The Newbie Chronicles! (Category Description)

Welcome to this blog’s flagship page! If you enjoy anything on this blog, I believe it’s the stories here that will hook you :). This is, proverbially, “my baby” as a writer. This is my favorite page, and I’m sure it’ll be yours as well. 🙂

This is where you’ll find the more humorous of adventures in my life as a newly realized yogi and dancer. If I make some kind of mistake, or go through something that on explanation to my friends makes them laugh with any regularity, it’ll go here. If it’s ridiculous or so out of my comfort zone that I just have to pause and laugh it off, it’ll go here lol. The posts may not happen on an specific schedule, they’ll just be published as they happen. If I reference someone in particular in a way that may seem critical of them or offensive, I’ll usually get their permission first. So know that if it’s here, you can enjoy it and laugh at it guiltlessly.  🙂

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Yoga! :) (Category Description)

Hi! Welcome to my Yoga page. This post is specifically dedicated to telling you, dear reader, what you can find here.  🙂

Posts here will consists of writing, photos or videos pertaining to my growing Yoga practice. Usually, these will be posts that aren’t humorous enough to fall under “The Newbie Chronicles.” That doesn’t mean theses posts won’t “ever” be humorous, it just means I won’t worry about that as much. That means I’ll likely post more frequently than on other pages. If you like Yoga, this is a great page to keep up with. 🙂

About :)

Welcome to Through The Eyes Of The Beholder. 🙂

You’ll find two things on this website:

  • Great, expressive, passionate writing
  • And lots of great Tap Dance-related content, aimed at building new communities and connections within the Tap Dance genre :).

Here at Through The Eyes Of The Beholder, we’ll share with you the beauty in life.

It’s everywhere: from the people who stop to help the random stranger with lit hazards on the highway, to the secret way the ballerinas practice through pain so they can smile through it on the stage, to the way the young, college couple kisses quickly in public; bashful but totally unaware of how they have inspired those around them.

Don’t get us wrong, we are not unaware of the evil in the world, or of the sadness, or of the chaos, or of the hatred. But such things are easily found, and are reported, elsewhere.

You are in a sanctuary from such things.

This shall be a place where you can come when the world depresses you, or when you need to hear something good, something different, or maybe just something thought provoking and interesting to take your mind off whatever you’re going through or wherever you are.

That’s one of the overwhelming goals of this website: to serve as a sanctuary from the bad, and remind you, or teach you, of the good.

The other goal is to be a place where Dancers, especially Tap Dancers, can relax and connect.

Every month, we’ll have a “Beholder’s Tap Challenge,” where we’ll post a 30-second or so clip of some choreography done somewhere, share the link to it, then video ourselves doing it with an added step or modification, before we challenge our readers to modify it in some way and share the video with us!

And that’s just one of our many ideas.

There will also be links to fun Tap Dance clips, dance videos, health articles relating to dance, and hopefully even posts submitted from other dancers or interviews with choreographers all around the world. :).

Welcome to our website. We think you’ll like it here :).

About Our Creative Team

Me after the 2015 Austin Half Marathon  Shelton M. Burch, “The Beholder”

My name is Shelton Matthew Burch and I’m an aspiring sports writer and Tap Dancer. :).

At heart, I am a hopeless romantic and an idealist (to steal a description from one of my English professors). I’m a senior in English-Creative Writing at Kansas State University with a minor in journalism and who loves taking dance classes. After I graduate in May, I hope to become a professional sports journalist and teach adult Tap classes. I also run half-marathons and practice yoga.

My journey to dance began when I was 24 years old. In January 2014, I took a level one Jazz dance class here at K-State that got me in the shape of my life in only about four months.

After that, I took my first Tap Dance class in August 2014, and I’ve been addicted to the style ever since. I have even worked my way into a spot on the Kansas State University Tap Dance Ensemble.

I love Tap for so many reasons. For its rhythms, for its musicality, and for the way it’s still dance, meaning it retains technique connections to beautiful things like Classical Ballet.

Most of all though, I love the way Tap Dance is still being shaped and growing as a genre within Dance. Compared to something like Ballet, Tap is such a young form, a lot like the United States compared to the old European countries.

It’s in this that I get really excited, because so much of the book on Tap remains to be written. So many directions haven’t been explored, and because of its youth there are very few long-standing traditions to discourage total exploration.

I hope to help Tap Dance become the most popular form of Tap Dance in America, and to convey my love of it to anyone bold enough to join me and give it a try.

But until then, I’m just focused on creating something beautiful for you here. So enjoy :).

