An introvert performs

theater-1477670_1920When I first signed up for dance lessons a year ago, I never thought I’d be performing. In fact, if you had told me that, I would have walked out. But as time shifts, so does our perspective.

My dance studio puts on a showcase twice a year. One in June and one in December. It’s an opportunity for private dance students to perform in front of an audience. But there are also several group dance routines to showcase different styles.

I originally signed up for samba because there wasn’t a showcase piece planned. But after a few weeks, our instructor suggested we perform too. Although hesitant at first, I began to consider it. I would be performing with 10 others, so I wouldn’t be alone and that helped to assuage the anxiety a bit. While the idea of performing was still scary, it was starting to look doable.

Eight weeks flew by and suddenly, it was showtime. That evening I arrived early at the venue. I chatted with a few people I knew to stave off the pre-show nerves. Then I headed to the ballroom and took my seat.

I was a bit jittery as we waited to be announced. But as soon as the music began, my nerves melted away. It was so much fun! I was able to really enjoy the moment. Then it was over and we were bowing and heading back to the foyer. High fives and smiles met us as we walked back through the door. I’ve never had that much fun performing before.

After changing into something a bit nicer, I headed back to my seat in the ballroom. I got to enjoy the rest of the evening stress-free. I excused myself soon after the show ended and drove home. It was a lovely evening but I was feeling pretty burned out. I savoured the silence in the car on the ride home. Fortunately, I had the place to myself the next day which allowed me to recharge and unwind.

How is your week going so far?

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My samba experience

people-2601101_1920Last week I wrote about starting a new dance class. So I thought I’d share a quick follow up.

I had no idea what to expect in my first samba class. I wore my usual ballroom attire: dance shoes and business casual. But I soon learned I had made a terrible mistake. Everyone in the studio was clad in yoga pants and running shoes. Oh well, I thought, this is fine.

I started chatting with a lady I had met the previous week. Both of us were taking samba for the first time. Then I discovered something else. Despite advertising “continuous registration”, the class officially began five weeks ago. This meant we were both five weeks behind everyone else. This was a bit intimidating but I figured I’d try my best. Our instructor was encouraging but told us to “try to keep up”. This was easier said than done.

We started the class with a warm up and I immediately knew I was out of my league. The instructor led us through various movements. I attempted to imitate him by twisting and contorting my body in ways it had never moved before. I was a sweaty mess before we even started the routine.

After the warm up, our instructor went over the routine step by step. He also added a few new steps at the end. This was great. I was starting to remember the steps and pick up a little technique. Then we did the routine at 80 percent speed. That was more challenging. I missed a bunch of steps but I thought I did an admirable job of keeping up. Then we ran through the routine at normal speed. It was intense (look up samba music and you’ll see how fast it is). I think I managed to move in the right direction most of the time but my footwork was a mess.

But despite the chaos, I’m looking forward to this week’s class. I know that with time and lots of practice, even I can feel comfortable and confident in this new dance.

What are your plans this week?

More dancing? Yes please.

pretty-woman-in-field-820477_1920When I first started looking into dance lessons I had two objectives. Learn waltz and foxtrot. That was it. I wasn’t interested in other ballroom styles and latin dance seemed intimidating. Unfortunately, you can’t always find classes for two specific dances and nothing else.

So I signed up for a rotating drop-in class instead. They taught waltz and foxtrot once a month. But tango, rumba, and cha cha classes were also mixed in. As a result, I was “forced” to try other dances. Learning a completely new dance from scratch is a challenge. Sometimes even the way you walk is different. But as I progressed I started feeling more comfortable. Waltz and foxtrot are still my top two. But I’m currently in love with tango and cha cha is a new favorite. Each dance has it’s own personality. It’s exciting to discover all the differences to each style.

