Mr. R is growing on me. I feel a bit guilty because I’m starting to bond with him more than Teach #1. Yikes! Mr. R is more open with positive feedback. He also tells me when to cut it out. Maybe this is the difference between a Russian and an American teacher? He’s my first non-American dance teacher. Hmmmm.
Rumba. Connection of hands. Pressure needed to help me follow better and to create the elasticity between us. Under arm turn with two pivots! This is the sort of thing that gets me giddy because I’m such a nerd. Forward, diagonal, pivot, diagonal, straight, pivot, side? Something like that. First pivot kind of weird because it’s right under his turning arm. Mr. R is average height. I’m still used to dancing with 6’3″ Teach #1. It’s a bit claustrophobic under there. The crazy amount of pivots I did was satisfying, though.
We did a bit of Cha Cha review. He reminded me to hold the 1 because that’s where all the moves come from. Then my foot started acting up so we moved on to Salsa. For some reason, Salsa didn’t bother my foot. Every lead has their own spin (pun intended) on Salsa. It’s very interesting to get to know them all. Mr. R does a spin where he reaches around my body mid spin to grab that same hand and spin me out again. I didn’t know what he was reaching for the first few times. When he finally clarified, he said, “What did you think I was reaching for! I hope you weren’t thinking I was some sort of creep!!” Ha! I had to remind him that my personal space issues get checked at the door with my street shoes – most days.
There were a few brief Argentine Tango reminders. He told me that to dance Argentine Tango properly I need to forget everything I’ve ever learned about dance. It is its own entity. More work on staying with chest and giving him pressure in the arm as well as pushing into his leading hand on my back. In case you were wondering, this is hard.
Mr. R said something that was interesting to me about myself. He said that I seem to love learning technique. To be honest, I’ve never thought about what I like best. Teach #1 seems to just teach technique to me without saying why (not that I asked). It makes sense, though. Some people take four lessons and they’re swinging their hips, flipping their hair, and are able just let loose – be confident. I don’t have that quality and find it difficult to fake it. I find my confidence in knowing that what I do, I do correctly. Then I can relax a bit and enjoy the freedom of dance. Interesting that this topic was just brought up by The Girl With The Tree Tattoo this week.
Toward the end of my lesson, Mr. R lamented how quickly my lesson goes by. A little imp prompted me to ask if this was good or bad. Then the complement came. He told me that I am at such a high level for the amount and pacing of my lessons and that there is so much he wants to teach me because I can grasp several concepts in one lesson. Not all students can do that. He’s very good at making a girl feel special. He’s also trying to steal me from Teach #1. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know this is a vicious game with polite smiles to the customer. I see the whole thing and know exactly how I’m going to handle it. Since this has turned into a love triangle of sorts, I’m planning to milk it for all its worth. I’ve never been part of a love triangle before, so it only makes sense to absorb their best teaching and enjoy the complements. I may have terrible body image issues, but I’m still a female, and as such, love compliments. Feel free to tell me how awful I am.
Please, if you think I’m terrible for letting two men fight over my lesson money, let me know. If you think I’m weird for enjoying technique, you can tell me that, too. I’m on a dance complement high and can take it today. What differences have you all noticed between American and non-American dance teachers?
This is nearly a week late because life happened before editing was finished.
The new secretary at Studio #1 didn’t know that Mr. R isn’t my primary, so I got a surprise this past week. I’m not too upset (this is a lie – internally I’m screaming and stamping my feet like a two year old). The logical side of my brain tells me it’s good to get different perspectives on my dancing. I went with this mature perspective for the sake of appearances. Adult hissy fits are unattractive.
Mr. R admits that he is still getting a feel for how I move so he can choose the things he wants to work on. Likewise, I’m still getting used to his teaching. He caught a few things that I need to improve on. In Rumba I need to glue my thighs together in cross body so I pivot easier. We also worked on arm styling. I didn’t have much before this lesson, to be honest. I’ve just gotten out of the T-Rex arms phase! The style he taught me doesn’t make me uncomfortable. Teach #1 was trying to get me to be too sexy. I don’t feel/look/desire to look overtly sexy. When Mr. R suggested I do that, I told him it makes me want to giggle manically in embarrassment. I just feel silly. Instead of giving me a pep talk about how I should feel better about myself, he just said. Don’t do it, then. How simple was that. Maybe I’ll start using my arms now that some of the pressure to be something I’m not is gone.
