Thursday, March 28, 2013

Improv Challenge: Travel Break

I meant to post before I left town but I guess that didn't work out. I completed Challenge Day 20 (You know, its actually not called the Improv Challenge but the 90 Day Dance Party but to me its a challenge) then left town for a long week-end to visit a friend who had her first child in December.
I didn't get to dance while I was away although I did listen to my music.
I am going to pick back up with Day 21 tonight. I feel excited to be getting close to day 30!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 19: Power Poses

So yesterday I went to the doctor about this fatigue I have been dealing with. No answer, but a ton of labs. I hope its something simple. Either way, I am going to do the food allergy elimination diet to see if I have any other food allergies that are making me feel bad. 
Somehow just doing that made me feel better. Maybe I felt more in control of what was making me feel bad.
The first song that queued up was a hip-hop fusion and I found myself really into it. Even though I have been pretty committed to shuffle and dancing to what comes on, I was into it enough that I searched through my iPod for the handful of songs that were similar.
I was thankful for the feeling of energy because I needed to submit my homework, i.e. make videos of myself doing my drills and choreography. I practiced my stuff until I felt "in the groove" and made my videos. Usually when I go to make the videos, I choke. Yesterday that were not so bad which is good since I was beat at that point.
It was Wednesday so I finished with my ab workout. All in all, a really good practice.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 18: Weighty Matters

Tuesday was class night so at the end we did our 20 minutes. I usually read Alia's e-mail out loud before we start. I tell my students that they can choose to ignore it but some of the e-mails inspire me (others do not) and I like to read them right before I practice.
Days 18's note was about power and using your weight (or imagining you have more weight and power). This made me feel good. I am not a small person. I am 5'3" and apple shaped. I am round. Once in yoga, we were doing warrior pose and I looked in the mirror and realized that I am a ball of a person. If I had a super power it would be to roll up in a ball and then move really fast like Sonic the Hedgehog. 
I struggled for a long time to love my body. Don't worry, I am all better. One consequence of that long struggle was trying to "hide" or not do things I was capable of because they would highlight the thing I was trying to hide. Like shimmies. When I shimmy now, my belly shakes like there is an earthquake. It is Awesome (Capital A). I call this effect Wubble. It is a cross between wobble and wubba wubba (which is a mispronunciation hubba hubba). Some people are afraid of the wubble. We spend to much time toning up and sucking in when sometimes you just have to relax and let your wubble wubble. Also, I belly laugh now. For real, like Santa. I can't help it. I assume it has something to do with constantly engaging some of abs and relaxing other parts at the same time. Whatever, Awesome.

Days 17: Making time

Monday night we needed to go to the funeral home. One of our employees lost his father and it was important that we be there for him. Even though it was "late" by my usual practice standards I squeezed in some time.
I used my 20 minutes to play around with my veil and the song I had picked for my class. Ironically, we decided to go back and re-stage one old number and for me to teach another to a newer member of the student troupe so we won't be using the new piece for a while.
I worked on my drills and felt good about how they were coming along. I assume this is because I am supposed to record them and send them in as homework. So since I didn't record them on Monday tonight I will either be sick or suddenly incapable to doing my drills. This is how life works for me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Days 14-16: Biting off more than you can chew

Several times this week-end I sat down and said to myself "I need to blog" and then I got distracted. Several other times I sat down and dicked around on my iPad and didn't even think about blogging. Its one of m curses, I only remember phone calls I need to make in the car and late at night.
My mind really perks up at night, maybe I need to keep different hours.

I have always thought that exercising or dancing late in the day keeps me from going to sleep. In a way it does because I get "jazzed up" and feel like running around. I think part of that always came from my group classes when I was a student. All my fellow students were my dear friends so not only were my exercise endorphin high but I was a on a social good-times sort of high. We always went out to Applebee's (I know but it was close and open late) after class, and I often miss that.
I don't get that feeling as much anymore because I work on my dance alone at home. On nights I teach I feel tired and relieved at a class well done, and also hungry. I do usually feel jazzed up after my own lessons partly from the interaction with my teacher and my suddenly much longer to do list of drills and practices. I actually channel it into cooking as my lesson is on Thursday and it is one of the night I usually cook with a purpose. My love of cooking is right up there with my love of dancing.
Where was I going with this? Oh, that's right. Exercising at night. A new study shows that it will help you sleep, not keep you awake as many people think. That's good news for me because my free time is all in the evening.

