Ballroom Dancing

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Moments of Joy and empowerment

charlene proctorThis month’s Pro-Am Spotlight is the Reverend Doctor Charlene M. Proctor who tells us how to take the positive path, in the ever changing world of ballroom dancing.  In 2015, she was a U.S.D.C. National Rising Star Smooth Champion and an Ohio Star Ball Rising Star Smooth Champion. Her reflections on how to manifest success while finding joy in the ballroom will help you on your own personal dance journey.

Life Outside of Dance

I have a very close family.  My children Jason, Vaughn, and Shenghan Bai are all recently or nearly out of college, and my husband Tom Proctor is at the helm. Currently, he is an L-39 formation pilot and instructor, and flies many aircraft for the World Heritage Air Museum. My house in Michigan is Grand Central Station.  It is constantly filled with family, friends, dance partners, coaches, employees from all of our companies, (both Tom and I moved our businesses home several years ago), along with our Brittany Spaniel, Proctor’s Bird Buster aka, Goo Goo Baby.

charlene proctorMy father Rudy “Ludomill” Chalko, (Milovník Ľudí) was Ukrainian. None of my relatives from my dad’s side spoke English, they spoke Slovak, and my mother was one of seven Silesian children.  The family base was in Chicago. Food was a symbol of prosperity and love, and the center of family gatherings. Hence, I have a kitchen the size of an aircraft carrier because it is where all our silly stories are shared, our drama, dreams, joy, politics, and sorrows.  It is where the grocery list resides, which is always a mile long because we never know who is staying for dinner. Proctor Family Translation: Cook like you mean it and think big, which is one of our family’s practical philosophies that applies to all areas of our lives, including ballroom dancing.

Entering the World of Ballroom Dance

charlene proctorMy mother, Veronica Margaret Victoria Czerná, encouraged my brother and I to be musicians, and explore the arts.  We were raised on a heavy dose of musical theatre, ballet, acting classes, and we traveled to many competitions with our jazz band and orchestra when we were young. We were taught to have an incredible work ethic, strive to be educated, provide exceptional hospitality at home, and appreciate our good fortune to be in America. As an adult, I was an athlete in a number of sports, and raising two boys seemed to put me on the football or soccer field.  As they matured, I went back to dancing.  I took lessons with Tom and then all of us at Fred Astaire Bloomfield Hills attended the Holiday Dance Classic nearly seven years ago. I was mesmerized by competitive dancing and that was it.

Getting Through Difficulties and Struggles

charlene proctorFrom the beginning, I thought it would be interesting to keep track of the amount of times (heats) I danced on the floor.  It became a habit after I was asked to calculate this for an article long ago. So, I kept track after each of the 103 competitions I have attended.  I have danced with seven different pro instructors, exactly 23,850 times.  When I walk on the floor, and question my abilities or feel my courage waning, it reminds me I have been there before, and most likely, will be there again, and all is well.

I’ve seen the inside of more hotels in the U.S. than I can remember, and I have been in airports for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, birthdays, family get-togethers, and anniversaries. There is personal sacrifice from being on the competition circuit all year, but it is the people and what you learn in relationships in the ballroom world that make the experience special.  When I’m 90 years old, enjoying nature and perhaps playing Mahjong and reminiscing about life, I will say it was worthwhile because of what I have learned. I’ve watched my colleagues and the professionals dance thousands of times, and still love the skill and art of ballroom dancing. When I go to a competition and walk into the vendor area, I’m excited to see the ballroom.  The sparkle is still there!

Preparing for a Day on the Floor

charlene proctorI always pray before I go on the dance floor, and I’m sure many people have seen me pray.  I’m always in the on-deck area when I do. I call forth the essence of Spirit and thank God for the love, light, and protection I am about to receive. I harmonize with Source, knowing I am protected and guided. I ask to be a vision and expression of grace on the floor. And I ask the same for others.

Empowering Moments

charlene proctorI remember dancing in San Diego when I was in bronze, and smooth was a relatively new style for me. I was leaning against the wall in the ballroom with five ladies: Two of them were top pros, a prominent smooth coach in the industry, and another competitor.  All of us were at least six feet tall, dressed in gowns, and we stood within inches of each other. Wendy Johnson walked by, looked at our line-up, grinned, and gave a nod of approval.  “Ah,” she said, “There are my American Smooth girls!”  It was a simple and empowering moment to be in such classy company. It felt great. One of the most endearing parts of our industry is the support of many coaches, who constantly encourage us to expand our dance vision. From their teachings, we strive to think like champions, and be that, no matter our level.  When they say “Job well-done!” after the competition, it feels magical.

