Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In which I wonder what side-track I should be in for Lindy Focus...

So when I signed up for Lindy Focus in June, I selected the "Advanced Aerials" side track.  Mid-July, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about taking it with me, and he said he was down.  But I never bothered to correct the TBD on my Focus registration.

So I get an email a few days ago from one of the organizers, just giving me a heads up that I still don't have a partner listed, and I should get that straightened out or I should switch to another track before they all close.  I dropped my friend an email to say Hey whats up, are we still doing the aerials class? and he informs me that he's not going to Focus at all.  He's shifted primarily into blues gear, which is why I haven't seen him recently.  whoops.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Parrot Cat"

So the name of the blog...

So this is the natural state of my cat, perched on my shoulder:

It's just her thing, wallowing all over me.  I can't imagine a cat that did not so this to me. What would be the point? 

Nothing after the jump but more pictures of my cat.  But, on the plus side, more adorable pictures of my cat! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Epic, photo-laden Rocktober 2011 "Trip" Report

Hey y'all, this one isn't a "trip" report, because I didn't have to travel out of my own cozy homedown to go to it. But it was a "trip", in that I felt like I sort of went on a journey, mentally.  So here goes:

Columbus, OH, hosts two major events a year- CBUS, which is an exchange and is social dancing only, and for the last few years, Rocktober, which has classes.

Rocktober happens (You guessed it!) in October, it happened this past weekend, Oct 7-9th.  Last year, it was a big, multi-track extravaganza, with three tracks in the convention center and a big Showcase competition for couples' choreography and the whole 9 yards.  This year was a little different.

This year, while there were still dances to live music on Friday and Saturday nights (And DJ'd late nights) to which everyone, the whole community, was invited, as well as a J&J competition, there was no big, multi-track workshop.  What we decided to do instead (disclosure: I was one of the organizers for this) was to host the kind of intensive workshop with small classes and top level instructors that dancers in our region rarely get to participate in. That dancers, period, rarely get to participate in: a very small class with world class instructors that lasts the whole weekend. What a great opportunity, we thought, (disguised as being unable to find a venue for a huge workshop), to give dancers in our region the opportunity to give their dancing a kick in the pants.  And in the process, bring up the level of dancing in our region as a whole.

We filled the class with a combination of video auditions, which were open to anyone, and personal invitations to regional dancers.  The latter we hadn't really planned on initially, but we realized that very many people were intimidated or confused by the video audition requirement. Consequently, they hadn't sent in a tape because they didn't think they'd make it, when in fact they were our target audience.  So what we got in the end was a class populated entirely by people who were highly motivated to learn. 

Our instructors were Kevin St. Laurent and Jo Hoffberg.  This was the class:
all photos courtesy of Jenna Menchhofer

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Target Weight

Went to the doctor today for sinus shit.  Was told in no uncertain terms to not lose any more weight.  Gonna call that "hitting my target weight."  Is that sick?

[I wasn't planning on losing any more weight anyway.  I actually already hit my target weight about a week ago, ending the weight loss goal I've had for a little less than a year of dropping from 128 back to 110, which is what I weighed in college at my fittest.  Done through food journaling but not really calorie restricting, just trying to eat less junk, and working out (climbing, hiking, dancing, pullups/pushups/leg lifts/ hangboard stuff.)]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ULHS class

There were classes Saturday morning at Showdown, but they started at 10am, and I was not awake at that time, so I did not go. There were also classes Sunday afternoon.  

Due to my indulgence very late Saturday night, and the corresponding amount of sleep that I got, I felt awesome by the time I got up on Sunday afternoon, and, consequently, the only class I made it to all weekend was the final one, Chance Bushman and Bobby Bonsey’s Collaboration and Competition in Solo Jazz Contests It started at 6pm, and I actually just listened and watched rather than participated. 

(I was kinda really bummed, because I heard that Evita’s Solo Blues class was really good, but after me and my roomies got up and got lunch… we fell back asleep.)

So the first thing that Chance and Bobby talked about 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dear dance photographers, re: horrible faces.

If I am really the only one in the picture (not even my dance partner is in the shot), and I am making a horrible face, why would you select that picture for the album you post to faceobook for the event?

PS, yes, I untagged myself from that photo.

