Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
SWF (33) seeking dance partner for social dancing, weddings, and late night “jammies-with-feet” parties. Must demonstrate natural talent. Funky head bobbing an asset. Hair is optional. Please send video of your skills.
SWB (4 months) with a big belly (breast milk, not beer, please) and a big heart. Can demonstrate mean head tilt to disco/funk music. Dancing runs in my genes ... sometimes poop runs in my other jeans. Can bring mommy to wipe my drool and change my diaper. Video attached.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
That at some point in learning the choreography, I would hit a wall ... that my brain would turn to mush ... that I would forget how to put one foot in front of the other.
They said it could hit me at the 1 minute mark of the routine, the 2 minute mark ... everyone is different. Sure, sure, I replied ... no worries (because I was picking things up pretty well).
And then it happened. During yesterday's rehearsal, I turned into a total spazz.
I couldn't remember any of the cool footwork we spent an hour working on the day before. I had to go over and over and over it again, first without music, and then with music, and then without music again but slower so I could master it. I got dizzy after each spin. I could barely even speak. I felt like I had never danced before. It was ... weird.
Admittedly, I was a bit distracted. I haven't gotten much sleep recently, and we just found out CBC was cutting 800 jobs across the country. And I guess it all just hit me. And it was a hard rehearsal. And waking up at 6:30am to go to the studio isn't enough ... time to step up my game.
I have videotaped Charles and Christina doing the full routine so I can have a full visual of how it should look. I will put the music from our routine on my IPod and in the car. And a great suggestion was to listen to the music while lying in bed at night, visualizing the routine. And then sleeping with those thoughts.
I am also going to buy a big mirror and practice in my jammies and salsa shoes every night. :)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Let’s face it, when you’re a career woman in your 30s who has lived alone for years … you get used to assembling your own furniture, changing your own tire, paying the mortgage (or you call your Dad in New Brunswick for advice). A man does not “lead” you.
But it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be open to someone offering to HELP put the furniture together, holding the spare tire while you work the crank (that‘s what it‘s called, right?), or even deciding to choose the restaurant for a change … that is the “manning-up” part of modern heterosexual courtship and relationships that I argue is influx.
When you hit the dance floor, all of those modern diatribes become tested, particularly in a dance style like salsa.
I’ll admit I didn’t really know what “letting a man lead” meant until it was put into practice. It’s not about a man bossing a woman around the dance floor … it is up to him to offer the woman his hand … and the woman has the choice whether or not to take it.
Consequently, while HE is the one who decides the next move (be it a spin, a lift, a copa, etc.), for it all to work, he has to be CLEAR in his signals. He has to be communicative. He has to be firm yet gentle. And he has to make sure that whatever happens, she is not dropped.
Kind of a metaphor for love, n’est-ce pas?
I think something happened with my generation of men and while this is not a criticism (well hell, yeah ok … it IS a criticism) … I would argue that many women are still waiting for some of this generation's men to “man up”. Be clear in your signals. Be communicative. And for god's sake, don’t drop her.
And maybe even … dare I say it …? “Lead” once in a while.
"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
Ahh, what a beautiful quote from the romantic movie "Hope Floats". But if only it were so simple. After all, ever wonder why they call it the "dance" of love when referring to the confusion around modern love and courtship? Sometimes, I truly wish I could just hear the words, "Just dance. Put on your red shoes and dance ..." (Bowie) and not have to worry about the rest ...
"No, I won't be listening to CBC's big town hall announcement tomorrow that is expected to lay off up to a thousand people in one fell swoop.
"Instead, I will be in the salsa studio, rehearsing, smiling, and basically focussing on all that is life-affirming right now."
They are shocked. And some are a little pissed ... that a TV journalist who has always loved the public broadcaster is actually missing out what is potentially one of the most significant announcements in the CBC's history.
What happens tomorrow could change the face and future of the CBC forever.
Hundreds of respected friends and colleagues could be sacked.
It could even be me.
But if I actually looked at the reality of the situation facing us -- and our industry as a whole -- I'd get pretty depressed.
And so, at 8:45am PT when every CBC employee across the country tunes in to hear what will become of us ...
I will not.
Learning to "let go" even more so that Charles can flip/twist/twirl me in the air ...
And I will be smiling ... and having the time of my life.
