Lesson 10: Now…sell your body.

Good day, dancers! What’s shaking?!

I just left a lesson with Teach; he’s got the American Star Ball this weekend! So exciting! He will be slaying, I expect.

I spent these few days practicing samba. I’m not really understanding why it looks nice it’s danced, because your body takes some reeeaaallly ugly positions with that whole pelvic tilt thing. I’m just trying to make my movements meatier and more powerful. But of course, it’s a work in progress.

I want to hear my ribs crunching. πŸ˜‰

Teach asked how my rumba was. I said good; I’d been thinking a lot about it and just trying to STAY DOWN. So we spent today going through the entire thing and fixing little nuances here and there. Happily, I did see improvement in myself. However small, I could easily see I’m dancing better, and we all know we are our own harshest critics.

It was all I could do not to push Teach aside and do a cartwheel.

See, I’ve always been totally performance-driven, and I definitely went back into the ballroom with the goal of becoming a more technical dancer. More legs and feet and finally learning to use my core, that’s what. I think I used to dance mostly with my shoulders, arms, and face. It was not even pretty. So since I started dancing again, I’ve pretty much stayed still from the waist up. I know in my mind it’s because I’m trying to build my base, but when I watch myself, I start to worry that I’m going to be stuck in legs and feet and that doesn’t look good at all either.

Anyway, fortunately, today Teach started asking me questions about what it was that I wanted to portray and what I wanted to show. Essentially, this allowed me to give myself permission to actually dance my body. It was a very strange dichotomy. When I let myself dance with my ribs, back and arms, I saw I suddenly looked way better. Much taller and longer. “SELL YOUR BODY!” Teach interjected while I was doing my rumba walks. I started to do some arms, but then started laughing and just clapped my free hand over my mouth. He’s crazy.

And, of course, I know I’ve got to practice it all; working in isolation no longer makes a lot of sense, to me, at least. I’m just apprehensive, though, that when I start using my body, that I’ll start dancing airy again. Airy is the last thing I want to revert to.

Teach and I talked about my character, then I started exploring options for my styling and the dynamics we’re going to portray: gentle love between man and woman or the passion that turns to aggression. I’m the one that makes all these decisions (as I should cause I’m the girl) so I think I’m leaning towards that one. We’ll see, though. It all depends on the day, the music, what I’m wearing, how we’re feeling. YAY, we finally got to play!

I didn’t think I would ever say this, but I actually was really happy with the way I’m progressing. My New Yorkers are better, but still not a lot of fun for my lats. I’m also still breaking my shoulders (oops), so I started playing with my arms and ended up doing something very Liana on my New Yorkers with my arms, which actually really helped. I also realized, when Teach asked and really made me look at myself and think about it, that my favorite part of my dancing is my back. So, just another thing for me to think about, I’m going to start thinking about increasing my back flexibility.

I was told that I could imitate from anyone I wanted on any given step, like I could do my Alemana like Yulia and then go into my Rope Spin like Karina. So that’s fun; now I can continue watching performance videos and check out the pretty things! I’m thinking the ones I will be watching the most are Daria Chesnokova, Anna Melnikova, of course Liana, and Karina Smirnoff.

Whenever I watch Karina dance rumba, I think it’s very clear how much she loves that particular dance. I would venture to guess it’s her favorite of the five. She is so passionate and absolutely breathtaking when she dances it. The chemistry between her and Slavik is unrivaled. Except maybe with Maks, actually…

Is it me, or when amateur dancers go pro, they lose a lot of their arms? Maybe it’s the partners? When Dasha and Anna were dancing with Val and Stefano, respectively, they both had all these gorgeous things they did with their arms. Then when they both went pro and started dancing with Slavik and both lost a lot of it. Maybe he thought they should tone it down? Which is odd, because Karina danced pro with him and she always did beautiful arms. However, she did do it more often in shows than competitions.

Teach and I sat down and as I started scribbling away, we watched Emmanuel and Liana practice. It was insane. She was wearing an oversized shirt and baggy cargo pants and her movements are so incredibly full that you still saw every ounce of stretch and squeeze on every single movement she made. Teach sat there watching her and said, “Her and Yulia are probably the only two women on earth that could wear that and still look like that when they dance.” Liana is really incredible, and it’s all the more impressive when you remember she is so young.

Oh, did you happen to see America’s Ballroom Challenge? It actually kind of confused me. They said the first round of performances they showed would be the dances they all did by the book and the second round was their, so to speak, freestyles. Except it was backwards. The first round of dances I saw were the creative ones and the second ones were all the traditional ones. Don’t get it. Happy that Emmanuel and Liana won, though. Their performances weren’t too crazy, but it showed what makes them special as a couple is their mutual sense of rhythm. Absolutely incredible.

I leave you with this snapshot she posted on Instagram. I love how it captures the moment!!! Who could ever be mad at someone who’s such a happy person like Emmanuel?!



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