Foray Into Silver

This past week I had a coaching lesson with one of the other studio managers. It was kind of weird because I still have I’m JUST beginning silver smooth Bambi legs. All the other coachings I’ve had I at least knew a bit of what I was doing before going into the coaching. It ended up fine, of course. They know how to teach and I’m way to hard on myself. Teach began by mentioning to this coach that I wasn’t sure I was ready for silver, and, funnily enough, she told me that some students are termed forever bronze and I wasn’t one of them! I thought I made up that term all by myself. Guess I’m not as clever as I thought.

We started with Foxtrot because that’s the only dance I’ve done any silver in at all. To be honest, I can’t even remember all the things she tweaked. What ended up staying with me is that I need to stay with my partner better. It’s interesting because I have a reputation as a good follow, but I’ve become so used to bronze syllabus and so in tune with Teach’s lead that I was only half heartedly following. I didn’t need to devote energy to it because I already knew what was coming. Now I have to think about it again. She talked about how I would be just a moment shy of late in my slow, but it’s not really late. To wait for teach to initiate the final movement. She announced me much improved by the end of Foxtrot. This was one of the times I actually felt the difference, so , YAY!

We moved on to Tango. I have not had the honor of being exposed to basic Silver Tango timing yet. That wasn’t too difficult to understand and it really makes it sharper and sexier. (I can’t believe I typed that) But the figures are ridiculous! Teach and coach were trying to figure out which figure they wanted to teach me and they all looked crazy difficult. Each figure takes an entire wall! (Feel free to laugh at my nieveity) I finally had to interject my opinion and they taught me the easiest of the figures. Basically it introduced me to a fallaway type of step with a ronde. Then I had to learn how to ronde correctly… You get the picture. More on Tango later in my non-coaching lesson.

Coach calls Viennese Waltz the Venomous Waltz. Seriously, I love this woman! She didn’t have much to say here, but she helped me spot better so that I wouldn’t get as dizzy. I used to be better at this and I don’t know what happened. Maybe it’s because VW is my least practiced Smooth dance. All good reminders though.

I really liked working with this coach. I’m not going to give her a name because I can’t think of one and I don’t know if I’ll ever work with her again. I will if I can though because she’s funny and very real. She has to be the only chunky dancer I know. After our coaching she went and bought a pizza to chow down on. I kid you not.

My lesson with teach followed the awesome coaching. We reviewed everything from the prior lesson and then he focused on the dreaded CBM – counter body movement. Where your upper body and lower body seem to be going in different directions. Where you look like a wringed out towel or a barber shop pole. Nice, huh? One of the big concepts of Silver. Tango is where he brought it in to. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like going straight, to the left, to the right and doing it pigeon-toed all at the same time. That’s all I can say about that. Let’s leave it at this being something that’s going to take a lot of time.

On to emotions and feelings. Yuck. I’m ok with being Silver now. I think I needed it. Look at how much I have to talk about now. But I’m struggling with being the baby fish again. It was nice to be a shining star at the top of bronze. Coachings were little tweaks to arm styling and fingers within that styling! Now it’s about figures and timing and steps again. I can’t even do them in proper frame. It’s a bit humbling. Teach tried to make me feel better by telling me that I’m one of only five students who dance at a silver level in that particular studio. It does help to know that this studio doesn’t graduate just anyone. If you don’t meet specific  technique minimums (I’m not sure what they are) then you don’t move up.

The other thing I’m struggling with is related to money, of course. First, my jealousy is getting the better of me again. I hate it when being jealous of others takes joy from my own dance journey. It’s not their fault, it’s mine. It seems that everyone can dance more than me. They take so many lessons. They progress quicker with all the coachings and lessons and competitions. I’m friends on Facebook with several and they’re always doing something. Travel, competing, etc. My green monster is in full swing. Second, I don’t think I’m going to have enough to compete this year. Several big bills have come my way and I’m not going to be able to save enough for dance. I’ll continue with my lessons, but no more. I have to let Teach know next lesson. I’m not too torn up about that, though. Team Match is in August. I will only have 12ish lessons under my belt in silver by that point. I’m not sure I’m going to feel comfortable enough to go out in front of people in that amount of time. Not if you include bumping up my Rhythm as well, which Teach says is a possibility. I’m not completely broken up about competing because of the lack of practice, but it is a bit upsetting because it’s good to have something to work toward. Well, it is if you have the time and money to make it happen.

