We have been so incredibly busy! If anyone is wondering why I haven’t posted anything since October 31, it’s because I simply have not had time! Simeon and I have been running around like chickens with our heads cut off since we returned from Bulgaria/England with hardly a moment to stop and breathe! We are really looking forward to Thanksgiving, because we will be taking Thursday and Friday off, even though on Friday we plan to have a party at our house. But that’s not the same as teaching and practicing and writing, which simply drains you.
As a sample of our schedule, in the first week of our return from Europe, we literally had four days to put together 5 shows, all longer than two minutes. The sixth show is our Showdance, which we debuted on the Saturday after our return. That was 6 days after we returned from Europe. Twice a year we host a show where Simeon and I traditionally dance 6 difference shows, while we have two of our top couples perform two shows each. Normally we give ourselves about a month to get ready. This time, we had 4 days. On top of that, we had sold very few tickets while we were in Europe, understandably, so we did most of that work in the 4 days leading up to the show as well. On top of that, all of the literature needed to be printed, seats assigned, sponsors called, seating plan revised, music cut and reworked and burned and reburned, shows fine-tuned or just simply choreographed… and we still taught a full schedule on top of it all! There was not one night during that entire week when we did not go to bed before 4 am. It was a grueling week, but in the end we pulled it off! It was a sold out house, there were hardly any mistakes in our routines (except in one where Simeon tripped over his own foot), and people loved our painstakingly slow Rumba and our Showdance! Success, success, success.
Rest? Not yet. No rest for the wicked….
The next week was getting ready for Grand Ball, our third ever ProAm competition. We weren’t doing too much. Simeon had four students going and I had two. That is much less than many pros. However, we had to get them ready, especially considering our three week absence in October. And we had to teach our regular lessons as well. Yet more long, long days. And we still had to practice. At least we got to go to bed earlier that week- 3am instead of 4!
Grand Ball was a fun weekend. Our good friend flew up from San Francisco to join us in Canada, and he hopped in the car with us and our student and the four of us made our merry ways to Richmond, BC. We got there at a fair enough time on Friday afternoon and made a stop at the Crystal Ballroom, in Vancouver, to have a lesson with our coach on our Showdance. It was really nice to get out of the car and warm up and dance around, get the bodies all loosened up, before we headed to the hotel to get ready for the comp that night. Simeon and I both had our open level students dancing that night. But wait a moment… problem! Simeon’s student was there – she had travelled up in our car – but where was my student?? 4:00 in the evening and he hadn’t arrived. That was ok, we weren’t dancing until 10:38, so we planning to leave the hotel at 8:30. He still had 4 and a half hours, so I wasn’t worried. I just started getting myself ready. Then 6:00 rolled by and we still hadn’t heard from him. Simeon called him. The reply? He hadn’t left home yet. Home, as in home in the great old USA. But that could still be ok if he was getting himself ready. Was he? No. He had done nothing to get himself ready. So he started out. 7:00 rolled by, and still no sign. 7:30 blinked on the clocked and Simeon called him again. He was suck at the border. There was a 45 minute waiting time and he was only halfway through. 8:00 and still no student! Finally, at 8:10, he called to say he was pulling into the parking lot. He got up to our room at 8:17, and what time were we supposed to leave to go to the comp? 8:30! Needless to say, I was not happy. Especially since I told him to be at the hotel by 5:00. Anyway, we got to the comp on time and danced our events, which was all I could ask from my student who had showed up more than 3 hours late.
The weekend was fun, though. All of our students did very well, they worked hard and placed well, and danced well on top of it. Even the one who came late! Finally on Sunday we began our long trek home. And it was a long trek. We left at 11am but of course had to stop by Starbucks! As a side note, if Starbucks only knew how much ballroom dancers relied on Starbucks to keep them going throughout their long, grueling, and low-calorie days, they would cater to us much more. When you’re on low carb, low sugar, and low calories day in and day out, caffeine is the only thing that gives you enough energy to pull 17 hour days! And I don’t want to hear any comments about how it’s so bad for you, and blah blah blah. Dancers do crazy things. It’s our mode of life. It’s why we’re flexible, skinny, and can do wild things on the dance floor. We are extreme people who push our bodies to the limits. Don’t lecture me. I won’t change. J
Anyway, we dropped off our two comrades and hurried up to North Seattle, where we joined two other couples for a three-hour long rehearsal for a show we’re doing together (tomorrow, actually!). After that we raced back to the studio to look up some photos. Then we grabbed a bit to eat (low carb, of course), drove quickly out to Redmond to pick up a dress, back to the studio to practice some poses, out to dinner with students, then back to the studio for a photo shoot. It was 3am before we got to bed….
All week we were busy getting ready for a really big show on Saturday, for which we had to choreograph a Cha Cha to Peggy Lee’s “You Gotta Have Heart”. I really loved the band’s ensemble for the piece. It sounded a lot like Blackpool music (which, as anyone involved in competitive ballroom dancing knows, is considered its own genre of ballroom music) and Blackpool music always gets me going. We also did a group number to “Sway” and, honestly, it was so much fun putting this number together. A lot of hard work, but so so much fun. There wasn’t a better group of couples to do the show with than the group that we had. We were all friends, we all have experience together, and we worked really well together. Honestly, I’d have to say we were really lucky to have that particular group.
Friday rolled around and we had to go to an all day rehearsal. Actually the rehearsal wasn’t that bad, but the early starts and long hours were starting to wear on us. On Friday we rehearsed for about 5 hours without a break and only a granola bar to snack on… not easy. That’s why I was so happy to have the group of dancers we had, because those hours can really wear on your nerves but luckily the only arguments we had were with our partners (Simeon was not easy to get along with!!!). On Saturday we did the show, and lo and behold!!! All those long hours of practice paid off! We had hardly any mistakes throughout either of our routines! And I got to wear my green Latin dress, which I won’t get to wear very much anymore. Honestly, I loved dancing in that dress. I felt so classy and sophisticated. My replacement dress will definitely be another long and fancy one like that.
And with the big show out of the way, now it’s time to buckle down and get ready for the World Showdance Championships! It’s crazy, but we leave for Europe in less than two weeks! This time we get to go to Germany and Paris, which should be a lot of fun because I haven’t been to Paris since I was 14 and I’ve never been to Germany. And with all the snow that’s coming down, it looks like we’ll be getting plenty of practice in, because everybody cancels whenever there’s snow on the road. Never mind that we live in the mountains and make the 25 mile journey into the studio through snow and hail and floods; they all cancel. Anyway, it works in our favor, cause then we get lots of extra practice!
Unfortunately, pushing oneself this hard always comes with a price. I have nursed more injuries in the past three weeks than I had all year. That is to say, I’ve had three injuries. Three is not a lot, but one per week is. If it goes on much longer, it will become worrisome. During our showcase week, Simeon dropped my in a lift, and that resulted in me pulling my deltoid. This, a week later, led to major spasms in my upper back which were so bad that I was actually breathless and nauseous from them! I taught all my lessons with the help of painkillers which only made it possible for me to lift my arms. That night, I took some muscle relaxers and a long bath, and when I awoke the next morning, I was at least able to clip my own bra in the back. Luckily it was easily masked by painkillers by the comp that weekend. Then while getting ready for the big show, I did a lift with Simeon so many times that I seriously strained my biceps (and gave myself a nice bruise on the leg to boot). And on Sunday, even though I didn’t count this as one of my injuries, I awoke with a very sore wrist that is, to this day, still popping strangely and still bothering me! But… alas! ‘Tis the woes of being a dancer!