Andry Rakotomalala
DJ, Instructor, Organizer, Dancer

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Making a Biblical Decision

I've reached a point in my life where I am truly happy with who I am and where I am going. Sure there have been some major obstacles, speed bumps and pain along the way but I am grateful for those experiences because they have shaped me into the man I am today. There is an incredible story that came about through this experience which I am working on to put on here as my testimony, but that’s for another time. I have thoughts related to making a big decision now.


I’m a senior in college. The adult life is just around the corner in a couple months and something I didn’t anticipate happened…I’m not sure of my career anymore. Go figure that would happen when I’m a senior right? Before, I was sure I wanted to become a Child Life Specialist working in either Riley Children’s Hospital or Payton Manning Children’s Hospital but that changed. Maybe it was because of how stressful I found working with children can be, maybe it’s how much energy they drain out of me, maybe it’s how I’ve seen through my internship that not every child is your stereotypical white wealthy healthy 2 parent family child. My internship showed me that families vary greatly, and not many of them healthy. The core being that the parents don’t realize that their action have a direct impact on their child which, though not being able to express themselves appropriately or understand the situation, they act out for attention. I love these children dearly, but I don’t know if I can work with children like this for the rest of my life without putting myself at risk.


Which brings me to my point about decision. This semester, I’ve been the best student I’ve ever been in my whole academic career, and planning ahead has been at the forefront of my accomplishments. I need to decide whether I want to go work for a year then go to Grad school or if I want to go straight into grad school. Even so, if I decide to work, what can a college graduate with a Bachelors in Family Science (not very well known) do that doesn’t involve working with children but that also fits my complex personality? If Grad school is the way to go, what would I want to get my Masters in? Both are hard questions I ponder.

My little sister Mirenty is now here at Anderson University. Her being here means I have to put my big brother boots and care for her when I can. Financially, I’m hardly able to support myself by living paycheck to paycheck, let alone support someone else. This is why I feel like I need to work for a year, so that I can establish a basis financially. I would build credit, save up for grad school, provide for my little sister when she needs it, obtain reliable transportation, and take the time to figure out when I want to do after that year of work. Grad school is a must in my mind because I do not want to limit myself if I have the opportunity to get strong credentials at a young age. Those are my reasons for wanting to work full time for a year, but the question is where.


The idea of continuing school after I graduate has appealed to me even though I do not like the idea of doing more school without a break. However, I understand that I am on a time limit and need to do what I can when I can. I’ve spent 5 years in college living paycheck to paycheck, making due with what I have financially. For once in my life, I want to spend more then just a summer feeling financially secure anytime I go anywhere. Going to Grad school however would save me time and I would be more competitive in the workforce after I complete my grad work. However, the question again is where would I go to grad school that is affordable for an international student and even when I go, what program would I want to go into?


I adapted a plan to my needs in making this decision. In the end, I must rely on God’s will for my life because Jeremiah 29:11 says I am in good hands. Whatever path is laid open before me is the one I must walk because I know He has made it possible for me. Even if I don’t want to take that path, the end result with be better then anything my human mind can comprehend. That I believe with my whole heart, so I decided to come up with steps to pray about it.


  1. Confess my sins and accept God’s forgiveness, giving me a clean slate. Anytime one lives in accordance to God’s will, they feel more connected to Him, allowing the lines of communication to be more sound. Besides, this is a relationship so why wouldn’t I try to be on good terms with God so that I can talk to Him more directly
  2. Understand that Jeremiah 29:11 means it. There is a plan for me when I have made my decision.
  3. I must pray for humility to accept whatever decision God says I should take. Maybe he wants to send me back home to be a dorm dad. Maybe he wants me to teach, maybe he wants me to stay here, whatever is decided is the path I must accept with a humble heart.
  4. I have to have faith and be patient in God’s timing. God knows when he will make things happen therefore I must be sure to accept that timing. I know He will help me understand why he took the time He did at the end result.
  5. I must not be afraid to present my prayer to God as often as needed. He will hear me and listen to what I want, but will take me where I need to be.