Such is my life right now. Wishing everyone well.

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New Old Home?

I’m sure you’ve all been on the edge of your seats waiting for this blog. I know it’s been a long time coming. I started about 5 posts and never finished any of them. I just couldn’t get my thoughts together. So here’s the short story. I finished at my studio and went to where Teach is and we’re together again. I was tired of the commute to NYC and just tired of NYC in general – the people, the prices, just everything. If you want more of the low down please keep reading.

I’ve cut my travel time in half. I had a 3 hours door to door commute to the NYC studio. The drive to the new studio is 1 hour 35 minutes. Yes, it’s a long time, but not nearly as long as going to NYC. The studio is in an adorable little town in NJ. Parking is free and plentiful (at least early in the afternoon when I went). It was nearly blissful.

The studio itself is decorated just the same as the studio I go to now because it’s owned by the same people/corporation. The size of the floor is smaller and a different shape, but I think I could still learn how to dance there. (please notice sarcasm) They have another small room with a barre for kids classes and lessons.

Being back with Teach has been… interesting. When I left NYC I was starting to get used to Clyde. His choreo was interesting and full and I felt like I was really dancing. I recognized none of the steps, but it was nice to follow and simply dance without thinking about every little technical thing that clouds my mind. Going back to Teach was a bit like having an intense, wild affair and then your husband allows you back. I wish I could think of a different illustration. Needless to say, there’s a little sparkle lacking.

Teach also has other responsibilities being the manager of the studio. He doesn’t teach nearly as much and he’s required to schmooze a bit more. I’ve found our lesson start times are a little loose because he has the responsibility of greeting all the students and signing up everyone for more lessons, etc. He always gives me my full time, but I’ve waited in the corner for 10 minutes past start time waiting. He’s a talker.

Yesterday’s lesson marked a milestone for me. I’ve been very vocal about how I’m Forever Bronze. I don’t feel like I’m in good enough shape or a good enough dancer to move on. I also feel like I want a good foundation and that will help me later on. Plus, the S word implies something. It implies you know what you’re doing. I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing yet. Other than asking whether Clyde moved me up to Silver (*gulp*) yet on my return to him, Teach has been good about not saying the S word, but implying that Clyde may have been teaching me those kinds of routines and throwing some S level patterns at me every once in a while. We’ve been dancing around the issue for two months now! (pun intended) You can likely guess what happened at yesterday’s lesson.

I realized the prior week that I was bored. My dancing is boring. I couldn’t take another day of arm styling my rumba walks. I needed some new mental stimulation. I told this to teach and asked him to do something new with me. I figured he would teach me a bit more Quickstep (which I’ve added because of my new lady teacher, Dimples, recommendation) or finally add Bolero to my repertoire. instead he started teaching me a fun new Foxtrot routine. I knew immediately what he was doing.

Teach: You know what this is, right?

Me: Yes, I’m not stupid, just don’t say it out loud.

Teach: You like it, though?

Me: YES!

Teach: I’ve been waiting for so long for you to be ready. (if he were a dog his tail would have been wagging so hard it would be going in circles)

He then went on to teach me the new, dreaded Foxtrot basic for the next 1 1/2 hours. Complete with technique on frame, directionality, feet, ankles, legs, and timing. It was blissful.  Even when he had me walk like a dinosaur and told me that my body needed to wring out like a washcloth. The end of the matter is that I’m starting Silver in Smooth. I don’t know about Rhythm yet. To be honest, I’m not sure what the difference is between the two. Now I just have to wrap my head around and come to terms with it. That may take a little time. Happy dancing everyone.

