Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Slow dancing.

I cannot tell you how much I would love to dance real slow, for real, like at prom (snuggling up to some sweaty boy's neck trying to keep it cuddly and slow while "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd is beginning to get real fast but you are ignoring that since it is a stupid song to play last at prom anyway).

But for now, alas, I will enjoy the slow dance of Yin yoga.

Holy holy, I say.

Yesterday, super talented Rachel Roberts, owner of the Yoga Bar, was helping me with my new website that she designed for me. View the awesomeness here at www.stacysims.net.

It was late in the day and she suggested I stay for her Yin yoga class. And since I was sitting at the cool bar in her cool space (see photo above), my neuro-muscular system dug into its memory banks as to what you say when you are sitting at a bar and someone asks if you if you want more.

"Yes, please. And make it a double."

And that is what I did. I had done a hard class with Ka-Ron in the morning but it seemed to make sense to go for the slow dance at night. Rachel turned the lights down low and about 15 of us surrendered to slow movement, long poses and the gentle guidance of her kind words. I teared up a few times with gratitude and I don't think I was alone.

If you are looking to treat yourself to the slow dance of the healing variety, check out Rachel's class. You will not regret it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Today's lesson: Don't work so hard.

Today I took class again with Ka-Ron Brown Lehman. We were a smaller group than usual, with many people still making their way home from holiday-related travel. So that meant those of us who showed up got wonderfully intense corrections on the intricate forms of modern dance.

And boy, did I feel exactly like I've made hundreds of people feel in my Pilates classes. I did as best as I could to make my body contract here or there while rising and stretching here and there, only to hear "No, not like that."

It went like this:

Ka-Ron: Just contract there, with your pelvis.
Stacy: Okay.
Ka-Ron: But don't collapse there. Lift your ribs.
Stacy: Okay.
Ka-Ron: And then lift your elbows. Not there. There. And look down.
Stacy: Like this?
Ka-Ron: No. Wait. Watch me.

And so we worked.

Toward the end of the class, I got the best correction of all.

Ka-Ron: Don't work so hard.
Stacy: I know. It's kind of my thing.
Ka-Ron: I know. I can see that.

Here is why we should each have a practice in which we feel safe enough to put ourselves in the hands of a master teacher. It doesn't matter if it is a writing class or a yoga class or a dance class or a bridge class. We reveal ourselves, our true selves, all the time. So what Ka-Ron told me is the the same thing my first editor at Viking told me.

Don't work so hard.

That does not mean don't show up. That does not mean don't practice your craft. In my case, that does not mean slouch around with your body or your words. What it means for me is to let my voice breath. To let my movement breath. To trust in the flow. Trust my voice. Smile.

It is a wonderful, wonderful thing to allow yourself to be seen by people who are conspiring for you to be successful and have strategies to get you there.

Thanks, Ka-Ron, for reminding me today of the thing I needed to hear most. And thanks to my body for reminding my brain that if I ease into things and find the natural energy of movement -- the path with the smile and the breath -- the end result will be glorious.

What stands between you and your dreams?

This 10 year-old girl dreamt of a dance studio in a pink bus. And when she woke up, she set a course to make it happen.

Amiya didn't question her dream. Instead, she realized it. So long as she doesn't question her right to dream of being a doctor, it is very likely she will make that happen to.

What gets in your way?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Before noon I will have danced my a** off to this song.

There are definitely some days when I am slightly unmotivated to move my body. But usually, not on a Sunday. Julie Sunderland's 11 a.m. R&M class at the Cincinnati Ballet is a high-energy lovefest after which I can usually talk someone into joining me for cheesy, eggy brunch fare. And by noon, I will have danced to 10 songs, each with super fun choreography. This is what is currently our last song. Here is our choreography in layman's terms: run, jump, repeat, turn, kick, wiggle wiggle wiggle. Repeat.

It's hot. But mainly, it's fun.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

True Body, New Year!

Influential Media, Part I

I am pretty sure that when I saw West Side Story for the first time, it was the first time I had seen "dance" in any formal or significant way. I am also pretty sure that this is the first time I saw "love" and "romance" portrayed.

So the dance influence has served me well. Jerome Robbins was the man. I am not so sure about the "love" part. I still think the world should fuzz out while I lock eyes with an impossibly unattainable man across the room, and then we will dance a bit, and fall madly in love, until he, well ... you know the end. Not a good romantic imprint.

But the dance imprint, check it out. It remains 100% awesome.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Dance Shuffle!