 

Dance Challenges

I have danced with many different pro instructors over the years, and commuted thousands of miles for practice. Long distance arrangements are very challenging, and everything in our household revolves around The Dance Schedule.  I could not do this without the geniune support of my family.  Currently, I am dancing three styles with three different pros, in three cities: Viktor Tkachenko, Smooth (Fred Astaire Bloomfield Hills Michigan), Hayk Arshakian, Latin (Fred Astaire Wisconsin), and Igor Kiselev, Standard (Atlantic Ballroom, Baltimore). Each of these men bring a unique teaching and perspective to my life, and our team is very positive. Hammer Nutrition is our sponsor, and all of us are working to maximize our physical bodies in order to bring our best to the floor.

Inspiration to Keep Dancing

charlene proctorI enjoy the relationships, of course, and the hugs and humor when dance seems overwhelming.  Ray Rivers always says, “Everything is simple. Nothing is easy” and I am still learning to apply this philosophy after many years of practice and competing.  Patience is not my strong suit, and it has been difficult to switch pros so often, but lives and people change and I just have to accept that is another part of the experience. Over the years, working with my coaches has been one of the most consistent and enriching aspects of my dancing. Also, the welcoming vibe of the Fred Astaire family has been wonderful.

Last year I was invited to dance in the team match at Millennium, and by the end of the evening, those on the team who had been on the floor all day were dazed. Janice Gonzalez, who is one of the funniest people I know, kept me in stitches goofing around in the on-deck area that night. I laughed so hard at absolutely nothing, I think my dress split open at the sides. We were like silly children. Those moments in the ballroom, when we remember to play and be in the moment for the joy of it, are always among my favorite experiences at competitions. They remind us to be part of a greater community, no matter the score.  We can still have a good time when we don’t take ourselves too seriously.  Those occasions are good food for the soul.

Life Challenges

charlene proctorBecause of the amount of travel on the circuit and the numerous training hours, it can be difficult to keep my nutrition in check (yes, we all fall off the wagon at times). Sometimes I overdo it in all areas, resulting in injury or sheer exhaustion. Balance is a constant challenge. Moving up to the higher levels invites stress because it is yet another goal or milestone. The bar is raised to win, and it becomes more difficult.  All athletes go through periods of questioning their potential.  Like others, I wonder, “Have I reached my potential already? Is this as good as I’m going to get? Is it time to re-adjust my objectives and goals?” And so forth.

In our private lives, those who are outside of the ballroom dance world see what we do as a glamourous mystery, and often remind us to dance with joy. To ENJOY and take it all in at its fullest moments and be proud to be there.  To be FULLY PRESENT.  It is challenging when we establish a goal of being a U.S. Champion or winning a scholarship at a major event, and when it doesn’t happen, we must return home and get it in perspective. My mother is 92 years young now and in a wheelchair, and can’t attend any more competitions to watch me, but all the times she did, she said it was a privilege to dance. It’s truly special. That’s why it is important to get grounded after an event.  When I walk into the kitchen after being on the road for days and things didn’t go very well, words of encouragement from my family to keep striving toward my potential are what gets me back on the practice floor on Monday mornings.

Being an Ambassador

I am a Ph.D., an interfaith minister, and have five degrees.  I have studied in India, Fiji, written several self-help books and articles, and have done numerous programs to help empower women from all economic levels of life. I have done TV and radio shows on joy, positivity, manifesting abundance and prosperity, and I seek to teach others the importance of a positive outlook.  The challenge with ballroom dancing is that it comes from such a deep place inside of us.  It LIVES inside of us. Dance is emotional and heartfelt; it is a private place.  Thus, we tend to question our abilities, and we forget who we really are: we are spiritual beings here to learn and help each other evolve.

My greatest challenge in my ballroom career is to follow my own advice. To balance the joy of dancing with my athletic, competitive nature. I strive to be positive and affirm the best in myself even when the chips are down. Dance is not a quest for perfection, nor is a score a reflection of who you are as an individual. We can never dance perfect, there will never be a perfect round, or a perfect day on the dance floor. Adopting a champion state of mind, as Stephen Knight says, is projecting your inner soul outward and fusing the totality of everything you are at the moment and surrender to being present. That alone takes a whole lot of practice, both on and off the floor.