Always in Jesus,

Andry

My Soccer Philosphy 


A lot of my dance friends don't know this but on top of dancing, I also have a soccer club I'm the president of. I started this club after I played college soccer and wanted to just get people together just to play. It wasn't something I took seriously until I realized the potential of having a solid group of players who could actually play soccer well enough and still have fun! I also learned a lot about the kind of players I value on a competitive pitch. 


The way AU Blitz FC works is we meet up, usually do a short warm up full field jog then proceed to stretch. Its discribed as a co-ed recreational soccer club so as leader I try not to be super pushy about everything however I do believe warming up and stretching benefits everyone in the long run from getting injured which is why we do it. Then I split up the teams as eveningly as I can because since everyone wants to play for fun, no one would enjoy it if a team was stacked. We play then do a full length run for a cool down then stretch. Finally, I started this new thing where everyone shoots a PK. Its pretty much a competition against yourself. If you score, you're good to go and if you miss, you wait until everyone has a taken a shot and shoot again. You go until you make it. Its kind of a battle against yourself to prove that you can do it. 


Having played soccer all my life, I've realized there are some things I value in a soccer player. One of them is hard work. Every so often you will have a player who jukes 3 people, loses the ball, then forgets about defense and just starts walking back. I don't like that, which is why I try my hardest to get the ball back if I lose it. If I lose the ball, I feel like I'm leaving my team mates up to dry because they're a man down so I book it back there to help if not get the ball back. Playing with or against other players who are the same way makes some sweet sweet soccer! Another value that I hold dear is trust. As a team, no one person is more important then the other. Each player is crucial for the game, so you have to trust the guy next to you to either back you up or make the right decision when they have the ball, Whether its the easy pass, a through ball or taking a shot. Trusting your team mate is critical for a team to win because possession is key in soccer. Passing them the ball and trusting them to make the right choice is super important. Finally, the last value I hold dear is one of the hardest to find and thats honor. To find an honorable player on the pitch is like looking for a couple who actually spends time with their friends instead of each other 24/7 at a private christian college ( :p ) lol By honor, I mean they will respect the game rules but still play hard. They will be honest if they have a hand ball or help someone up if they knock them down. If they lose the ball, they won't make an excuse to their couch/team mates but just work hard to get it back. An honorable player isn't lazy to get to their position nor do they degrade the game by playing dirty. There is a distinction from playing hard and playing dirty. One of them still keeps the safety of another player in mind while the other seeks to destroy them. Honor on the soccer pitch is the most valuable asset for me. Those who don't have hard work ethic, are not trust worthy, or have no honor may be great players, but my favorite people to play with and agaisnt are those who have these values because they are the best example of a great soccer player. 

My Life/Dance/Soccer Story 


So whenever I meet new people, they ask me where I'm from, and I always say Madagascar, but its a bit more complicated then that. A lot of people automatically assume that I spent my whole life either here in the states as in moved here when I was super young and been here ever since or have lived in Madagascar all my life. This is false and since you're all my friends, I wanted to tell you all about my Life, Dance, and soccer history. 


I was born in Madagascar and grew up in different towns. Some of them coasts some of it in villages and we did this until my parents felt called to be missionaries in a small town called Garoua-Boulai. I was 5 years old when we made a leap to become missionaries in Cameroon where I spent 12 years of my life. Those 12 years, I lived in Garoua-Boulai for 7, Ngounbela/Tibati for 1.5 years, and Yaounde the capital for 4 years. I was in boarding school during tha time and always went home (to an anglophone area called Banso/Kumbo) for vacations. 


As far as dancing goes, I didn't start dancing until I starting going to school in Yaounde. The first two movies that I remember watching and feeling inspired were Dance with me and Swing Kids. I tried to practice and do all the routines in the movies, but wasn't too good at it lol Also they taught ballroom in my gym class at school which included foxtrot, waltz, swing (east coast) and two step. I loved it, but it wasn't a huge part of my life. In Cameroon, I fell in love with soccer. It was my life. To this day i still have body aches and pains from putting my body on the line just for the sake of my team. I wasn't the best player but I had a temper so whenever I lost theball, I was up and running trying to get it back before you knew it. Soccer was my world. I breathed it with every fiber of my being. Anyways, that was the majority of what i did when I was outside playing with my friends apart from running away from campus security at local colleges for tresspassing :p At my boarding school, i pretty much played soccer, did homework, played video games, played with my friends, and was a typical annoying teenager. Cameroon was also were I learned french, english, and pigden english. 


