salsa dancing

My Vegas Experience

 (taken with my iphone, that's me on the far right during practice)

This was my first ever salsa congress.  Never did I imagine that I would be PERFORMING at the first congress I ever attended!  With only a month's notice, our instructor confirmed that we were on for a Saturday afternoon performance.

We practiced intensely the weeks that followed, but nothing like the week right before Vegas where we met almost every day of the week.  We even met at 8:30 in the morning on the 4th of July (after having ended an 11:30 p.m. rehearsal the night before) to practice.  Mind you, there are dancers that do this ALL the time and way more vigorously than us.  But it's challenging when you're not doing this professionally -- more so for fun.  Still, we wanted to attain a level advanced enough to feel like we belonged in that spot.

Soon enough, Friday came and we hit the road, four chatty girls.  Let me tell you, EVERY female needs to take at least one road trip in her life with a group of women.  This leads to some of the most hilarious, gross, insightful, challenging, and TMI moments you will experience.  I loved every bit of it :)

I'm thrilled to finally... FINALLY share with you a video of our performance!  So thankful that my roomie Magda recorded us on her iphone! You'll have to forgive the poor quality, but hey, at least I got something to show you! :)

I come in on the left side (in yellow) and end up in the front row on the left.  Three in front (L to R: me, Dani, and Marietta) and three in back (L to R: Yen, Yanais, and Cyndi)

Aaaand, that was exhilirating!! One of my favorite parts was backstage.  The waiting room was FREEZING and I don't know about you, but when I get nervous I get cold.  The last thing we wanted was for our muscles to be cold and stiff.  So the girls and I started dancing for fun.  Then the minute right before we went on stage, we let loose and were doing a dance off!  Too much :)  It helped so much with our energy and keeping our muscles warm!

And the social dancing? OH MY LORD.  I told Jose about this when I got home, re-telling the dancing with my arms and legs.  There have been 2 moments in my life where I have danced with someone that I felt like we had been dancing for 10 years together.  Salsa is about partner work.  There have been many great dancers I've been able to share a dance with.  HOWEVER.  There have only been 2 moments in my life when the connection between my partner and I (a complete stranger) has been SO riveting, that I felt like I was PERFORMING for the entire audience.  The music completely took over and we danced to every beat of the song.  I was flying in the air, I spun, our movements synchronized beautifully and it MADE me a better dancer.

It happened once in Atlanta, and it happened again in Vegas.  I will NEVER forget those 2 dances in my life! And soon I realized that I had been dancing the entire night with a bad shoe.  My heel cap decided to jump ship and left me with a screw sticking out of one heel.

But after that dance, there was no way I was going to stop :)  I took 2 workshops the next morning before heading back to Vegas where I learned about Tango and Salsa fusion.  Oh, I'm in love.  How desperately I want to dance tango.  Back in the car we went on Sunday, the craziest conversations took place yet again, and we made it home safely.  I wrapped myself around Jose, and the story telling began...

And that?  Well, that was my Vegas experience.

Confession: My First Video

A few weeks ago, I shared with you all one of my biggest accomplishments -- my first fashion video. That was a big deal for me. But.... buuuut... there was a little video before that I had mentioned but never actually showed you. My very FIRST video.

Before you get to the video at the end of this post, you have to understand the story behind this. I'm in a dance group called Esencia Tropical, taught and choreographed amazingly by Cory Gutierrez. You know I'm a fan of feminine styling -- whether it's in photography, dance, or clothing. What I absolutely love most about Cory's choreography is her styling. She creates these amazing lines, curves, and body isolation that make the dance come alive.

I kept imagining a video of this dance, highlighting the dancer's movements and Cory's styling. Until one day, I decided to do it.

But remember -- back in December I didn't own a 5D Mark II yet. I asked another photographer from my church, who did own a 5D, if she would be interested in working on this with me.

Tammy was all for it! In fact, she opened up her home to us and converted it into a mini studio for the dancers.

These girls were troopers! We had a huuuuge Christmas event the night before and got to bed really late (Cory even later!), only to wake up the next morning to shoot this.

So why am I finally posting this? Well, it took a while for me to edit this one. I was in over my head, learning Final Cut Pro on my own and synchronizing twenty clips to match one song perfectly. This was so new to me.

When I finished the video in January, I was so relieved and excited -- ready to share. And right as I tried uploading it to Vimeo to share with y'all -- the file was too big. Jose and I tried to compress it but nothing would work without reducing the quality. So... I just showed it to Cory and the other dancers in person and left it at that.

Until I made the fashion video. I knew that I HAD to absolutely figure out a way. Three hours into just researching online, my lovely techie (aka hubs) figured it out! I was thrilled!!

So I know this is kind of backwards and I considered not posting it -- but hey, why not. I can always look back on my journey in videography to see where I started and how I've developed. Ready to see the video?

Okay :)

What do you think?! Isn't Cory an excellent choreographer with great dancers?! Oh, and how about those photos? Yeah, that's Jose killing it more and more with his second shooting ;)

p.s. Thanks for going on this journey with me!

Confused feet...

Ack! I'm getting cold feet everyone :( I'm really torn about performing in a couple of weeks.

In Atlanta, I was also part of a Salsa studio and involved in the performance classes. The biggest difference (because there's quite a few) was that we were assigned a partner from the beginning. The new studio here in Arizona rotates partner for every practice.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy rotating partners because you are exposed to different leads and you learn more about yourself as a follower. Unfortunately, there are some guys that are committed more than others, and as a result, you'll dance with someone who can't finish the routine or might pull your arm OFF in the process.

And now I'm starting to freak out a little. Our performance is in TWO weeks and we have yet to be partnered. There hasn't been any connections made because we constantly change partners! I'm seriously nervous about who they'll pair me up with because it has to be a collaboration. Plus, it doesn't matter how much -I- might know the dance -- in salsa, the female MUST follow the guide. It will be obvious if I back-lead because it'll look like a dance of "catching up." I don't want to back-lead -- that's not dancing.

I think we're going to find out this week (I HOPE!) who our partners will be. I'm seriously considering dropping out of the performance. That's not me at ALL, but there's no confidence when I don't know what our actual performance will look like -- 2 weeks from the day of. There's only 2 guys who know the entire routine and only ONE that can complete it with music.

Would you risk it, even if you knew only one guy could do the entire routine with music?

I wouldn't be so torn if the performance wasn't around the corner. There have been plenty of times in Atlanta when my partner and I had tough spots in our performance and didn't feel ready, but we had worked together from week one. We knew what each other's strengths and weaknesses were after understanding each other's rhythm.

Two weeks might still be plenty of time -- but it all depends on who I get partnered with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I have the dance down to a tee, buuuut, I'm not the one who's leading it. Poor guys have all the pressure! What if the person I get matched with still hasn't learned it by performance week? Do I make the decision that we can't perform then? So much to think about :( Would love to hear your opinion!

p.s. That photo was taken in Spain from the first Flamenco show I had ever been to. It was mind blowing how something could be SO intense, powerful, and passion-filled coming from one person.