So how was my practice this week-end? There wasn't much of it.
I took Friday night off as usual. Saturday I practiced first thing in the morning as I had obligations all day. I did have a revelation I wanted to blog but since have forgotten what it was.
For the first time, I used a pre-set playlist. I am trying to pick a song for my choreography class and I put all the contenders into a playlist. It is going to be a veil number so for the first time in this challenge I got a veil and danced with it. The front runner was the first song cut. Not only is it too long so I would need to edit it but while beautiful I felt like everything that was coming to me might be too much for my students. The song I picked in the end is actually one I tried to choreograph to many years ago. I actually had a good start but other things came up and I moved on to something else.
I worked on my drills and some other conditioning exercises as well.

Sunday, well, that didn't work out as planned. You know when you start a new super hard workout and the next day you are hit by a bus sore? I felt that way after only doing the things I have always done. I really hope this still have something to do with my virus last month and nothing more serious. I am traveling next week-end and when I return I am going to do an allergy elimination diet to look for food allergies. My life has been a lot better since I was diagnosed as allergic to gluten but I think there still has to be something else or I would feel better.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Days 12 & 13: Bumps in the road

I didn't get to practice last night. I came home from work with a horrible headache. It's frustrating to miss a day but nothing is gained by giving yourself any grief about it. Move on.

Tonight I used my improv as a warm up before my lesson. I'm really enjoying the exploration that my daily improv gives me. I find that I actually have the most fun dancing to music I wouldn't normally dance too. I've explored my fusion playlist quite a bit. It's fun to play around with movement. I'm looking forward to the next 77 days.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 11: My Space

It's class day so that counts. I'll probably play the pop playlist for our 20 minutes tonight. I think I will do it right at the beginning and invite any of my beginners who want to stick around to dance with us.
As I ran in my dance room together my iPod I realized that it has become a bit messy. Messy in a lived in sort of way.
I added a floor cushion to sit on for when I am watching DVDs or having the chatty part of my Skype lesson. Random fitness equipment like my hand weights, foam roller and a yoga mat have all migrated in there. It's a tiny room but somehow having all this stuff makes it feel better. It's much less a sterile space and more of a "me" sort of space. I like it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 10: A Milestone

So, I said before that I wrote the numbers 1-90 on my mirror and I am ticking them off as I go. Well, they are in 9 rows of 10 so - one row done!

I'm still suffering from extreme fatigue and muscle soreness. I've been using my improv session like a warm up. I decided instead of pushing myself to do a long practice one day and only being able to do a short practice the next that I would even them out. Maybe if I just do as much as I can sustain every day then I will be able to add every week or so. I've also started adding in other elements to make it a long "work time" without exhausting myself.

So for now my daily practice looks like this.
20 minutes improv - starts slow and is my warm-up
10 minutes drills - I can't do too much this really fatigues my muscles
15 minutes choreography - I run it at least 3 times
5-10 minutes cool down/stretch
5 minutes upper body conditioning - this is how I know I am in rough shape, this was a breeze a month ago now I can barely manage my usual sets
Wednesdays & Sundays Yoga for Abs
10 minute meditation

All in all about about 1:15 - 1:45 in the studio so even though I'm not dancing the whole time, I'm still putting my usual time aside. Who knows maybe as the dance time grows I will keep the other stuff and have a killer routine.

Unfortunately, despite any lingering illness I am still able to my least favorite part of being an instructor, updating my syllabus and getting everything ready to start a new session next week.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Day 9: It feels good

So, I have to admit that I never did the rest of my practice yesterday. I felt run down by the time I got home and my husband and I had a date night planned so I chose to shower and rest instead of practice.