 

Relief

When I walked in the studio yesterday, Manager Lady and all the instructors were preparing their dances for the Team Match. Part of me was glad that I could procrastinate a bit longer.

Clyde had me working on Smooth. He seems to want me to be a bit more dynamic in my dancing. I felt like I was already dancing “big” from what Teach had me do, but Clyde wants even more. More to the point that I feel like I’m going to tip over if I stretch my arm to the side any more. He even brought chairs out and had me do some exercises on them. I made a joke about being afraid that he was going to teach me some Chicago-esqe/Fosse dance moves when the chairs came out. He got very excited and told me he had been part of the cast of Chicago for a while and then started planning a Showcase in his head for me. Joke backfire. There is no way that’s happening. So my Waltz and Foxtrot are going well. The dynamics of my arms mixed with the nice stretches he lets me do are making me feel like a dancer. I’m glad he’s pushing more out of my comfort zone. (I can’t believe I said that.)

Lady J and I had a wonderful lesson, too. She worked on my Tango, specifically opening into Fan. I know it sounds like a simple thing, but I can make the simple seem impossible. Then we reviewed Swing. I have to do some Rhythm each time or my body forgets everything. She gave me some good points on turns and fixed some parts where I decided to become a ballerina in the middle. For the record, I was never a ballerina, but somehow I do weird things in the middle of dances. Again, I can make the simple impossible. Overall, Lady J is a wonderful teacher for me. The drill method seems to be working. The movements are staying in my body!

After my lessons, I talked to the front desk ladies for a while about my decision to change studios. They were NOT happy. It’s a bit surprising to me. I know they don’t like people to leave for $$$ reasons. They have a script to follow and all that, but it seemed to genuine that they would miss me. I am likable, I guess. Maybe. If I let you get to know me. The one secretary told me that my personality was desperately needed in their studio and that I would be a great loss. (What? I’m there twice a month!) I talked to Under Manager. She echoed the sentiments and said we would talk more. That’s slightly ominous sounding. I want it to be over with, but you know they’re going to have to come back with some sort of counter offer. I did come out with saying that they’re all under the same corporation. It’s not like I’m leaving for their actual competition. Everyone got a look that suggested I was not entirely correct in that statement. I guess there’s more competition between then I expected. I have eight lessons and a coaching left at the studio. I’m thinking that I’ll call and start at the new studio next month. Yes, I’m heartless.

The Current Standings

Sorry I left you all hanging like that. Typing was too much of an inconvenience for me and homeschool paperwork takes precedence over blogging. Now my hand is almost normal, so I’ll try to get the emotions under control and spill the story.

I didn’t end up having to call Teach myself; he called me the day after my last post, on Saturday. The end result of that conversation: he received a promotion to Manager of the Glen Rock studio. He’s leaving. I managed to keep my cool and he fit me in for a final lesson that following week to discuss his plan for me. I managed to keep my cool and tell him how much he deserves it (he does), even though it’s devastating to me.

When I hung up the phone I immediately talked to my family and their first reaction was, ” He knows you’re going with him right? How long does it take to drive there?” Google Maps tells me that it’s only 1 1/2 hours. It takes me 3 to commute now. One way. Honestly, I stayed at that studio because it’s rare to find a person you click with. If I’m anything, I’m loyal. I have noticed that a few students have stayed with their teacher as they rise in the corporation. I also know that I don’t spend nearly the same amount of money these ladies spend. Is he supposed to ask me to stay with him, or do I ask him, or is that just wrong? Because I’m ready for less of a commute. I know I have to drive this way, but I’m still ready.