Most people ask, "Andry, you're from Madagascar but you have no accent." The reason for this was because ever since our family moved to Cameroon, they put my two sisters and I into an American school system. So I grew up around Americans. Still hung out with a bunch of nationalities but for the majority of the time, I grew up around Americans. Hence my lack of accent. 


Anyways, long story short it was high school so there was heart break, successes, memorable memories and yada yada but we all have those. What you guys wanna know is soccer and dancing. When I was in 10th grade in 07, our family moved to Kenya. I went to boarding school again but this time went from home since we lived in town. At this school, we weren't allowed to dance so I didn't ballroom dance or swing dance for a very long time. Again, all I did was play soccer. Loved it still. Competition was higher and players were better, but I had a great coach so I managed to compete at that level. Believe it or not you guys who play with me, I used to be faster and better but unfortunately, my senior year, I tore my ACL at a tournament (got the ball though :p ) so yeah. Was out of soccer for a couple months. Sucked. But helped me get my temper under control. This was when I realized that there is more to life then Soccer. I still danced during that time but this was Hip hop. There's a video floating around of me embarassing myself doing some moves on youtube lol So didn't dance for 2 years, didn't play soccer for my last year. This was teh first time I didn't play soccer since I was in 7th grade. 


Graduated, came to American in 09 and found swing dancing. First time I ever even heard of Lindy Hop. All I have been doing is east coast so I was stunned at Lindy hop. Took me weeks to get anything close to a swing out. But I wasn't too serious about swing dancing during that time because i was in a rather serious relationship and spent more time with her then anyone else. Sad i know. Whatevs I learned from it. So after my heart broke after thebreak up, I needed an outlet. I took dancing seriously and started traveling EVERYWHERE. I did everything to get away from Anderson (where I'm at now) so i wouldn't be in the same town as her and this meant going to exchanges and workshops. This is how my dancing started. I consider myself a guy who has been dancing for 2 solid years seriously. Competing and everything. Since then been doing it since with a couple breaks in between. My first big workshop was Dayton Swing Smackdown, first competition won was Rocktober 2012, second was Winter Blues Intensive (all on youtube) and thats it lol Not much else. So that is my dancing history. And now I love lindy hop, I love blues, and I love west Coast swing :) Thats pretty much my dancing history in a nutshell. I could go all day about that but can't forget soccer. 


I played 1 year of soccer for the AU soccer team but in my opinon, you're only as good as your team chemistry is. So that being said, I didn't like how some guys thought they were the best in the world. Also they kept putting me down because I was "international" and not "good enough". That year of soccer was not fun. It became a burden so i quit and created my own recreational soccer club which is doing pretty well now. I've always loved soccer  so I try to play it when I can. I greatly enjoy it. 


So yeah thats's my story. its 12:19am. I'm tired. I played soccer today and play tomorrow. Goodnight lol 

Dance Levels 

"Beginner": Welcomed Newbies 

dAs swing dancers and followers of Franky Manning himself, we have a joy that the world has yet to discover. That of swing dancing. The way we can do that is through inviting beginners and welcoming them into our scene. Every single one of us has gone through this stage. Typically, this is the east coast swing stage where we know the inside and out turn with our "wow" move being the pretzel lol At this point, we don't understand the dance world very well yet and are just getting into the dance. Also we have a tendency to be afraid of dancing with better dancers because we are self concious about our dancing and we can be wowed by anyone who knows a large number of moves regardless if done with proper technique or not. 