“TapDance” class/”In America” Notes/Thoughts

In Tap class a couple of weeks ago, we watched the film “Tap In America.” I paid attention of course, but the writer in me can’t not take notes during such things, because I write to remember, as well as to entertain. However, I asked a question Thursday and it could be said that this question indicated I hadn’t exactly paid perfect attention to the film. So I want to clear up why I didn’t exactly catch everything like I would have if I hadn’t had my notebook, or in this case my iPad with my notes app, open. Here’s what I took. No particular description can be added, as I don’t remember what was going on in the film while I took these notes, I just know what I thought. Here it is, transposed exactly, smiley faces and all :).

“TapDance” class/”In America” Notes/Thoughts (Note says date was Nov. 6, 2014)

I wonder what Latin-American style tap would/does sound like?

–Maybe something like Bachata in tap shoes? Or Zumba?

–Let’s pretend for a moment it’s totally natural of me to think all this 😛

–But for real, that’d be a killer Julie question

Bringing out iPod armband for after class would be a really good idea

Black shoes are the way for me I think. Not a fan of white or silver or anything

I love the way tap can be used as like an added drum by the dancer to add something to the music. For all those times I spent long drives beating with a pen on the dashboard, all this hours visualizing myself recomposing a piece to add an extra set of snare drums when I had nowhere near the music theory knowledge needed, nor the motivation to attain such a thing…I think this stuff may have been what God was leading me up to. This is where all of those experiences can play a part in mine; where what I’ve always wanted to do can be possible on in the most true-to-me way possible…

Unconventionally 🙂

If we’re to keep doing this though, and be expressive about it, we’re going to need to introduce more calcium into our diet and be careful. As a runner, this style puts me at a much higher injury risk than most other dancers and/or runners.

Another Julie question: Do most performance dancers keep a set of black shoes and a set of white ones then? Or how does that all work?

Alas; why we do yoga 😛

The Newbie Chronicles: (Part 1)

I don’t know how many of you are blessed enough to have a wonderful Manduka Pro-Lite Yoga mat like I do, but if you do, you’d know they are amazing.

However, I made a newbie mistake before going to Orange Sky Yoga today involving mine.

As I got ready to leave for Intro To Mysore this morning, I realized that I forgot to clean my mat yesterday. So, with about 10 minutes before class, and five minutes before leaving, I sprayed it down and gave it a good scrub. I used the typical Manduka cleaning solution (I paid $100 for the mat, I’m going to use what I know is safe on it) and wiped it down. In my haste to get out the door (just ‘on time’ is not early enough for me), I picked up my Yogitoes towel and then decided not to pack it, thinking I’d have no problem today since my mat was all good and clean and should be dry enough.

I SHOULDN’T have had a problem…but I really, really did, as I was about to find out.

The beginning steps of the Ashtanga primary series include holding Downward Facing Dog for sequences of five breaths at a time. For those of you who’ve never been in a Yoga class and done it, that’s a bloody long time. But, do you know what makes it seem even longer? Doing it on a sheet of ice.

That’s the best description possible for my mat during my practice this morning. Wonderful, beautiful, and as slick as a sheet of  ice immediately after the Zamboni has gone over it between periods at a hockey game. In hindsight, I find this ironic since it’s even bright blue like the ice in a goalie’s crease at a game. Also ironic is that I would end up watching hockey (albeit inline) all day after slipping on a mat that felt like ice in the morning.

I wasn’t embarrassed exactly as I slipped around, desperately trying to keep control of my breathing, while simultaneously trying to summon core muscles I’ve never worked out in my life to help keep my hands in place. I was just hopeful someone would laugh for me, because I definitely wasn’t capable at the time. I really missed Jessa at that moment. I kept visualizing her saying that amazing quote from a couple of weeks ago at Yoga in the park: “Smile! It makes it suck less.” But I was even beyond that, lol. It was so bad that in frustration I got up and borrowed one of the studio’s blankets. Even then I kept slipping, either due to the mat or my own muscle fatigue at that point….surely the former ;).

But dodge-ramit, at least my mat was clean…goodness gracious.

So, note to self, and newbie Yogi lesson 1 and possibly 2 are as follows:

1. Only clean your mat right before class if you somehow think you’re more of a ninja than you’re Yoga teacher and can do downward go with no hands. Also, if you somehow think you ARE more of a Yoga ninja than your teacher, you’re probably dumb, so even still, don’t do it.