Because regardless of what happens tomorrow ... regardless of the future of my career, my friends' careers, and the public broadcaster I love so much ... I will be okay. I am young, I am healthy, and I am not afraid of hard work.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Just a little glimpse inside one of our recent 8am salsa rehearsals.
This is just a little teaser ... we don't want to give away all of the surprises.
Needless to say, this dance is a bit of a battle of wills between the man who wants his woman to dance with him ... and the woman who'd rather just flirt with him ... and then with the audience.
Who will win the battle ...? Come to the show on June 6th to find out! ;)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
There will be a few "surprises" in the routine that you see on June 6th ... in that I'll be surprised if I can pull it off in such a way that doesn't make me look like a petrified girl holding onto Charles for dear life as he flips me over top of him! ha ha
But seriously, all it takes is proper technique ... momentum ... and trust in your partner.
Christina is teaching me proper technique ... I will gain momentum the more confident I get with the flip ... and I trust Charles implicitly ... so it will be fine. After that, the key will be making it look smooth, sexy, and easy. No problem, we got this! ;)
But as I flipped upside down this morning -- with blood rushing to my head and squeezing the hell out of my core muscles so as not to hurt my back -- I couldn't help reflecting on an "incident" when I was a teen.
My brother Doug and I thought we were pretty fly hip hop dancers in our early teens. We decided to practice a move we'd seen countless times on music videos: the flip over the back. Obviously, we decided to try this on the street, because the neighbourhood kids were watching. Not on even terrain (downhill). And on pavement.
Over I went onto and over my YOUNGER (and smaller, at the time) brother's back ... his knees buckled ... and I fell back flat on the back of my head. All I heard was a crack. I thought, for sure, that I had broken my head. It was likely just a concussion ... good thing Mom's a nurse.
That was about 18 years ago ... and I haven't flipped in any capacity since then. Except for certain guys over the years, but that's another story ...
Welcome to the next level of my salsa training: flips and tricks. This is liberating. Stay tuned.
**NOTE: I can't help thinking of that beautiful Iron and Wine song "Flightless Bird" from the Twilight soundtrack when writing this. In fact, I would love to dance to that song someday ... hmm, it may mean taking ballroom dance lessons this summer ...
Christina tells me it’s happened … so I’ve been advised to wear a big bandage over my bellybutton ring every time we practice and especially when we perform.
It’s all for the best, really.
Although when you see Charles and I perform on June 6th ... and check out the hot salsa costume Christina is designing ... just remember that I have a giant Sponge Bob band aid stuck to my belly … holding everything in place.
Stars on Stage UNPLUGGED 2009 welcomes:
Murray Chunyk – Victoria Fire Department
Stars On Stage UNPLUGGED Community Dance Challenge
After Party includes dancing, appies and no-host bar.
Saturday, June 6. Doors at 7 pm. Show at 8 pm
Victoria Dance Connection, 2750 Quadra Street
Tickets: $70 (includes after party)
Phone 386-6121 or go to the Royal-McPerson Box Office Today!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Even modern women grow up with those horrifically patriarchal (yet deemed “classic”) fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella …
Wondering if we will be the fairest of the them all … who will be kissed awake from an eons long slumber (where we never age) … and possibly even have a dainty glass slipper placed upon us as we are “saved” by Prince Charming.
Cinderella cleans her OWN castle, baby, that she bought with her own money … giving herself spa days with facials to heal the lines on her face from all of the stress of the work world (and not getting enough sleep) … and as for Prince Charming …? I think many of us gave up on HIM a long time ago, and would be just as happy with a man who doesn’t stand us up, actually calls after a great date, and isn’t intimidated by our success.
But this post is called “Being Cinderella” … and I have to admit to you that I’m pretty sure I channelled her the other night (in a more feminist way, of course!). :)
It all came down to the new salsa shoes. Nicole (a performing salsa dancer who owns the same pair) said they would feel like disco balls on my feet. They also felt a bit like a glass slipper.
You can’t help but be more graceful in them. They force you to dance on the balls of your feet, they make your legs look great, they are crafted to let you dance for hours without pain, and they catch the light in the most incredible way … plus I had tons of girls in the beginner’s class asking me where on Earth I had bought them.
So, ladies … if you’ve been waiting for Prince Charming to put a glass slipper on your foot … take my advice and go buy your own!