I often hold myself back from trying new things. Sometimes it’s because I’m scared or unsure. Sometimes I don’t feel like it or don’t have the energy. But I’ll never grow if I don’t push outside my comfort zone. Embracing new things in dance has lead to increased confidence in other areas of life too. As an introvert, I still need to ensure I have the necessary energy. But if I’m organized that’s not an issue. I just need to schedule quiet time both before and after to recharge.

Last week my dance instructor threw out a few suggestions for upcoming dance classes. Instead of instantly writing them off, I sat down and thought about it. After a few days of deliberation, I signed up for a samba class that begins this week. It’s completely out of my comfort zone but I’m still looking forward to it. Who knows, I might gain a new favorite dance in the process.

What’s something new that you’ve tried?

The joy of dance

girl-1258727_1920I’ve been taking weekly dance lessons at my current studio for five months. It’s been such a great experience and I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone. But even now, I still get twinges of nerves as I’m driving there. Perhaps it’s not knowing what material will be taught. Or not knowing if I’ll have a partner. But it’s always been worth it each time I make the effort to go. Dance has been such a wonderful and fulfilling part of my life.

Last night was a lot of fun. We were learning tango (American not Argentine) with our usual instructor. One of my newly-acquired dance friends was there so we partnered together. But we also switched partners with the other two couples who were there. Since there were so few of us, this meant we got a lot of individual attention from the instructor. He gave us advanced feedback for styling and footwork.

We had another hour of practice time after the lesson. My friend and I danced a few songs before he had to head home. I had started practicing some basics on my own when the owner of the studio walked over. He spent the next few minutes dancing with me. All the while explaining the history of tango, some of the dynamics with the footwork, and a few areas to work on. He also corrected my posture and explained where my weight should be sitting. It made a huge difference in how each step felt. It was a lot of fun and made me feel excited to practice.

I also spoke with my instructor that evening. He mentioned I should be able to move up to the next level of classes in a couple of months. This was encouraging as I’ve been doing solo practice on my own (huge shout out to Katie’s blog: The Girl with the Tree Tattoo for tons of helpful content on solo dance practice). I’m also planning to take a couple of private lessons once I’m back from my trip. This should help to improve my frame and technique as well.

Have you ever tried dance? What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Finding community

dance-430554_1920.jpgI’ve been asked a few questions recently. How do you stay motivated to keep blogging? How are you still taking dance classes? How do you work out consistently? And while there are many reasons why, the one overarching reason is community.

The reason I’m still attending dance classes is because of the people. Everyone is welcoming and inclusive. The instructor is fantastic. He’s very patient and has a great sense of humour. And while people tend to rotate in and out of the beginner class, there are a few regulars I see each class. It’s been fun to connect with them on a weekly basis and chat about dance and life. The studio also offers dance socials each weekend, and though I’ve yet to attend one, I’m planning on it eventually. Getting to spend time with people who like to dance gives me both the mental and physical contact I need.

But being part of a community doesn’t even need to happen in person. I’ve received so much kindness and support from the blogging community here. There are people I may never meet in person but still consider them good friends. Thank you so much for all the likes, comments, and follows. The only reason I’m still writing is because of all the positive feedback. It encourages me to keep going. I’ve been feeling a bit of writer’s block lately but I’m going to try to post more.

People are also surprised I’ve managed to work out for as long as I have (nearly 5 years). I don’t have a workout partner. But I don’t think you need one to be successful. It just means you need to be disciplined. But I will chat with my brother and fitness-minded friends. We’ll swap PRs, workout routines, and fitness goals. We get to connect in a shared passion and that helps to keep things fresh and exciting.

Having consistent contact with positive people is so important. When I first moved to a new city, I knew a few people but didn’t have many connections. I was living on my own, which was fantastic (and I still prefer it). But I would often feel isolated. I started blogging and working out and it helped. More recently I started dance lessons. These different avenues gave me the social connection I was missing. Community is the family and friends you discover and choose for yourself.

What communities are you a part of?