2. If are going to a studio in which you know there are people who’ve got towels of their own, it’s probably okay to bring yours. You probably won’t look as stuck-up as you think you would, and you’ll probably be glad you brought it.

Announcing a new series: The Newbie Chronicles

I’ll always remember 2014 as the year I stumbled into two passions I never would have expected: Yoga, and Dancing. Yes I know those two things probably sound strange coming from a straight dude like myself, but that’s how it’s turned out. I’ve always been a runner, but this is the the year I learned that my love of activity transcended running. This is the year I realized I love movement! I love the human body! I love exploring what mine can do and cheering on other people as they explore what theirs can do. I’m coming to realize this year that I just love pushing my body to it’s absolute limits and training it to do more! It’s more than just a love of pushing myself to run longer distances and to run faster and to run longer distances faster. It’s more than just that; it’s a love of pushing myself to be stronger in the most unique of ways, which Yoga is great for. It’s a love of pushing my body, not just my legs, to be more precise and more graceful and more coordinated, things Yoga is good for but Dance is GREAT for. This is going to be the year I look back on and remember as the year my whole life changed from conventional old “I’m a runner” to the more exciting possibility of saying “I’m an athlete.”

I began dancing on January 24th of this year, and began practicing Yoga on January 27th. So, in case you can’t see, I’m new at both. Anyone who has ever started something as an adult can tell you that means there will be some interesting stories caused by such…amateurism (is that even a word? Haha oh well).

Therefore, today I am announcing the start of a new series. I’d like to promise it’ll run weekly, but I can’t: It’ll run when something eventful or crazy happens. Usually that’ll mean once a week but sometimes more and sometimes less. The series shall be called “The Newbie Chronicles.” I don’t know if I came up with that or if I heard it somewhere and just liked it, so my apologies if I stole it from anyone. But either way, I first had the thought of it this morning at Yoga. So I’m going to run with it…no PUN intended…hehehehe.

I’m going to get to work on “Part 1” of this series now. Look for it later under the category “My Health Journal.” Enjoy :).

Starting My Health Journal

ImageThis is my health Journal.

As I take Jazz Dance 1 this semester, I’m told that for part of our grade we have what’s called a “professionalism” rubric. It has cool stuff on it, such as being punctual and that kind of thing. There’s lots on there, and this is just one component.

So when I found out that I would have to do this, I had the idea to write it on here. Thus, a new header up on the top hopefully.

So here is my first post, for my kind teacher and for all of you who might ever be curious. This is how I’m starting the semester :). Enjoy

Feb 6th, 2014. Entry 1

These are my newest objects of….meh, semi-obsession. As a distance runner, I’ve been constantly trying to step up my game. At age 24, I feel like I’m getting to a point physically where I’m able to do more and push myself harder with less chance for injury than ever before. Runner’s World magazine, as well as a host of other sources that I’ve scoured over the topic, point me to that. But here’s the problem. Take a look around you, just pause and look around, and see if you can see a wall. Now if you’ve eventually looked back at this post and are reading this, well then good, I haven’t lost you. Now consider this. That wall you just looked at…meh, it’s probably more flexible then me at the current moment. If each of us had to touch the floor while standing straight up, it’d probably be easier for that wall do it than it currently is for me. I hope that’s an exaggeration, but it might not be.

So here’s the point; I need to work on my flexibility. I knew that starting 2014. Now, I’m doing something about it. This semester, I’ve begun to practice Yoga. Just a basic, generic yoga while I look up and research different types and figure out if I actually like this stuff. I formally began my practice on January 27th when I signed up for the the 30-Day Challenge at DoYouYoga.com with Erin Motz. She’s a beast, a completely awesome teacher who bases her practice on the idea that Yoga can be for everyone; not just those who want to take it as a religion and not just for those who have hours a day to practice. Her videos are all under 30 minutes so far, (though I’m only on day 11 yet). She’s great though. As I go into Jazz Dance 1 with my beloved teacher every Tuesday and Thursday, I am reminded of how far I have to go as an athlete, and it’s something I love. I see these girls, and even some of the other guys, demonstrate flexibility in a way it will take me some time to achieve. And I love it. As a runner I’m not world class, but I have it down more or less, and now it’s just a matter of fine tuning it for me. Improving my diet, doing core work and other things to strengthen muscles that support my running, and that kind of thing.