I choose to be an inspiration to people who are beginning their dance journey.  And I want to say to them that when we fall short of our own expectations, we cannot let it assault our positive self-image.  Dance is an experience that contributes to our own self-development as human beings because we are learning many lessons that have nothing to do with dance.  We are learning to express grace, pray for other’s success as much as our own, and be more loveable people.  We think we are learning the Jive but we may be learning discipline, or how to relate better to our pro, or patience, or math, or any number of other things. It is an interesting environment.  Overall, we must learn to be magnanimous and learn to manifest a positive vision of our own success, and help others do the same.

Dance Philosophy

charlene proctorTo be generous toward others is important.  It expands us. It makes us exceptional. It allows us to cherish one another and sets the tone for individual and spiritual growth. In such turbulent times where much of the world lacks peace and prosperity, we, in the ballroom world, can nurture our basic human desire to be loved and appreciated by bringing our own unique rendition of dance to the floor.  We truly are one musical body of light when we all get it right.

I do not ever forget to thank God for my ability to participate in the world of dancing.  Gratitude for everything I have in my life is ever present even after a hard day on the floor.char16  We must remember to dance with bliss, excitement, and celebration and fill ourselves with courage and joy. We must believe we have abundant talent and are fearless, powerful, confident, and strong. These are the empowering thoughts that make a champion and drive us collectively to success.

Many Blessings,

© Charlene M Proctor and The Goddess Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more affirmations, read The Women’s Book of Empowerment: 323 Affirmations that Change Everyday Problems into Moments of Potential.

DanceBeat releases our next Pro-Am Spotlight: Charlene Proctor.
Get Charlene’s incredible life story at www.dancebeat.com.Article: http://dancebeat.com/…/m-pro-am-s…/item/1270-charleneproctor

Charlene Proctor

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How do we walk through a challenge without fear?

Charlene Proctor

How do we walk through a challenge without fear? In the last 3 ½ years, I’ve been fortunate to have only had a pulled hamstring as a dance injury. But after limping home early from Holiday Dance Classic in Vegas, and the entire break dedicated to rest and meeting with good surgeons, I’ve learned that my feet are very angry. Lately, I’ve been thanking them for all the years they have given me, and for holding me up during years of competitive sports – sailing, squash, golf, skiing all over the world, and of course, ballroom dancing. Now, the bone spurs in my big toes and a host of other joint and tendon challenges in my feet and ankles are just too painful to carry on so it’s time to take a journey on another dance floor. When life shifts so dramatically, it’s usually perceived as a setback, but I’m not going to view it that way. There will be wonderful people to meet along the way and who knows? Maybe I’ll teach my physical therapist how to waltz. This is a time to practice the principles of positive thinking, and to remind everyone that 

I learned this from Sri Amma Bhagavan in India years ago, and during a prayer session and meditation with them over Christmas, I realized that there is absolutely no room in my consciousness for fear or sadness, only the energy and discipline to manifest a complete healing. I am moving forward… walking on sunshine, and going to beat this. In my mind, I already have.

© Charlene M Proctor and The Goddess Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more affirmations, read The Women’s Book of Empowerment: 323 Affirmations that Change Everyday Problems into Moments of Potential.

Feeling Supported

Charlene Proctor

 

Last weekend at Maryland Dancesport Championships, it occurred to me that most of the time we need to rely on faith to know we are supported and guided by the Divine. Lately, I’ve been doing my fair share of risky death drops, backbends, nosedives and dips at competitions. I plunge to the dancefloor without knowing if I will have a hard landing or wind up in a beautiful position in front of the audience or judges. Will Blake catch me? In two years he hasn’t dropped me once so we’ve had time to build trust.  I know if I do my job right, he will too, and all will be well. He will be there because I trust that on The Floor, he leads the way and is my means of support. This dance lesson has a spiritual dimension.  How many times in your life did you feel you were without support or guidance?  Were you in a situation that forced you to trust the Universe for a positive outcome? Did you learn to release the need to know every result and just let go?

The Divine is always our resource for support. Once we trust that the Higher Power works in us and through us always, we can relax, whether we are on the top of the world or going through tough times. All our experiences are for our benefit, and when we know we are supported, we can turn over the outcomes to God and let the learning unfold.  Often, it seems that missed opportunities or even painful challenges do not seem worthwhile but when we know we are truly supported in our journey, we can restDeath Drop easier and wait for the results.

The Higher Power is your rock, your resource for love and support, your professional helper and partner in all things.  When you resonate with this wisdom, you will be more open to receiving the support you need to guide you toward the best and most productive outcome imaginable. You are never without guidance, no matter if opportunities are flourishing or if it seems they are passing by you.

Next time you are ready for your own version of a tango trick at work, home, or in any other area of your personal life, remember to trust God first and all else will follow perfectly.

