A Little Cold Can’t Stop Me

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So I have returned to the land of the living and dancing.  No, the evil death cold virus has not totally released its grasp on me so I’m in that zone where you still mostly feel lousy but not bad enough that I can justify missing work.  Although I will admit that I came close when the alarm went off this morning.  I know I’m not indispensable but I promised someone I’d be at a meeting today so I dragged myself out of bed and forced myself to keep going.

I actually returned yesterday and that was because I knew I was going to go to my lessons last night.  I find it difficult to justify skipping work but still going to a lesson later in the day.  And, yesterday was both my coaching lesson and another master class so I wasn’t going to miss out on those opportunities.

It turns out that it can be difficult to dance effectively when you have to stop every so often because you can no longer suppress the coughing fit.  Fortunately for me, I was so clogged up that I sounded awful so it was pretty clear I wasn’t at the top of my game.  By the end of the night, after all the coughing, I ended up sounding like someone on the wrong side of a major two pack a day smoke habit.

The original plan was for us to do the Mambo for the coach so she could offer some constructive tips.  So, on our private, that’s how Kid T and I started and it went pretty well.  But, you know that Mambo is a pretty fast dance even with the “slower” Mambos.  Shockingly, breathing becomes much more important when you are doing faster dances.  And, it didn’t help that I was counting along with her because it helps me get the timing down.  Counting and dancing and coughing – guess which one doesn’t belong?  I think she saw where it was going and we switched to Bolero which is also a newer routine and one where I needed some help with styling since I do a lot of just standing around and looking tall.   So we decided it would be best to let her work with me on Bolero rather than trying to do the Mambo.

The master class was a Rumba and it was the one disappointment of the night.  The coach wanted to get heavily into technique and Cuban motion and hips and on and on.  She started by talking about using other parts of your body to take up space and time.  So we were working on ankles.  Lifting the off foot to the toe and then dragging it into position and dropping the heel on the slow.  This is a concept Kid T and I have started to work on (when I remember to do it).  The problem was that the repetitive motion started to get to my knee.  I don’t know why certain movements bother it but they do.  Plus, I was starting to get a little tired and overheated and my voice was disappearing into a croaky series of syllables.  So I did something I’ve not done in a long, long time, I bailed in the middle.  I did pick a good time because she had just worked through the first rotation and then had everyone break up to work on the next exercise.  I ran to the bathroom for a quick coughing fit and then got some water and then told OwnerGuy I was out.

At the Famous Franchise, you can never quit easily.  He made a few efforts to get me back into the game but since the class was pretty full and since I said I needed to be ready for my coaching lesson, he agreed that sitting out the rest of the group was OK.  He did touch on the subject of what she was doing and made some comment about how it really shouldn’t hurt my knee.   No, I was just making up the little ache that was starting there.  I hate it when people tell me something shouldn’t hurt like they don’t believe me when I tell them it does.  Again, I don’t know why certain things inflame the knee.  I just know that they do.  And once the inflammation sets in, it can be hard as hell to bring it back down again.

So I did sit on the sidelines and watched the rest of the class.  It allowed me to toss a little pity party for myself though.    I’m not a young person but I’m nowhere near being put out to pasture.  I’m no body builder but I’m also not a couch potato/slug.  To look at me, there are no obvious signs of limitations but, there are just certain things I can’t do because of the knees.  So then I’m thinking about the dances that require a certain range of motion and that I can’t do that so I’m never going to be seriously competitive in those dances.  Then, what’s the point of really continuing to try when I know that some part of me is always going to hold me back.  Yeah, all that went through my head in the 10 to 15 minutes I was sitting on the couch in the back of the studio watching everyone else attempt to do better Cuban motion.

But then we got on the lesson and things got better.  First thing we did were some exercises to look at range of motion (or lack thereof in the knees).  She decided to focus on ribs and arms as two parts that we could use to create nice shapes and/or help compensate for things I couldn’t do with the knees.  The lesson started with us sitting in chairs as I tried to shift my ribs from side to side without engaging other parts.  Graduated from that to making circles with my rib cage.  Then, we did that standing up since it is easier to do sitting.  I guess I showed perhaps more than she expected so she said she could help work on that.

And then she discussed three planes where the arms could safely go and we practiced making rotational moves in those planes.  Then, we just started in on the routine and, we’d do a couple of steps, and she’d stop us and give me ideas for arm and/or rib styling to enhance the moves and to allow me to fill up more space.

There were certainly many moments when trying to coordinate the arm movements with existing footwork proved a little difficult.  Can’t dance and do arm styling at the same time I guess.  (Seemed like the best equivalent to the whole walk and chew gum thing)   There was lots of detail in there.  Things like not showing my palm to the audience and not having my arm in front my face for a long period of time so one rotation had to start away and up and only brought past my face at the very end.  There were a couple of places where a move could be enhanced with ribs – or just a little more rotation in the torso in a bit of a snappier way.

In a way, it was exactly what I needed.  We’ve spent so much time on the choreography and the footwork and posture and all that but this felt like the first time we were working on trying to make the Bolero look more like a Bolero.  Yes, I was still a little self-conscious about flinging my arms around but there was at least a plan!  I mean I had a guide to tell me that my arms were flailing in the right way as opposed to being dead or flopping around with no real guidance.  Well maybe it didn’t feel more Bolero-ish but it certainly felt different.  Something about having more parts engaged but, for once, it felt like I was being trained for something beyond a Showcase.

The amazing thing was the time just flew by.  Ever had those lessons where you keep looking at the clock because you kind of hope it is going to be over soon.  No, I don’t have too many of those but I’ve had my share.  This was the total opposite.  And it wasn’t like we were doing especially difficult things so I guess it was that we were working more on the total package.  We didn’t even get through the entire routine but that’s OK because I got a lot of stuff thrown at me.


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