Check this link from an awesome dealer in Seattle: www.salsapromotions.com
PS -- Um ... so if my Prince Charming (aka: "New Age Sensitive Guy" or "Renaissance Man") IS out there ... I take a size 7.5 in the Rumbera and I would love a red pair. :)
Friday, March 13, 2009
I’d screwed up at work and had to account for it with the boss …
And then an extremely bitchy Ottawa naval public affairs officer got into a confrontation with me on a shoot at the base … not cool. I had to use both verbal and non-verbal techniques to let her know that neither I nor my cameraman were to be treated like dogs.
A union meeting indicated the scary reality of what could happen to each and every one of us if the CBC goes ahead with rumoured cuts.
And then we had audio problems with our microphone and editing machine …
But other than the obvious issues throughout the day, something just felt … “off” somehow.
Went to Bear Mountain outside of Victoria with the ladies for some dins and wine. Had a really nice time chillin’ by the big fireplace, laughed, ate great food …
But when I got home, I still didn’t feel quite right.
And then I realized why … I hadn’t danced once that day. And I’ve been dancing almost every day for a few weeks now.
I threw on some Rihanna -- who is SO in need of a sister-power feminist intervention, but that’s blog fodder for another day -- and started doing the dishes.
But then the rhythms wash over me …
Still in my clothes from work, those salsa steps started to flow and I instantly felt better.
Because on a crap day, remember this mantra: Just Dance … It’ll Be Okay.
And it was.
*I may have to hit the social dancing night at Café Casablanca tomorrow. It seems I just can’t get enough salsa ... the endorphins and overall joy from the dance style is definitely going to help push me through the winter and work demands*
Thursday, March 12, 2009
They're here ... the shoes are here!
This afternoon, I was watching and shotlisting tape from Question Period today and despite the heavy topics, I smiled the whole day ... because my left eye was being slightly blinded by the shoe bling that was reflecting off of the light on my desk. :)
I'm going to a group salsa class tonight ... the only clean thing to wear is sweatpants ... but damn, my feet are going to be cute and sparkly!! Woot!
Pictures coming soon. :)
PS -- I can just imagine the squeals amongst some of you ladies ... happy that finally ... Heather Robinson has an appreciation for shoes (but I should note that they ARE comfortable, so I've held onto at least a part of my anti-shoe fetish persona! ;)
Is it normal to be absolutely famished and eating like a lumberjack when in training for an event?
Because I eat a bit of breakfast before going to salsa rehearsal, but by 9:30am I'm starving! I end up having to pack 2-3 meals because I'm eating my lunch before 10am and can't stop grazing all day. And I want bad stuff! Greasy hamburgers, chocolate, pretty much anything that will likely cause a huge zit reaction before the big show. ha ha
So to all of you athletic types ... any healthy meal plans or power foods I should be eating to keep up my stamina? And please don't say a carrot and spinach milk shake because it'll never happen ...!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
And I was sore. REALLY sore.
I hauled myself out of bed at 6:30am for the three times weekly morning salsa rehearsal. I stretched and my neck/shoulders and knees sounded like Rice Krispies. I trudged groggily to the shower (hoping my peppermint shampoo would give me a kick) ... and felt the hot water releasing my tense and aching neck/shoulder/back/butt/leg muscles. The previous night's epsom salt bath (now a nightly dance pain relief ritual) helped me sleep, but, alas, I'd seized up again.
My body was screaming, "Dude! what are you doing to me?!"
I responded, "I'm turning you into a beautiful dancer, so suck it up!"
I grabbed a towel ... was contemplating a cup of strong tea to get moving ... and then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Through the steam, I could see sharper lines around the collar bones ... my neck looked longer ... there was actual muscle on the shoulders and in the arms ... I held my posture straighter ... and as for the butt? Well, ladies, lemme tell ya ... two weeks of salsa classes and you won't need that expensive pair of Spanx you picked up at The Bay.
Now, I'll be honest ... I went through a bit of a body image transformation when I hit thirty. It was a time of saying hello to grey hair, cellulite, love-handles ... everything our feminist selves tell us is just part of nature and should be embraced ... but that, admittedly you kind of detest at the same time.
Well, at thirty, you kind of stop caring what people think ... the physical body is your vessel ... your machine that helps you move through the world ... it is your unique make-up ... and a "good" body is one that is healthy and strong, and radiates from the inside.
The thirties teach you about embracing and working what yo mama gave you, and then covertly hiding the things that keep the beauty industry making billions of dollars. When I see us practicing in the mirror and see a level of strength and grace that is slowly developing, I'm honoured, and kinda proud ... I will take the aches any day. And hey, I'm doing my part to help during the economic crisis by keeping the epsom salt companies in business for the next few months!
