Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Little Bit of Spain in Philly- dancing with fans

So it' s been a while since I've danced flamenco. I took many classes when I lived in NYC, including some that were at the legendary Fazil's on Eight Ave. where the building practically shook from the reverberations of the dancers' "golpes" and "tacones" on the old wooden floors.

I even spent a couple of weeks in Grenada, Spain at  Escuela Carmen de las Cuevas where we danced  in caves and practically lived and breathed nothing but flamenco and the scent of orange blossoms for two full weeks. So heavenly.

I found a little flamenco here in Philly, but a broken shoulder from an ice skating accident( vow to self: stick to non-slippery surfaces), forced me to slow down a bit. After recovering with a little belly dancing with Habiba,  I re-discovered tap and found hip hop, both at Koresh. And little by little, flamenco became a distant memory.

But now there's this new studio Sound Space on W. Girard Ave, and I got to revisit flamenco in a three day workshop with the lovely Almudena Serrano from Seville, Spain. Now, I'm a little rusty- it's been a lot of years...and I didn't know we would be dancing with fans. In all my years of study, I never once danced flamenco with a fan, but there are different teachers and different styles, so with a borrowed fan, I jumped in.

It was a bit like a comedy routine, because I couldn't make my fan do all the things the other women in the class could do. Clearly, they were more experienced. But, having thrown myself out of my comfort zone more than a zillion times, I followed my own rules- Stay in the room. Keep practicing and eventually you'll get it.

I was so motivated after the first day, that I took a little hike in the rain the Chinatown to get a couple of fans to practice with( getting a fan from Spain would have taken too long). And I've practiced, but I'm not smooth.

And of course, getting the footwork and moving the fans at the same time requires coordination that needs more than a three day workshop. I had forgotten how much I loved this visually beautiful dance. And how it is a true dance of  both femininity and power.

So, I'm feeling the need for more flamenco. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dancing With AFib- 3

"It has a mind of its own."
That's what Dr. Wonderful says of the Afib. 

That's for sure.

So a couple of weeks ago, after giving a client a strenuous lomilomi session in a hot room, I treated myself with a visit to  Salon Vanity for cut and color by my magical stylist. I was peacefully relaxing, while Lori Ann, with the magic hands,  was touching up my roots, when all of a sudden, there it was- AFib, arriving unceremoniously while my hair was dripping with dye.

Not a good look, I thought.

I vowed to myself, that if I had to go the ER this time, it would be after the color process was at least finished! So, I didn't tell anyone.

Just quietly took the little pill that slows down the beat, and let my hair become beautiful. 

When I realized no ER trip would be necessary,even though my heart was still out of step,  I decided to make my way to my next scheduled stop- phone banking for Hillary. I mean, I'm dedicated.

It was a few blocks to the location, and walking felt weird. Not like I was going to faint or pass out. Just weird. When I stopped,I felt better, so I took my time, stopping when I could.

I knew that if I got to the location, I'd be fine. And I was. Once I sat down and
started making calls, the weirdness of my heart beating out of time seemed to melt into the distance.

Distraction is a good thing, I'm learning.
But, it took four hours, this Afib with its own mind.

And when it stops, also, with no warning, it is like the chest takes a deep breath, and ahhhhh. Back to normal.

Who doesn't love normal?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dancing with AFib- part 2

Even though Dr. Wonderful told me I could keep dancing, it took us a bit to work that out.

My first "episode" happened right after a dance class. Well, it was also a sweltering, humid  summer day and the air was thick when I walked out of the studio. I had probably not hydrated enough before class, and consumed a giant highly caffeinated iced coffee right before class.

The good news about spending that night in the hospital, was that they did a lot of tests, and at age 63, I'm pretty darn healthy.

The bad part was that my pulse had gone over 200 and the EMT's had to inject me with medication to lower it, in my apt. Hated the nasty stains on my new blanket, and they left a mess, but I love them- I really do.

I'm here today writing because of those guys. Thank you . Thank you, dear EMTs!!

So the next couple of "episodes" happened during dance class. I was taking a 90 minute tap class first, but the heart started to speed up and go out of rhythm in the second class- hip hop. Twice, I didn't make it through the warm-up.

So, twice I took the meds that Dr. Wonderful prescribed, should I have another episode.  It took some time for my heart beat to slow down but even longer for the irregular rhythm to stop.

Dr. Wonderful, available by phone during both episodes, assured me that "eventually" the heart would go back to normal, and that I had the option to go to the hospital, where they could monitor the irregularity and get more meds.

I preferred to wait. Patience has always been a challenge.

We decided that half a pill before dance class might work.
And it does!!

but the episodes are not gone completely....

Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11- Welcoming Angels

I was living in NYC on 9/11, way uptown, pretty far away from Ground Zero. It was almost 11 months since i had lost my daughter, Lisa, almost 19 years old, in a firey car crash along with her two friends, Sean and Amy. So I had already been living with shock and grief for a while.

