Sunday, March 6, 2016

Small Update!

I've been so busy lately and it has started to mess with my head. I don't have enough time to myself; the time I do have is spent going from one event to another. Have I mentioned that I'm not the most social person about? I'd rather spend my time reading, dancing, or playing some sort of video game. Or doing something relaxing with the hubs. It's wearing on me - and it's why I haven't posted in awhile.

Dance class is the one place that I actually enjoy myself on a weekly basis. Class has been great. In fact, I now am taking one of the pw/prelim classes, and am getting steps that I will eventually use in competition. I am in no means ready for a prelim competition - especially when it comes to hardshoe. My stamina is so poor BUT I do see progress on a monthly basis. Moves I haven't done in years are coming back to me - double clicks, treble sequences, even a toe move that I did eons ago. It's nice! Plus, I'm getting challenged. I absolutely love all the ladies in the adult class, and I will miss seeing them every week.

This time last year, I could barely make it through half of a reel step. I was always out of breath and generally out of shape. This year, I can feel my calf muscles when I point my toes. I can make it up 3 flights of stairs to my apartment without being winded (at all!). I've actually lost (and maintained) weight. 

There's so much more to say, but it is getting late. Have a good week!

Goals: Continue doing those calf raises, stretch 4x a week, eventually take 2 classes a week. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2015 - My Year in Review - Part 2

July: July brought a summer &over ceili class that I was dying to do. I love the fellowship that comes with a ceili, and this class looked to be the perfect way back in. There was only one problem: the class started at 5:30, only 30 minutes after I get off work. Even if I left 15 minutes early, there was no guarantee I could get there with the traffic that plagues my area. Despite my best efforts, I was only able to get to 2 of the 8 classes, which really bummed me out. Had I been able to take ceili class the entire summer, my stamina would have vastly improved by the time September rolled around. Alas, it was not meant to be.

July and August also brought an adult class where I learned most of the steps I do today. During these months I started gaining more strength back, and was able to string more steps together when I danced. In August, a dance friend and I tried the 30 day stretching challenge, My flexibility was increased.

September through December brought the biggest changes to my dancing. I lost more weight, gained more flexibility and stamina. I could get through two hardshoe and softshoe steps at a time. I even began to put some flair into my softshoe dances! Especially reel. I began thinking about competing again - sometime in spring of 2016. My biggest obstacles were, and still are, my dance mentality and the fact that I can't fit into my dress. While my husband supports my competing, a $2K solo dress just isn't in the budget. My old solo (which is only about 4 years old) would be perfect for a pw/beginning prelim dancer. If I lose another 10 lbs, I should be able to fit into my old one.

My dancing mentality is a bigger issue, something that will need constant tuning up. If I am consistently able to notice the small victories, such as fine tuning steps or ending a hornpipe with stamina in tact, I will start believing in myself more. Right?

At my class last week, my teacher said that I am good to make the leap into kids classes again. I know I've taken them before, but I'm just SO damn nervous about that first class. It'll be a new teacher and new set of faces. I'm worried about being able to keep up, stamina wise. Even as a teen I had issues learning steps during class - I always had to ask for extra help after. Now, while I will ask for help, I'm terrified I'll look like an idiot doing so. Like I don't belong in that class. UGH.

I've done it before - being able to do it now should be a breeze. But I keep overthinking it and questioning if I'm good enough. Maybe I could start with a stepping stone - a novice class to get my feet wet with my current teacher. Harder, but I won't throw myself into something I feel I'll embarrass myself at. IDK. I think I'll ask my teacher at class next week.

Friday, January 8, 2016

2015 - A Review in Life & Dance

I've been seeing these all over tumblr, so I figured I'll post mine here and reblog over there. That way I can save and nitpick at this post for as long as I want.

2015 was an interesting year - not full of extensive changes but many little ones over the course of the twelve months that amounted to a different lifestyle by the end of the year. In fact, I have only spent the last 7 months back in a regular dance class

January through April/Part 1 of Phase 1: I was slowly coming to the conclusion that I needed to have a more active lifestyle. I had a job I enjoyed, we were doing decently financially, and I was sick of my only regular social activity almost always involving drinking. This wasn't a nightly or even weekly thing, but it happened enough for me to be frustrated by it. I like being social and drinking, but I like physical activity even more. I was also at a weight I did not like.

At some point during January I had discovered my friend Dani's dance tumblr - and through it many other people's. I loved it - still do. The video clips posted on there really motivated me to try and find a class in my area that would suit my needs. I talked to another friend, Kim, and she recommended Southern to me. In April, I decided to call the phone number on Southern's website to get more info on classes, what I could take, how far I could go, etc. I went to a trial class the week after worlds ended and absolutely loved it - the atmosphere, the classes, the teachers. Enter Part 2 of Phase 1.