I will not be braving the stores for Black Friday, but if I did, I wish I had the guts and/or the skill to pull this off!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Okay. So I do have some formal training.

For this dance, I am grateful.

I woke up in one shitty mood today. This foul mood convinced me all morning long (in its righteous and angry voice) that I had it bad. That the world isn't fair. That the universe is conspiring not for me, but against me.

And then I remembered.

I remembered that 14 years ago this is how I felt pretty much every single second of every single day. And when I felt these habitual feelings of pain and separateness, I would try to drink them away. Or smoke them away. Or Lorazepam them away.

Today, I recalled how trapped I used to be in the addict's loopy loop of misery and indignation. Then I remembered the steps I took toward recovery. I remembered how I began to see more light than dark. I remembered how I had to apologize to my body, with full breaths and mindful movement, until it began to dance for me again.

On Thanksgiving, 14 years ago, with drink and cigarette in hand, I stood in Tina and Mark's garage and told Tina I had to stop drinking. She cried. She had been ready to intervene and was relieved that I didn't force her to that uncomfortable place of friendship. I don't know how I did it, but I did. I stepped into a 12-Step meeting and began to understand how it works: how a person begins to be whole again, one tiny little movement at a time.

I have been building this blog for a month now. I am so excited to embark on a year of dance to celebrate both my 50th birthday and my 14th birthday, the one I was given and the one I chose.

I felt it appropriate to introduce you to "The Year I Danced" with this entry, today, the day my shitty shitty mood reminded me how lucky I am in all ways and how grateful I am for every single person who helped me along the way.

And if you ever need a "dance" partner to get unstuck, please do not hesitate to contact me.

NOTE - Photo is of Jenny Holzer installation in Washington D.C. in 2007.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday at Rhythm & Motion

I haven't been able to take Heather Britt's Saturday Rhythm & Motion class for awhile. So today I made time to visit and before this high energy hour of dance, joy and love amongst up to 80 men and women ... I talked to my friends Bunny, Bridget and Melissa about why they dance and why they love R&M.

And believe it or not, an hour later they were smiling even more than this!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It is hard to convey how joyous this moment actually is.

Okay. Be warned. I am in love with Rhythm and Motion (R&M) and will be waxing rhapsodically about it for an entire year and/or until you come and see how come I love it.

If you are already sold, visit the Cincinnati Ballet website below and find a class schedule for Heather Britt's insanely wonderful program of adult dance for fitness classes.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting Some Technique!

I have been dancing for a couple of years in the life-changing Rhythm & Motion Class at the Cincinnati Ballet. More on that (trust me, lots more on that!) to come.

But I figure if I'm gonna be a real 50 year-old dancer, I need to take some technique classes. So I did. Today I joined Ka-Ron Brown Lehman for her Adult Modern Class held at the Cincinnati Ballet. Her technique promises to make us "strong technical dancers with dynamic phrasing skills and amazing stamina!" And so we stretched and reached and contracted and plie'd ourselves for an hour and 15 minutes.

I'm not going to kid you, it was tough. My Pilates training made the core work relatively do-able but the sequencing and the balancing work we did ... dude, it was not easy.

But I'm going back. In two weeks we start up again and Ka-Ron will inspire us with her precise demands on our bodies while believing entirely that we have the ability to lift our spirits and really dance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When I finally escaped to Miss Slater's dance school, it made life easier to bear.

I met Lillian during my True Body Residency in Los Angeles. She lives at the Piedmont Center and is a mentor for fifth graders. This is her story.

My parents were divorced and my father was given custody of my brother and I. But he worked around the clock in the best hotels, like the Hotel Astor, the Waldorf Astoria, and later in the Berkshires at a New England ski resort.

So we became wards, or members, of the New England Home for Little Wanderers … which meant we had no home, we wandered about.

Well my father paid well for the foster homes and my clothes. I was allowed to pick out clothes myself and I remember I picked a dress with the largest skirt so I could twirl in it.

I tried piano lessons, and I didn’t care for that, so I hid my lessons in the manure pile. And since I lived on a farm, no one could find the music.

I had to wash milk bottles standing on a wooden box. I usually was dreaming music in colors as I washed the bottles.

When I finally escaped to Miss Slater’s dance school, it made life easier to bear.

I still have my ballet practice shoes … all worn out … but believe it or not, I saved them and wore then last week to our Engage Senior Olympic event and they still fit like a soft leather glove. But I had to be careful for as you see, they are well worn, and I might trip if I wasn’t walking as light as a dancer can.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Why do you dance? Meet some of my friends and hear their answers.

Tell me your story.