Adventures in Ottawa

This weekend was a good weekend–the kind that leaves me exhausted and staring at the computer screen with the molasses-y thoughts yeah….work…I should do that. My international expedition comes to you, dear reader, in three parts.

Part I: The Dance and the Show So my WCS (west coast swing for those of you not in the know) partner Steve has a friend named Maria Ford, an accomplished WCS competitor and dancer from Ottawa. She invited us to perform at a social dance she hosts monthly, in preparation for our debut competition next week. Initially, I was skeptical–I work full time and despite all of our practicing I didn’t feel ready to perform. Nevertheless, I’m not one to shy away from an opportunity, so the Sven and I packed up the car and drove off. The show itself was…iffy. Sections were rushed, it didn’t feel clean–but by the same token it was probably the single best run-through we’d done to date, which is about all one can ask for a show. I’m glad we did it, as it highlighted all the things we need to work on. For me, personally, the best part of the evening was the social dancing. I’m not sure how to say this without sounding like a terrible human being, but it’s great fun to not be the best dancer in a room. It’s easy to get complacent as a big fish in a small pond, instead of a medium fish in a medium pond. I learn so much while social dancing with more experienced people–I soak in the little quirks and angles and weight changes and styling bits&pieces through osmosis. Despite my initial misgivings, I find myself trying to plan a way to return to Ottawa and do it all again.

Part II: The Work

The next day, the real meat of the weekend was revealed. Maria and her partner Abby were kind enough to work with Steve and I on technique and cleaning for the routine. Frankly I’m too tired to hash through all the details, but it was very valuable and hopefully we can internalize most of the corrections before next weekend. Having an external eye to coach is one of the best things there is in dancing. Here a some highlights:

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Part III: The Reflection

Thoroughly exhausted and wrung out, we took a break from dancing. Sven and I went to the Canadian Museum of Nature in downtown Ottawa. Holly, this isn’t a lifestyle or travel blog, you say? Well, the museum was having a special exhibit on bodies–BODY WORLDS: Animals Inside Out. Similar to the human-centric version a few years ago, this project involves the preservation and display of corpses such that we can see the different kinds of soft tissues and layers.

There’s something innately humbling about staring at a dissected human leg and thinking that bunch of muscles, those are what are sore right now. That tendon, that’s the one that snaps when I walk down stairs. Not being terribly squeemish, I ran–er, hobbled–around in glee, staring in appreciation at all the body parts I had worked so hard in the past 24 hours. Everyone, dancer or not, athlete or not, should take some time to explore their insides and recognize all the wonders and shortcomings of the fleshy prisons we inhabit.

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