April/May/June - Part 2 of Phase 1: My first class back after a) not dancing in nearly 4 years, b) very little steady physical activity for 4 years, and c) definitely not putting hardshoes on in those 4 years went relatively well. I tried out two different classes, the first of which was doing a treble jig drill day. Pretty sure I lasted all of 5 minutes of drilling through the entire class - but my passion was back. While this class made me feel how out of shape I was, it also made me realize that, despite my age, I still had a knack for picking up steps. My hardshoe SUCKED, and still does, but I could still get the rhythm of everything. I later went to the adult/teen class and decided to start there, as the tempo was much slower.

The classes that followed were fairly uneventful, excepting that I was very slowly gaining muscle/muscle memory back. I was toning up. My stamina improved - from only being able to follow along during class, to being able to a half step at a time, to doing a full step, right and left, in time and to the music (I can now do 2 steps without being too winded - YES). Might not seem like much, but the day I was able to do a full step without stopping, and without being extremely winded, felt absolutely divine. I was grinning ear to ear when I told my husband - and was thrilled for the rest of the week.

Part 2 - Tomorrow! Or maybe next week - I can't tell yet. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Overs, Why I continue to dance

The one thing I'll always love about Irish are overs. They were the first thing I mastered, the first thing I realized that with practice I'd actually improve upon. Consequently, they were the first thing that came back to me after I re-started. Last week at class was the first time in years I'd felt that floating sensation - after about 6-7 months of weekly classes (and occasional practices at home), I had regained enough muscle (or muscle memory?) to achieve that feeling. It's a feeling I constantly strive for with all my dancing.

More times than not, I'm filled with self doubt about my abilities; will I actually ever achieve my goals? Are my goals ridiculous? Did I wait too long to re-start to be any good? What actually defines 'good'?

But then I remember why I started, and why I continue to go to class, week by week. Why I will never stop dancing again - because the depressing feeling that comes with it cripples my soul. While yes, I'd love to be that one in thousands that can have a solid competitive career in their late 20s/early 30s, I don't want to stop because I can't have it. I want to learn every set dance known to man. I want to try Sean nos dancing. I want to perform and teach as much as possible for as long as I can. This isn't to say I won't stay competitive - I truly enjoy perfecting steps and I honestly want to see how far I can go with hard work & a little luck.


What have I done this week to help improve my dancing?
-Stretched 3x this week
-Learned a new slip jig/part of a treble jig; can dance to music sloppily
-Have been doing releves/walking on my toes when I think of it. Do them at work, home, walking to my car. There's no set schedule with these, but I end up doing a few about once a day.

Successes this past week (no matter how small):
-Did my treble jig, in hardshoes (not sneakers, not socks) 2x through to music. It sucks...but this is the first time I've done a full dance to music in quite sometime. Hoping to do 2x more in class tomorrow + sometime at my apartment's gym.
-I can hold my overs again.
-Continue to trim up and gain muscle. My calves are going to be killer by the time summer hits!

Goals for this week:
-Releves. Each and every damn day.
-Crunches - 10 each day.
-Drill two bits of sj that are bugging me; my entire tj
-Run full dances 1x each

I'd say I'll do more...but I also want to stay realistic. Cannot wait to have more time over the holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Irish Dancing - Then/Now/Future

I started Irish dancing thirteen years ago at age 14. I immediately fell in love with it and could not get enough of it. I competed extensively for three years before falling victim to three things: extreme anxiety, college, and lack of help from my former dance teacher. Before I go any further - that particular dance school was a great start for me. I learned a lot, and both teachers helped me further my obsession and love for Irish dance. I competed at two oireachtas, both of which were great (but disappointing) experiences. I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes, anxiety and college.

I've spent the better part of ten years doing/figuring out the following:

  • Minoring in dance - I decided use my minor credits in college to further explore all styles of dance. Ballet was my favorite, African used muscles I didn't know my body had, Tap was a fairly easy learn (thank you, hardshoe!) even though I couldn't hold my body 'loose enough', and Jazz was just 'eh'. Ballet, however, strengthened me like no other dance form OR sport had before. I've realized now that in order to achieve my newly reformed Irish goals, I must take ballet to supplement. 
  • How much anxiety actually fucked me over at regionals - and how to overcome that amount of stress and anxiousness (is that a word?) in the future. This is something I still have to work on.
  • Taking Irish at two different schools before giving up...almost four years ago. 
  • FINALLY. Finding the Irish school of my dreams - only to be really old in the Irish dance world. Which brings me to today.
I am 27 years old and have been taking Irish classes weekly for the past 7 months. I have goals for the next several years, ending with me taking my TCRG and ADCRG. Wow! I actually wrote that. This is something I've kept mainly to myself for awhile...and it's honestly exciting to share it with the world (or whomever actually reads this). In order to keep myself from being overwhelmed, I am starting off with some smaller goals:
  • Practice 2x weekly outside of class. 
  • Improve overs - would like to get both legs 'frozen' by end of Jan 2016. My right leg is coming back nicely; my left - not so much. 
  • Dance 3 steps in a row without dying by June. I will probably restart as an &over pw, but it couldn't hurt to start working toward that now.
  • Do multiple performances before first feis back.
  • Sign up for first feis back (May/June 2016)
OK, I think that's enough for now. I want to head to bed early so I'll be rested enough for practice tomorrow.