Dance Blessings,

Buy The Oneness Gospel, Charlene’s new award winning book Click here

Dance With Joy

dancebeat4X6-1-ohio6115With the advent of the new year, I’m reflecting on all my experiences from the ballroom dance world. It was less about winning, more about dwelling in joy and gratitude, and learning to invite a spiritual exchange with the Divine.

The purpose of the entire universe is to live. Because life must live itself, consciousness has an experience through each one of us. And joy is “loving engagement” in life, a very beautiful expression.  This is a state of total awareness of what is, in the present moment.

Being present is to be externally and internally aligned with your purpose in that moment. It is to feel aligned with life and rejoice in your aliveness.  There is no worry or fear, only room for joy. I thought about this countless times when I was on the competitive dance floor during my national tour. I took plenty of time to be fully present and sink myself in gratitude – for my healthy body, for the music, and for simply having an opportunity to be there.

The purpose of being on The Floor was not to score higher than the next competitor nor win another trophy.  It was a place to practice the expression of both joy and gratitude, and through dancing, learn to establish an energetic flow with the universe. Dance invites us to awaken to a greater trust in the Presence’s spontaneity and creativity.  This is the moment when we actively participate in life as a co-creator with the Divine.  A good waltz or tango can drive the point home because I noticed I was always more successful at winning when these points were aligned.charlene proctor

How can we take these ideas off The Floor and put them to use in our daily experiences? Practice by slowing down. Take a moment to feel where you are.  Sometimes there is no other reason for doing something than just being. Joy is simply experiencing what is in front of you, like smelling a delicious dessert, playing a sport you love, or resting your gaze on beautiful scenery.  When simple acts become enjoyable experiences, you live joyously.

I don’t think I’ll give up my ballroom dancing this year, but use it to observe life from a different perspective. Hopefully, it will allow me to teach some spiritual lessons along the way!  I don’t know what opportunities are on the horizon, but whatever is presented to me I think will be a result of being aligned with joy and gratitude for all life has offered me in 2012.

Every Blessing,

Read about my journey in Dance Beat News

Click here to view The Oneness Gospel Book Trailer and a lesson on suffering.

See John 15:9-17 for instructions on loving and dwelling in joy.

A Joyful Journey Continues to Unfold

This year, dancing with Blake on the ballroom circuit has been a journey with many ups and downs, but mostly, a year full of happy surprises.  All over this beautiful country, we have met amazing people and have had an opportunity to experience something totally unique. Often in life, when we decide to make a commitment to excellence, and put our passion and energies into a specific goal, the Universe has something better in store for us, when we align our intentions with joy. This has certainly been true for us.

We are coming down the homestretch on the competitive dance season with 4 months to go, and hope to finish first on the World Pro-Am DanceSport Series Leaderboard. Who would have thought we would place so well?  At the moment, we are holding first place rankings in all styles for the Region Four Team Scores as well as the DanceSport series. The DanceSport Series includes ballroom competitions across North America. Points accumulated during each event count toward a national ranking during the course of one calendar year. Additionally, our scores have helped to push our studio, Birmingham Ballroom, to the top of the list, another wonderful surprise.

By December, will have attended over 26 competitions in 2012 to achieve our goal. We’ve often laughed about this, having been road warriors who are frequently stuck at airports on holidays or delayed in traffic. Being on the road so much, there were days we didn’t know what city we were in or where we were heading next.

Dancing together for two years, we recently took inventory of all our numerous awards, a Triple Crown Championship in our division, and even a few memorable train wrecks (translation: forgetting your open choreography, which makes a two minute routine seem like an eternity.)  Despite regular physical injuries, missing our families, and stepping on each other’s toes more times than can be counted, we’ve performed on the competitive ballroom floor nearly 10,000 times. For better or for worse, it’s been a year to remember.

Winning the leaderboard, coupled with our shared goal of placing first on the Global DanceSport Series and the Dancers Cup Tour, the remaining two of the three national competitive ballroom dance circuits, would be a dancing grand slam.  Since we’ve competed in all three series, we thought as long as we were fit, and having fun, we might as well go for it. Every time we walk out of the dancefloor, we continue to put joy at the front of our agenda, and will remember to inspire others to do the same. And who knows what will happen? I hope you will hold us in your heart, and maybe visit us on the road during my Dance Sabbatical in the next few months. I’ll let you know how our journey is going, and what we’ve experienced! Follow our progress here and at facebook.com/charlene.m.proctor

Every Blessing,

With Larry Dean at The Florida State Dancesport Championships