Lesson 11: Run-Though, Lesson 12: BREAKTHROUGH, Lesson 13: Comp Burnout, and a visit to Miari

Hello, dancers!

Well, competition season is in full swing, huh? Yankee Classic and Colorado Star Ball last week, Millennium now week, Manhattan the week after! It’s exciting!

So let’s talk about these lessons. My teacher has been really persnickety with me lately. Not that I’m mad about it – I know that’s his job – but I feel like it’s worth noting because it’s important to learn the process. You know, road to competition and all that.

Lesson 11 was kind of a blur. I know I took down a ton of notes after it, mostly about the proper timing and styling of a Fan. He also made me practice jive kicks.

The juggernaut, however, was lesson twelve, which was this past Wednesday.

Oh, I feel like this is relevant. On my way to Port Authority, I got off my train at Penn Station and got myself a half dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. In between there and arriving at Rogers Dance Center (a span of about an hour), I ate three of them.

I got to the studio right as my lesson was supposed to start, and ran in and saw Matt wrapping up a lesson with a student. I changed and did a quick few stretches, then as I was putting my beloved Aida Karinas on, Matt brought her over and introduced her to me.

“This is Nanette,” he said.

This lady’s face split into this huge smile that instantly gave me a warm feeling, like a hug from your favorite aunt. She shook my hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you, sweetie.”

I couldn’t deal. This goofy smile spread across my face and I said it was nice to meet her too. I loved her energy right away!

I went over to the barre to stretch for couple minutes while they wrapped up.Β Then Nanette sat down and Matt asked if I was ready. I peeled myself off the barre and went over to him.

Jumped right into the rumba routine and did a quick run-through of it.

“It’s good,” Matt said when we finished it. “Do it again.” So we danced the routine a second time.

I realized as she got up to leave and said goodbye to us both that Nanette had been watching us. “You’re just wonderful,” she said.

“Matt, she’s talking to you!” he was instructing me on something and didn’t hear her, so I hit him.

“I’m talking to you both!” she smiled. “Good night!”

My teacher was kind of delirious because he was getting really excited about all the upcoming events. He’d originally been stressed out until he realized everyone was ready for their respective upcoming events, so he was nearing the point of “giddy”.

We ran through all my routines a few times. He made small corrections here and there (FINICKY), and he said more than once “it’s good!”

This lesson was when I had my breakthrough – I had that “groundedness” again, that heaviness to my movements that’s such a huge part of Latin dance.

I’d started to get it before, back in April, but my teacher and I skipped a week, and I lost it completely. I’ve been afraid since then that I wouldn’t get it back before this competition, but miraculously, it’s reappeared!

Our most recent lesson was a couple days after the Yankee Classic. So, Teacher had danced with students all day Thursday and Friday, then danced Pro Rhythm with his new partner Nastia. They started in the quarter final, did the semis, made the final, and placed sixth!

Another thing is, I went to watch the Yankee Classic two years ago, so I know firsthand this competition runs very late.

So Teacher was acting funny. I very pointedly asked what was wrong with him and he told me “It’s the post-comp burnout.”

Me: “?”

He then explained to me that after a competition, it’s not unusual to be physically drained for a few days.


My competition is in nine days! I can’t wait. Matt and I are doing two lessons next week.

And then we dance.

I’m not even nervous at this point. I’m just excited! Of course, I’ll probably just end up freezing once I’m on deck…

Ah, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Miari! They were having that two-day flash sale last week, and the dresses I was interested in were only in stock online in certain sizes. Even at just over $130, it’s still a lot of money! I just wanted to know the outfit would fit. So I found Miari’s Facebook and gave them a call. I got a call back pretty quickly and Susan, one of the owners, conferenced in Ariana, the owner we all know. We set up an appointment time for me to visit the showroom the next day.

So I hopped an L train and walked to the Green Desk building, where the showroom is located. Ariana came down to get me, introduced me to Klaudia, who works with her, and apologized for the state of the place, as they were getting ready to travel to Yankee the next day. It was adorable though; it was so nice to see racks upon racks filled with beautiful practicewear in different colors and finishes. Also, the Miari puppy was the cutest thing! I forgot her name.

Ariana was super helpful! She asked what I was interested in, pulled pieces for me, and then pulled the curtain so I could try it on right in there.

I tried on the black Carmen dress! I will say this. It was my first experience with “real” ballroom practicewear, and I was not prepared for how absolutely luxurious the fabric felt. The dress fit beautifully and I loved how snug it all was.

The only thing was, the dress I tried on wasn’t the dress I originally wanted to get, and I did mention to Ariana that I didn’t think the one I wanted was in stock. She actually sat at the computer and checked the inventory for me, just to make sure. What I really appreciated was that she gave me a few options, but there was zero pressure from her. That in itself made me want to come back and do business with her again!

I’ll end this with my biggest Latin inspiration…Anna Kovalova! Her performance with Justinas at the Emerald Ball last month was just outstanding. And I’m liking her new styling!


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