Weekend Inspiration: be you

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Full disclosure that I don’t know James Clear (who’s post this is) from a hole in the ground and I cannot attest to the rest of his blog, but I can tell you that I read this post just when I needed it.
Martha Graham has this to say about comparing yourself to others: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

http://jamesclear.com/quality-comparison 

I often think that quality and competition are related. I’m not competitive with others, I am however highly competitive with myself. What can I accomplish? What am I capable of? What I love about this quote and post is that it talks about allowing things to flow rather than judge or stop. Something that I think could apply to a variety of experiences in our professional lives. Have a read, have a think and I hope you feel like you’re being your best self today. Happy Saturday.

Wow: what a response!?

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I’m sitting in a record shop turned coffee shop and the new James Hunter album is playing in the background. Sipping m’cuppa joe and finishing my prep and music for the Oxford Swing Festival classes this aft and I just wanted to say a heart felt thank you.

I have had so many shares, views, notes and offers since I posted my ‘Dance Partner for ILHC’ post. It’s been unexpected and greatly appreciated. I’ve been particularly moved by the followers leaders who have messaged me to say that they have often felt the same anxiety about finding/asking a potential dance partner. Why is it so difficult to find someone to hold hands with (in the dance way, not the romantic way)? Why does it feel so personal and not ‘professional’ or ‘constructive’? There are some great people who have messaged me and I’ll be sorting things out in the coming weeks – but I just wanted to say thank you all those that shared my post. I’m still open to emails/FB messages and have been touched by the kind words and support shown by my London dance partners, instructor friends and dance peers worldwide.

My packing this weekend’s teaching (can you tell I’m gluten and dairy free):

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I’m going to go and teach some awesome people my thoughts on how to move on our own now. I feel  inspired by this community to do my best work, bring the best out of others and to challenge our preconceived notions of what we think we’re capable of. Again, you awesome person there on the side of this screen – THANK YOU. I’ll keep you posted on the journey.

Wanted: Dance partner for ILHC

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I have waffled about whether or not to post this. Partially, because it just isn’t done in the lindy hop community (at least from my perspective) – where a follower is actively and openly seeking a dance partner for a project and partially, because it feels like high school asking if anyone will take me to prom.

Who am I and what’s the brief?
I teach many weekly classes and have taught a variety of weekend partnered and solo workshops in Canada and the UK. I work with some amazing leaders in London. I currently have plans to go to ILHC, but don’t currently have a partner to compete with (because the people I’d normally work with are not able to go). Ideally, I’d like to compete in the Open Strictly and Open Classic and would be open to a Team Showcase if someone was already invested/subscribed in a project.

Ways this could work (open to suggestion):
1. In London, you either live here or are willing to come visit and crash on my sofa bed for a week or two and we focus on training and putting together a choreography.
2. You live somewhere in Europe that is cheaply and easily accessible and/or a major and easy to get to US city. You put me up for a week or two to come and train with you perhaps the weeks leading up to ILHC.
3. We each cover our own costs at ILHC and split our contest costs.
4. I am willing to invest additional time by coming to Herrang the same week you may be going and/or attending a camp or two in the lead up (depending on cost, but I’m flexible).

You may be the right person if:
1. You are a person who invests in your dancing and is focused on improving your personal dancing.
2. You have a cannon of performance work or at least a couple of performance routines under your belt.
3. You give valued and measured critical feedback and you are open to getting respectful critical feedback.
4. You want to put in 10-15 hours minimum on a performance routine and partnered dancing prep. For me, it’s about polish – but polish can also keep true to the spirit of lindy hop.
5. Your definition of success is creating and producing something original, distinctive, imaginative and truly ‘us’ as opposed to looking like other people.
6. You are self-aware and want to be the best dancer you can be.
7. Optional: You teach in your local scene and are comfortable watching, explaining and breaking down movement.
8. Optional: You are inspired by and have experience in other dance forms.
9. Optional: You have aerials experience and would like to work on this skill set with me.
10. Required: You have a high degree of partner empathy. You respect both dance roles equally and value the conversational quality and individuality of dance. Perhaps you occasionally like to follow, since I do also quite like leading.

If you think you’d be interested in working together and producing a routine that is professional, high quality and daring for us AND love social dancing and would like to train towards a strictly together please send me an email – nancyhitzig[at]gmail[dot]com. I’d love to hear from you.
If you think you may not be ready (either your new or don’t have a lot of dance experience of this kind), but would love to train and see if it’s a good fit – that’s valuable too.
If you are working with someone and want some help making a plan to do some work like this – awesome, email me! Happy to take you through how I approach stuff like this.

