Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Dancing

I'm kind of a walking contradiction of sorts. I'm a reserved person, but I like attention. I like to perform, but I feel overwhelmed in groups of people. I like being one on one, but too much of that kind of solitude leaves me antsy for being social. Quien me entiende!

Growing up, I was an EXTREMELY shy kid. I didn't like the spot light, I didn't want people to notice me. As I grew a little older, apparently I grew a little bolder. I'd performed in choir since I can remember, and I even lip sank "Catch Me I'm Falling" for our 2nd grade talent show. Who the F was I back then!?

Then it all changed...I moved to Mexico. Why the move affected me so much, I honestly have no idea, but I can now pinpoint that I became a different more frightened person. It was also the time that I got my period and placed me a part from all the other little girls. I guess that was it. I was different, always have been and always will be. I embrace it now (to an extent) but when you're 9 years old in a foreign country, held back a grade, speak with a funny accent, have no friends AND start your period...ya goddamn do feel pretty different. Compound that with coming FROM a country where you just stick out like a sore thumb being the only Mexi-American...Yeah, I had issues...still do to an extent. I'll get to that on some point.

I didn't really have friends growing up in Mexico, but I did discover that I REALLY loved to sing. The dancing? Not so much. Why did I hate the dancing? Probably because my dad LOVED the dancing. At weddings here in the states, my dad would drag me on the dance floor and we'd dance rock 'n' roll songs. I did really enjoy it, but in Mexico, I dunno, something changed. I wanted to disappear, I wanted to hide, I didn't want to be noticed so I tucked the dancing away for a very very long time...a kind of rebellion I could control of sorts.

I think I'd always had the performer's bug. When we got back from Mexico and I entered middle school here in the states, I began to seriously think I could be an actress. I could really get wrapped up in emotions, "act" it out, cry on cue. I thought "this is it, I could do it." My mom did indulge me here and there and even took me on a few auditions. I'd look through the yellow pages for talent companies and such, but I think deep down inside, I knew the money to put me in a program like that would be too much, so I just started to give up. I did stay involved with choir in middle school and auditioned for a play here and there. I loved it.

I didn't start dancing, formally, until let's see, sophomore year in high school. I was in the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" as one of the 17 doo wop girls. (Yes, in the original there are only three, but our director decided it best if 7-8 girls sang the one part.) So I had to learn choreography and what better choreography to learn than music from the 50s. It was so much fun! It was a thrill to be able to express this silly, theatrical side of myself because for so long, even still, I keep it at bay. The for one of our multicultural assemblies, I volunteered to perform the Mambo with the only other Mexi-American (who happened to be also my psedo little brother) and it all came flooding at me like a side-ways flash from Lost (you like how I did that?) I thought to myself: "omigosh! I love this music, I can actually move, look at my hips? I can *feel* it..." So it was no surprised that when I was exposed to Salsa my freshman year in college, I was hooked.

Now, I'm not saying I wish I was all "Jazz hands" and such (I love "Bring it on"!) because I don't. I like who I am, but I could use a few self-improvements here and there. I love performing, singing and dancing, but that's just my performer self. Then there is the real me. The self-contained, quirky Andrea. But ms. quirks sometimes REALLY wants to cut loose and that's where performer me needs to step in. And what does that for me? Dance.

So this sounds so dramatic. No, I"m not going to Julliard, I don't care for ballet or Jazz and the thought of needing/wanting to learn hip-hop makes my tummy convulse. But the thought of just letting go and doing what I love half an hour every day, is quite appealing. I like my life, I like how its going (for now) and there are some areas that I definitely could change, but dance makes it that much more tolerable. It gives me a space to vent and to just be. And an added bonus? It's given me quite the ego boost...and I really need it. When I look at myself in the mirror while dancing to the latest routine in our burlesque class or tease n tone, I realize: "dude, I'm not as fat as I thought" or "wow, I actually DO look sexy doing this" and it gives me that extra pep, that extra confidence if I were to EVER go up to a guy and say hello, because regardless of what that guy might say or think, I can look back at the memory of my gyrating my hips and thinking "too bad for you guy, you're gonna miss out".

And what prevented me from taking dance seriously? Fear. Fear of sucking, fear of what others thought of me, fear of liking it even... So like many, after a 5 year relationship, I looked at myself and said "what do YOU want to do?" I told myself: I want to learn how to Argentine Tango. And the same answer popped up. "Oh you can't, you're terrified of physical contact with strangers, plus you always said you wanted to dance this with a boyfriend." (this is the third Andrea speaking, the one that kind of doesn't like me.) And so I told her "Fuck it. I don't care. This is what I want so shut your face." And her face did shut.

And yes, I'm one of those odd birds who only likes specific physical contact. Dancing at clubs was always very difficult and traumatizing for me. Can you blame me? I was raised Catholic. Being touched by someone that was NOT your husband is kind of no no. So I've developed this love/hate relationship with touching and hugging. And three months into Tango came the close embrace. Yeah, the embrace where you're basically boob to boob on the guy. It took me that whole month not to cringe. Not cuz the guy was smelly or inappropriate, but because I wanted to turn and run. But I wanted to learn and be good at Argentine Tango more. And now, almost a year later, I'm a close embrace whore. "Would you like to dance? Close embrace? Thank you!"

Now, why Argentine Tango over Salsa, you might ask? Salsa is fun and flowy and out there and in your face and sexual...Does that sound like me? Ok, maybe in the bedroom (did I just say that?!) Tango, in my opinion, is more like me: quietly passionate, self-contained but bubbling below the surface. The sexuality is not in your face, but in the subtly of the movements and the look in your eye. That's more how I am on an everyday basis and even though hugging complete strangers "titty to titty" as they say is TOTALLY out of my comfort zone...well, I like to do things that challenge so go figure. Salsa is fun, but that's all it will ever be...just fun, like that hot guy you flirt with but would never consider dating.

I know I may not be the best, most talented or graceful dancing, but I'm willing to put the work in to try. So what I've decided is to start working on strength training and flexibility versus just cardio. I can't run any more *tear* so most of my work out will solely benefit Argentine Tango. In addition to Tango, I also do burlesque dancing (really more of a work out) as well as tease n tone. I like moving my body in those sexy, sultry ways, but I like to move them in a safe environment and what better than a class full of women. Ok, sure, there might be some lesbians but I choose to ignore that. I guess I know my own power and don't want some dude coming up to me and humping my leg ;) Yes, I've had that happen before...Ah college.

So dancing? Check. Work out? Here I come. I've decided to join the Portland Bar Method. I've not started yet but it sounds like something that will be right up my alley. I've tried yoga and it just never worked out for me. I tried pilates and its OK, but I'm hoping the Bar will be more of a dancer's work out than anything and if I end up losing a few inches here and there, well fantastic. All I really want to do is gain strength in my legs and back so I can do turns and bend.

So off to my next journey. On the schedule for today? Argentine Tango. Practice makes perfect.

No wonder I've always liked dance movies...

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Great post! I think you are a good dancer, and I'm glad you are embracing that part of yourself. Tango sounds so fun!