At my lesson, we danced a lot of (social-like) Foxtrot because I asked for it. It’s one of the few I can converse through. (Muscle memory win.) After verifying that he would be still teaching lessons, I asked him right out if it would be a bit like a crazy ex-girlfriend if I went to the other studio with him. End of story: I can choose to do that. Teach has to behave ethically now – he can’t steal his students to the other studio (even though they’re under the same corp), that’s not right. My perception was that he wouldn’t mind at all continuing to teach me. He did make me promise to try it out with Clyde (Teach’s friend who was hanging around our lesson last time and helped make me cry) and Lady J (I do need more consistent lady lessons). It’s the only thing I can do because there’s a slight problem – I have a contract that is only half over. I also need to find out if my free coaching and a few other goodies can transfer to the other studio. So I won’t be seeing Teach for a while. I have 2 months of payments still to make before I can go and sign another contract.

Since I’m on leave from work for my finger, and I want to get back to Teach ASAP, I’m taking extra lesson. How did lessons with Clyde and Lady J go, you ask? Lady J is wonderful. I have no problem taking lessons with lady teachers ever. We worked on arm styling and fully transferring weight in the Rumba. Lesson with Clyde was ok. It started as a “get to know you” and quickly went to overwhelming me with all kind of information and fixing me to the point that I felt like I couldn’t dance at all. Oh! and he taught me several new figures, too. Or he tried to. People look at me and think I’m extroverted and fun and gregarious. I’m faking it. It takes a long time for me to get used to men and I have Victorian sensibilities. Clyde did something on a first lesson that Teach hasn’t tried at all yet. He wanted me to Foxtrot sexy. Big no-no. It’s not going to happen. I got used to Teach over 3 years and I still couldn’t dance a serious rumba with him. Just no. Did I mention Clyde is 22? Hello, cougar. Did I mention he tried to sweet talk me into believing he thought I was 24? I’m too old for that crap. Did I mention there’s a bit of a language barrier? We’re not getting each other yet. I’m giving him more chances because I’ve had lessons with all the other guys in the studio and, guess what, none of them were Teach. I have a problem.

I have another lesson tomorrow so I hope to have more news for you. Manager Lady is keeping a close eye on Clyde and checked up with me after my lessons. I just didn’t think it was the time to tell her that I’m leaving. I did mention that I don’t have an opinion on Clyde yet. It’s too soon. May your dance life me less crazy than mine.

Regroup and Chill

Because sometimes I feel like I can write and sometimes I feel like I just can’t, I have a bunch of lessons to recap and thoughts to throw out there.

My first post comp lessons were as expected. We reviewed some video and the judges comments and talked briefly about them. I told Teach about how I just felt awful and he pointed out all the things I did correct. You know, the things I was actually working on as opposed to the things I was working on without Teach being aware (you know, like being perfect). The judges had some great comments, too. Yes, most of them were “great lead/follow” and the like, but there were some good things to work on, like my turnout in rhythm. It felt good in my brain that the “things to work on” were all things that I had felt I was doing wrong during the day. There was nothing there that I didn’t expect. I know that I’m my own worst critic and that I can go overboard on my faults, but it calms my brain to know that some of my criticisms are based on the truth, that I can read my dancing correct in some way. I’m not sure that made much sense, but maybe you can make something out of it.

We also regrouped in what the future holds. Hubby and I needed new car, as the previous one had reached its limit, so now I have a car payment in addition to my already tight funds. Getting to work trumps dance. Sucks, but what can you do. The end result is that Fall Classic is out. (more on that later) Teach wondered if I was still wanting to focus on 9-dance or if I just wanted to do Smooth. The Team Match was a trial to see how things went. I was honest with him. When I left after the Team Match, I was done with Rhythm dancing. I had a lot of fun dancing it, but I just felt that all the lessons that we had on cuban motion and arms didn’t make it into my body. I asked Teach if he thought I had the ability to improve. I would miss Rhythm if I never danced it again, but there’s not point working on those dances in a competitive way if I’m not going to “get it.” Of course, Teach looked at me like I had ten heads and told me that I could definitely get better. I knew he was going to say that (he’s my biggest cheerleader), but his words solidified my decision to continue to try to learn those pesky Rhythm dances. So 9-dance is still in my future!

