

I did have some difficulties (aside from 3 blisters). My left side tired much quicker than I expected in standard. I was much more tired for the second round of latin than I expected. Once my body tires out, I lose the muscle memories of my routines and start missing things. My upper body also starts to collapse making it harder for me to follow and respond to Boss’s lead.

The rounds gave me an opportunity to experiment with moving my upper body and using my head in standard. It was inconsistent, especially at the beginning, but I think it started to settle out some by the final rounds. It’s something I will need to continue to work on more, and a big part of it is needing to become more comfortable with what I can do.

Overall, Boss also seemed pleased with how things went, although we will have to discuss some points more tomorrow during my next lesson. At least for me, it seems Quickstep is the weakest dance/routine, followed by tango. A big victory was going through the paso routine at full speed (for the first time), twice. The second time I was even able to add some power to my steps and it seemed there was shaping.

The latin routines went well, although the first round was a little rough. We were able to identify spots in 3 routines where we have to agree better on the hands and hold, and it turns out that the cha cha routine is shorter than we expected (we made it through almost 2 full loops in 1:30).

Hopefully subsequent practices will only build on today’s and things will become stronger and smoother as we get closer to the competition. 4 more weeks to go.

I do want to say that I found something today I didn’t fully realize I had lost. The we did today was strong and intense, but underneath, I was enjoying myself more than I had in a very long time. I had a moment where I felt pure joy.

It’s definitely the little things.