"This is fun": The Innocent Fun Dancer

Here the dancer is a lot less self-consious about their dancing. In whatever dance it may be, they know the basic footwork for the dance and know more than the generic moves for social dancing. At this point they have taken several lessons and are seen more as a regular at the swing scene they are attending. Something that is very common is the huge smile on their face when they're dancing! Everyone who is watching them is envious because they're having the most fun on the dance floor. Even though they're not the best dancers there, they are somewhat trumping them by how much fun they're having. Follows of all levels want to dance with them because they're more focused on the fun aspect of the dance than anything at that momement. This is what I believe is one of the funnest levels to be at in swing dancing. 

"I'm amazing": The Arrogant Dancer 

With all the times follows have asked him to dance, the dancer has let this go to his head. They are a presence at the scene. By now they have taken a decent number of classes and fairly understand the dance. They've gone outside of their scene to dance at several other scenes and know a good number of people in other scenes. They've given other students advice on dancing from what they know and they think they are too good to dance with beginners (blog about teaching critea to come) . One of the main things they try to learn are more moves than techniques for the sole purpose of trying to get people to watch. They're main concern is impressing people around them instead of focusing on the dance or their partner. The tendencies they have are teaching on the dance floor, doing "flailing" moves to try and impress people, poor floorcraft due to exaggerated moves, inability to take constructive critisim and finally they try attempt ariels on the social dance floor. They haven't been to an audition workshop yet but see themselves as one of the best dancers whenever they walk into the world. 

"I suck": The Hopefully Revelationized Dancer 

At this level, the dancer has just gone to their audition workshop and when they expected to be placed in Advanced or even expert, they were placed in intermediate, the one level above beginners. When at the audition workshop, they were placed there by professional nationally recognized instructors. This was also the first time they saw how high of a level dancers can be due to the competions and how advanced the dancers were. This is also the point at which they usually sit back and just watch a majority of the time because they feel they aren't good enough again. A sense of discomfort tends to envelope the dancer. They feel as through they were hit with reality that they really aren't as good as they thought. There are two paths the dancer could take in this instance. They could be in denial and decide to keep learning more moves to try to be better than the advanced dancers. The second option would be a cognitive choice to learn how to reach that level of advanced dancers. If the dancers chooses denial, they will stay at the arrogant dancer level except a bit more humbled. If they decide focus on technique instead of moves, they graduate to the next stage. 

"What is dance": Signs of an Intermediate/Advanced Dancer 

At this level, they decide they want to learn more about the dance and its culture. By learning about the big name instructors and the advanced dancers in their scenes, they learn that most advanced dancers didn't learn moves to get better, they spent a large number of their time working on their fundamentals. By learning this, they know now that they are to focus on their fundamentals in order to become a better dancer. Soon they adjust their personality to humility and modesty in their dance hence learning to say they have a lot more to learn. They start to travel a lot more and do their best to take in all the fundamental movements from the instructors and also spending a lot more time on one move every couple weeks than many in one week. They travel a lot more to learn more and through their humility and modesty, they start to be loved and recognized by the rest of the dance world as a nonelitest. 

"I'm the better dancer": Intermediate/Advanced Dancer 

By this point the dancer has but a crazy amout of hours into practicing their basics not only with their partner but also with themselves. They are comfortable enough now to jump into a jam circle and aren't crazy scared to be in a Jack n Jill. They have taken several workshops and classes from several nationally ranked instructors. At this point, in a subconsious attempt to keep their dancing up, they only dance with their friends or people they know. Sometimes they lose their humility and don't dance with beginner or when they do, they hide the discomfort they have. They are still focusing on their fundamentals but are now learning more moves and more technique. Beginners and intermediate dancers keep compliment their dancing they are thanksful and grateful. Still getting up in their heads. 

"I'm an ok dancer": The Advanced Dancer 

They've been complimented about their dancing more times then they can remember. Everyone in the scene knows they're an advanced dancer their through their teaching or just by their dancing. At this point everytime they're complimented on their dancing, they have up with ways to take the compliment but put it else where as well. Common responses are "its all thanks to my follow", "its all thanks to (name of person) they taught me a lot." ect. They are also advanced enought to dance with everyone of all levels and are willing to. This meaning they are skilled enough to moderate their dancing according to each person they dance with. 