As an aside, we worked on a few things, but most importantly – Smooth arms. Did you know there are only 8 arm styles for Smooth? 1st, 2nd, 5th, X, Y, S, W, and one that I can’t read my writing for. We had some fun spelling things down the long wall using arms. It’s the little things, right?

Now to yesterday’s double. I was remarkably calm yesterday. It’s quite unusual for me to be so zen. Maybe fall was in the air? (I love fall.) I ended up spilling my current list of favorite and least favorite dances. My least practiced are a list, too. But I’m not allowed to put a least practiced on my least favorite list without serious reason. It’s just not fair. (I know I’m weird, no need to tell me) This is always interesting information to give your teacher because they can then use it to torture you with. Thankfully, Teach wanted me to maintain my zen, so he upgraded my Smooth frame using Foxtrot. He calls it a more 3D frame. When I look in the mirror I think we look like that two-headed guy in Men in Black. My head is the stupid extra head. Apparently, I’m supposed to be seen and present on the dance floor, so this is now how it is. Of course it’s not at all comfortable or easy to get into this odd position, but we do fit together nicely now. (I know this sounds dirty. The whole lesson was just one dirty-sounding comment after another. It’s how dance is.) So I basically have to dance like I’m going over the high jump while playing a violin. Sounds easy, right?

Ok. He did feel like destroying the zen a bit. We worked on Tango. That evil sharpness that I just don’t get. I didn’t realize that it would be an easyish fix. My bottom half is good. “Your hips are communicating properly with mine and have excellent movement.” (Reeeeeally.) My top half just doesn’t match my bottom half. My head doesn’t snap like it should. So we took my new frame, let my hair down (I have a secret wish to be Edita Daniute), and worked that right out. I need to let my hair down more often. It was fun flipping it around and it really helped me feel when my frame was off. I think Teach was having a bit of fun with it, too. It was one of our odder lessons because we were both pretty zen and happy, which can be dangerous because we are very alike and keep getting each other going. Things can get loud and weird – like him making me dance holding a box of tissues between my shoulder and chin/neck area. definitely one of our funnier lessons.

After the lesson Manager Lady rushed up and told me that she can’t imagine Fall Classic without me. She wants to do everything in her power to get me there. Well except give me a discount, of course. (sarcasm, I didn’t ask her to) So the attention keeps coming. I have to say, I’m getting used to seeing the thousands on her calculator. She wants me to hit up my family. Little does she know that my family is small and poor. It’s looking like I’ll be sitting this one out. It stinks, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my sanity by working more to attend the comp. As always, happy dancing everyone.

 

The Traditional Pre-Comp Freak Out

As of this writing, I have 3 lessons left before Team Match. This is not enough. I am NOT ready to dance in front of actual human beings. I still haven’t started learning the Waltz routine (I can’t learn the initial routine because it changes so often); Foxtrot has a VERY tricky part in it that I can’t seem to do (it involves running around him and really moving – I tend to leap when I try to move far. this is not good.) ; Tango is a whole lot of “what?” (remember shadow position that we never really went over). Don’t even get me started on the Rhythm portion of this impending fiasco. I can’t even do proper technique with my legs along with any arm movement. In November I felt so prepared. Now I’m in some crazy rush to the final showcasing of the mediocrity of my dancing.

The pressure is getting to me. I want to do Teach proud. I’m the only student dancing Rhythm with him at the moment. He’s known in the studio as the “Smooth Guy”. He competes in Smooth, but he’s more than capable of teaching other dances. I want him to do well and get him some more business in the Rhythm dances!

Next on the agenda, Manager Lady is dancing two heats with me. I believe a Rumba and a Mambo. She usually only dances with the Studio Stars. You know what I mean – the big spenders or the very advanced, plus her long-time male students. My goal of invisibility unless I’m doing something spectacular is not working. Now I have to worry about messing up my arms and legs with the Manager Lady.

I may also be dancing a few with Lady R, but I’m not sure if that’s true yet. And she’s a sexy beast. I’m going to look like the pretender that I am next to her. (I know I’m being hard on myself. )

One week. The countdown in on for the freak out to be over. I know this wasn’t the nicest to read, but I’m allowed to go as crazy as I want on my blog. Thinking off all you who have comps coming up.

