A couple of weeks ago, one of my posts was accidentally reblogged by Stefanie at Biggest Girl in the Ballroom. Through a series of emails, she discussed wanting to set up a ballroom village for those of us who write about our experiences with ballroom dancing and suggested we do guest posts on each other’s blogs. I did one the other day and now here is hers. If you aren’t regularly checking out her blog, you should be. It is full of frustrations and triumphs but also full of hope and optimism and captures a lot of why dancing is so important to a lot of us. You’ll become a fan and start rooting for her just like I do. So here’s Stefanie:
Hello! I’m Stefanie, AKA The Biggest Girl In The Ballroom. I “met” Diagonal Wall because I’m always on the hunt for blogs about fellow ballroom dancers. It is such an addiction-obsession and I love hearing about the experiences of others who share my passion. I found Diagonal Wall and connected with it immediately. Although the author is a total analyst, and I’m much more of an emotional, less logical person, it seems like we both have faced many of the same struggles. We both deal with self-doubt and negative self-talk, and we have both dealt with the crappy self-image that comes with being in a fat body. Diagonal Wall has already conquered that particular demon, I’m still in the middle of working on it, but it hasn’t kept me from not only dancing, but competing. It has also made me want to become better, and healthier and has propelled me forward in my life.
Well, more on that in a minute, but first back to “meeting” Diagonal Wall. It’s kind of a funny evolution. I read the blog for a while and then a few weeks ago I went to like one of the posts and I accidentally-on purpose reblogged it. I say accidentally-on purpose because I believe things happen for a reason. And some of my readers found his blog and liked it and it was great! And it got me thinking that I wish there was more of a community or “tribe” as they say, of we ballroom bloggers. So I reached out to the few I know, and Alaina from And Then Came Dance dubbed it a “Ballroom Village.” So I’m working on building that and I’m so Happy Diagonal Wall has joined.
And we decided to do guest blogs for one another – to get the word out about other ballroom blogs and introduce potential new readers to more ballroom blogs. So there you go. Diagonal Wall gave me free rein in terms of what to write about so I thought I’d mostly just do what I do on my blog and tell a little about what is going on in my dancing life right now as well as tell you a little bit about me.
So the story is a long one! In deciding where to start I will say that I began dancing ballroom about 3 or 4 years ago. I was working out at the gym and some guy was giving lessons out of the rec room and it looked like more fun than the treadmill I was on. I bought 5 lessons and that was it! I was hooked. I danced with him for about 6 months and he was like, “You should try doing a competition.” So I did. Then things went sour. I bought 100 lessons and he disappeared off the face of the earth. And then I quit my job and didn’t have the finances to pursue this new-found passion. So I stopped dancing for a while. When finances stabilized for me I sought out a new instructor and kind of same story – danced for a while, did one competition, then his studio closed (but luckily I hadn’t bought a ton of lessons!)
Fortunately, I had met an instructor at the studio and I knew she was very skilled. I called her and asked her who I should dance with. And that was how I ended up with Ivan, my crazy Bulgarian instructor whom I simply adore. He has made me laugh, let me cry, and helped me grow in ways I never would have imagined. We’ve been dancing for maybe a little less than 2 and 1/2 years. There are many funny stories about our adventures on the blog but here’s what’s happened in the past week or so.
On one recent lesson we had two really funny things happen. First, I did a fall in slow-motion. It was pretty amazing. You see, I have this one move in the Rumba where Ivan dips me and I put my leg around his. Well, my heel got caught on his pants or shirt and I couldn’t free it. So there I was, stuck with one foot in the air, and we were off balance and gravity was pulling us down! It was inevitable we were going to hit the floor. I felt like I was in the “Matrix” and time slowed down. We slowly sunk to the floor, Ivan landing on top of me and it was so weird because it was like nobody in the studio noticed the fall – because it wasn’t like Bam! It was so controlled. And then there we were on the floor. If that ever happened in a competition I don’t think I’d ever stop laughing! Pretty interesting choreography.
The other funny moment was that we were doing Rumba and Ivan was like, “No smiling! We have to create the drama! You have to be a tiger!” and I couldn’t stop laughing but I tried to control myself and got serious and then what does he do? Whacks his hand directly into the mirror ball hanging from the center of the ceiling. I swear he does it at least once every time we go to that particular studio. So, as you can probably guess, there was no hope of me creating a “dramatic” moment as I was shaking with laughter at Ivan’s klutzy antics.
But besides the funny moments there are also amazing ones. For instance, I realized how far I’ve come in terms of trust doing this other move. I’d always been a little tentative with it because I go up on one foot and Ivan is to catch me and I lean on him. I never really let him bear all my weight partly because of my body image issues and fears about how heavy I am but the truth is it doesn’t work for the step. And it’s kind of silly because in another routine I go down on the floor in the splits and Ivan is able to heft me up from the ground. Anyways, I was hesitant about it, but we addressed it and I let him really hold me. He moved me around, leaning me in many directions, even leaning me forward so my face was toward the floor, but I let him. I trusted. And that was a pretty big deal.
And on our last lesson we were really in sync. It just FELT so good to dance, and in particular to dance WITH Ivan. We were on the same wavelength and it made me feel like this was WHY I dance – it’s for that intangible connection with another human being that transcends physical touch and for self-expression. It’s such a special thing when it works and it makes me appreciate my instructor that much more. I don’t believe I could dance that way with just anybody.
This dancing thing has really transformed my life. It’s lit a fire in my belly and I feel more alive than ever before. It has been a catalyst for growth and change and it continues to bless me in innumerable ways. It’s kind of difficult to sum it all up in one blog post so if you are interested you can read more over at Biggest Girl In The Ballroom.
I’ll leave you with this photo which I feel sums me up. I may be imperfect and have my flaws and struggles but I’m also authentic and beautiful and reaching for more.