Friday, August 9, 2013

Cyborg Dance Projekt Week 7: Trying moderation

Photo 2009 by Dave Stagner Photography
Photo on the left is from 2009 when I danced at CONvergence.  It was taken by Dave Stagner Photography.  It's black and white and shows me standing in a layback pose with one arm above my head with the other at my chest.  I'm wearing a black cropped dance top with long sleeves, black flared pants, and a hip scarf with a tiger on it.

Note:  I probably need more photos of me dancing some day for this blog!  If any photographer types want to get their name up here, hit me up....I've done a little amateur modeling for other local photogs, and I love it.

After last week's troubles, I'm making a more conscious effort to be gentle in this project.  People that know me know that I tend to have two modes of operation: on or off.  I first had it blatantly pointed out to me from my old kickboxing instructor, although I remember being praised for my "balls to the wall" type effort in most of my physical pursuits from triathlon training to Crossfit to dance (with doing 8-10 hour dance days in San Francisco in 2005).  I have a lot of trouble with moderation in physical activity, which probably isn't a surprise with blog posts about hating gentle physical activity or the 5k race I did untrained in my wheelchair.

I think some of this comes from dueling internalized ableism (from my birth defect-related experiences, like special ed gym classes in elementary school) and internalized sizeism (I've never been a thin person and have been bullied and harassed for being fat).  Some of it is just the sense of wonder that I get from learning a new task, pushing my body to its limits, or achieving various physical goals....I love the memories of the triathlons, the 150 miles of biking in a weekend, the polar plunge, the 40mph ride down a steep hill on my racing bike, the marathon dance classes....

Anyhow, I went to my friend Xavier's intermediate cabaret-style class on Sunday evening.  My bellydance background started with cab style, so I was pretty excited.  When I got there, he let me know that we were doing a Bozenka choreography that he learned at a master class.  When he said that, I knew that I would have to be careful to not overdo it...I knew that my brain would default to "learn the choreo at all costs!!"

My spine was being a little persnickety that night.  When we were warming up, I kept losing my balance (when you have spinal cord damage, sometimes standing is a balance pose).  I was a little concerned, but stood near the wall while bits of the intro were shown.  I decided to not do most of the fast spins in the choreography because it felt like a recipe for gimp-disaster (plus there's still useful muscle memory that can be gained by fudging movement!).

The one thing that I really learned is that it's hard to be careful when I'm being told to do something specific with my body (aka choreography).  My tendency is to force my body to do things it doesn't want to do (or shouldn't do biomechanically).  I have something to seriously work on if I intend to ever do choreographed dance performances.

For the other part of my attempt at moderation, I went back to classes on Tuesday but told myself (and my partner for accountability) that I would only go to two classes.  I would either do ATS 1 and 2, or do ATS 2 plus the intermediate tribaret class.  Since Melissa had a sub for her class, I stuck with ATS 1 & 2 (with the mental note that if my spine felt bad, I could stop...I was under no obligation to take 2 classes).

I did an OK job of being careful in the classes, and would crouch to watch movement explanations instead of following along (the value of mental rehearsal).  My spine was pissy that night, so I focused on trying to "fudge" movements in a way that was still readable to the other dancers as American Tribal Style is a group improv style that relies on visual cues to signal the next move.  I also tried to avoid leading as much as possible because of very similar issues I'm having with brain is already focusing on not falling, keeping spine-safe dance posture, dancing, watching for cues, etc.

Finally, while not related to actual dancing but related to dance community, I'm using my Quickbooks knowledge in exchange for dance classes to help fund this project.  Not only will this help keep me in dance classes (at least 2 a week), but it means that I'll benefit from being at the studio more even when my body is being non-compliant.  These are people that I've known for most of my time in Greensboro, and these are people that have been awesome and caring when my spine got bad (including the wheelchair dance experiment).

The plan is to continue with the intermediate cabaret class on Sunday evenings along with two classes on Tuesdays.  I would love to add another day of classes, but between my academic classes (on Monday and Thursday evenings), my bookkeeping duties, and desire to spend time with my fiance and friends....we'll see what happens.

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