What level are you at? I'm The Hopefully Revelationized Dancer. 

WARNING: THIS IS AN HONEST, EMOTIONAL BLOG. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Being African
Some of you may know this and some of you might not, but I'm not American. Shocker right? Everytime I meet someone new, they always assume I'm either American or grew up in America because of my lack of African accent. I don't blame them, its true, I don't have an accent. Reason for this is because I grew up around Americans my whole life. Right off the bat, yes I'll admit it, I've been very much Americanized, but let me explain my childhood to you a bit better.

I was born in Madagascar and only lived there for 5 years. My parents felt called to missions so we left our island and moved to Cameroon in west Africa. There, we spent 12 years, 7 of which was spent in one small town and the 5 others in different areas of the country. By this time, I had spent 4 years in my first high school, RFIS and was in 10th grade. My father finished his program in Cameroon and was called to Kenya so I left what was the closest thing to home for me to live in Kenya. Until then I was a boarding student living in a dorm from 8th grade to 10th grade and going back to living with my parents in Kenya was a hard adjustment. RVA was the high school I attended while in Kenya for 2 years where I made some wonderful friends but also where I was isolated from the local community to a great extent. I did live apart from everyone else but I was always on campus doing things with my friends. Finally, I graduated from RVA and came to Anderson, Indiana. I'm going on my 4th year here which will be the second longest time I've spent in one place I guess.

The point of me telling you all of this is so you can understand my exposure to American culture. The reason why I have no accent is because ever since I was young, I was constantly speaking english and emerced into the American culture through the school system and the friends I had. Although this may be true, you would see a completely different side of me if you saw me with one of my all time bros, Moses Clark. When in Cameroon, I learned Pidgin (spelling?) english, a dialect spoken in the anglophone (haha) part of Cameroon. My room mate at RFIS, Ian Zimmerman, also spoke pidgin so the three of us had wonderful years! The comradery, brotherhood, and loyalty we had to eachother was more than any Frat. They were and are my brothers for life. When we get together and we start talking, its a different world. America may be the soil we stand on but our heart are back home. My time in Cameroon was the most rewarding tiem for me culture wise. I was that one "chinese" kid who ran around bare foot with my local friends and everyone in town knew it. You could always tell a new face in the area because of how they would stare at me whenever my friends and I would be walking through the area to play soccer or visit someone in the market. By that point, i was very much socially ackward and strange because I hadn't competely understood the American culture yet, but every year that i was emerssed more and more into it, the more I adjusted to where I'm at now. Some friends such as Savvanah Smith have always noticed that I do things differently because of her famous saying "Its cuz you're foriegn." This is so very true.

All that shishkabob was to point out why I sound the way I do and to explain why I do some things differently than you do. Of course, I know people who do things like walk around bare foot just like me sometimes and aren't African, and I meet people who have no problem drinking tea/hot chocolate out of a bowl; everyone is unique. Some of the things I do and say aren't because I'm wierd, its because I'm different, and those with an open mind should be able to understand that. Just because someone eats something, does something, reacts to something differently than you do doesn't mean they're wierd, its just hat they have learned it in a different place than you have. Key thing to remember: there's more to anyone than you may think so don't be quick to judge and call them wierd.

"You can take the child out of Africa, but you can't take Africa out of the child."

Ok the emotional part is over now :) Take a deep breath, breath out, and relax :) (thats mainly for me but you can too lol) Laters guys!

Dance Class Ettiquette 

To my wonderful Lindy Hoppers and Blues dancers...hello :) This one is for you guys! Now I don't claim to be the a master in the art. Hell I consider myself an Intermediate dancer at the most, however I did want to touch base on a topic that has been on my mind for a long time. I've searched for a blog where they spoke specifically about this but couldn't really find one (or maybe I'm just not good at searching? :p ) So, lets get to it!!

As I've started to travel to more dance workshops and more lessons by wonderful instructors, I've noticed several things. 1- there is always that one student who thinks they're more qualified than the instructor, 2- everyone learns in a different way and at different speeds, 3-  most dancers are impatient to learn the next "move". 