Its fitting that today's e-mail was about overdoing it and becoming cranky. I do feel like the while the week got off to a great start the second half seemed very forced. It's like when I am asked to make a combo or dance to certain piece of music that's okay but when you ask me to make a combo using X moves then it feels contrived and forced and I never like it. I felt like the 2nd half of the week was very forced and I was just dancing because I had a commitment.

Today felt better. Maybe it was my mood or the music that queued up. I don't know but today it felt good again.

I did go right into my drills and choreography practice after. I am still not up to dancing as much as I was pre-illness. I thought it would get easier but it is getting harder. I am very stiff and sore all the time. Of course, my massage therapist picked this week to go on vacation to Aruba. But I am trying.
Today's e-mail also mention Alia's tips for combating fatigue. I am doing all those things.

1. Vitamins and supplements- I am a big fan. I know they are not replacement for good nutrition but I am have good nutrition and still have a few deficiencies. I also think everyone should take a multi-vitamin and pro-biotics because no diet it perfect.
2. Water - The answer is to always drink more water.
3. Sleep - Yes, please.
4. Exercise - Obviously.
5. Relaxation - I admit that I am a non- relaxer. But I work on it. I listen to a guided meditation every night before I go to bed (it also helps me sleep) and downloaded a meditation app on my phone which I use sometimes at work when I am overwhelmed.

The good news is that I am still doing my super hard Abs video twice a week and while it is challenging I am not having the usual "please, don't make me laugh" soreness. So one good thing came out of coughing so hard I puked. Yay! Now I just have to work on getting the rest of my body reset.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Days 7&8: One Week

Day 7's email said it was okay to take a break. Good thing too, because I read it after I took a break. Friday is the one day a week that I don't practice. We usually do something after work to relax and get the weekend started. I had intended to come home and do my 20 minutes before anything else but it didn't happen.

Today I had an early hair appointment and decided to get my 20 minutes in first. This way I hope to be able to focus on my other practice this afternoon. I went back to the classics playlist. I tried to focus and moving energy but it wasn't happening for me so I just moved.

Especially after being sick and off my feet, it feels good to get into my space and just move everyday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 6: Laylat Hob

Today's email was about musicality. Alia made several references to Laylat Hob. I happen to have an hour long recording of it so today I went in to my dance space and listened to it. My Skype lesson was scheduled for 5:00 so as I listened, I picked up and arranged things. I didn't really dance but I sometimes found my self swaying and moving in time to the music.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Days 4&5: The Safe Word

The very first thing on the mirror in my dance room is this: The Safe Word is RELAX
I'm a much better dancer if I can let go of the pressure.  I tried to do that with my practice today. Just be free, and not worry about it. I mean, who am I dancing for? Just myself.

Tuesday night is the night I teach and so there won't be posts. My second class has been working on improv and I made the 20 minutes part of our class. We are actually moving on to something else next week but I told them that we would still devote 20 minutes each week to improv.

I may have tried to do too much too soon. I am back to dancing 6 days a week but I can't make it an hour every day. If I do an hour one day then I can only do about 1/2 an hour. I am thankful that I can even do that much but it's frustrating because I feel so far behind in my homework for my lessons. That brings me to the statement on the mirror under the safe word.

There is plenty of time to get there.

I actually wrote that in reference to a choreography I was rushing but I find it applies to all things. Not to say that I don't have goals, or even deadlines. But there is plenty of time to get there. Relax. Have fun.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 3: Psychic?

Ha! So not only did I title yesterdays post the title of today's email (and by today I mean the real day 3 which was a month ago) but I originally had titled it Day 3 before I realized my error and went back and changed it to Day 2.

Tonight we are going to my parent's for dinner. I didn't want to have to worry about getting home in time to do my chores and my dance practice so I am going to go home right after work practice, clean and then head out for my parents house. That does mean I won't have time to blog later.

But if yesterday was light and I made shadows, what do I do for shadows today?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 2: Allegory of the Cave

A morning of heavy cleaning had already wiped me out. I had dusted and moved a few things in my dance space as a part of that so the space was feeling refreshed even if I was not.