 

All About Them Arms

My lessons yesterday were all arms. Team Match is getting closer and closer and I’m still an unsure about what to do with those appendages. It was a breath of fresh air after all the footwork heavy lessons I’ve had lately.

The first lesson was a semi-coaching with my lady teacher, Lady R. She said my footwork is gorgeous (!!!!) but that it was blatantly obvious that I have no idea where my arms should be. And the times where I do know where they should be (Crossovers and UAT) there’s no intent. She made it all better with a few things to remember. If the arm is going up, lead with your finger (keep elbow in). If the arm is going out, lead with elbow. When arm comes in, lead with elbow. Who knew it could be that simple. Well, it’s not really THAT simple. We applied the arms in only Cha Cha, but the basics happen through all the Rhythm dances. Specific arm styles were applied to the butt pinch move (Chase Step) so that each turn with lock steps has something different to look at. My deltoids hurt just typing this.

My lesson with Teach was a bit of new choreography for Foxtrot so that all the arm styling could percolate for a bit. Then we went back and applied the same arm technique to Mambo. He also taught me a few new steps for Mambo. It was fun to finally have a few lessons where all the scrutiny was somewhere other than my feet/knees/hips. Now I just have to do all of this at once. I wonder how long that will take.

After lessons, Teach and I spoke to Manager Lady about Team Match. I’m dancing 42 heat evenly placed around 7 dances. I wanted to add either a Championship or Scholarship to it so that I would feel like I did a real Comp, and therefore, not feel the need to sign up for something that I can’t afford. I’m already paying the entry price for this one. I might as well just do it! The problem is this: The studio was only going to do a few Championships. Two for Bronze, two for Silver, one for Gold. The age categories were only 45 and below, and over 45. Teach dances with several ladies of all ages for Smooth and I didn’t want to hog up all his dances. I think he only dances with me for Rhythm, so that’s not too bad, but he will be super tired by that time. The end result was a Smooth Championship and a Rhythm Scholarship (that I don’t plan on winning – who can beat a 20-something year old girl with no inhibitions? Not this lady.) So I added that on. Plus, Lady R and Manager Lady both want dances during Team Match. I love lady dances. I can only have so many men in my life at a time and I’m capped now. So bring on the ladies. (Note: I am not a lesbian or bisexual. I was raised without a father and am completely awkward around men.) Teach was happy to give up a Cha Cha and Rumba to Lady R. He seemed less happy to give up a Swing to Manager Lady. Interesting.

An interesting note. Lady R said that I have a big personality both on and off the floor. I said the appropriate things, but I don’t believe it. I’ve never thought that about myself and it kind of threw me. I laugh loud, that’s true. But a big personality? Is that code for something that I don’t understand? It bears thinking about.

Teach is off to visit his in-laws in Japan for my next lessons, so I’ll be having a double with Lady R next time. I’m thrilled about it. I hope she brings more arms and sexy lady stuff. I could use all the help I can get! Happy dancing everyone. I will catch up on all your blogs one of these days!

 

Organizing

There are some problems with only having lessons every other week. One is that I have a longer time to spiral downward in between shots of logic. The Land of the Endless Perky Bottoms gives you a little lesson sheet that has room for things worked on and comments. The problem is that the correct notes don’t seem to go on it. “Waltz – footwork” doesn’t quite trigger my memory once I get home. With the Team Match looming on the horizon, I really need to figure out what’s going on! Thank goodness I have a decent relationship with Teach. I told him all this and then spent out lessons organizing my brain and giving me solid info on Team Match this summer. Sounds like fun, huh?

Team Match – This is set up like a competition, but it’s not one. It’s an excuse to get all the 5 studios in the chain to get together and compete to get “Top Studio”. It’s one day long – so great for those on a budget, because they have heats for all styles of dance on the same day lessening overall cost. This year every heat is going to be a proficiency heat (judges give tips). There will also be a few multi-dance events which will be ranked. It tends to be much more informal and loud (which I don’t like). At the end of the day you recieve an overall competancy score. I know all studios have different terms for their events, so I thought a bit of description would be nice.