As far as those three points go, it may differ from scene to scene or depending on what level the instructors are teaching. Catering to all the points however is the following statement I've heard from many instructors: "Don't do it, just watch for now." I'm sure a lot of you have heard this as well. Personally, I can understand why the instructor wants us to just watch what is being taught before actually doing it because we would see what to aim for, and they will ask all of us as a class to do it as well. This not only helps us to shoot for something but when the whole class is doing it, they can in turn watch us to see what we can change in order to reach wherever they are trying to get us to! I really like that idea very much and have tried to incorporate it when teaching at my home scene, but I also understand that, along with point 2, some people learn differently and just have to try to do it while the instructor is doing it. Thats fine, I'm not here to correct or point out any wrong thing anyone is doing, I'm only stating that as a personal thing, I prefer the don't do it just watch for now approach.  What are you guys' thought about it? Feedback is more than welcome!!

This brings me to a point that I haven't fully wraped my head around yet. Some instructors don't mind it, others prefer that you stay on course. The point I'm trying to drive at here is only doing the move/technique that the instructor asks you to do instead of going ahead of the class. I've had some instructors where they want you to go ahead if you can and others who want you to stay with what they ask you to do in order to help the class as a whole. I can understand both views though! To let them go ahead of the class if they know the move will show the instructors that the students are ready to move on and its easy, well, kinda. To ask them to take it slow and stay with what they are asking you to do is to see if anyone is doing anything out of habit that could be changed for more efficency in their dance. So I guess it really depends on the instructors. When I'm taking a class, even if I know the move, I automatically just go as far as the instructor asks because time and time again when I did, I realized something I have been doing differently the whole time that I could have changed. Again, personal choice. No bashing of anyone's style of learning intended. This section of the blog was for all the points put together actually. Usually, unless they are truly advanced (blog on this subject alone still to come), they are usually the ones who want to move faster and go beyond the move being taught (points 1 and 2).  Can't wait till I write my own randition of "What makes you an advanced dancer in the eyes of an Intermediate dancer!" Stuff to look forward to haha 

And thats it guys! Hopefully I didn't injure anyone with my thoughts about this! lol And for real, I looked for an article on this topic but couldn't find one. All I found was dance etiquette on the dance floor and not teaching on the dance floor, ect you guys know what I mean lol And for those of you who don't, click below! This is a perfect overview of it! What the heck, even if you already know the etiquette stuff, check out! Its pretty detailed! Shout out to Michigan peeps on this one! See you guys next time!  

http://www.swingdetroit.com/danceetiquette.html

FIRST BLOG EVER! Exciting! Read on if you dare :p 

Here is when I say what I feel. Well at the current moment, I live a rather interesting life. My schedule consists of me getting up, going to classes, going to work, then either running one of the two clubs I'm in charge of or going to bed, doing it all again tomorrow. I have NO down time to myself. Literally. The reason why my life is this way is because of a hobby I picked up..which is swing dancing :) If you guys don't know what swing dancing is, check out this link right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlTVJ9fOmro

Now I am no where near that good, but as I'm sure you've remarked after watching it, its pretty darn fun :) There are events where dancers meet all over the country and those are the events that I try to get to on a regular basis! Its addicting! This Thanksgiving weekend is going to the best first weekend in a very long time that I will be here in town and not traveling somewhere! Hence why I am always gone! The picture along with this blog is the sensation I feel when I think about my life! You ever have those moments when you're staring at a beautiful creation and you just can't help wondering about your life? I know I do it all the time! Thats why I liked this picture :) Provokes thought :p Anyhow, this is all just to remind me that I need to get some more organization in my life through no organization...if that makes sense. I need to make myself have NOTHING to do in order to revitalize myself. This is why I'm very excited about Thanksgiving break when I can just chill and relax. 


Also In case I forgot to tell you, if you are reading this, this blog is just mainly for me to vent. I will be writing whever comes to my mind here. No specefic topic or speciality, just times when I feel like I need to speak for me to speak out. So this is all primarily for myself, with grammer and spelling mistakes and all :) Anyhow, we'll see what becomes of this!