Height & confidence

dance-2954461_1920I’ve felt uncomfortable with my height for much of my life. In elementary school I was slightly taller than my classmates. By junior high and high school I hit a growth spurt and was taller than all the girls and most of the guys. As a quiet, introverted teenager, the last thing I wanted to do was stick out. I spent a lot of time slouching and hunched over because I wanted to blend in. But as time continued, and I entered my early twenties, I found close friends who loved my height and would tell me so. They were encouraging and never said things that made me feel awkward about being tall.

Being tall definitely comes with its challenges. To this day, I’m still approached by strangers asking how tall I am. I’ll usually reply with “it’s a secret”. I’ve heard “how’s the weather up there” more times than I can remember. I’ve been asked if I play basketball countless times. I have to bend over while showering because the shower head is usually at shoulder level. My legs are too long to take a comfortable bath. I smack my head on a lot of things. Shorts, dresses, and skirts are too short. And the list goes on.

But being tall also comes with many advantages. I love how long my legs are and I’ll wear heels if I want to feel classy (just not all the time because I like being comfortable). I can reach everything in the grocery store, including the stuff on the top shelves. I can see over most crowds. People can’t look down on you if you tower over them. People also take me more seriously since I command attention with my height. I’m still a bit self-conscious even now. But I’m working to improve my posture and stop slouching.

Last night I attended a Cha Cha class. Towards the end of the evening I was dancing with the instructor (who is also wonderfully tall) and he made a remark I appreciated. I usually hunch over when I dance, so he told me I needed to open up my chest more and stand up taller. He said that being tall, I’ve usually looked down on people (physically) because of my height. But he said that isn’t my problem and I don’t need to feel ashamed of how tall I am. It was a good reminder to be confident. I don’t need to let the insecurities of the past colour my life now.

Have you had similar experiences?

5 things I learned from dance class

persons-768597_1920Today marks the final week of waltz classes this month. Overall it’s been a good experience. The first lesson had me overwhelmed and frustrated. Fortunately the following two went much smoother. I’m looking forward to class tonight and I’m already thinking of what dances I want to learn next. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from dance class.

1. Lower your expectations.
For both you and your instructor. Especially if you’ve never done it before. At my first waltz class I had the unrealistic idea I’d be able to learn each step perfectly with minimal practice. Unreasonable, yes. But welcome to the mind of an introvert and perfectionist. After that first class, I gave myself permission to make mistakes. It became my goal to learn as much as possible each night. As a result, each class was more enjoyable and I had a lot more fun.

2. Embrace the instructor.
While you do this physically when you dance haha, I’m referring more to their style of teaching. My first waltz instructor was very intense. He spoke fast, moved fast, and expected a lot. My current instructor is the exact opposite. He’s laid back, makes lots of jokes, and ensures everyone is comfortable. He spends a lot of time on the little details. Neither way is wrong, simply different, and you can learn from both.

3. Do hard things.
Walking into a dance class full of strangers is terrifying. I still have to psych myself up for a lesson even though I love dancing. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone helps you grow. Embrace challenge! The confidence, discipline, dedication, and perseverance you develop will help you in all other aspects of life.

4. Take care of yourself.
If you aren’t used to dancing, the new movements can leave you stiff and sore the next day. Fortunately my legs are used to worse abuse than dancing (I’m looking at you dead lifts and squats) so they were okay. But it was a good reminder. I need to be more deliberate and proactive about taking care of myself. I need to get enough sleep, take active rest days, stay hydrated, stretch daily, and practice good nutrition. My mental health also needs to be more of a priority.

5. Enjoy!
Learning is fun, something I’ve rediscovered through dance. But I’m always looking forward to the next step and often miss out on the NOW. I’m learning to stop, breathe, look around, and take note of what I’m feeling. Time goes by fast. I don’t want to miss out on all the wonderful, little details that make life so beautiful.

What’s your favourite hobby or activity?