*Note: when you add in a belief that "we are spiritual beings having a physical experience" ... the whole thing becomes moot anyway, but I digress ...
Charles and I are competing against a firefighter, Skate Canada judge, celebrity chef, etc. so the more supporters I have in the crowd, the better!
The tickets aren't cheap ($70) but you'll get a tax receipt for $35 and all money goes to various Dance Victoria programs including: "Dance Futures" which provides youth passes and tickets to The Nutcracker for needy youth, as well as provides year-long master classes and dance workshops.
This will be a big gala affair ... with a red carpet ... huge ballroom performances by the 8 couples ... followed by a big party with DJ, food and drinks.
Bring your partner, your kids, your friends ...
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Trust that they will lead you correctly ... that they will make you look good ... that they will not drop you. I've been very lucky to have one of Victoria's best male salsa dancers as my partner for the upcoming Stars on Stage performance. As many people have told me ... when it comes to lifts and spins, Charles will take the fall before he lets his dance partner get hurt.
Which leads me to last Saturday night ... where there was a most unfortunate incident.
It was my first time out social dancing at Cafe Casablanca ... a night where everyone (from beginners to performers) gather to practice and "play" on the dance floor. It was SO much fun! I danced with people of all ages, all levels of experience, and worked up a sweat. Having some of my ladies (Connie and Sarah) with me was a kick.
But I learned a big lesson that night: trust my instincts. I was dancing with a partner who has taken classes and performed before, so I trusted him to lead me. He was very helpful in showing me some hand techniques and was very patient, but then he got assertive. Twisting and spinning me out of control, despite me asking him to slow down because I was a beginner with bad, slippery shoes. And I was dropped ... rolling my ankle and twisting my back ...
It was unintentional ... he was apologetic ... but it rattled my confidence ... and put my back/butt into spasm for a few days. Three days later, I'm feeling better and am icing/stretching. No long-term damage.
But what to do the next time a similar situation happens, particularly if I know I'm not 100% sure about a dance partner? Salsa etiquette 101 is that you never shut down a request ... unless a person has hurt you or was groping you. In fact, just verbally telling a person what you're comfortable with is the best strategy. Otherwise, here's a great site:
Most important for me is that even though I'm a newbie and a bit shy about my footwork and spins ... I have to follow my instincts and own my own body on the dance floor. I'm willing to give him another chance ... well, maybe. I just have to communicate my needs, my level of experience, and hold on tight!
Professional salsa shoes: great ankle support, the perfect heel, toe support to let you dance all night without pain, the right amount of slip on the bottom for seamless dance steps ... and hello, silver sparkles!!!
They are being sent from Seattle.
They should get here this week.
It may have taken me 33 years to turn into a girlie girl, but I finally have an appreciation for shoes!
He looked at her across the room and slowly made his way across the dance floor.
She noticed him, too ... swung her hair to the side ... grinned ... and took his outstretched hand.
I don't know if they had ever met ...
I don't know if they'd ever danced together ...
If this was an old flirtation ... and old "dance" they had played before ...
Or if there was just something in the air that pulled two strangers together, for that one particular song.
They melded into each others' bodies as though they were old lovers who'd re-discovered their passion for each other.
They never unlocked their eyes (except when she was in a spin) ...
They never missed a step ...
There was an energy between their bodies that was both assertive, yet gentle ... sensual, yet tender ...
They looked as though they'd practiced this dance number for months ...
But when the music stopped and he kissed her hand and walked away ...
I didn't had time to ask anyone their "story".
All I could think was, "whoa, is it hot in here?"
As our choreographer Christina told us this morning: "the man has to be really aggressive ... and the woman has to be really sexy". Will be interesting to watch Charles bring out his inner tough-guy machismo as I try to summon my inner vixen. ;-)
From the very first pose, this dance is powerful, rhythmic, dramatic, and sensual. We learned the first 25 seconds this morning ... and both the music and routine are FAST! This is a different style (and count) than Charles is used to ... and Christina says the routine is as complex as what she'd expect from one of her professional dancers. We are going to be pushed, and I love that. Bring it on!
