My dance teacher is the producer of an annual dance festival here in town. This year was the 14th year for Bailando Dance Festival, but the first year for me to attend. Last year I was out of town for work the weekend they had it. This year they wanted to take my gallbladder on the first day of master classes. I had them change it, I didn’t want to miss it again.
I’m sure I’ll have a few different posts of different things I learned from the various classes and performances of the festival, but this one I want to write about what the adjudicators said after the first night of performances.
There were three adjudicators; Erin Reck, Irene Ko, and Paula Garza. The first night, some of the performances were less than stellar. Lacking here and there in various areas, but there were ones, of course, that stood out and were really impressive. This night also had more variety of styles of dance, including a belly dance as the finale. Not everyone stayed for the adjudication, but I wanted to hear what they had to say about the dance our IDT girls were in and my friend Sarah G choreographed. As they went through each dance in order, everyone respectfully stayed in their seats until all of them were finished–it’s the respectful thing to do–except for one company. They were the second to last dance, and instead of waiting for the simple commentary of the final dance, the entire company (which was quite large) got up and left.
The sound of the chair seats snapping as they all stood was extreme loud and distracting, not to mention the shuffling feet and rustling of clothing. More than one person turned around in awe that someone could be so rude.
Honestly, it was their loss.
None of the adjudicators were experts in the field of belly dancing, but that didn’t matter. What stood out was resounding and impossible to overlook.
These ladies were able to draw in their audiences and keep their attention not by showing off skin or swishing their hips, but instead by their passion for the dance style. Each one of them was having so much fun, that it radiated off the stage and captivated the audience. It didn’t matter if they got everything exactly correct or not, no one could see it past their passion.
This spoke volumes to me, especially with the advanced holiday showcase dance coming around, and being the understudy of sorts. It makes me nervous, because I know that I don’t “look like a dancer.” I am not gifted with a natural grace or charisma when it comes to this. Even though I am now twenty-five years old, I still find myself rather nervous and insecure, especially when it comes to new styles of dance. I’d love to try a modern/contemporary or lyrical class, but I have no knowledge of it, and fear that I would just pick up right where I left off as an eleven year old–awkward and laughed at.
But, that shouldn’t matter to me. What should matter is that I just love to dance. I love to move, to express, to release everything through a variation of steps.
And honestly, that will shine through, even if my technique is lacking.
This shouldn’t be an excuse to be lax on my technique, but it should be a comfort to know that passion counts for something.
Does that make sense?
I sure hope so.
Because it really meant a lot to me, to my heart.


Too far ahead.

Jilissa pointed out something in the beginner class that really made more sense in the advanced as I found myself falling prey to it.
She noticed that when we are trying to do a combination that has components we either aren’t familiar with or aren’t confident in, we tend to lose what we already know.
We turn our foot in on a glissade, we do our pas de bourree the wrong direction, we forget to plie.
These basic building blocks that should be what keeps us stable through the unknown becomes what falters in our fear.
She told us we’re looking to far ahead.
We’re worrying too much about the step we don’t know coming up, that we lose the steps right now that we already know when if we would just get through what we know; a. it looks better, and b. it makes the unknown easier to execute  and more understandable.
This reminded me of ways the Lord has handled fear I’ve come to Him with.
I get so worked up over things in the future that my panic affects the now. Instead, if I would just keep myself calm and worry about the future when it gets here, I’ll realize all the panic was for nothing.
I’m not there yet, why would I waste the time worrying about something that’s not even in front of me yet?
I can take it on when I get there, and more than likely everything will work out just fine.
I’ll be smarter, I’ll be stronger, I’ll have more confidence.
I’ll be just fine.

Do the moves I know that are in front of me, and when I get to the new I’ll be in the right position to face it with an outcome of success.

There goes a fighter.

There were a few different things from yesterday’s class that I wanted to write about.
I remembered them at the end of class, but by the time I got to where I could write it down, I had forgotten.
I can remember what I was looking at, what I was taking in of my surroundings when she said it, but I can’t remember what it was she said…
Something about gaining strength, I think.

I got upset at myself, because there were things we were doing that I know I knew and understood, but I couldn’t get my brain to process enough to actually do them. I guess now that I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m sick, the walls have come down and it’s laying on me full force. I haven’t really been able to eat anything, and that’s especially bad on a dance day. My brain just couldn’t handle it all. It literally hurt at the end of the class.

Jilissa encouraged us. She asked us what it was that begged us to dance. Why is it that we spend so much time doing this thing? Especially us older ones, what is it that makes us keep coming back? The girls were saying, “because it feels good” as I was thinking, “It’s what makes me feel alive.” She was saying the way you talk about your time there is a direct reflection of your attitude while being there. This should be our happy place, not something we dread.
That’s just it. It is my happy place. Even when the days are really difficult and I can’t make it through.
This is what makes me feel alive. When something goes wrong, this is where I want to be. When I want to feel safe, when I want security, when I want to feel accomplished, when I desire to feel love–I want to be at the studio.
And that’s what makes this sickness that’s holding me back so much harder to deal with. Because it’s keeping me from feeling alive. It’s keeping me from feeling that sense of accomplishment, from excelling, from improving and enjoying it all. Jilissa said she could tell that as I got frustrated, it just sapped my joy right out of me.
She said we all have days like this–where we feel defeated, where we feel limited, the days we have to fight through. She asked me, “How long have you been dancing?” “Two years in October.” I replied.
Everyone reacted in disbelief. “What?!” “That’s it?” “Are you serious?” All at once.
“Well, I took when I was little, but I was taught wrong, so I don’t really consider it much…”
“Oh my goodness! That’s amazing!”

Sometimes I get so upset on how far I want to go that I forget to remember how far I’ve come.
I’ve only been in dance–where I’m learning correctly–for almost two years, and where am I? I’m on pointe, I’m in the advanced class, I’m keeping up with the big dogs mostly. After only two years.
Sure, I’m not where I want to be yet. I’m not able to go where I know I’m capable, but I’m so much farther than when I first began. I’ve overcome so many obstacles. I’ve pressed through so many difficult days. And it’s worth it.
Here comes a fighter.

Uncomfortable strength.

I swear, it’s like Jilissa knows that’s she’s speaking straight to my soul as she gives us these analogies.
During yesterday’s class, she challenged us and explained how we’re not going to improve unless we’re willing to try things we never have before. If we don’t bring our leg higher in arabesque, it’s never going to get higher. If we never develope higher, it’s never going to improve.
She told us, “You have to get it to a place where it’s uncomfortable. Not push to far to where you hurt yourself, but you have to constantly push yourself farther.”
Then she looked me straight in the eyes as she scanned across the room as she said, ” If you’re not willing to be uncomfortable, you’ll never get stronger.”

Cue where my life is right now.
Everything is uncomfortable. Everything is uncertain. This has become all too common for me, but still difficult to digest. And yesterday, I had been loaded with information of potential things to happen that just makes you step back and kinda take it all in, and it just kept coming after class. So much happening all at once, so much change. I have to decide if I’m going to keep myself held up in things from the past, or if I’m going to let go of each day as it ends and keep pushing forward.
This is difficult, because there are so many beloved memories in the past. But the time is coming to where I have to leave them to just memories.
This is a journey, and I’m not yet at the destination. That being the case, I have to keep going. The journey is continuing. I’m along for this ride of life.
And it is indeed a beautiful one.