Tango. (Warning: my brain doesn’t always work in complete sentences) Two things to remember. Number One, I need to grip his thigh between mine better so he knows I’m in position for the next step. My mind has to process: Yes, there is a strange mans leg between yours. You signed up for this. Get a grip. Number Two, when he leads to promenade, my left foot needs to turn with my body. It is more comfortable this way. And Get a Down There. Use those quads! You do squats for a reason! We also had fun doing a very sassy under arm turn. I’ve always don’t it pretty basic, but now it’s: Fan, step point, step swivel, step step close. Make sense? That first swivel makes a huge difference.
Mr. R loves some Argentine. Notes to self. Turn out feet. Don’t bend knees – this isn’t smooth! Stick bum out “like a duckling”. I kid you not. He wants my butt sticking out like I’m a duck. Not the visual I usually think of when I think Argentine Tango, but it was effective. Having my bum stick out helps with the chest move, body move, feet move last phenomenon.
I’m starting to really feel good about Mr. R as a teacher. He’s given me a lot of great things to think about and, hopefully, execute in my dancing. A good foundation is so important in dance, but also in all learning. I hope these small technical details are going to pay off later.
Showcase lesson went well, if well = my head may explode. They keep telling me that this is an easy routine. I can’t imagine what a hard one looks like. Plus, I have a serious case of performance anxiety already. I know it’s not until next month, but the panic sets in early. What was I thinking?!?!
Time for tea. Happy dancing, everyone.
My first lesson back didn’t go quite as planned, but ended up being just what I needed. I received a call from the studio after I was already in the Big City (2 hour train ride each direction). They had to send Main Teach to the doctor for suspected pink eye. They gave me the option to reschedule, but I was already in the area, so I took option number two, a lesson with one of the new instructors. There were three instructions free and willing to teach on standby. Who could pass that up? So off I went to meet Mr. R. Mr. R was a manager at another studio in the franchise and has now come to the Land of Endless Perky Bottoms. Since we’ve never danced together and he’s never seen me dance before, it was a typical review lesson with a few nuggets of input.
Since my limited funds only allow one private lesson a week, I learn only American Style, plus Quickstep. Rumba, Foxtrot, and Waltz were just review. I received positive feedback on my hip motion and frame. Tango he got me up to speed with a few more steps. That was encouraging. He thought that despite my roughness I was ready for a Fan upgrade. Then we reviewed Viennese Waltz because I love it. By this time I was sweating profusely with cheeks the color of lobster. My stamina is in the toilet. I requested some Cha Cha, just to see how it would go. Heck, I’d already sweat through all my clothes and looked like a crazy, drunk Irish girl. Why not? Obviously, I was feeling pretty good with Mr. R, or I wouldn’t have asked. It went well. We got yelled at by lady manager for too much footwork on my first day back, which made me feel like a rebel. Me, a rebel. I love that feeling! We worked quite a bit on Argentine tango since I hadn’t danced it in a while prior to my injury. I tend to forget how much focus following takes during Argentine Tango. Mr. R didn’t lead anything crazy, but it takes so much brainwork. My nuggets of information came during this section on the lesson. He reminded me to stay chest to chest, not to the side like in smooth. This is so much more intimate, which is probably why I need to focus on it. He had me keep my knees together as much as possible and to follow first with my chest and then work my way down to my feet last. Interesting stuff to ponder. We ended with a bit more rumba. He threw some steps and combinations at me that I was unfamiliar with. When I mentioned to him that I had never encountered these particular figures, he told me knew that, but that he likes to see whether people are figure learners or dancers. I classified as the latter because I followed correctly even though I was unsure. Just the boost I needed and another thing to think about.
Maybe next week I’ll finally have a lesson with Teach #1. I miss him. First dance teachers always hold a special place in your heart.
Later in the week, at Studio #2, I made my song and dance selections for my first-ever showcase! Because I’m nuts, I chose to do a Quickstep to Dr. Wanna Do sung by Caro Emerald. The process of choreographing is interesting. Kind of frustrating for the student who is confused as heck as things change minute to minute. It’s going to be very cutesy, which is just my style.
There was a point where my insecurities made an appearance. Lifts. It was necessary to have “the talk” with Teach #2. There’s one brief moment where I have to give him part of my weight. He grabs my leg bends me backwards. I’m a heavy gal. Even when I’m not overweight, I’m a solid armful of woman. I have a fear of maiming someone with that lifting nonsense. Logically, I know men are strong, and that he wouldn’t put it into the routine if he couldn’t do it, but there’s an emotional aspect to this that screams, “Nooooooooooo”!!! So this brief lean is going to make or break me right at the start. We’ll see what other things happen to this routine as things get moving. I’m slightly apprehensive because he’s going to win any argument. It’s the way it goes. Happy dancing!