PPS- I didn't mention this to you personally because it's not that big of a deal. I just think I look horrible, and I'm embarrassed that I make faces like that in public.

ULHS 2011 trip report

I recently returned from a weekend+ spent down in at the New Orleans Swing Dance Festival and Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, which is both a weekend of social dancing to live music and a weekend of competitions to live music.  There is a theme, is what I’m saying, and the theme is live music.  All of which was fantastic.

So the weekend for me in a way began on Wednesday afternoon, when I dyed my hair purple.  I worked all day, then I got my hair dyed purple, then I hit Swingin’ Wednesday, so I didn’t start packing until 11pm.  So the weekend began on Wednesday also in the sense that I got to “practice” staying up late.  Easing myself into it, as it were. 

I did technically go to work on Thursday morning, though I can’t say I accomplished much in my jittery anticipation of finally going down to the Big Easy.  I signed up for the event back in June, after I attended Stompology and everyone was already talking about “Are you going to Showdown?!”  Finally, Thursday evening, I landed in the city, caught a bus to the French quarter, and walked down to the hotel just as it was getting dark. (By myself! On a bus! I win.) Dancing began at 11pm. 

The weekend was pretty much nuts from the word go.  One of the things about Showdown is that it was a cultural experience as much as strictly dancing.  A lot of this stemmed from the immersive nature of walking through the city to all of the venues. The venues were all a pretty easy walk from the hotel, scattered around the French Quarter, and so you arrived and departed at things as you pleased, and it was at once very communal and very autonomous, which I liked a lot. I’m a shut-down-the-venue kind of girl, and some of my roomates were the kind of people who “need” “sleep.”  But enough dancers were staying at the same hotel that I never had any problem finding someone to walk me back through the French Quarter at 4 or 6 or whatever in the morning.  This was particularly noticeable to me, because in contrast, the last event I attended was ILHC, in which all the events happen within a hotel, and it’s like going to another planet.  It is a fantastic planet; I’d board a colony transport ship in a heartbeat.  But it’s not like being in a city. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Do they suck or do I suck?"

So I'm a big fan of the fb page Bugs Question of the Day.  Recently, there was a question sent in by an anonymous dancer that goes like this: 
"There are several dancers I have danced with repeatedly with whom dancing just doesn't work (the basics of what I understand to be leading and following are not working out for us). They are dancers who appear to be very good (and think quite a bit of their own ability) and some other dancers certainly appear to be making it work with them. I am just moving out of complete beginner stage and seem to be able to make everything work at a basic level with the majority of people (including in privates with A-list instructors). Which of the following apply?
a) Everyone has people with whom it doesn't click
b) These dancers aren't as good as they think they are but no-one has ever told them (barring their extreme confidence and the willingness of other good dancers to dance with them, I would assume that they were missing something fundamental)
c) There are other approaches to leading and following
d) I need to suck it up and learn to dance"
My original response to this question...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Necessary and Sufficient

Hey, y'all... welcome to my new blog. To kick things off, I'm going to repost an essay that I wrote this summer (July 2011), after I attended Stompology in Rochester, NY.  "Repost," because this essay originally appear on my friends' blog, All the Cats Join In.  

I am planning on posting a ULHS trip report soon! but I decided that it would be the impetus for just setting up a blog already, and I wanted to put this out there, since it's something I've very glad I wrote, and benefit from rereading and reminding myself of, occasionally. 

My greatest flaw as a dancer is probably my tendency to let my social anxiety strangle me.

My fear of screwing up on the dance floor manifests in frequent "thinking face" when I'm being led, even by familiar leads, through new or complex patterns, and in my tendency to choke when I ask a ‘high-status’ leader for a dance. My favorite definition of "choke" is from the book Deep Survival: a reversion to the state of being a beginner, wherein you consciously think about what you're doing, as opposed to the more advanced state of performance where "muscle memory" largely controls the specifics of movement. To choke is to lose one's flow.  The mechanics of this for me personally usually looks like bad posture and too much tension in my arms and body, which hinders my ability to follow sensitively. In either case, the process is too much thinking and the product is less than sublime dancing.

Which is a shame, because my favorite part of dancing, the high that I am always chasing that keeps me coming back, is found in the moments when I am not in my head but in my body, fully with the music and my partner.  There is a thrilling physicality to just letting go and dancing.