Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy feet

I just danced for four days - I think at least 5 hours a day. I feel mentally invigorated and my body feels very different. On day two, everything was aching, but now I feel all loose and mobile. This feeling wakes me up to the realisation that my body needs to MOVE, and in every direction, every day.

Dance and music have always been very important to me. I started dancing at a very young age and was also lucky enough to attend a small primary school where the headmaster was a frustrated rock star. Music was a huge part of the curriculum and I learned to read music and play several instruments. The dance lessons stopped when I was about 7, due to the usual childhood stresses (parents fighting, moving around, no money) but I kept playing instruments right up until I disappeared into the disordered eating. That must have been when I was about 14. I had a disastrous attempt at a renaissance when I was 24. To my great surprise I pulled out my guitar, wrote a few songs and got into music school. Me with my issues, in close daily contact with 19 other young people, single minded in the pursuit of musical inspiration by whatever means possible - chemical, herbal, alcoholic or sexual. It did not go well and I put music aside for a while and got on with the business of dumbing down my life.

About a year and a half ago I was making considerable progress toward losing the eating disorder and I started looking at claiming back the things that were important to me. I did a quick internet search and signed up for a Salsa class, filling in the form quickly while my nerve held. At the time I did not realise what an inspired move this was. At first I felt so awkward, heavy, uncoordinated and self-conscious (hello, wall to wall mirrors). I had to take two long breaks when I injured my back, but over time, through the dancing, I've begun to reconnect with my body and with music and it's an ongoing process. I was talking to my brother about how it's like a process of moving from 'doing' to 'being' and you can always tell the difference when you meet someone. You evolve from being someone who dances, to being a dancer, or a musician, or an athlete, or whatever. At the NZ Pacific Salsa congress I had the remarkable opportunity to attend classes with the best Salsa dancers in the world and see them perform. I also gave the zouk lambada and cha cha cha classes a go. I sat in a musicality workshop with Oliver Pineda (a man whom can call himself the 'world salsa champion' and only be stating a fact) and, for the first time in ages, really turned my attention to the beat and the rhythm. It was a bit like being three years old again and clapping out the clave. At the end of day three I'm not thinking about the burrito I had for dinner, the size of my belly or the fact that work drives me nuts. I'm not thinking about much because there is too much music going on in my brain and my body feels relaxed and like it wants to just keep moving. I'm thinking about my cool new dancing shoes and how I really should wear more colour.... ;)

Check out this vid of Oliver and Luda. I'm sure that every woman in their classes wants to be Luda, or at least, wants her legs. As a couple, they have won the world Salsa champs five times. Are you impressed?


  1. Wow that's incredible, you sound truly inspired. Btw, thank you so much for the great posts on Eat-Stop-Eat. I looked forward to each installment like it was some kind of gripping thriller. I found them really fair, informative, wise and insightful. As always, your blog is great reading, i love it!

  2. Anonymous5:29 am

    You can have Luda's legs if I can have her abs!


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