Yoga though, now THAT is a process. And that’s what I like about it. And as I start my ‘practice’ and find myself loving the peace and solidarity of it, as well as the link that a student can have with one particular teacher’s style, I find more than anything that I love the process of it all together. That’s what has me hooked on dancing as well. Three weeks into class, and two weeks into my Yoga practice, I’m finding, by reading all that I can online, that Yoga isn’t a “can” or “can’t” thing, and I believe dance is the same way. It’s all what your body is ready for, and just because your body isn’t ready for it yet, that doesn’t mean it WON’T ever be if you continue to work at it. I guess this topic probably merits it’s own blog post, so I’ll step back off of it for now. But in the meantime, just know that I’ve started to work hard to improve myself physically this semester, harder than I’ve ever worked before, and starting to do Yoga is just one way.

Another way I’ve begun to live a healthier lifestyle this semester is in the workouts I’ve been going to in my evenings. The K-State Recreation Center has a number of different group fitness classes throughout the week. Typically they run heaviest in the evenings, which is good because my schedule is wide open most evenings. So what I’ve begun doing this semester is that I’ve been going to multiple ones most nights. For instance, Monday night I’ve been going to Zumba, which is then followed up by “Ab Attack” which is then followed up by “Butz & Gutz.” Essentially this means that at least on that night I’m working out more or less nonstop for 2 and a half hours, the later hour and a half of which is core and/or glute work. So far, in the two weeks since courses started up at the place, I’ve done this twice out of three days a week that the offer a set of three courses back to back to back.

And yes, I said Zumba.

Perfect segue into this one. Way number like 3(ish) that I’m working on living a healthier lifestyle this semester is that I’ve begun going to Zumba classes even more regularly than the other classes at the rec. Zumba is a challenge for me, much in the same way that Jazz Dance is, because I didn’t grow up doing it and so I have no ability (yet) to watch someone conduct a movement or series of movements and simply replicate them, which is something dancing requires, be it Jazz dance or Zumba. But although I probably stink at it, I do find myself having fun. The other people are more than receptive to me being there, even though I’m a dude and most other participants in that class are women. They don’t seem bothered, except maybe by my excessive apologizing for bugging them. Other than that, the experience has been great, and I really feel like I’m starting to get the hang of moving with the music and being lighter on my feet now that I’ve gone to about six or seven of these classes. And already it’s helping in my Jazz Dance class actually. Today, as we did our movements, I felt like I was having more fun and was following the music better with my movements even when I wasn’t performing the movements perfectly themselves. I’m excited for this, because not only am I getting a great workout in it, but I’m starting to learn skills I’ve never learned. Like with Yoga, I’m enjoying getting to explore the capabilities of my body with movements I never thought I’d try. I’m getting to learn what it can do, what it isn’t ready for yet, and I’m starting to coax it into new directions of ability that I’ve never known about before Zumba, Dance, or Yoga; let alone actually tried. It’s exciting, and very fun.

Also offered at the K-State Rec complex is the option to get a personal trainer. Depending on how many one hour sessions you want with one, you can pay a predetermined amount per session and get one-on-one training with a personal trainer there. These are all certified folks, and are all students at varying levels (or recent graduates in at least one case). In my case I’m actually lucky enough to train with one of the Zumba instructors! Part of why I made the $200 investment (in my specific case) was the idea that besides pulling out all the stops physically this semester in trying to improve myself physically, I wanted the one-on-one help to ensure I didn’t hurt myself. With running, I know more or less what type of pain is “tired/fatigue” pain, and what is “Stop that this second or you’ll be out for months” type pain. Not true at all with my core, back, or any other set of muscles not directly associated with, running and/or my legs. So it’s helpful to have someone there that is certified and has the anatomy knowledge which I lack to look over my shoulder. Plus, she has been introducing new exercises to me I’ve never tried or thought to try from fear of doing them wrong and risking injury. All workouts take place in the rec itself too, so the environment is great for focusing on just going for it!

Lastly, the fact is that I’m taking Jazz Dance. Believe it or not, I took that class because I wanted to start preparing to audition for the K-State Singers (my school’s show choir) later on in my college years. Now, as I get more into it and see how classes work, I see how amazing a core workout (compared to what I expected, which was just “good”) it is. Every day we do some pushups, some sit-ups and lots of ab stuff, in addition to lots of stretches. I love it, and I may very well become a dance minor at the end of this semester because of all the things I’ve mentioned above. This class, with everything I’m doing this semester, is showing me that there’s something wonderful and beautiful to the idea of being okay with yourself and just exploring who you are physically. The more I do all if it, the more excited I get to do more of it.

Maybe I’ll take Ballet next semester….Naw….let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Lol. 😉

Thanks for reading… 🙂