It was an almost perfect fall morning, until we heard the news. In my Yorkville neighborhood people starting spilling out of their apartments, lining up at hospitals to give blood, only to be turned away after waiting... there would be very few survivors who needed it.

In the days following, NYC was in shock.
In a strange way, I felt like I could help, because I was experiencing my own personal grief- I wanted to help, but there was not much I could do.

 Sometimes the only thing that could be done was to move to the back of a crowded bus. A plane would fly overhead, and everyone would freeze. Another attack? Who knew?

Almost 3000 souls were lost in the attacks of 9/11. I thought then and still do now, that Lisa, Sean, and Amy, were  Angelic Greeters for these new souls stepping into the next world. It gives me comfort that perhaps the 9/11 victims saw their smiling faces and felt their loving hugs.

After death, only the love remains....

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dancing with Afib

It's been a while... a long while. And there's been lots of wandering!

2 years ago, almost to the day, I had my first "episode" of AFib, atrial fibrillation, "an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by rapid and irregular beating," which put me in the hospital overnight.

How ironic! I mean, I'm all about rhythm- I dance!! I do tap, hip hop, tango, salsa...and more!!  I even travel to libraries with a program called "Global Rhythms!"

So how very strange to be feeling so out of rhythm.
Strange and scary.
This can't be happening to me, I thought
But, it did.

So, I now have a cardiologist. I'll call him Dr. Wonderful, because he is, because, when I saw him after my hospital stay, he said these words "You can keep dancing." In face he WANTED me to keep dancing. And so, he is Dr. Wonderful. And I am still dancing!

The episodes have not completely stopped and in future posts, I'd like to talk more about the specifics of how they affect me and how, with my own research, and the help of Dr. Wonderful, I am better able to manage them.

I would love for any other "Afibbers" out there, to share their stories. And I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wandering- on Facebook- super great link about dancing!! Must see

The best video I've ever seen about dance!!

Watch it,
Then dance.

Or dance,
then watch it

Or watch it while you

or just dance!!!

Wandering NYC: LIttle Trees and the Density of Things

An a Capella group
steps over boots and
around heavy coats
to sing doo wop
on the C train, at 34th Street.

The doors open at 42nd Street,
There are beats of African drums
Coming from the platform,
Which get quieter as the door closes.

A man reading Bible verses
Has gotten on there.
The passengers
keep their heads down
do not speak,
Nor look at him.

At 59th, I get off.

Peaceful sounds of
Native American flute
Fill the Time Warner Center
I hear it on the escalator
Down to Whole Foods.

It fades away to
Folk pop mix
In the market,
Bob Dylan’s nasal raspy twang
In the background as
As I eat oatmeal
And drink organic coffee

There is less sidewalk                                        
In this season,
 From 59th to 74th,
I walk through                                                         
Pop-up forests of
Christmas Trees
Piney scent
Mixes with aromas of roasted nuts,
And Freshly fried Falafel,
A siren cuts through
The after rush hour
Traffic on icy Broadway morning.

The little trees
Draw me in.
No more than three feet high,
These ones that fit in tiny
Spaces in
Manhattan places
Mini forests sit among the Giants

“Hello, little ones”, I think.
“I have had been intimate
With a few of your cousins,”

Back when I lived on E. 85th Street.
I brought them up to my 6th floor studio

Barely reaching  window,                                 
Facing south.
Flashing mini- lights, stars
And angels sat on gentle tiny branches

I do not linger,
In those street forests.
Only memories

I have come to dance,
And so I do

Soft gentle indie
And lilting, voice,
for jazz class.
There is sadness in the voice.
Soft slippers and bare feet
Make brushing sounds on
Polished surfaces

But downstairs,
the room filled with tappers
Stomp, slap, and flap
In unison
Metal on wood,
Drumming with our feet
Deep bass guitar
Plays jazz solo,
Our rhythms syncopate
With it
And together we become

Then, two flights down
with clomping boots on
ancient steps

Cross the street and                               
back to screeching
On the #1 at 72nd Street
A man with covered standing bass
gets off at 66th,
Lincoln Center.
I imagine his deep rich sound
As he plays in an orchestra there
or maybe a jazz band.

While I wait at 59th Street
For the C
I hear, I think, tapping.
Could it be?
Yes, a man
Has set up planks of wood
Where he does cramp roll turns
And maxi fours
With gusto.

At Penn Station,
34th Street
There is soulful blues
And haunting electric guitar
A few notes of each,
Then out to the street,

Where heading west,
The city noises cars, and horns
And underlying din
Begin to wane
By 10th Ave
There is peace
Peaceful city
How strange

There is stillness
Out here in the western edge
Between 11th and 12th,
Almost to the river
Where there is lots of sky
While I wait for the bus
To take me home.