As of today I move into level three of my ankle rehab
Level 1 was strengthening without any weight bearing. Level one was supposed to go from Mid-January to April 1. I couldn’t dance during level 1 so I cut it short by a month so that I could qualify in the Fort Worth Competition. Level 1 sucked.
Level 2 was strengthening and functionality. A return to dancing but it would appear that I and cardio machines may never again be fast friends. I got to do strange cardio such as bouncing on a physioball. Woo Hoo. I kicked ass at level 2 and got in done in less than a month instead of the standard three. (Special thanks go out to my Pilates Instructor, chiropractor and massage therapist on this one).
Level 3 is a return to cardio and more difficult weight-bearing work (like going up onto my toes and back down repeatedly whilst standing on a box). It is also marked by a water rehab workout which I started today. It includes breast stroke swimming, flutter kicking with a kickboard, jogging in place, doing kicks (holding onto the pool edge) and running up and down the pool. My gym has a small pool (three lanes). I was there at around 7:30 this morning. Everyone else was just swimming regular laps so I felt a bit dorky doing the rehab thing. To top it al loff, apparently I have the kind of face that says “shares well with other” because when all three lanes were occupied every. single. person. who came in (I remember 7) while I was there asked me if they could share my lane. It is difficult to share a lane when rehabbing becuase you can’t just trade laps like you normally would. I developed a patented speech of “You’re welcome to share but I’m rehabbing an injury so I’m not very consistent and it might be a pain to constantly try to swim around me. If you don’t mind, I don’t – but I just want you to know” I ended up sharing with several people (once three at a time!) but at least they were forewarned.
Today was my first day with the new choreography. We are working on Nightclub which is a slow romantic dance requiring lots of body-control and strength as well as endurance. I have to say that having played a number of sports (volleyball, soccer, and baseball to name a few) dancing is the most demanding physical thing I’ve ever done. I think it’s the combination of controlling your body (for example holding all of your weight on the ball of one foot), balancing, then creating a beautiful line and always moving through the music. Even things that look like poses acutally require you to move the weight through your foot. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. In soccer and volleyball I worked my ass of but no one cared how I looked. In dance there’s just as much effort but the object is that people don’t see the effort at all – just the lines. The reality of how much work I’m going to be doing to make this possible has hit me and I’ll still just as excited so I that’s a good sign.
The winning moment of today however had to be when we were learning a new move. I do one and a half REALLY fast spins and end up going up on my left toe – he lunges back and catches my back and pulls me to him as I pull my right leg up and wrap it around his side. I have to push my body below the ribs toward him but tilt my body above the ribs away from him taking my arms out to the side and down and dropping my head. (That all has to happen in two beats) then I have to transfer the weight back over my own left foot and then move out of it. I just wasn’t getting the entrance to the move – how I was supposed to get my weight up against him for the lunge. His explanation:
"You just have to throw your vagina at me." No, seriously.
Se we start to go into the move and as we’re hitting the line before the spins and I suddenly realize the danger and ask "Are you tucked properly for this?" He leads me into the spins and says "I totally didn’t think about it". Suffice to say that I now know his religion. Yikes!
Today my dance coach and I looked at the professional routines that he is going to use for his pro-pro student. (In pro-pro competition both dancers are considered professionals but only one is being judged. In this case, his partner will be judged). Even though I just learned all of the new intermediate routines, I took one look at these routines and I decided that I want to do them.
…and he said yes. And he is letting me help do the choreography. This is real honest-to-goodness, tell a story, advanced professional level dancing. I could NOT be more excited. All of the technical problems that I was having in the intermediate routine immediately went away as we started to work on these routines. This is what usually happens and why it’s so difficult for me to do routines that are at my level. Once I jump to something that seems impossible, it’s as if my brain tells my feet "Look, we don’t have time for this petty shit any more so get the technique right, we have bigger fish to fry" and my feet and body respond and suddenly things that I have been struggling with for years just correct themselves.
The thing about the routines that we’ve been doing so far is that they are designed to simply show basic technique "Look, I can put my feet together on my turns", "look, I can close into third position for my waltz" etc. etc. There’s no story, there’s no interpretation of the music, it’s simply a show of your skills. You have to work hard to make it entertaining. I was talking to Rowdy a couple of days ago saying that there HAS to be more than this. What is the point of dancing if you are just doing it technically correctly? Dancing is about the music, it’s about the story and about using your body to tell the story. With enough practice almost anyone can have great technique but that’s not the end goal, it’s just the beginning.
At the level of dancing that I’m now doing, it’s expected that I already have great technique and so that is no longer the issues. The issue instead becomes using your body to create lines, tell a story, enhance and bring out the music. I was so excited I almost couldn’t stand still. I’m really dancing – I’m dancing at a level that I thought would take me years to reach and I’m doing it right now.
I completed the first competition of the year. Because of the ankle inujury after Nationals I haven’t been able to dance for some time. I ended up learning the intermediate two-step in four lessons and put it on the floor. I got gold. Judges told my coach that I was great. A pro I’ve never met before told me that I was “spectacular”. The event was extremely difficult – I literally only danced my two-step so counting the warm-up I danced for two minutes the entire weekend. The rest of the weekend was spent watching other people dance and watching TV in the room when that got too depressing.
I watched division II (which is where my ex-partner and I would have danced) and I can’t help being glad that we weren’t dancing. It would have just been a spectacular kicking of our asses. We were not at the point with choreography that we could have competed – we would have looked like two uncoordinated kids who stumbled onto the floor wearing glitter.
I also got to watch my coach compete with his new partner. I actually teared up. He was so completely amazing – I’ve never seen him like that. I kept sitting there thinking “I can’t believe that I get to dance with this guy”. I literally walk out on the floor with one of the best male country western dancers in the world. How freaking cool is that. It really renewed my zeal to compete because I can be that good. I’ve chosen to move slowly for two years and this is my year to go out and get it. I’m really excited.