The great thing about Alia's Love Note e-mails is they give you a focus but not a command.
Day 2 was light. My dance room has an average dome light so I usually leave the blinds open. I knew that closing them wouldn't really block out enough of the afternoon sun to do anything but make my dance room less stimulating. So I decided I would have to imagine my play with light. I chose my tribal/fusion playlist today. My dancing was a sort of fluid posing which made me think a lot about line. I imagined I was shadow dancing or dancing behind a screen as I flowed from one shape to the next. The last song that came up was Jehan's Enter the Temple. While I adore her and her dancing, I think that song is like Kraft - it's the cheesiest. But today, I focused on the lyrics as well as the music and let the song guide my line/shapes and breath. It was actually fun. I should give that song more credit.

My big observation today was this. If someone who was not a dancer was given still images of a bellydancer dancing in street clothes and not made up in any way, would they be able to identify what was going on? Do our lines, angles, expression, etc give us away? It's something to think about. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Improv Challenge Day 1: Back in the habit

The post title makes me think of Sister Act 2, which I kid you not is my dads secret favorite movie, and that seems appropriate since we are currently without a pope.

So I am supposed to be participating in Alia's 90 Day Improv Challenge, and I was going to blog about it. While I am technically doing those things, I am about a month behind. I got the worst cold I have ever had about 2 days before the challenge was supposed to begin. Not only did I not leave my house for 7 days, I also was not able to really dance for almost 3 weeks. The first day I tried to practice all I managed to do was change clothes and hook up my iPod before I was beat. So today I officially kicked off my altered timeline 90 day improv challenge. Why did I decide to blog about it? A little bit of accountability, a little bit of guilt for letting my blog sit unused but mostly to make myself analyze what I was feeling enough to articulate it.

So as this is my introductory post, how about a little introduction to how I practice to begin with. My dance room, there is a post with photos around here somewhere, has a mirrored closet. I like to make notes on the mirror with dry erase markers. It's easy to see when you are up close but they don't get in the way at all when you are practicing. On the left mirror I write the month and what my focus is for that month (sometimes several things). On the right mirror I write the dates of every day that I practice this month and under a big heading labeled Today's Notes I write anything I observed that I want to remember for my next practice. I also added numbers 1-90 that I can mark off as I work on this challenge and space for some little notes and observations on it as well.

March: shimmy drills, choreography (that I am learning from my teacher), syllabus (review for changes for my next session of classes), improv

3/2 Improv Challenge Day 1
Intentions: Get out of head
Notes: Shimmies make me think, push turn with V (a move I noticed I did and liked)

I decided that even though I would put my iPod on shuffle for this challenge I would stick to a playlist so as not to feel too disjointed. I decided that since I'm starting slow I would use my classic/traditional playlist. I warmed up to Oum Kalthsom to get into the mood. I set my timer for 20 minutes and hit play.
Not even a minute into it I found the ticking of my timer distracting. My dance room is very small but moving it across the room so it was opposite the sound system allowed me to focus on just the music. I found that the first song which was a taxsim that I was able to focus my mind on the steady rhythm while my body danced to the accordion. It felt like a really good start. The next couple of songs I was very familiar with and able to go on auto-pilot, I tried to really focus on breathing with the music. I need to figure out how to breathe with the music when it speeds up. When the music moved on to something unfamiliar I was having trouble not "thinking". I happened to turn toward the window and noticed some birds eating in the snow. I realized I could watch them and dance without thinking about my dance just feeling the music. Unfortunately, this distraction went too far and I started thinking about the other things I needed to practice and lost the intention in my improv.

When the timer dinged, I turned the music off. I didn't even let the song finish. I still haven't gotten up to doing very much cardio dance since my illness and didn't want to overdo it since I had other things to practice. I moved on to my shimmy drills and worked on my choreography. I only had a 50 minute practice because I was feeling beat. After stretching, I did do my favorite yoga for abs DVD. I can't let all the abwork I did coughing my head off go to waste ;)