And lastly, if you are a person who has a network of dancers where someone may be interested in an opportunity like this, please, I ask you to forward it on, post it, instagram it – whatever.

As a follower without a regular partner, sometimes I feel like my ambitions and vision are impossible with out a regular partner. If it turns out that there aren’t any available or interested leaders, then I can decide if I want to push my leading and compete with another follower who has the same aims and goals. But I definitely wanted to ask you, my friends and peers for your opinions and recommendations first.

I think that brings my ILHC partner job pack to a close. If you share this or respond to it, please accept my sincere thanks. Both roles have their challenges and the desire to make great art always feels scary, but I wanted to be brave and to ask. Hope to see you on the dance floor soon.

Why I dance

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I’ve come home from performing and teaching in Edinburgh at University of Swing with Ben Cook and I am reminded of all the reasons why I dance. Finding my joy through movement, inspiring others to take to the floor, bringing people together to celebrate the spirit of lindy hop and partnered dancing.

Ben and I launched this project called ‘Why I dance’ as a vehicle to address what partnered dancing and performance offers and how its transformed our lives. Have a watch. We’ll be releasing more videos shortly and as always welcome your thoughts and impressions. I’d be really curious to know why you dance?

When something scares you

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I’m really good at trying new things and meeting new people. Booking a class, or going to a meet up doesn’t scare me. Getting my ass over my head on a steel hula hoop kind of scares me – this is something that always gave me problems when I did aerial silks in Toronto. I have a whole lot of badonk (my bottom) to get up in the air compared to the other men and women in the class. I faced this fear today. I had lots of difficulties getting upside down, but I didn’t let it hurt my ego – I just kept trying and let the attendant/instructor help me when I needed it. I surprised myself. I left with worn hands and a sore body, but a happy mind and heart. I didn’t get any of the more beautiful poses/moves but I did get this photo in as the instructor was talking me into letting go with one hand. I did. I didn’t fall.

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When I feel scared in new situations I say to myself: I love myself. I got this. I’m confident.
I walk up to the instructors and ask their names. I offer to take photos for classmates since they are just as scared as I am.

I accept where I am today, how flexible I am, how far I can go, how much help I need. Because it’s okay to be a beginner. It’s ok to learn and need help. It’s brave to try something new and foreign. I think it’s important as a dance teacher to feel what it feels to be a beginner and to embrace that humility. I’m a beginner at ballet (ish), at stuff where I hang in the air, at speaking French – don’t let fear stop you from trying new things, meeting new people and letting go of the proverbial hoop. It’s left me feeling rather inspired (and sore – Ow!).

I need a budget

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In the run up to 2016, I have realised that I need a budget. Also my dad gave me this article from a Canadian Newspaper the National Post about Personal Finance. I have always believed ‘oh I’m not good with money’. Somehow this universal ‘truth’ means that I sheepishly don’t look at my bank account balance or credit card bill until I absolutely have too. I’m tired of feeling money shame. Like I’m not a ‘grown up’ or that ‘I’m always behind’. Like I mentioned in the goal setting post, I like systems. I’m good at systems. Why can’t I apply the same approach?! Again, I thought you might be interested in what I’m doing to get myself organised and saving for 2016. Some of these thing may seem obvious – but I figure I can’t be the only one who needs help in the financial literacy area.

2016 – I am good with money, have savings and am financially literate.

1. I let go of my personal money shame. I am open and honest with people who love me and ask for support from those who I perceive as ‘good with money’. I have a  few gurus in my midst who already have offered their support and personalised spreadsheets. I need their sage advice and I need to listen.
2. I buy myself a fancy coffee (we are talking soya latte here) if I’m in a meeting or it’s the weekend.
3. I cook myself a meal three times a week. I love cooking. I often say it’s the way I measure how well I’m taking care of myself. Whether it’s two dinners and a Sunday brunch – it all adds up. And sometimes it is actually cheaper to eat prepared stuff then what you make…but I always feel more nourished by my own cooking.
4. I save money for travel before I spend it. I have definitely ‘found’ ways and means to make big trips happen in the past and I’m over the worry and creative approach it takes to afford it off the cuff. I travel to teach/perform/work etc., but not for leisure until May 2016). May is my 30th Birthday and I would love to do a bit of travelling but that means I have to have everything saved up.
5. I track everything. Like everything. Without judgement, without shame. I just input all my receipts into my google spreadsheet and keep an eye on my available savings. I need to make this a habit and that will take several months and some discipline.

What do you do? How do you save and stay on top of your finances? I would love to know. I often think we don’t share enough best practices in this area. It’s like mental health – we are all hush hush. Would anyone like to have a monthly meet up to review how we’re doing? I’d actually love that. Happy New Year and happy savings!