As I said, we just spent 4 lessons over the past few weeks on organizing my brain. I now know what I’m supposed to be working on in 7 dances in preparation for Team Match.

For Smooth I’m working on artuculating my feet, or, as I call it, the middle stuff. What the foot is doing between steps. I’m only dancing Waltz, Fotxtrot and Tango at the match because of time (money) constraints. Each of those dances have an individual thing to work on. In waltz, I need to lower and prep my leg at the same time. In Foxtrot I need more springy knees action, especially in the side steps (I’m still a bronze lady). Tango needs the most work. I need more clarity between closed and open position (fancy way of saying promenade position needs some work). I’m also working on making it look sharper – the freezeframe moments, dancing like it’s a flipbook. So, tango is my current smooth beast.

Rhythm is a bit different for goals. I just started Mambo. My Swing isn’t well practiced. I could go on and on. But basically, for Rhythm I’m working on how to take a step. Yes, learning to walk takes a long time. In Rumba repeating “toe,heel,knee, hip” in my head with each step. Oh! Then remember that on the slow steps it’s toe on the 1, then heel, knee, hip quickly on the 2. And people wonder why I’m crazy?! In Swing it’s the whole pendulum action coming into play. That’s ok, but I also need to stop panicing and stiffening up before the free spins. And arms. Don’t get me started on arms. Cha Cha needs to be sharper with clearer feet. This also has 3 clear picture moments that need to be hit. For mambo, I need to go on the floor and stay on time. The freeze and switch in important too, but staying on time seems to be the real beast here.

Yesterday we went through the mixture of Intermediate and Senior Bronze steps that he’d be using for Rhythm at Team Match. No routines for Rhythm. There’s not point in telling you the names of things because everyone learns different names for things. Now it’s just to practice them. We have to go over our smooth routines next time. I’m also having a lady lesson to help with arms. I hope it sticks this time.

I officially signed up for August 20th Team Match. I’m dancing 42 heats (the most I’ve ever danced!). Now it’s time to practice, practice, practice!

Hope this wasn’t too boring. I wanted another place for all my notes and this blog is it.

 

Too Much Info or My Fried Brain

Now that we’ve established that I’m the wimp of the ballroom community, let’s move on to the lesson after the good lesson. (Just go with me on this.)

If you remember I had a marvelous lesson where I learned all kinds of wonderful things, my brain was open to all the possibilities… and then I had the non magical lesson that comes after. When you go that far up, it’s a long drop back down to reality.

Last Monday we spent 1 1/2 hours on making sure my Foxtrot doesn’t look like Waltz. In this studio’s syllabus, Full Bronze mixes the Bronze basic slows and quicks with a few twinkles that have Silver slows and quicks. (I don’t know if other syllabus are like this.) The timing isn’t the issue – I can slow and quick either way – I tend to go up on my toes too Waltzlike. It’s supposed to be a bit shaper and slinkier. Teach wants people to know by looking at me, even without music, which dance I’m doing. Ok, fine. I get it. He made some great progress with me on that. Then he decides to teach me “the highest level Grapevine footwork I’ll ever need to learn”. All right, fine, I’m game for that, too. That also comes with instructions on how to land properly when on your toes in smooth. Toe, heel, then bend your knee. Ok, fine, I almost got it all up to speed. Then he started talking about how I need to be a more active partner. I now need to do the routine on my own so he can watch me. Ladies and gentlemen, this is where my brain broke. I think I just stared at him, slightly katatonic at this point. In Teach’s defense, he knew without my saying anything what the problem was. The conversation went something like this,

Teach: “S*#&, I went just a bit too far today, didn’t I? Let’s just dance for a bit.”