Dance studio owner, Lynda Raino, joined us for about half an hour this morning. She will be one of the commentators at the "Stars on Stage" event on June 6th. After our performance that night, she will comment on our progress from one of the early rehearsals to the final show. By the time she left, I was really getting the hang of the choreography.
I can't wait for you all to see this performance! I wish the very best to the competition ... but they should know that I'm working with the best team ... and we are SO going to rock this! :)
My friend Connie and I had just gotten back from a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico a week earlier (where we danced our butts off!) ... so when I suggested going to a beginner salsa class, followed by social dancing ... she jumped at it. So did Sarah, who sported some beautiful tango shoes she'd bought a few years earlier.
Since I had taken a week's worth of classes and private rehearsals with Christina and Charles, I thought, "no problem, I got this".
And then the "stars" showed up. The underbelly of Victoria's rhythmic dance circuit came out of the woodwork and blew me away. Let's put it this way: they caused the walls and windows to sweat because of their talented moves and passion. Bodies of all shapes and sizes and all ages ... tapping into their inner sensuality and root chakra rhythms to celebrate life through salsa. I could have watched Christina's performance team all night. And when some of them told me they'd only been doing salsa for a few years, I knew there was hope for me. :)
I watched dancers whom -- if I had passed them on the street -- I would have NEVER pegged them as salsa dancers. There was the skinny plain girl who looked nervous as a mouse in the corner ... the heavier guy who looked more comfortable in front of a computer screen than at a Latin club ... and the older silver-haired gentleman who I'd expect to see in a Tilley hat more than dance shoes.
But as soon as they all hit the dance floor ... WOW! Hip-shaking, body-spinning, rib-contorting, foot-stepping, smiling. They have my respect. I could have watched them all night! I'll admit you intimidated me, but you also inspired me. Thank you that! Salsa has captured my soul. :)
**Note: So, truth be told ... Connie and I went to Evolution (industrial club) around midnight for a bit of freestyle dancing to Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. Salsa and couple-dancing in general is a blast, but there is something truly freeing about closing your eyes and letting your body move to the rhythm. Hmm ... salsa choreography to "Personal Jesus"? Hmm, could happen. :)
Monday, March 9, 2009
I’ll admit I was a bit … nervous. It's been years since I danced on a stage. Except for the occasional "go white girl" cheers at dance clubs, this was going to be a bit of a personal rennaissance. Would sheer joy be enough to help me master footwork, swivel the hips correctly and even more nerve-wracking … would I truly be able to let a MAN … “lead”? Turns out … yes!
We entered the darkened Café Casablanca latin dance club, which is usually loud and boisterous with passionate dancers … we could hear Christina and Charles’ proper dance shoes on the wood floor and my cheap/painful 20-dollar Wal-Mart heels.
The music started … Charles grabbed my hands and put me in the proper form … and we started to dance salsa. And DAMN, it felt right!!! All of those years of mimicking Jennifer Grey iin Dirty Dancing when no one was watching clearly paid off. And being led by a man …? Go figure … if he’s a strong man who knows what he’s doing, I have no problem allowing a man to lead, once in a while. (take note: similar commentary for love situations, but that’s a note for another day). :)
When Christina told me they’d taught me 15 weeks worth of beginner classes in 20 minutes and that I’d gotten it … I knew this was going to be amazing. And that I, Heather Robinson, who once had the confidence to dance MC Hammer and Janet Jackson choreography with abandon as a teenager … would be able to pull this off in my 30s!
And even an early morning and sore bod couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m loving this …! My world has opened again ... and I will never go without dance in my life again.
NOTE:**On Saturday,June 6th, CBC-TV reporter Heather Robinson and professional salsa dancer Charles Murison will hit the dance floor at Dance Victoria's "Stars on Stage" gala fundraiser. Along with 7 other local personalities (NON-professional dancers)who are also training with pros, Heather is in intense rehearsals to learn salsa, wow you in June, and try to win against other couples who will be doing waltz, tango, etc. Ticket information and photos coming soon!!**
It was a tough decision … do you go with classic black to wear with anything, any time?
Tan coloured so no one sees mistakes if you screw up the footwork?
Or the shiniest, sparkliest colour you can imagine? Of course, you go with the latter! I mean, seriously, go big or go home!
I may go to salsa classes in my ratty yoga pants and tank top, but damn, my feet are going to be pretty! Plus, they are designed for hours of dancing … and I’ll admit the old Wal-Mart cheapies are causing some grief.
Bling pictures as soon as they arrive!