Me: …….. *grunted my ok*…………

I am a perfectionist. I bring everything I have to these lessons. I want to learn. But sometimes I hit a wall and it’s just ENOUGH. It was too much instruction with not enough progress. I couldn’t quite get where I wanted to be with the Foxtrot and I just shut down. My brain exploded. It was a too much information lesson. I hate it when that happens. HATE IT. On the other side, Teach handled me well. We danced a bunch of times without him giving me any input during the dance (bliss for my fried brain), then we moved on to 15 minutes of Cha Cha hips.

Did you know that there are three types of hips in American Rhythm? Of course you did, I’m just trying to lighten the mood. Anyway, there are deep, normal, and shallow. We practiced all of these briefly and then I ran out of the studio and went out to dinner with my daughter (who still won’t talk to teach after the April Fools joke gone bad). I had a giant Pina Colada and it was wonderful. Another lesson to go to this coming week. I hope I’m up to the challenge. No more TMI. That was no fun.

 

 

Fall Classic Was…

…a success! I had a wonderful time. Let me lay it all out for you guys.

Fall Classic is my dance studio’s competition among the 4 studios in the chain. This year it was 3 days long (a mistake, as far as I’m concerned). American Smooth on Friday afternoon, International on Saturday, American Rhythm on Sunday, plus sit down dinners, pro shows, etc. I could only afford to do a one night package with 24 heats, so I chose to do only American Smooth. It broke into 18 single dances, 1 3-dance Championship, and 1 4-dance Scholarship. For the Championship and the Scholarship I competed against my age group, but they mixed it up a bit during the single dances. Teach danced every heat – 180 heats that afternoon.

On Friday I drove down early for my hair and makeup appointment. I could fake the makeup, but I’m hopeless with hair.  Plus, a mini face lift isn’t a bad idea before going on the dance floor. 🙂 I buddied up with a nice lady from another studio. That’s how I cope with crowds, I find a safe person and just stick to them like glue.

I had enough time to go to the judges classes that I thought I wouldn’t have time for that morning. I’m really glad I made that session. I don’t know many famous dancers, so forgive me for forgetting the names of the judges. We learned about continuity of movement from one judge. Then one of the teachers taught us how to Kizomba. I’d never heard of it either. Let’s just say that it was a naughty dance and these white girl hips weren’t getting the movement just right. The last session was my favorite. He was an American Rhythm dancer who used to get injured all the time. He now coaches professionals on how to avoid injury. He had us test our balance and showed us how such small movement of the feet and ankle can have such large impact on our body and what our body tells our partner. It was fascinating. What made it even better was that Teach was there and as I was trying to figure it out Teach would explain to me – it was like getting another lesson.

On to the actual comp. I had all of your wise words in my head before I went on to my first heat. You didn’t steer me wrong. It was fine. I made mistakes and kept going. I listened to the music, smiled, and just danced. The nerves were minimal – there, but not overwhelming. The demons were burning in hell where they belong. I saw some judges smiling at me and I felt like I won right there. That’s the point, right? That you enjoy dancing and that others receive enjoyment from watching you.

Teach was dancing with 5 of us and we worked him hard with all those heats. He was a sweaty mess by the time the Championship rounds hit. Later on he told me he couldn’t even feel his legs the last few Championship rounds. The thing is, this made me step it up. At this point I knew he had to be hurting despite what he was telling me when I asked him. It made me realize that at these moments he’s more than my teacher, he’s my partner. This is a team sport and a team effort. If I could have carried him around the floor myself, I would have. Let me tell you, my frame was up and light and I was flying around that floor. I did everything in my power to make it easy for him. It worked. He remarked on it later.

Results. Do I even care? I learned and achieved so much. I see why these events are so important for amping up your dancing. But since you should know: I kicked booty. I placed 1st in all my single dances but two that I placed 2nd in. I won with firsts in all dances both the Championship and the Scholarship. I have no words, but I have two trophies that I have no idea what to do with. Where do I go from here? I’ll find out more tomorrow at my follow up lesson.

Ta, Ta fellow dancers!